Saturday, June 16, 2007 -- Canaan Valley State Park
& Monongahela National Forest, Davis, WV
Highlands Sky 40 Mile Trail Run
East Coast Runners Flock to Highland Sky
Story and photos by JR Petsko
Hosted by Canaan Valley Resort and Conference Center and the West Virginia Mountain State Trail Runners, this event is a point-to-point course. Traversing through the Dolly Sods and Canaan Valley it includes some of the most rugged and beautiful terrain in West Virginia. Windswept plains ranging from 2500 to 4700 feet in elevation make up the Dolly Sods area. Terrain varies from woodland paths, to rock and boulder, upland bogs, through northern hardwoods at lower elevations, to Red Spruce and heath barrens above 4000 feet.
After a brief chat with the starting line crowd of onlookers, it was my turn to head up the mountain. On my way up about ten to twelve miles into the course I found a beautiful stream crossing. Not long after I set up a group of three runners made their way towards my camera lens. The threesome included Bradley Mongold of Morgantown, WV, Dennis Bauer, and Brian Schmidt of Leesburg, VA. The three men kept a very quick pace. Five minutes or so later two more runners climbed up the trail in hot pursuit of the leaders.
Six or seven miles into another section of the course, close to aid station #3, the course made a steep turn up the mountain side testing runners of all abilities. The pecking order among racers wasn't changing a great deal except for Mongold, the leader of the Ultra crew. He was starting to pull away, a little off the front creating a large gap in the field. After the steep climb aid station 3 was a welcome site to everyone.
Next stop, a clearing about 5 miles from the finish. Sitting by the trail waiting for the leader and/or leaders to come out of the forest into the field, I wondered if Mongold would be the face I would see first. And it was.
Mongold would go on to take the overall win it a fantastic time of 6:27:58, bettering his time in 2006 by nearly fifteen minutes. Dennis Bauer and Brian Schmidt crossed the line together in 7:06:56 and 7:06:57 in second and third. PF Potvin took home fourth place honors by finishing in 7:13:55 with Lew McGrath taking fifth in 7:17:35.
For the females, Justine Morrison improved her 2006 second place to win the women's overall this year with a time of 7:31:06. Sophie Speidel put in a great race taking second crossing the finish line in 8:30:22. Amy Leigh Brown took home third in 9:03:23. Cynthia Sanchas finished fourth in 9:07:35 and Melissa Simmens rounded out the top five in 9:20:29.
For the Record : Just being a part of this event is something in itself. I tip my hat, or visor rather, to all the participants who finished or even just attempted to run in the event. Thanks to Dan and all his staff for putting on such a great run. I hope to be back next year and see you all again, and to all of you who hung out around the campfire the night before the race, it was nice talking to you.