“Grit, endurance, temporary loss of sanity. You might need all of these if you want to attempt Grindstone. If you want to finish, well, just keep in mind this is, without a doubt, the hardest 100 miler east of the 100th meridian. Now that you’re hooked, Grindstone is going to be an incredible adventure for each and every entrant. From the beautiful start/finish location at Camp Shenandoah to the monster climbs and the solitude of single track ridge running, you just can’t beat Grindstone… but you can try!”
– Race Director (Clark Zealand) –
Course Description (Wikipedia)
Grindstone 100 miler is an annual 101.85 mile long ultramarathon that takes place on trails in Virginia’s Allegheny Mountains, usually the first weekend of October. The race starts at Camp Shenandoah, a local camp of the Boy Scouts of America. Beginning at Camp Shenandoah, this out-n-back course ascends and descends Little North Mountain before climbing over 2400 ft (740m) in 4 miles (6.4km) to the summit of Elliott Knob. The course then proceeds north following the ridge-line of the Great North Mountain range, crossing over to and following the Wild Oak Trail before continuing north to the summit of Reddish Knob. Runners continue north to Briery Branch Gap before retracing their steps (without summiting Elliott & Reddish) back along the course to Camp Shenandoah. Runners climb a cumulative total of 23,200 feet (7,140m) and descend a total of 23,200 feet (7,140m) on mountain trails before reaching the finish.
The aid station break down
My race plan, a little high for the A goal, but I took the chance
The loop from/to the Start and FInish area
Zen Till The End
Almost 4 months prior to the race, I failed to finish UTMB in France, which rattled my brain pretty bad. Although I knew I could not be more ready to finish a 100 mile mountain race then ever, but mentally I was shaken and lost my confidence. So a couple weeks before the race, when I did my pre-race plan, I got a little panic attack. Shit got real. I talked with some friends and my coach, finally a week later I found my peace. I just had to set my goal (finish) and nothing else matter. It would be all about mental toughness, my coach said. Other friend told me, to see the UTMB as my Grindstone training, and nothing could be more fancy then that.
Race day minus 1, Chang and I drove after work half-day to Shenadoah Valley Virginia, and it was a long drive, probably 6.5 hour. We had dinner at Baja Bean in Staunton, an ok Mexican restaurant, and went straight to campsite to pitch our tents. The race wouldn’t start until 6pm, so I slept in until 10 ish. Then the slow day begin, picked my up bib, had lunch and race briefing, sort out drop bag for last check, and more nap. Oh by the way, the race’s swags were plenty and awesome.