Who we are
Race commandant Toni Aurilio is a veteran ultrarunner and RD. She’s been running ultras for a decade, including two 100-milers, and has crewed countless others. She created and RD'd the Devil Dog Ultras in 2016. She's also been the RD for a 5k/10k road race with 2,000 participants and a 50-mile trail race with 350 participants.
The wife of a retired Marine tanker, Toni will not eat apricots nor allow them at this race. She’s also the owner of two human children and two super cool vizslas, Teufel Hunden (“Toofy” for short) and Gunny. A founding member of Team Gaylord, she’s probably heckled you at a race and told you to take your shirt off. “I like my runners like I like my beer: sweaty and shirtless,” she says.
This race is a Team Gaylord production. Collectively, we have about 10,000 years of ultra experience. (Bob Gaylord, our dear leader and namesake, was running ultras when woolly mammoths roamed the Earth.)
We’ve been on both sides of the starting line: as established ultrarunners or as friendly and helpful crew, race staff, or official volunteers. You might remember us as the ones feeding you taco salad at the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100-Mile Run finish line, fixing your blisters at the Grindstone 100, or handing you a cup of ramen noodles and an adult beverage at our Stone Mill 50 Mile Endurance Run aid station.
We’re passionate about running and about helping everyone get across the finish line, and we’re thrilled to bring that knowledge and enthusiasm to the Devil Dog Ultras.
A Mostly True History of Devil Dog Ultras
In 2010, a chance meeting with a trail-running legend led to Team Gaylord, and if there were no Team Gaylord, there would be no Devil Dog Ultras. Here’s how it all began.
At the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club’s MGM Fatass pre-race meeting—my first introduction to true trail running—Bob Gaylord kindly (and, of course, loudly) introduced himself to me. The next day I sent him an email (I was required to memorize his email address because I was over the age limit for receiving his business card). I was a little star-struck because he’s a real Army general, so I began with flattery and then begged him to allow me to tag along with his tribe of real trail runners.
Over the next several years, we spent countless miles running and even more hours tailgating, traveling, crewing, and pacing together as Team Gaylord. We spun a lot of tall tales, but we also had this fabulous idea for a race—a race in which we could stir in Team Gaylord’s weird sauce. It started with talk about Hoka shoes and ended with a race we would call the Moonbounce 50 (don’t ask—we don’t remember either). Eventually we stopped joking around long enough to make real plans. As co–race director of an ultrarunning classic—the Bull Run Run 50—with Bob Gaylord, I learned that you are granted a lot of power when you carry a clipboard and megaphone and that it’s an amazing high watching people cross a finish line that you had a part in building. It felt like the perfect time to take the collective knowledge Team Gaylord had acquired and create a race. We had run, crewed, paced, directed, and volunteered at countless ultras; it was time to put Team Gaylord’s mark on the ultrarunning race calendar, and the Devil Dog Ultras was born.
The name Devil Dog is an homage to my Marine Corps community. I fell in love with it almost as quickly as I fell in love with my husband, a now retired Marine Corps tanker. We adore the Marine Corps so much that we named our vizsla Teufel Hunden, or Toofy for short. You’ll see her and our other vizsla, Gunny (best rank in the Marine Corps), all over the website and social media pages. It was fitting that we hold this race in Prince William Forest Park, since it’s right across the street from Marine Corps Base Quantico—to the east is Officer Candidates School, where all the officers in the Marine Corps are made, and to the south is The Basic School, where the young lieutenants finish their training before going to the fleet. We are unapologetic for our love of the military and hope you enjoy the flavor we bring to ultrarunning.
Just like this race has the Marine Corps’ thumbprints all over it, Devil Dog also wouldn’t be possible without the magic of Team Gaylord. There are a few people who worked tirelessly to get this thing off the ground and continue to work year-round to make it happen.
Bob Gaylord: Bob brings all the organizational skills only a retired Army general could possess. He is optimistic and always voices his opinions, but above all, he will do anything to complete the mission with the commander’s intent. He has a solution, always. He does all of this with enthusiasm and a smile.
Rob Colenso: Rob makes snarky and weird look easy,and he pours his brand of humor into every communication you receive. Without his nerd brain, there wouldn’t be a website, and because of him, it’s a damn fine one. If you enjoy food, megaphones, and statements you don’t quite understand in the middle of the night, it’s all thanks to Rob, who also captains Camp Gunny. He’s there from set-up to tear-down making sure you are fed, hydrated, and moving on to the next aid station.
Sara Davidson: Sara has been my trail wife since 2010. She is the cute girl with adorable curls and sweet smile who is greeting you at Camp Toofy. She wore many hats as we stood-up Devil Dog Ultras: course-marking captain, communication director, social media guru, graphic artist, and aid station captain. Her Devil Dog logo is perfection and 100 percent out of her creative brain. All those words you’ve received via email and social media, also her. And those sous vide eggs you’re eating early Sunday morning at Camp Toofy, only Sara would take the time and effort to do that. She’s special.
Meg Wiegand: This girl is organized, brilliant, and tough. All the words on our website, Meg wrote them. (Editor’s note: Except these, I swear.) She’s the Usain Bolt of internet stuff because she updates the website faster than you can click refresh. She is the brain behind the volunteer sign-up, and this year we’re thrilled that she has agreed to take over the position of volunteer coordinator. Give her a holler at Camp Toofy—she’s there from start to finish, making sure you are having a great time.
Tom “White House Tom” or “Gourmet Motherfucker” McNulty: We have the best post-race breakfast in the nation, because Tom is the best chef you’ll ever find at a finish line. He manages to make gourmet food for everyone—vegan, paleo, gluten-free, gluten-full, and everything in between. His food is the icing on top of the buckle or bottle breacher cake.
Stan “PARKING IS GREAT!” Spence: Stan has made it his life’s work to make sure you get to the start line (and back to your car post-race) with ease. High-five him at Camp Remi—he doubles as that aid station’s co-captain and is there from start to close and beyond for clean-up. Oh, and he plays the trumpet and starts us off with the National Anthem. A man of so many talents.
Cherry Grassi: This fine lady is not only an efficient leader—Camp Remi runs with ease and precision thanks to her co-captaining—she also is the voice of reason. Many of our sound decisions have been due to Cherry. If the Devil Dog leadership team were SCOTUS, she’d be Anthony Kennedy. She, like all the others, is there from the start to the very end. Long after you all have gone home, she is part of the team who is cleaning up the camp and packing the trucks. Holla at her when you run through Camp Remi because she’s earned a shout-out.
Katie Keier: Katie was the force behind coordinating all the volunteers for our first two years. The only reason we had people to drive you back to your cars, fill your bladders, or encourage you to continue on to the next aid station is because she solved the puzzle that is Devil Dog and fit all the amazing, stupendous, generous people into the correct slots. She’s stepping back from the role of volunteer coordinator, but you’ll still see her out there smiling and encouraging bigger and better than ever.
With love and gratitude,