Thursday, August 19, 2010

Remembering Martha

Last weekend I joined the gang for the Martha Moats Baker Memorial 50K++(MMB). This run was created by Dennis Herr, an ultra legend whose trail nickname is "The Animal." If you go back and read past issues of Ultrarunning from the 1980s and 90s, you will see Dennis' name at the top of the race results for Hardrock, Wasatch, and Leadville, just to name a few.

What I love about Dennis, and the runs that he hosts, is that he is all about adventure and tough trails. No "candy ass" trails for the Animal---just long climbs, long descents, and gnarly trail. He also respects the history that is behind MMB--- 85 years ago, Martha was making her way from one side of Brushy Mountain to another in a snowstorm when she perished in the cold. We are privileged to now run those same roads and trails for fun and recreation, but we never forget Martha. Dennis always asks us to say a little prayer for her as we run by.

MMB starts and finishes in the Wild Oak Trail parking area, site of TWOT 100 and Grindstone 100 aid stations. The initial 13-mile climb up Little Bald to Reddish Knob takes 3 hours, and on a clear day, offers views clear to West Virginia and beyond. On Saturday we had rain and fog, so no views...but here are some pics from last year's run:

The gang running towards Reddish Knob

Sophie and Hallie atop Reddish Knob

Hallie is nursing an injury this year, so she had to miss the fun...but the usual suspects returned, along with new friends. I enjoyed running with Ragan and Amy and showing them the parts of the Grindstone course that MMB shares, Martha's gravestone, as well as hammering down Heartstone Ridge Trail in the cool rain. Finally, I felt like a runner again in those cooler temperatures! It was also awesome to see 100-ultra-stud Bill Gentry at the Dog Graveyard with popsicles and other treats. The aid rivaled many ultras out there, and the post-run party under the VHTRC tent was a blast as usual. We waited all afternoon eating yummy treats and drinking a variety of beverages for the runners who opted to run 27 or 35 miles...and in one case, almost 50 miles (that is a story for another time and blog post!).

Thank you, Dennis, for another awesome tour of the trails you love so dearly...and rest in peace, Martha Moats Baker.


Rick Gray said...

You always speak so highly of Dennis' MMB. One day I am going to have to venture up so that I can enjoy that long climb up to Reddish Knob. I can't wait for cooler temps and it sounds like you had just a little bitty taste of cooler weather last weekend. Sorry about the rain and lack of views, but it sounds like you and the rest of the gang enjoyed themselves. Have a great weekend.

olga said...

It's a great way to keep memories alive.
p.s. Love the top picture.