Fire on the Mountain 50k took place on Sunday, November 4th in the Green Ridge State Forest of Flintstone, MD. It was 36 degrees. I was cold and tired, after already having drove 2.5 hours to the race start. FOTM 50k is known for it’s finish, your time stops only when you throw a log onto fire at the finish line.
Seventy-two runners gathered up for the starting horn, that race atmosphere kick-started my adrenaline. The horn blew, and we were off. I wanted to start out slow and build my pace as my body adapted to the course. I didn’t want to blow up like I had in my last 50k. As the leaders spread out from the main pack, I held back and followed behind at comfortable pace in 5th place.
The air was crisp and burned my lungs. Fallen leaves strewn the trail and masked rocks and roots, making the course quite technical. I was looking down at the trail so much that I missed a mark and ran off course. While a few others followed me, I dropped back several positions after finally finding my way back onto the trail.
We criss-crossed a stream several times. I tried my best to keep my feet dry but my efforts were futile. There were multiple crossings with ankle-high water and no way to avoid them. The icy water numbed my toes and collected in my new shoes (Brooks Cascadia’s–>review to come soon).
I trudged along picking one runner off after another, until I was once again in 5th place. This course was an out-and-back and at the turn-around point I was feeling pretty good. I needed to pee so I knew I was hydrated. I was happy with how I had ran the race so far and I thought I could push it a little harder. The runners ahead weren’t that far off.
I hammered the downhill back to the trail from the oasis aid station, focused and determined. The first overall female was just ahead of me. She had been ahead of me the whole race, a very tough competitor. I continued to gain on her but didn’t have enough to overtake her and stay ahead. I followed her waiting to see if she would tire before me. Then, she fell. She went down hard and let out a YELP! She had twisted her ankle. I stopped to ask if she was OK, she said she would try to walk it off, so I continued on.
First female right behind me trying to catch me.
About 4 miles later I started the ascent back; it was brutal. My quads began to cramp and I couldn’t power-hike. I stopped to massage my muscles every now and then. I kept crossing streams, not caring at this point how cold my feet were. I was ready to be done. The second monster climb was ahead of me and all of a sudden I heard someone behind me coming up at a quick pace. Out of nowhere this guy passes me like a freakin mountain goat! Who was this crazy dude? I had no fight left to give him so I gave way and wished him luck.
Finally I made my way to the paved road back to the finish, 1.2 miles. Over my shoulder I heard some people cheering. Was I going to get passed again? I mustered up everything I had left in my legs, a couple more rolling hills and a sweeping corner and I could rest.
I could see the finish line now. Someone was handing out wooden logs and told me my time would stop after I threw the log on a campfire they had burning at the finish line. Fire on the Mountain! hahaha
I ended up 5th overall and 3rd in the 30-39 age group. I just turned 30 a couple months ago and am now realizing the competition in this age group is much tougher.
I want to thank all the volunteers, especially my amazing fiance Chelsea, for keeping me fed and hydrated. Thank you Kevin Spradlin, race director, for a fun and well-organized race; also the finisher awards are awesome!