Dan Lehmann, a 58-year old veteran ultra runner and president of the West Virginia Mountain Trail Runners, was the mastermind behind the 2007 Appalachian Crossing, a 120-mile, four-day adventure run across the rugged mountains dividing West Virginia and Virginia. Lehmann and his cohorts liked the run so much, he’s planning a repeat for August 2009.
What made you decide to run across the mountains of West virginia?
I was intrigued by the notion of a trail route from the west slope of the Appalachians east across the mountains to the Virginia state line on top of Shenandoah Mountain. I have always loved maps and the idea of “finding your way” physically and metaphorically. I thought that a few other runners might also enjoy the adventure of a long run with limited aid and overnight camping.
Why run the Appalachian Crossing again?
My original thought was for the Appalachian Crossing to be a special, one-time adventure. But after the run, two of the many remarks from runners were: “You can’t do this thing again because it will never go this smoothly” and “I want help crew the next time.” Thus the Appalachian Crossing 2009 was born. There are five runners signed up to date, all ladies!
Any other mountain ranges you’d like to run across?
Another guy and I are working on a 165-mile loop in the Cranberry Backcountry and Williams River area. We’ll do this as an unsupported run some day. I’ve also thought about extending the Appalachian Crossing into Virginia and completing the rest of the mountain range. This would require some help from our ultra friends in the Old Dominion.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen while running trails?
Last August I was accompanying Bradley Mongold on part of his 300-mile Allegheny Trail run. That time of year bear hunters train their dogs for the upcoming fall season. The boys and their dogs had been about the woods all day and apparently treed a few bears. Around sunset, as we ran along a fine trail in dense rhododendron and hardwoods, we heard a scrambling in the trees above. That bear came 40 feet down that tree right next to us and was gone before we knew what happened.