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Saturday, April 19, 2008 -- Danese, WV / Babcock State Park
Babcock Gristmill Grinder-MSTR #1 (iPO Event Id#: 10714)

[Details] [Coverage] [Photos] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]

Coverage: [2005] [2006] [2007]

Photo by Jason Black
Donnie welcomes old friends
New Faces, Old Places

Article by Julie Black, photos by Jason Black

Four years and seven plus miles ago, the Babcock Gristmill Grinder Trail Run was birthed.

Look in any national or local bank calendar and you'll find the Babcock State Park's Glade Creek Grist Mill. The living monument is one of the most photographed mills in the nation. The race route, run and walk, took participants right by the infamous mill.

The run itself is becoming quite popular. It's now part of three series. Locally, it's the first race in the West Virginia Mountain State Trail Run Series (MSTR) and the Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine Cup Series. Nationally the race is part of the Trail Runner Magazine Trophy Series.

WVMTR leader, Dan Lehmann said this about the trail, "Climbs, descents, technical single-track, double track, bridge crossings, the grist mill and other scenic views provided runners with plenty to keep their minds occupied during the 13.2 mile route."

Photo by Jason Black
Beth Hudspeth waves hello
It's true, the Babcock course is certainly the main attraction. Most of the course is quite "runnable" even for a beginner trail runner like me. With a few steep sections uphill and down, not many wash-outs, and little pavement to deal with, the overall course receives a whole heartedly thumbs-up. The best part about these trails is that they offer amazing views, and great woodsy smells.

Race director, Donnie Hudspeth, commented, "What a great race this year. Perfect weather, a last minute course change that I think raised the fun level for the course, a reunion with old running friends, and a making of new friends. What an awesome group of folks! I have had some fantastic feedback and let me tell you it was the most fun race I have put on in a long time."

With 71 participants who did the run Donnie has a lot to be happy about. Plus, more people entered the walk this year than ever before. At the start, the total show of hands for newcomers never having run at Babcock before was amazing.

That is not to say that there weren't any familiar faces.

Photo by Jason Black
Michael Bee runs Skyline Trail
Michael Bee is name that many local trail runners hear all the time. He's the defending the defending 2006 and 2007 MSTR series champion. Thanks to a first place win at Babcock, finishing with a time of 1:35.45, Bee currently leads the series for 2008.

Although Bee was running on his home turf, he was not unchallenged.

Hugh Davis of Tell City, Indiana was not even close to home and new to the course. But no matter, he's the 2006 Trail Runner Magazine Trophy Series Men's Marathon and Shorter Division Champion.

In an Excerpt from Trail Runner magazine Davis's passion for running is explained, "In his hometown of 8000 people, Davis and his running habit stand out-although another local, Brian Beckort, finished second in the final Trophy Series standings. Also, few of Davis' coworkers understand his zeal for the sport. He's been called "Runner Man" and "Forrest Gump" plenty of times. Yet he takes it in stride. "They probably judge me as an oddity, but that's fine with me," says Davis, "because I can hold my own in any company."

Davis finished 1:38.36 on the day, making him 2nd overall, earning him overall points in the 2008 Trail Runner series. Scott Robinson claimed 3rd overall in 1:40.21.

University runner, Sarah Sturgill, age 23 of Hurricane, WV dominated the women's field with a first place time of 1:54.55, earning her 11th overall. Sturgill is currently leading the women's race for points in the MSTR Series.

Also 23, Sherry Spiker, claimed 2nd in 2:01.26. Nearly double their age, Robin Weiner, 49, who was last year's women's overall winner, finished 3rd overall this year with a time of 2:02.34. She was only 1 minute 8 seconds out of 2nd place.

For the Record:

Photo by Jason Black
Pete Daly over the swinging bridge
Continuing with my personal quest to "play" more outside this year, I raced in the Babcock Trail Run. I almost opted out, believing that I had not trained hard enough for the half-marathon jaunt. I've never even run a short trail run. But my friend Pete Daly expressed great interest in the event and asked if he could run it with me.

Now, how could I say no?

I was pleasantly surprised to never get out of breath. We did lose the trail at the very beginning which may have cost us 5 or 10 minutes, but we were with a small group of other trail losers (snicker, snicker). Pete and I eyed a pacer, or at least, someone we assumed that we could keep up with and trudged forward.

We tried to keep the pace of Dennis Hamrick, but somewhere before the last gradual uphill climb, he left our sight.

Jason and Julie Black
Jason and Julie Black post-race, photo by Dan Lemann,
So, we paced off of each other, walking much of the fire road trail before hitting the lake trail. The entire race was a wonderful experience.

Honorable mention goes out to Dave Morrison, a sports editor at The Register-Herald. We passed him somewhere in the middle of the race, but he finished only 1 minute and 47 seconds behind us. Pete and I were both amazed at his persistence. Hats off to you Dave!

I'm not sure what my favorite part was, the people, the trail, the experience, or maybe the pain and pleasure. I found this quote that seems to tell it best.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." Excerpt from a poem by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken.