Fodderstack 2013: Tech will save us; physics, maybe not 

In our continuing efforts to avoid our historically stupendously incompetent race marshaling, for the first time ever, the Rappahannock County Recreational Facilities Authority has retained professional race management services. The renowned firm of Slippe, Falle and L’Itigate have been hired to manage what promises to be a bang-up 35th annual Fodderstack 10K race at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 20!

Slippe, Falle and L’Itigate has managed more than 3,000 race events and boasts an admirable participant survival rate of almost 92 percent; we are hoping to at least match that with this year’s race!

Julia Estes finishes last April’s Fodderstack 10K, coming in first among 13- to 18-year-old female runners. Courtesy photo.
Julia Estes finishes last April’s Fodderstack 10K, coming in first among 13- to 18-year-old female runners. Courtesy photo.

In a less fictional vein, SFL will be assisted this year by Racepacket, the D.C. area’s electronic guide to running and racing.

Race numbers imprinted with number sponsor Union First Market Bank will have a delightful transponder chip attached, which tracks runners’ times automatically, ensuring that once you cross the finish line your time is accurately recorded. (Do not be alarmed by the small bar code that will be tattooed to the base of your skull; it acts purely as corroborating evidence that you are who Big Brother says you are – this means you, Rosie Ruiz.)

The first-, second- and third-place trophies crafted by local artisan Merrill Strange for males and females in each of 13 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 zip to the competitors, secure in the knowledge that their times will be accurately rendered.

In addition to the awards, T-shirts and the cheers of the cheerful, fresh-scrubbed faces lining the race course, we include, for the second year, several “cheer” stations, composed of volunteers whose main goal is to encourage the runners with their heartfelt enthusiasm, although a bit of delight in your misery isn’t out of the question, either.

Also, for the 12th year we are offering drawings for gifts donated by local businesses. Rappahannock Cellars is offering a complimentary wine tasting for two, while Gadino Cellars is offering four complimentary wine tastings for two (for both of these you must be of legal drinking age).

The Beauty Box offers a gift certificate for a cut, shampoo and styling, perhaps to sport on a night on the town with two tickets for a performance donated by the Theatre at Little Washington. The Rappahannock News offers a free one-year subscription, as does Piedmont Virginian magazine.

As for dining, the Country Cafe offers a gift certificate for a dinner for two, 24 Crows offers a gift certificate for sandwiches for two, while Iron City Hot Dog Shop in Warrenton offers five gift certificates for one free meal each. The Merry Moo Market will stock your larder with a gift certificate for $25, and Glassworks Gallery will beautify your home with a donated 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, Rick Fischer, Anne Lavigne, Griffin Tavern, Rose Hill Veterinary Practice, Gay Street Inn, Jennifer Manly, Margy Day and Steve Morse, Middleton Inn, Virginia Chutney Company, Rappahannock Title, Bill and Linda Dietel, Peggy Ralph, Jean Lillard, Elizabeth Johnson, Harris Hollow Foods, Tour D’Epicure, Lois Markee, Cheri Woodard Realty, Martin and Cheri Woodard, Rappahannock Real Estate Resources, Fairlea Farm Bed and Breakfast, and Richard and Shirley Compton.

Also present at the finish line on race is On the Run Sports from Warrenton offering their goods for runners and supporters (they’re donating water bottles, etc. for the door prizes, too).

The race runs from the Flint Hill Packing Shed (the big building that now houses Mullany Art Studios) 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 Bank, Griffin Tavern and Rose Hill Vets will be passing out water to runners, 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 deputy will turn you left in Washington, lest you continue down Main Street, and you’ll go right to the 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).

My bride, who has been accused of emitting her own tachyon field that disrupts electronics of all sorts, has been forbidden to be near the finish line, so we expect the tallies of times to be perfected even sooner than we have imperfectly tallied them in the past, and should have the results no later than 10:30.

In the event that she does stray too close, I should warn everyone that serial violations of causality may result, and the whole plot of the movie “Inception” might appear reasonable and lucid, by comparison. This might lead to a whole new level of disruptions in the space-time continuum, not to mention strange posted race results. In short, a 13-year-old Girl Scout might receive the trophy for a 75-year-old male orthopedic surgeon, but due to those variances in the quantum universe, it will all balance out. Consequently, our “mistakes” are actually your failure to “understand.” QED.

In every dimension (including the fifth and, especially, sixth), the Fodderstack has become a high point in the local calendar of events since its inauguration 35 years ago. Both longtime locals, Rappahannock weekenders and the rare serious runner travel here for what is often the first great day of spring. I must add that there have been only three rainy Fodderstack races in the last 20 years.

Bus service begins from Washington to Flint Hill at approximately 7:15 a.m. Registration at the Flint Hill fire hall starts at 7:30 a.m. and runs until 8:50 a.m. in time for the race’s start at 9. Preregistration (postmarked by April 15 to P.O. Box 124, Flint Hill, VA 22627) is $25 (or $26.75 online at Race day registration is $30. For more and perhaps more coherent information, visit

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

John W. McCarthy is Rappahannock County administrator, chairman of the Rappahannock County Recreational Facilities Authority and a founding member of the former Rappahannock County Comedy Guild, which collapsed years ago in a rare tachyon-field implosion that no one involved will discuss.