*Update: the 2016 race took place on Saturday, November 5th. Photo recap coming soon!
With one day to to go to the 2016 edition of the Shut-In Ridge Trail Run, let's take a look back at the front pack from last year's race. It's time to feel the Shut-In hype!
Every year, the final minutes before the start are filled with excitement, nerves, and the latest weather reports.
The 2015 race saw a quick start with the early front runners pushing the pace and pulling the majority of the field along.
At the start of the single track, three miles into the race, Morgan Elliott emerged in the lead. He was out fast in his debut.
Five-time winner, and course record holder, Shiloh Mielke was not far behind. Both runners were well under course record pace.
A stream of runners followed. Many were running much faster than planned.
Nearing Sleepy Gap at six miles, the first two were clear of the field. Morgan continued to push the pace with Shiloh close behind.
The chase pack was broken up by this point and gaps were forming. Javan Lapp, Victor McHenry, Dave Workman, and former-winner Jay Curwen were all in the top ten.
Shut-In is one of the most spectator-friendly trail races around. Support crews and fans follow the racers along the course with vantage points and aid stations set up every few miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Just past halfway, the runners encounter one of the most challenging climbs of the day at Ferrin Knob. This can be a make-or-break section for many.
As Shiloh and Morgan came past, it was clear that the fast early pace was beginning to take its toll.
A couple of miles later, the leaders again emerged from the trail. Shiloh had pulled away from Morgan on the downhill and both runners were far ahead of the chase pack
With four miles to go, Javan was alone in third place and beginning to close the gap on Morgan.
The final section of trail after Highway 151 is infamous for its challenging climbs that culminate in a final hands-on-knees push to the finish.
The final two miles were full of carnage. Cramping and fatigue from the fast early pace forced several of the front pack to slowly walk up the climbs or take long stretch breaks.
The positions of the top ten shuffled significantly with those racers who started conservatively making huge jumps up the leaderboard. The final descent to the finish revealed the finishing positions one-by-one. Some racers, like experienced trail veteran Will Harlan, were flying. Others were barely able to manage a jog.
In the end, Shiloh grinded out the win, his sixth overall. Brock Phillips moved way up in the final miles to take second and Morgan Elliott rallied after being back in fifth at Highway 151 to finish third.
Full results here.