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Sunday, October 15, 2000 -- Blacksburg, VA
Brush Mountain Breakdown 16M & 6M Trail Runs
Story and photos by Dana Harshberger

[Details] [Coverage] [16 Mile Results] [6 Mile Results]
[Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2] [Pic Set 3] [Pic Set 4]

Race Start
Hitting the trail at the Brush Mountain Breakdown
There's nothing like a beautiful autumn day to make you want to get out of town and RUN! This past Sunday, a field of around 100 trail runners came out for the 2nd Annual Brush Mountain Breakdown. Held near the fabulous Pandapas Pond Picnic area in Blacksburg, VA, this course offered lots of topographical challenges!

Starting sharply at 9am, the first pack of runners took off on the 16-mile course. The temperature was definitely brisk, and all were suitably attired. Of course, as the day wore on, and the hills got hillier, and the sun shone brighter, clothing was peeled off and tied around waists.

Off the gun, setting his own pace was Jason Dowdy, who not only took first place in the Men's 16 miler, but also shaved an impressive 7 minutes off of last years course record! Although a runner for the last 11 years, this was Jason's first trail race. Finishing at 1:43:08, he credits mountain biking with helping his overall fitness level, even though his actual mileage is down. When asked about what was the hardest part of his race, Jason replied "coming down the Beast!" Holding back on this monster is definitely hard work. Finishing with a respectable 1:50:07, was another mountain bike cross trainer, Steve Hetherington, followed by Eric Dunay at 1:57:09.

A delightful day to get outside for a run through the woods
For the Females in the 16 miler, finishing first was Jill Miller, at 2:35:58. Not far behind was Meg Grantham, 2:28:53, who was closely chased by Emily Harlow, 2:39:08

At 9:15 the second wave of runners began their jaunt on the 6-mile course. This was an abbreviated, but none-the less challenging version of the longer course. This trail had the runners doing a loop, mostly on 'The Interstate', a nice wide grassy, and gradual climb, or decent, depending on your direction! It also had the occasional leveling off; to give legs a chance to rest.

In the Men's 6 mile, crossing the line first was Ryan Richardson, at 39:52, setting a new course record. Not far behind, was Allen Dodson, 41:34, and Tony Azula, 43:15. And the women were hot on the tails of the men, with Cecile Newcomb, 46:03 (again, a course record!) and Katie Ballagh 46:41 duking it out for 1st and 2nd respectively. Pulling in for 3rd was Amy Feuerbach with 47:08.

This race brought out a lot of first time trail runners. Dan Warner, Corey Broeckling and Dave Soucek who usually get their 20-30 miles per week in on the road, were a few who definitely said they'd be up for this again, and commented on how well organized the race was.

Heading toward the Boley's Field finish
And there were the experienced trail runners too. Mel Culver, who runs on trails exclusively, made mention of her technique of full throttle downhill. This is easier on the legs than trying to hold back. Seconding this opinion was Lora Zimmerman, who feels that there is much less strain on the downhills if you just roll with it and let it flow. (Jason, are you taking notes?) Both of these ladies also mountain bike, which seems to be a common thread among trail runners.

All in all it was a fabulous morning, and no detail overlooked, from abundant course markings, great marshalling, and water stops with Gatorade and PowerGels. There was the infamous sock that the lucky last runner got to carry, as a safety measure to insure that no one would be left out on the trail. As well as a crew of mountain bikers that were on hand to do a final sweep of the course.

A big thank you goes out to Wayne Howell and Chris Betz, the co-chairs of the event for all of their hard work in getting this event and all of the volunteers organized. Thanks also to East Coasters Cycling and Fitness, in Blacksburg, and the artist known as "Hey Man", for their financial and in-kind support as well. And thanks to the US Forest Service for their assistance, as well.