In case any reader does not know, " The Ring" is running the orange blazed Massanutten Trail in Virginia.
The Ring is a circuit of the entire 71-mile orange-blazed Massanutten Trail in the George Washington National Forest, on the ridgelines of the eastern and western ranges of the Massanutten Mountains around the Fort Valley, roughly between Front Royal and Luray. The "trail" is hard, rocky, and slow. Sections of the trail have been around in some cases for centuries, but the entire, uninterrupted, 71-mile Massanutten Trail was not completed until 2002.
Once the trail was completed, Chris Scott and Anstr Davidson were the first to complete The Ring. This is now an annual event over Labor Day Weekend, hosted by Virginia Happy Trails Club. Your reward for finishing The Ring? You are now eligible to run "The Reverse Ring" in February.
It's a tough course. I've now completed both directions twice; it's hard to say which is harder. It's hot in early September, but cold in the winter.
It's finally sinking in to me what a big deal this was, what Cam accomplished. It's certainly one thing to finish The Ring. The Ring will beat you up. You will be depleted, your feet will hurt, and if you are anyone besides Keith Kipling or Dan Rose, you are probably pretty sleep deprived.
So first Cam runs The Ring. Jim Harris accompanies him. They have limited aid. Their first aid stop is 25 miles from the start, at Camp Roosevelt. Their next aid is Moreland Gap, at mile 40.7. These two stops were crewed by me, so they had hot food, and access to gear. Their next two aid drops were simply caches that I left, at Edinburg Gap and Woodstock, 48.7 and 56.9 miles respectively. They then just have one spring at Powell's Fort to resupply with water, then the climb to Signal Knob.
The climb up and down Signal Knob sucks. If you have not done The Ring, you cannot understand how badly this feels at mile 68 of your adventure.
But Cam is not done here. He's descended back to the parking lot. He gets some food, and now he heads out alone, because Jim was just pacing him for the first loop. Now Cam is alone, to finish The Reverse Ring, on his own.
But this is "The Reverse Ring" day soon-the runners will be starting at 6am, so at least there will be other runners on the course. And, eventually, there will be the awesome volunteers out. So Cam can interact and gain some energy from the other humans out there.
The weather has changed. It is now cold. The winds are sustained, and probably around 30 MPH. Sustained.
Cam soldiers on. He gets to interact with the other runners, and get support from the Aid Stations, and Jim Harris was crewing him.
I finally catch up to Cam at around mile 122 (or so) of his journey. He is tired. He is sleep deprived. His feet hurt. I pace him in. He is still doing incredible at this time. He really is not complaining. He does tell me he is complaining in his head. But outwardly, other than mentioning how much things hurt, he is not complaining. It's more matter of fact. There is no whining.
I take it as a huge compliment that Cam knew I was behind him on the trail and would eventually catch up. He knew I would not be quitting The Reverse Ring, just as I knew he would complete his Double.
|I love this picture. Kim Cam Jim|
Cam showed great strength, endurance, positivity, and graciousness on the Massanutten Trail this weekend.
I am honored to call him my friend. I am blown away by his accomplishment. I'm proud to be part of his adventure.
We have levels of "status" among our ultra running group. Cam goes right to the top, for this accomplishment: