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Saturday, July 14, 2001 -- Kanawha State Forest, WV
Rattlesnake Trail 50K Ultrarun (iPO Event Id#: 2702)
Story and results provided by Mickey J. Jones

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results]
Also see coverage from the: 1998, 1999, and 2000 Rattlesnake Trail Ultras.

2000 race pic
Another year at the Rattlesnake (2000 photo)
The seventh annual Rattlesnake Trail 50k was held on July 14, 2001 at Kanawha State Forrest near Charleston, West Virginia. The weather was near perfect with the temperatures in the low fifties for the start of the race. The sky was partly cloudy to clear with the temperatures climbing into the eighties before the race was over. The starting field had 137 runners from 13 states that saw 131 successfully finish the race.

The RTR 50k is a single loop course consisting mostly of single and double track trails in rural West Virginia and has very little paved or gravel sections. The course has almost 5000 feet of climb in nine different uphill sections. As anyone running the race can attest the aid stations are amply stocked with a variety of items. Once, a runner told me that he dreaded our aid stations and I asked why, his reply was that he knew if he was at an aid station that he would have to climb again after leaving it. The course can be technically demanding in the later portion of the race with some steep and narrow rock sections.

There were a lot of problems in the area this year prior to the race with flooding and high water. Fortunately none of our trails or Kanawha State Forest was affected. There were areas within a short distance away in Boone and Raleigh Counties that were devastated by flooding and declared disaster areas.

The 2001 Race Champion is Evan Sandt (PA, 4:04:45) who essentially led the race from the early going. He ran a strong, evenly paced race. He was challenged early by the Male Runner-up, Sid Gillispie (WV, 4:10:34) running in his first ultra trail race. The 2001 Female Champion was Anne Riddle (NC, 4:31:54), she is also the past female course record holder and she was closely challenged through most of the race by the eventual Female Runner-up Floren Ansley (GA, 4:37:12).

The Male Master's Champion was taken by Doug Hansel (OH, 4:24:37). Larry Miller (VA, 4:29:48) who was being pushed from behind by Greg Sousa (GA, 4:31:34) then took the Third Place Male finisher. Female Masters Champion was Robin Cannon (WV, 4:41:59), she was also really thrilled when she actually got to see the namesake of the race, a four foot rattlesnake in Dunlap Hollow. It didn't need to be moved out of the trail for runners to proceed. During the 1999 race, there were two men runners stopped in the middle of White Hollow Trail due to a rattlesnake laying there. This is on the last section of the race, when the eventual female winner in that race, Joni Adams (WV, 5:19:25) stopped, got a stick and put the snake over the hill and continued on her way. I'm not sure how the guys tell this story in other circles, but I'm sure the snake has reached anaconda size proportions by now. The Third Place Female award was taken by Sally Brooking (GA, 4:48:01) who edged out Karen Shiley (PA, 4:48:12) in a good finish.

Special thanks need to be given to Greg Helbig (WV, 5:43:23) for providing the sponsorship assistance that enabled us to provide pre and post race food at the same level we have in past years. We lost some corporate sponsorship connections that we had in the past. Greg is also working toward having a series of trail races in West Virginia. This year's finisher award was a brass medal on a marble base. Touch of Glass in Hurricane, WV made the overall and finishing awards and Randy Mooney of Ron's Sporting Goods from Peytona, WV printed the shirts.

Some usual blood & gut awards were handed out at the finish since it was obvious that a couple of individuals became very intimate with the natural surface of dirt and rocks. Larry Miller and Floren Ansley were awarded engraved sandstone rocks. At the time, it was not realized that the overall winner of that award would be determined later.

Once again, good friend and fellow runner, Bill Gentry (VA, 5:25:42), became directionally challenged and got lost on Middle Ridge. This was at the same place he was lost the last time he ran the race and discovered when he got into a spider web across the trail that he probably missed the turn. This year, he ran on out to the point that the trail went two different unmarked directions. He was quoted as saying that he thought you went right, and once again he took someone with him on his extended journey. We have lobbied some connections with the Department of Highways to get a big orange turn sign for Log Town Trail next year. It was good the trio of Rob Apple (TN), Wes Fenton (OH) and Art Moore (OH) strolled across the line in 7:16:28 in excellent spirits.

