by Tim Stanley
I am not much of an ultrarunner anymore but running on trails is in my blood! This story started 24 years ago on April 24, 1993 when I was one of 60 starters who ran the 1st battle of the Bull Run Run 50 Miler put on by the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club. VHTRC members, that included Ed Demoney, Anstr Davidson, Joe Clapper, Chris Scott, Scotty Mills, and others, created a race that would attract large numbers of ultrarunners over the years.
Life happens to all of us, and for a variety of reasons this 50 miler became my one ultra each year. I just kept showing up at the start line. In 2007 I started to suffer from pain in my left leg, and I wore a sleeve on my quad. Over the next few years I added a sleeve on my calf, a knee brace, something for shin splints, and ultimately I wore compression tights, all on my left leg. I visited my orthopedic surgeon yearly to ultimately learn the root cause of the pain in my left leg was arthritis in my hip, and he told me to just stop running. I listened to the doctor but somehow I always ended up at the start line in April for the BRR 50. My times got slower and the pain got worse but I was able to finish almost every year.
This year I finally decided to have hip replacement surgery, and I scheduled it for February but then it got moved to April 20. So there I was again on April 9th at the start line of the BRR. Each year is special and 2016 was no different. Although I only made it 16.6 miles, I got to experience rain, hail, snow, mud, and thunder. But the weather was not the story. Tom Green was the story as he returned to start for the 24th consecutive year after a near death accident last April! Gary Knipling was the story as he had just suffered a stroke and could not make it to the start line this year, but the stories on the trails were all about Gary! Every runner and volunteer had a “Gary story.” Frank Probst was the story as he finished again, and he is the only runner to complete all 24 BRR 50 races.
So the most important thing about this story was that it is the people that make our sport special. It is Tom, Gary, Frank and others! It is my wife, Melanie, and our families that support us. It is the volunteers and the runners that create an awesome community! And, it is the trails and spending time outside in nature.