Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Wild Oak Trail, 2009

Twice a year in February and October, ultra legend Dennis Herr hosts a run around the Wild Oak Trail, affectionately known around these parts as TWOT. One loop of this sweet single track trail boasts about 8,000 feet of climb over 25 miles. Most runners opt for one loop and the parking lot party, while others go out for a second loop under the full moon. Some folks even attempt four loops, the TWOT 100.

This year was perfect for at least two loops, as temps were in the 60s during the day on Saturday and the sky was clear for the full moonlight.
Four runners, Emily Grossman, Mitchell Goodman, Mike Dobies and Andy Peterson went out on a second loop but only Mike, his friend Pat, and Andy finished the loop...that road crossing at 10 miles leading back to camp is just too seductive in the middle of the night!

I ran with Bobby Gill, John Cassilly, Marlin Yoder, and Marc Griffin for most of the morning until John and Marlin dropped us like a sack of potatoes climbing Big Bald. By that time, the fluffy snow of the morning that had been so fun to run in was now slushy, not-so-fun snow. Throw in the ridiculous climb up Big Bald, and you have a freaking hard climb. But hey, that's why we love TWOT so much---you get three long, hard climbs, a fabulous, runnable trail, and Dennis catering to our every whim, so it's hard to hate Big Bald for long.

I enjoyed running with Marc and Bobby. Marc and I tried to scare Bobby, who is running in the Beast series this year, with tales of Grindstone, which shares a lot of the TWOT course. As we were climbing Big Bald and going into anaerobic debt doing so, Bobby asked, "Does Grindstone-gasp-have climbs-gasp-as hard as-gasp-this one-gasp?" To which we replied in unison, "Yes, and harder." Silence.

Bobby, who just started running in 2008, was a good sport and took it all in stride, including creating his own ode to TWOT. In fact, there were a bunch of young (read: 20-something) runners out there, including the JMU mountain bike crowd, who came into the parking lot hooting and hollering "I had so much fun out there!" That's a pic of those young guns, below.

It's cool that a new generation has discovered what we've known for awhile---that the Wild Oak Trail is truly a special place and we are indebted to Dennis for introducing us to its beauty. Thanks, Dennis, for another memorable TWOT!

Here's the link to results

Here's the link to my pics.

Here's the link to Charlie's pics.


running etc said...

Great report, buddy. I feel like I was there. :)

Sophie Speidel said...

Wish you had been there! I met a friend of yours whose name is escaping me now---he runs with you. He finished well ahead of us so he is fast!

Let's plan a run in the Sugar Hollow/Rip Rap area...Feb 21 work?

Griffin said...

I think you should make it the week after so i can go. I am going to Canada to see my parents taht weekend.

ultrastevep said...


Sorry we had to miss out on some TWOT fun this year. We did come down for 2 loops last year in the ice storm aftermath. It always seems to be nice when we "don't" come down! That doesn't bide well for Reverse Ring, which should be a raging blizzard =:-0


B.Gill said...

Hey, I *gasp* wasn't *gasp* suffering any more *gasp* than you two!

Thanks for the Tour de TWOT! I'm definitely looking forward to getting back out there for some more.

running etc said...

Sugar Hollow/Rip Rap could work Saturday, Feb. 21 ... i think i can get grandparents to take Ben to hoops.

Here's hoping that i do NOT get stuck reffing a b-ball playoff game in FARMVILLE that day ...

Sophie Speidel said...

Gentry, plan on the 21st if we can.

Marc, I can't run the 28th b/c of my daughter's b'day...sorry!

Bobby---yes, we were suffering just like you, no worries, we just fake it better! Great climbing and running out there on the Tour de TWOT! We will most definitely run another loop for Gstone training in the summer.

Kiry said...

Sophie, great write-up and photos! Thanks for capturing my triumph!

Michael Huff said...


Sounds like you had a great time. I have never run the TWOT but do remember those trails from Grindstone, big climbs. I ran the ICY 8-Hour on Saturday and did not have to contend with big climbs, although, sometimes the climbs can offer a well needed walking break. Run Strong!

annette bednosky said...


Folks have soo much fun at your runs! Cool! I am planning a tough yet casual adventure for 3/22 in and around Doughton Park (Blue Ridge Pkwy) -32ish mile adventure and am currently trying to figure out out to post it on a sharing website...Yet if a 9am start at Basin Cove Overlook on the Parkway with no support and a handful or 2 of kindred spirits sound good-please join us!
Thank you for being you!

Sophie Speidel said...

Mike--come run TWOT with us next time. The section that are not Gstone trails are really tough but beautiful. Congrats on the ICY0-8!

Annette, I would love to join you 3-22 but have lacrosse all weekend...also tapering for Terrapin the next weekend. But one of these days I would love to run the Balds of that the Art Loeb trail? Keep me posted on your adventures!

Did you see the awesome article in March Runners World about Bob Wilder, Jay Dicharry, and "staying injury-free?" I am going to blog about it in the next few days. Check it out!!