Thursday, June 21, 2012

Old Dominion 100

The OD 100 is all about tradition, a great varied course, and "a fair test of running 100 miles in one day."  The race was started in 1979 by Wayne and Pat Botts and is now directed by Pat's daughter Wynne Botts and her husband Ray Waldron.  There's a lot of great history at the link in the previous sentence and I won't attempt a synopsis.  I once read a quote by Greg Soderlund to the effect that you can't call yourself an ultra runner unless you've run the W$ 100.  I disagree and would add that the OD 100 is probably more about ultra running's roots than Western.  The race is still low key and all about the challenge of running 100 miles in under 24 hours.  For any of you newer runners reading this do OD!  There's no lottery and it's cheaper by far.  Talk to Pat and Ray and Wynne about the old days.  They'll be there and there won't be 3000 others competing for their attention.

Ray Waldron starting the race briefing which includes all you need to know about the course as well as much history.

The barn at the Shenandoah County Fair Grounds where the race starts/finishes.

Pat Botts talking about the origin of all this madness.

Liz and I went into this race as the 4th 100 mile run in 22 days and we felt it going in.  Leaving the 2nd aid station with Konrad Gannon we were told that we were the last runners!  Yikes!  I'm not used to being the caboose.  I knew that there were lots of people going out too fast and the I would catch many later in the day but it was weird to be at the back of the pack.  Liz and I had really lucked out weather wise at both the Keys 100 and Nanny Goat with cooler than normal temps and that luck held through OD.  It was actually comfortable running all day long with low temps and low humidity.  There were only a few times that I got warmer than comfortable and this is rare for this run.  It can easily be in the mid 90's with high humididty.

A few notes about the course.  I think the defining characteristic about this course is how varied and beautiful it is.  There are climbs but also a lot of very runnable terrain.  There is asphalt, beautiful rural country dirt roads in Fort Valley, cruiser single track, and being in the Massanuttens there are sections that are all about rocks.  Liz and I both have run this several times but seem to have blocked out the rocky sections as we both wore road shoes the whole way and regretted it.  If you're fresh and don't have so many 100's on your feet road shoes would work but we both had feet that felt on fire by the end.  I finished in 25:40 and Liz in 27:23, personal worsts on the course for both of us.

Another great thing about OD is the post race breakfast held on Sunday morning.  So many races nowadays don't have anything like this.  You come, you run, you get in the car and drive away.  I really value the time to sit and tell war stories and catch up with people I only see a few times a year.  Hooray for this tradition!

My final message about OD is if you haven't done it get out there and experience some ultra history!  The RD's are not big on marketing and they are definitely not there to make money.  This race is great value and if you pass the fair challenge of running this historic course in 24 hours or less you will receive a very nice real silver belt buckle that is well earned and part of ultrarunnings roots.

Race count  Liz (16)  Scott (11)


  1. Good job L&S...keep it going!
    I agree about OD, I ran it in 2000 and it is one of my better 100 mile race memories. Plus I ran it in 23:0? on a 90+ degree day, so got that nice buckle.
    See you in Silverton!

  2. Soon! Can't wait for Camp Hardrock. Looking forward to seeing you and Deb!