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Saturday, June 19, 2010 -- Davis, WV / Canaan Valley Resort
Highlands Sky Trail Run (iPO Event Id#: 12622)

2010: [Details] [Coverage] [Photos] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]

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Wild, Wonderful, Wilderness

Story and photos by Daniel Todd

Over 180 brave souls made their way to Canaan Valley this weekend for the 8th installment of the Highlands Sky Trail Run.

Highlands Sky 40 Run Photo by Daniel Todd
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This highly technical, 40 mile foot race runs more like a 50 mile ultra marathon. Runners have 12 hours to negotiate a tough course that starts along the Red Creek in Laneville, WV and promptly climbs more than 2100 feet though second growth, hardwood forests on Flatrock Run into the new Roaring Plains Wilderness.

Runners continue in the cool morning air across the Roaring Plains trail where on Saturday the elite male athletes ran close enough to see and hear there competition through the first 10 miles. Jeremy Ramsey followed closely by Eric Grossman led the ultra train through the mountain laurel thickets before refueling at aid station #2.

Last years winner, Aaron Schwartzbard, along with home course favorite, Adam Casseday, were in contention as the race entered hour three.

Female favorites, Justine Morrison and Ragan Petrie, chased their fellow Virginia Happy Trail Runner (, Eva Pastalkova from mile one.

As the air heated the 7.2 mile /Road Across the Sky/ baked runners as they trekked from Roaring Plains to the new Dolly Sods North Wilderness. This mentally challenging section that forces DNFs every year was originally incorporated to side step the existing Dolly Sods South Wilderness.

Highlands Sky 40 Run Photo by Daniel Todd
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The desire for solitude prevents organized events to be held in federal Wilderness areas. Highlands Sky still runs today, because race director was able to communicate how this event protects and improves the new Wilderness areas.

Learn more about the history of Roaring Plains and Dolly Sods and how the WV Mountain Trail Runners maintain these special places in a video ( by Highlands course record holder (5:54), Joel Wolpert.

Runners keep a close eye on their competition during the mountain road section, but as the race takes a right turn onto Doblin Grade and then Raven Ridge the leader has an opportunity to take control of the race.

Grossman took advantage of the terrain to put a gap of 2 minutes and an impressive 14 minutes on Brian Schmidt and Ramsey, respectively.

Pastalkova continued pacing the women field clocking in at aid station #7 at 11:56am. Morrison was the next fastest woman stopping for fluids at 12:08pm.

The views of the high plateau are soon replaced as ultra-runners briefly enter a fern carpeted forest before blasting down the Timberline slopes. A four mile section down Freeland Road and into Canaan Valley Resort completes one of the best ultra runs of the east.

Highlands Sky 40 Run Photo by Daniel Todd
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Eric Grossman held off the men's field with a 1st place time of 6:06:03.

Eva Pastalkova lead the women line to tape with a 7:19:42.

First place masters were Lew McGrath (7:00:09) and Michele Harmon (8:46:56). Tucker County local Randy Young (8:11:45) along with Vicki Kendell (9:22:12) were the top Grand Masters.

The impressive over 60 Male Super Grand Masters was Highlands first timer Gary Knipling (9:04:40). Barbara Isom took the female Super Grand Master honor again with a 10:10:43.

Membership has its privileges because Bill Young and Vicki Kendell were the fastest WVMTR members. Three individuals have completed all eight editions - David Snipes, Bill Young, Tim Daly.

Saturday Dan Lehmann shook the hand of the thousandth person to complete race he began dreaming about shortly after completing his first ultra in 1999. Teresa Sukiennicki finished under the 12 hour time limit and got a embroidered fleece for being number 1000.

Dan Lehmann, Jody Lehman and over fifty volunteers continue to outdo themselves every year.

The objective of the West Virginia Mountain Trail Runners . WVMTR is to encourage running and the healthy, positive qualities running encompasses. They achieve this by holding a trail run series, races, non-competitive club runs, social events, assisting other organizations with running events, and in general just running around having fun. They are a non-profit organization and are affiliated with the Road Runners Club of America.

Highlands Sky 40 Run Photo by Daniel Todd
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Don't miss the next WV Ultra Run! The Cheat Mountain Moonshine Madness is a 50 Mile Trail Run, August 27-28, 2010 in Beverly, WV. It provides a gradual climb up Cheat Mountain. Run with the moon along the spine of the ridge at 4,000' elevation, descend to the Shavers Fork, climb through the dark spruce back up Cheat, drop to Shavers Fork for a second time, then climb gradually once again up the mountain and run the high ridge north as dawn approaches.

For more races, reports, and finish line photos visit