Fodderstack greets the elusive spring . . .

Lily Strange of Viewtown finishes last year's (soggy) Fodderstack 10K.Steve Eastham
Lily Strange of Viewtown finishes last year's (soggy) Fodderstack 10K.

Actually, we can’t sell that idea, since spring has basically been here since winter skedaddled out of Virginia hard on the heels of Santa Claus – but fear not, as the Rappahannock County Recreational Facilities Authority will be starting the Fodderstack 10K race at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 21! (Editor’s Note: John, kind of lame; Santa Claus references in April are nothing short of desperation; try to punch it up.)

The already middle-aged blooms of spring will be bright and shiny for the race which, we’ve decided to make more interesting this year through the installation of random unannounced water hazards and deadly traps scattered throughout the course, cleverly masquerading as unassuming natural items in the bucolic landscape. What if, while running next to a charming stone wall, a pit occupied by vipers suddenly opens up beneath you? Just asking. (Editor’s Note: You mean “Just kidding,” right?)

So get ready for the 34th annual Fodderstack 10K Race, which will run from just north of the Vierlings’ packing shed in Flint Hill to Washington.

The first-, second- and third-place trophies crafted by local artisan Merrill Strange for males and females in each of 14 categories should act as a major incentive, and perhaps the Eva Smith Memorial trophies to the first finishing Rappahannock County resident (male and female) will add some wings of Mercury to the competitors, while the aforementioned hazards compete to add angel’s wings. (Editor’s Note: This is simply too dark. When I asked you to punch it up, I intended neither real nor feigned fisticuffs; lighten it up without threats of violent death, Okay?)

In addition to the awards, T-shirts and the cheers of the cheerful, fresh-scrubbed faces lining the race course, we include this year several “Cheer” stations, composed of volunteers whose sole goal is to encourage the runners with the heartfelt enthusiasm and joy! They are not disguised paramilitary commandos lurking in wait for the unwary! (Editor’s Note: Sigh.)

Also, for the 11th year, we are offering drawings for gifts donated by local businesses. The Middleton Inn will offer overnight accommodations for two (must be 21 years old); Gadino Cellars and Rappahannock Cellars both offer wine-tasting tours for two (must be 21 to win); the Rappahannock News and Piedmont Virginian magazine will provide complementary subscriptions; the Beauty Box offers a shampoo, cut and styling; Ragged Mountain Running Shop offers water bottles; while On the Run Sports and the Iron City Hot Dog Shop offer gift certificates. Meals for two are donated by the Country Cafe and 24 Crows, and Glassworks Gallery has donated some fine blown-glass artwork. You must be present at the awards ceremony to win these prizes!

The race would, of course, be impossible without our sponsors, which thus far include the Inn at Little Washington, Union First Market Bank, Griffin Tavern, Rose Hill Veterinary, Gay Street Inn, Hampton Stock Farm, Carl and Barbara Romney, Margy Day and Steve Morse, Harris Hollow Foods LLC, Phillip Herzig/Virginia Fence and Farm, Jean and Bob Clements, Rappahannock Title, Lois Markee, Settle’s Garage and Grocery, Stonewall Abbey Yoga and Wellness, Strange Company Realtors, Jean Lillard, Jennifer Manly, Cheri and Martin Woodard, Moore’s Orchard on Rock Hill Farm, Virginia Raney, Yellow Brick Road Home Maintenance, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, Hopkins Ordinary, George Karnes with Edward Jones/Front Royal, Mountainside Physical Therapy, Rappahannock Convalescent Loan Closet, Bud and Virginia Corder, Greg Williams Tree Service and Peter and Susan Hornbostel – thanks!

Also present at the finish line the day of the race will be Warrenton’s On the Run Sports, offering their goods for runners and supporters (they’re donating water bottles and more for door prizes, too).

The race runs from the Flint Hill Packing Shed down U.S. 522 to a right turn onto Fodderstack Road. Continue winding down the Fodderstack Road where some helpful local residents will keep you from wandering off the course and will call out times at the one-, two- and three-mile markers for those of you who actually are competing (as opposed to simply surviving).

At several points, water stations sponsored by Union First Market Bank, Griffin Tavern and Rose Hill Vet will be passing out water to runners, as well a to douse the various incendiary devices that look like squirrels but explode when they start moving (Editor’s Note: Were you deprived as a child? I think you need counseling), and the rescue squad will be perched on Lee’s Hill as both a physical manifestation of our belief in your skills and a not very convincing argument for our caring natures.

A Sheriff’s Office deputy will turn you left in Washington, lest you continue down Main Street and over the tiger traps we use to catch exceptionally off-course runners, and you’ll go right to the Rappahannock County courthouse on Gay Street and a big finish where the handicappers betting on a complete failure of all concerned are going to be darned disappointed, should you actually make it; this would explain the jeers, rather than cheers. (Editor’s Note: Okay, that’s just mean – finish nice and call it a day.)

Since its inaugural run, the Fodderstack has become a high point in the local calendar of events. Both longtime locals, Rappahannock weekenders and the rare serious runner travel for what is often (but definitely not this year) the first great day of spring. We must add that there have been only three rainy Fodderstack races in the last 20 years, including last year, but since statistics were never my strong suit, we’ll just call that good.

Shuttle bus service begins from Washington to Flint Hill at approximately 7:15 a.m. Registration at the Flint Hill Volunteer Fire and Rescue hall starts at 7:30 and runs until 8:50 in time for the race start at 9. Preregistration was is $20; it’s $25 to sign up on race day. For more and perhaps more cogent information, visit fodderstack10k.com.

Come on out and support the runners, your community, and celebrate the beauty of Rappahannock in the spring.

Real Editor’s Note: Most of the preceding “editor’s notes” actually were inserted by the author, who is Rappahannock’s county administrator and, for the past 25 years, has performed many roles for the county government and community at large. Apparently he performs many of them at the same time.

Photo by Steve Eastham Lily Strange of Viewtown finishes last year’s (soggy) Fodderstack 10K.