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Saturday, December 16, 2000 -- Kanawha State Forest, WV
Snowflake 50K Trail Run
Article by Mickey Jones with photos by Pam Anderson

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2] [Pic Set 3]
[1998 Coverage] [1999 Coverage]

Robert & Katherine
Just a 31+ mile stroll in the park
The third running of the Snowflake 50K was held in Kanawha State Forest near Charleston, WV on Saturday, December 16, 2000. The course is two loops of trails and inaccessible forest roads. The weather conditions leading up to the day of the race were variable at best and all hopes of snow had been vanquished. The race began at daylight with fifty-eight of the fifty-nine starters running. Initial weather conditions for the race were overcast, intermittent showers and a temperature in the low forties. As the race progressed the weather conditions went from good to marginal then to great and then unfortunately to terrible before the day was finished. Someone in the latter group of finishers had aptly remarked that it was a shame that the leaders ran so fast that they had missed the short portion of the day marked with sunshine and fifty degree temperatures. But for the most part it was rainy with the threat of severe storms on the horizon. The day took it's toll with eleven of the fifty-nine starters not finishing.

As the runners were advancing in the initial portion of the course and things had settled down, Tom Rogozinski (GA, 4:21:55) got to the start/finish area to pick up his race number and get started a little over six minutes behind the rest of the field. Tom overcame a number of obstacles, including being late and getting lost, to become the overall Champion of the 2000 Snowflake 50k. We also presented Tom with a color topo map of the area to remember his trip. I understand that Tom is currently attending the University of Georgia working on his Ph.D.; I hope that his doctoral thesis is not on time management or topography. It was amazing to hear others tell stories of how this runner came storming past them at various phases of the race.

Marks & Brown
Sharon Marks & Rick Brown feeling good at the half
We had one problem area with course markings that sent various runners in the wrong direction. It seems that someone had taken it upon themselves to remove markings at a critical turn that sent the leaders and others several miles in the wrong direction. Marks before and after the turn were left in place. Since this location was in a more remote area and we had just marked this area a couple days before the race along with various weather conditions we assumed that everything would be all right. I guess you know the assumption analogy.

Thankfully, Rick Freeman (PA) and Bill Gentry (VA, 5:14:00) stopped at that location to tie Rick's red bandanna to the tree to indicate a turn off of the ridge. After marking the turn, Rick hammered the long downhill and injured his Achilles which resulted in his first ultra DNF. It was rough on the defending champion having to drop out, but a great benefit to me in insuring course marking was adequate and having help working at the finish area. We went through the course to make sure that all of the turns were properly marked. We found the markings that had been originally at the Hoffman Hollow turn tied to trees leading over the hill to a very steep section in an area not on the course. Thankfully we were able to complete that process before anyone had finished the first loop.

Everyone was reminded at the start that if they weren't wearing blaze orange that they are considered targets in southern West Virginia, during hunting season, which seemed to make a couple of people nervous. We assured them that we were joking... somewhat. This race had early indications that we were destined for various problems, but it all worked out in the end. It seems that the week before the Snowflake 50k, a gas well drilling company decided it was time to start a new drilling site project. This would put their equipment and access to the site on a road that is normally closed to all access. This road was, and I emphasize was, a nice packed dirt and grassy road. But, it was transformed into a shoe sucking muddy and gravel embedded nightmare. To make the nightmare worse, they decided to move equipment in on the morning of the race. Although there were minimal problems, I got to witness a scene right out of Killdozer where a Caterpillar D6H dozer came down a hill behind a large group of runners, talk about a reason to push the pace. The second loop had less problems with the directions and heavy equipment and everyone survived the adventure.

Joni Adams
Joni Adams, female champion, does it again
In other results, the runner-up, Chip Allman (WV) finished a solid 4:27:29 even after getting off course briefly and taking a nasty fall that left a few marks. Chip held up well after the race until aerobics instructor, Sharon Marks (WV, 6:02:41) finished and threatened him with bodily harm. She finished her first ultra as the Female Masters Champion. Don Parks (WV, 4:33:20) restaked his claim to iPlayOutside bragging rights from Lew McGrath (WV, 5:08:40) by finishing third overall in a strong performance. The Male Master Champion and fourth overall, David Horton (VA, 4:34:37) overtook fifth place finisher Bruce Johnson (WV, 4:36:45) in the second loop at mile 25 and was closing in on third place when the race was over. The gap between the top five finishers was relatively even for the first loop and overall finish.

The Female Champion this year, Joni Adams (WV, 5:13:59) was also the defending female winner from 1999 and the course record holder. Joni had strong competition for the lead from Cynthia Sanchas (PA) until she had to withdraw after the first loop. Katherine Kapo (WV, 5:53:04) was the female runner-up and finishing twenty-third overall in a good performance. The third place women finisher was Elaine Wykle (WV, 6:15:21) who is trying to get some of her friends from Beckley to go the whole distance.

Local runner, race supporter and noted conversationalist John Sheets (WV, 6:24:37) had a good run and managed to finish the race alone without talking anyones leg off, that we know of. Maybe he did and they couldn't run anymore. John and Vic Ware (WV, 5:58:35) have been a big help in marking and cleaning the course. John Teague (IL, 5:56:03) finished the course without getting lost even though his friend and fellow runner Jeff McGonnell didn't come to put out wanted posters and directional notes like he did in 1998. Jeff indicated that John has the propensity for finding the adventurous direction.

Stephen Karoly
Oh, the stories that can be told...
It was nice to see Rob Apple (TN, 6:32:29) getting a chance to run the race again and finish with Dennis Hamrick (WV, 6:32:30). Dennis, the race co-director, was already in hot water for planning and running a race on his son's eighteenth birthday. He had a good finish so he could get home before figurative and literal storm clouds converged.

The determination of MaryAnn Yarborough (WV, 8:45:18) was admirable. Her goal was to be able to wear her shirt with pride for finishing. The last finisher was Bob Livitz (TX, 9:28:38) who had come all the way from Houston, Texas to run this race as part of the 50 states and DC series. Bob indicated that he had some difficulties with the hills since he described himself as a flatlander.

I would like to take time to recognize and thank all of our course and aid station volunteers; Jerry and June Hicks, Steve and Sandy Childress, Glen Jarrell, Bob Hansen, Josh Jones, Gary Phillips, Sandy Jones, Dave Toler, J.A. Gore and Big John. Also thanks to runners, Rick Freeman, Bruce Johnson and Bill Gentry for helping at the finish area. Special thanks are in order for Kanawha State Forest Superintendent John Hendley for his support and assistance.

This year the runner's finishing award was a diamond shape glass ornament. They, along with the overall awards, were crafted by Touch of Glass located in Hurricane, WV (Kevin@westvirginiaglass.com). The long sleeve Henley shirts were printed by Ron's Sporting Goods in Peytona, WV.

It is unfortunate that we do not know all of the stories that make a race special for each individual or have the capability to express the meaning of this event to everyone. Once again, we would like to thank the participants, volunteers and especially our families for allowing the third Snowflake 50K to be a successful and fun event. I can be reached by e-mail at mjjones_ultrapolecat@msn.com concerning future events and results. We will be updating the West Virginia Trail Run web pages after the first of the year to include registration, results and pictures; the address is www.WVTrailrun.com please check later for updates. Also you can check at www.iPlayOutside.com, which was formerly the West Virginia Outside site, for results. We plan to run the frigid fourth running of the Snowflake 50K on December 8, 2001.