Saturday, April 29, 2006 -- Clifftop - Babcock State Park, WV
Babcock Gristmill Grinder - MSTR #2 (iPO Event Id#: 7263)
Story and photos by Julie Black
Featuring over 4,100 acres of rolling terrain, the park's trail system is ideal for the 12-mile Babcock Gristmill Grinder run. The second race in the 2006 Mountain State Trail Run (WVMTR) Series, the run attracts a hearty core of trail running regulars.
"Greetings Dan." I say with a shake in my voice feeling the morning air on the nape my neck. Dan Lehmann is the head of the WV Mountain Trail Runners. Set up in the pavilion, bright smile and capped as always, his attention is on registration. It's a great day, great day indeed.
"I want pictures!" says Tim Daly, a trail runner, kayaker, doctor, and father of five. How he finds the time to do all that he does I'll never know, but I'm more than happy to take his picture a number of times.
"Miserable, well, miserable don't make for good pictures." I think to myself. Misery may love company, but I'll pass on that one today. Skyline Trail is my first choice, and then I'll scoot downhill and head them off at the pass before they hit the uphill finish. Perfect!
Reaching my destiniation, the overlook at Skyline, I sit and wait. Quiet as a mouse, I watch the breeze make the tall pines sway. I hear the distant roar of the river below and a few crows cackling over their breakfast.
More runners in small groups make their way through the dense forest top. The wind is kicking, and the uphill climb wasn't easy, I can tell by them breathing heavily.
Just before hitting pavement in the last 3 or more miles of the course it was clear that Michael Bee had left the fast pack behind him in the woods. He took first in 1:30:00. The next three runners battled up the last hill within a minute of each other. David Bee was second with a (1:33:42), Joel Wolpert (1:34:25), in third, and Bradley Mongold crossed the line in fourth at 1:34:47.
Emily Chaney and Katie Aerni cruised the trail together and became fast friends along the way. Talking up the trail, one would think they were out on a Sunday jog. Chaney pulled ahead in the end to spread things out and finished 10th overall and first for the women in 1:48:19. Aerni (1:49:02), crossed for a respectable second. Anne Olashanski rounded out the women's top spots in 2:04:43. Only a few racers got off course, and several racers met at Pies and Pints to trade their stories.
Editor's Note... As I returned to the cabin my family and I were staying at in Babcock, I watched my 3-year old son pretend to be a trail runner for the next few hours. I believe the observant little fellow ran a few miles of his own, round and round the picnic table, over the roots and rocks, high-five to Mommy and back again and again. Generation next on the mountain scene. It's true, West Virginia is still an undiscovered gem in many ways. The green rolling hills and lush mountain paths have a story to tell. Ask the trail runners who live and run here, they know, pass it on.