Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Virginia Slam

On October 13-14, 2007, my friend Keith Knipling completed the "Virginia Slam" of 100-mile trail races by finishing the fall version of the Wild Oak Trail (Hot TWOT)100 in a course record time of 27:11. The Virginia Slam is currently the Cold TWOT, the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100, The Old Dominion Memorial 100, the Old Dominion 100, and the Hot TWOT. Keith was the first finisher in each these events with the exception of Massanutten, where he finished third.

Quatro Hubbard and I had the honor of running the last 8 miles with Keith, and watching his calm and focused attitude at the end of this grueling event was extremely inspiring. He was running at an easy and comfortable pace and didn't seem tired or stressed, and he ran this final 26-mile loop in 8:03, which is considered fast for even one loop. The TWOT 100 has nearly the same total elevation gain as the Hardrock 100 (about 32,000 feet total, 8,000 per loop). Keith's time at TWOT was in the same range as the leaders of the 2007 Hardrock 100 (although Keith downplayed that comparison because of Hardrock's altitude). Nevertheless, it is a remarkable achievement. I took a video of Keith running with about a mile to go, and of the finish.

Keith's father Gary, with whom he finished the Grand Slam in 2006, was at the finish line waiting to greet Keith, along with Dennis Herr, the founder of the TWOT 100 and the first person to finish all four loops. Dennis' daughter Holly was also there to lend support. Here are the guys celebrating (click for larger):

Congratulations, Keith! Happy Trails!

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