Epic Races of the Shenandoah Valley

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In the Shenandoah Valley, more and more people are looking for new ways to test their fitness, or maybe their sanity.

Considering events that combine running, cycling and paddling, or more “conventional” ultra-marathons, or maybe just a winter mud run, there is no shortage of ways to push your limits this year. Here we share some representative ways you can exhaust yourself outdoors. Watch our Events listings for more as the year progresses.

Adventure Enablers
If it can be done outside, Adventure Enablers can help you do it. Their races may be one day to several, and combine running, cycling, and paddling – plus map and compass skills. Coming this spring is the Shenandoah Strong– April 13, 2019—where racers will have eight hours to cover up to 45 miles by kayak/canoe, on foot, and mountain bike over rugged terrain. Be prepared for 10-15 miles of trekking, 12 miles of paddling on the Shenandoah River, and about 15-20 miles of mountain biking. Start and finish at the Downriver Canoe Company in Bentonville. Registration is $115 per team member and $135 for “soloists” until February 28, 2019.

If the “Strong” is not your bag, try the Shenandoah Aquablaze, also April 13, which involves 12 miles of paddling and 13 miles of running. Then on May 11, 2019, you can ride the Shenanduro. Race either a 6- or 12-hour mountain bike course in Shenandoah River State Park. See the full calendar here. 

Massanutten Resort
Massanutten Resort in MaGaheysville is scheduled to hold two challenging cycling events this year, and may have others in the pipeline. On April 27-28 Massanutten will offer the YEE-HA Downhill Mountain Bike Race on their Bike Park trails near the ski slopes. Then on June 1 and 2 will be the HOO-HA! Enduro & XC Mountain Bike Race on Massanutten’s Western Slopes – 3493 Happy Valley Road, Keezletown, VA. A third event held last year in cooperation with Bryce Bike Park—the 81DHuro—is a maybe for 2019. “We are uncertain if the 81DHuro will continue in 2019 or if we will offer a different race in its place, said Massanutten’s Guest Services Manager Ian McAlexander. We’ll keep you posted. See the race calendar here. 

Mad Anthony Mud Run
Mud runs are tough any time of year—but in February? The 8th Annual Mad Anthony Mud Run (honoring Waynesboro’s  namesake General Mad Anthony Wayne) is February 23, 2019, starting at 9:00 a.m. at Coyner Springs Park. In past years, temperatures have ranged from nine degrees to 60. Make your way over 4.5 miles of man-made obstacles, deep mud in creeks, swamps and woods, and across water traps on wet, narrow wooden beams. Select a start time based on an expected finish of: less than one hour, one hour and 30 minutes or less, or more than one hour and 30 minutes.

Entry/Registration: Until January 2, 2019 – $40 / January 3 until February 6 – $50 / February 7 until February 20 – $60 / Packet Pickup (Home Depot) and Race Day (Coyner Springs Park) registration available for $65. Call 540-942-6735 for more information. The Mad Anthony is part of the Run the Valley Race Series, which includes other challenges like the Park to Park Half Marathon on April 27. The 13.1 mile route goes from Augusta County’s Stuarts Draft Park to Waynesboro’s Ridgeview Park.

41st Annual 100 Mile Old Dominion Endurance Run
Endurance is the right word here. The race will start June 1, 2019 at 4 a.m. from the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds in Woodstock. The course is open for 28 hours but the idea is to finish under 24 to earn a sterling silver buckle. (Last year’s winner finished in 17:01:45.) You’ll run a combination of trails, forest service roads, logging roads and other surfaces in and around the George Washington National Forest/ Massanutten Mountain/Fort Valley area. Much of the race lies in beautiful Shenandoah County.  Be prepared for 14 serious climbs and 14,000 feet of elevation gain. Entry Fee: $185 through May 19th. May 20th-25th, $220. No entries accepted after May 25. To qualify, you need to have run a 50-mile race or greater, within the time limits of that race, between last year’s Old Dominion and this year’s. For more, call 540-933-6901.

Alpine Loop Gran Fondo
Set for September 29, 2019, the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo combines cycling and fundraising in support or various charitable causes such as prostate cancer detection. The route begins in Harrisonburg and rolls 110 miles, featuring over 10,000 feet of climbing. With five routes of varying length, surfaces and terrain, there is opportunity for cyclists of all experience levels. As the name suggests, the ride takes in views and climbs not unlike those that founder Jeremiah Bishop rode as a professional cyclist in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. One Facebook comment on this event read, “Such a tough, grueling ride through some of the most beautiful scenery in the east. The organizers know how to treat cyclists right, too. They park your bike at the finish, hand you a cold water, put a bell around your neck, and take your picture. Everyone who finishes is made to feel like a champion.” Call 540-246-7673.

Grindstone 100 Miler
This landmark ultra-marathon takes runners along, up and over trails in the Allegheny Mountains. The 2019 race is the first weekend of October. The race starts and ends at Camp Shenandoah, about 10 miles west of Staunton. If all 100-milers are tough, the Grindstone is especially so. The out-n-back course includes going up and down Little North Mountain, climbing over 2,400 feet to the summit of Elliott Knob, running the ridgeline of the Great North Mountain range, and onto the summit of Reddish Knob. Runners continue north to Briery Branch Gap before retracing their steps (minus the summits) back to Camp Shenandoah. Runners climb a cumulative total of 23,200 feet on mountain trails before reaching the finish. The race organizer’s website is under construction but online entries usually open April 1. Call 434-846-2333.

Photo courtesy Mad Anthony Mud Run

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