Monday, February 14, 2011

Old Dominion 100

Admittedly, I am something of a newbie to the whole ‘ultra running’ thing.  I’ve put quite a bit of miles on these legs over the past few years and made great new friends along the way.  I’ve run on old trails and new trails, run with old studs and young studs, run old school races and newer ones.  But still, as fast as this sport seems to be evolving each ultra that I have run, I think, maintains a vibe that feels quintessentially old school.  It is my ultimate hope that this ‘feeling’ never changes no matter how many new races, runners or sponsorship dollars come down the pike.  In my experience, no race maintains such a feeling quite like the Old Dominion 100.
It was on the first Saturday of June 2008, on the second recorded hottest day of the year, for the entire year, when I ran the Old Dominion 100- my first 100 mile and only two months out from when I ran my first ultra, the Bel Monte 50 mile.  It wasn’t even until a week or two after Bel Monte that I decided 100% to line up at the Old Dominion; trained up I was not.  The heat and humidity was unbearable.  There was no wind, there was no rain.  At mile 50 I came down with a severe case of shin splints in my right leg.  I ran on.  At mile 75 my right shin looked like it had a golf ball sticking out of it just above the ankle.  I ran on.  At mile 88 I ran off course.  Determined to finish I eventually found my way back on course and ran on.  Proudly, I finally finished and my life was forever changed.  My race report still lives at  Read it here.
I wear my well-earned Old Dominion silver buckle with pride to this day.  In fact, it is my favorite buckle.  Not just because of the experience but because it actually is the coolest buckle I have seen on the market.  Don’t just take my word for it.  The Old Dominion 100 begins at 4:00am the first Saturday of every June.  Sign up this year and earn one for yourself.  See what it feels like to run the second oldest 100 mile race in the United States, second only to Western States.  Soak in Virginia’s luscious early summer green scenery and rural mountain vistas through Fort Valley.  And leave your pacers at home because, save for a few craggy miles between mile 75-85 or so, they’re not allowed.  Plus, the Old Dominion 100 has a 28 hour cut off.  The Old Dominion is an old school race, on a runner’s course. 
Unfortunately, for several reasons for which I am too new school to understand, the Old Dominion’s popularity has waned in recent years.  Emotions, politics and other race options are all to blame.  No matter, the Old Dominion stands.  Sponsor-less, change-less, family managed still, the race is ready for old comers and new comers alike.  I am so grateful to have the Old Dominion in my backyard and can’t wait for June to give it another go.  My goals this time around will be much different than in 2008 and thankfully I already know of a handful of strong runners rumored to show up that will help push me to reach them.  The Old Dominion is a worthy race, be-fit of any strong runner.  Come on out and let’s give each other a go on the first Saturday in June.

1 comment:

  1. Good post, Neal. I'm looking forward to being there again this year! Joan