One of our regulars, Ron Hart (OH, 4:46:51) came off the first hill that goes down Rattlesnake, vividly saying something about killer bees swarming up the hill. Since we know Ron really well, we had to be convinced. It seems that a hornet's nest had fallen onto the road and several people were stung in the process of running through the area. It was probably not a good time to remember the statistics that more people die from bee stings than do from snake bites each year. One runner that was stung, Marty Toth (PA, 6:25:23), was allergic to bee stings but got though the ordeal. Rick Freeman (PA, 4:55:28) another of our Pittsburgh connection confirmed our worries about the bees, and we would also like to thank Rick for his post race help in the finish area. It was good to see a growing group of people participating in this event like the Lancaster Ohio area runners. Last year, flu symptoms and other minor issues kept Angie Buckley (OH, 5:25:58) from running the race, but this year her husband, Mike, brought those symptoms with them in the form of their few month old baby. Our congratulations on the new addition to their family.

Each year we give two awards to runners in memory of two local runners who were inspirational in their spirit and support of this race, ultrarunning and as friends. They both succumbed to the effects of cancer too early in life. They are some of the reasons I wrote what I did, and had it printed on the back of the race shirts. Both Dennis and myself have a hard time presenting these awards without getting visibly choked up. The Rosemary Platt Memorial Award was presented to Marlene Moore (WV, 6:39:08), who was also a good friend and runner with Rosemary. The Dave Berry Memorial Award was presented to John Sheets (WV, 6:15:38). John has helped this race with personal sponsorship every year and he is only able to run once per week on Sunday mornings, our typical training time at Kanawha State Forest. We have listened to him ramble and instigate for years. If you have run with him, at this race or other venues, you can attest that he is full of something, but that big something is also called friendship and compassion.

One of the local long time ultrarunners, John Porter (WV, 5:49:05), has been bringing a larger contingent of runners from local high schools and colleges to train on part of the course over the past few years. This year a number of them decided to run the entire length with respectable finishes: Josh Sheets (5:49:03), Dylan Drinkard (5:49:03), Michael Smutko (5:53:38), Mike Dolan (5:53:39) and Jordan Workman. It looks like being race director also means that we need to be versatile since one of the runners from the Beckley, WV crew; Milton Webb (WV, 5:48:00) locked his keys inside his vehicle in the campground. He was ready to break the window to get his running stuff when we used some of our Boone County intuition and tools to get in the vehicle.

This year's Oldest Finisher Award goes to seventy-one year old Dick Cozart (FL, 7:48:05) who was originally from WV and finally gets a chance to run a race near his home. We appreciate that his brother was a big help with some other runners this year. This year's Anchor Runner was finisher was Beth Terry (GA, 9:59:54) who finished just under the official cut-off time especially after taking an adventurous route.

As the Race Director, it was my decision not to let a runner continue after he fell and cut his head very deep. He had considerable blood loss, symptoms of shock, possibly dehydrated due to loss of fluids in the hot afternoon and was not demonstrating a clear level of cognizant reasoning. We could not allow him back on the trail because of his injury and the lack of any direct contact with race support personnel should he became lost or injured again. He was being assisted at the last aid station and only had three more miles to travel, but that section has both a steep climb and downhill that is not easily accessible. He was very, very distraught by being pulled from the race since he has finished over a hundred races and this would have been his first DNF. This runner called me and reported his finishing time for the last section of the race and the time for his first section after he went to the hospital and was sutured. He indicated that he just had to finish. I admire his dedication and courage, but have to question his sense of reasoning after having such a serious injury. It would be unfair to the other finishers to just add his two times together. But, I can only trust his conviction that he returned to the course to finish and indicate that the last finisher did so in a total elapsed time of 14:15:00.

