Independence day is celebrated slightly differently in the VHTRC than with most typical Americans. Yes, we wear our red, white and blue and we drink our beer, but instead of sitting around on our lazy butts, we prefer to take in the enjoyment of the beauty that mother nature has bestowed upon these wonderful United States of America.
This was my first ever Browntown Loop, but the tradition has been carried on for 9 years now. Roughly 25 runners met at the Massie’s Corner and carpooled to the trail head. Now, like some other shindigs that I’ve been to with the club, an organized event is not technically allowed on these sections of trail, so the disorganization of the event allowed those “in charge” to deny any sort of responsibility for the run and/or post-run party.
The course took us through the usual Shenandoah National Park, an out-and-back to an overlook (pictured below), across Skyline Drive and onto some country roads that ultimately lead us into the small town of Browntown. I ran with Brad Hinton, Brian Schmidt and John Cassilly for the majority of the run. Sean Andrish also made appearances at the beginning and end, but his knee was causing problems from a fall a few weeks back so he took a shortcut across the AT instead of heading into Browntown. Once in Browntown, we were treated to our only aid station of the day, the general store for the small town. Being the frontrunners, we purchased some ice, water, soda and snacks and left any unused goods for the next batch of runners to make their way through.
Heading out of Browntown was a few more miles of road, followed by a nice steep climb up to the AT and Skyline Drive. After having left us many miles back, Sean Andrish caught back up and his knee was feeling better than ever. Great for him, bad for me! This dude is speedy, and for the last few miles of downhill, John Cassilly and myself struggled to keep up with Sean, Brad and Schmidty. Schmidty is actually tapering for his first 100 out at Vermont in a few weeks, so if this is his taper speed, he’s gonna rock it out at VT. (Side note: I am late in writing this blog post and Schmidty just yesterday ran the VT100… 5th place!)
John and myself finished the 21-mile loop in 3:56, just a few minutes behind the speed demons. It was a beautiful run to celebrate the 4th and we were able to soak in the cold stream post-run for recovery. I am glad to say that my IT Band didn’t act up one bit, and it hasn’t in over a month, so it looks like I’m back in action! The mileage is slowly getting back up there and I’m feeling great.