The inaugural Jarmans Invitational Marathon was held August 2 on the gravel portion of Jarmans Gap Road that climbs up Bucks Elbow and Calf Mountains to the Appalachian Trail. Starting at noon, 41 runners from Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland gathered at the base of Jarmans Gap Road for the run and ran three miles and 1600 feet up the mountain, then turned around and ran back to the bottom. This was repeated five times for a total of 29 miles and 7,600 feet of total elevation gain and loss.
The race was the idea of Crozet Running owner John Andersen and his teammate Dan Spearin. “We both did a ‘triple Jarmans’ one day when training for a long distance race and jokingly said, ‘We should do a Jarmans Marathon!’” said Andersen. “Distance runners really love a challenge, so we made what we thought would be a really challenging, and honestly downright miserable run.”
Plans for a tough day were “ruined,” Andersen quipped, by unseasonably cool weather. “The weather was so cool and overcast, so that was great. And the trail and ultrarunning community has some of the most positive and genuine people I know. Going up and down in a multi-loop format allowed everyone to interact all day long, so it really made the miles go by quickly. I made so many new friends.”
Andersen was quick to point out that “The J.I.M” wasn’t an official race or a marathon. “There was no fee or official registration required, and no medals or finishers awards handed out. It was really just a bunch of great people coming together to do what they love, run in the mountains with friends.”
Of course some runners gave it their all, as Crozet native-son Michael Dubovsky, running his first-ever ultramarathon gave eventual winner Nicholas DiPirro a run for his money. DiPirro finished all five laps in an incredible 4 hours and 21 minutes with Dubovsky just 5½ minutes behind. The first place women’s finisher was Rachel Kelley from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in 5 hours and 5 minutes. Mikael Herlevsen of Crozet also ran for his first ultramarathon finish. Thirty-three runners finished all five laps.
Runners had a potluck-style aid station at the bottom of the hill, sharing drinks and snacks including donuts and ice cream during the run. A train passed once, stopping several runners temporarily, and there were two bear sightings on the course.
“Today was what running is all about” said Andersen. “Community, encouragement, challenge, and perseverance. It was a great day.”