In the distant past, I have been against some intermediate cut-off times, but in the last few years we have had to implement some cut-off times. These have been for the finish, halfway and probably at the last aid station in the future. Before you criticize that decision, think of the difficulty in recruiting volunteers that don't understand running 50k and who are spending an entire day helping you do something you like to do. Also, we have seen a growing number of people entering these events that realize the difficulty involved. I try to just remind people this is not a 5k and cannot be approached with the same 5k mentalities. As ultrarunners, we all think that we can push through any pain, obstacle or even against good experienced advice. This is a sport of personal challenges that has limitations that everyone will face at some point. When running in these events, you have to remember that while you are participating and enjoying the event, there are a number of volunteers, and I stress the word volunteer,` who have been on the course working hard to insure your and other participants fun, safety and continued participation.

We would like to thank John Hendley, Kanawha State Forest Superintendent, for his continued support along with the help of Dave Toler, his wife and John Boardman. They were a critical part of making sure that things went smoothly through the day and insuring that the course had been cleared of growth and major storm damage prior to the race. Also, they graciously let people utilize the pool and shower facilities after the race. It seems their generosity was tested when my youngest son, Justin, became a pain to the lifeguards concerning the diving board, which resulted in his eviction. We would like to thank the Kanawha Valley Ham Radio Operators for their continued assistance and tracking of runner locations and aid station needs. Like I have said on numerous occasions, this race would not be a success without volunteers. Those included: June and Jerry Hicks (Rattlesnake and Black Bear Aid Stations), MaryAnn Hamrick and Aaron Hamrick (Linde Trail), Paul Hamrick and Jody Pauley (Ballard Trail), Terry and Adam Tomlinson (No. 1 Store Trail), Gary Phillips (Dunlap Hollow), Forrest Allen (Polly Trail) and others whom I have failed to name or mention at the other aid stations. There was some other assistance from Josh Jones, Steve Marshall and Sandy Jones at the finish line and other areas. We also had additional individuals that were very helpful at few of the aid stations and I ask their forgiveness, since I can't remember all their names at this time.

I hate to sound like I'm throwing a lot of rocks in this article, but the subject of e-mail registration has left me in a little bit of a quandary. I like the convenience of having the information and the ease for people registering, but my problem is when some individuals do not show-up without notification, nor pays their entry fee after registering. My position is, since I have assigned one of the limited numbers of race openings to these individuals, that this registration is a contract to pay the entry fee unless cancelled in the appropriate time period.

Although the personnel from what used to be, now known as, were unable to attend due to prior commitments, you can still check for results and information on the past, present and future races. Also one of their reporters and participants, Lew McGrath is recovering from a serious accident; we wish him a speedy recovery. I do not know if we will ever get the web site updated with all of the information but my e-mail address is still the same at By next year's race I will put the race information and history in a format that everyone can use. I know we have been trying to do that for some time now, but I'm sure everyone knows the rigors and pressures of family life, community involvement, career growth, continuing education, and still trying to train and run to some resemblance of a schedule.

Unfortunately, this will be the last Rattlesnake Trail Run that I will serve as the Race Director. That duty now falls solely to the capable hands of Dennis Hamrick who was the co-founder and co-race director of this race with me. I will still help as much as possible and may even get to run it now. The unfortunate part is for me personally, and not the race nor the runners, since the race will be continued without my direct assistance. I have decided to relocate to the north-central portion of Florida to further my engineering and management career. It was a terrific opportunity that I couldn't refuse for my family and myself. Although I have relocated, my West Virginia and RTR 50k ties will remain strong, but also don't be surprised if there is not a new 50k planned in north-central Florida near the Live Oak - White Springs area.

Please plan to support next year's race currently scheduled for July 13th, 2002 with Dennis Hamrick as the Race Director and with the assistance of Glen Jarrell as the new Co-Race Director. Glen has helped us with the race every year, and has run the course on numerous occasions, and is a good friend and a better runner than I will ever be.

My gratitude and thanks are extended to everyone that has made the Rattlesnake Trail Run and Snowflake 50k races a success in the past and will help to insure the future of trail running. As you run on the trails and through woods just leave only footprints and especially don't antagonize any polecats.

Gotta Run,
Mickey J. Jones
Race Director