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Mountain Mist 50K Huntsville, AL 1-28-2012

Joined: 07 Feb 2012
Posts: 1
Texas, United States
Posted: Tue 07 Feb 2012 07:04 pm GMT   topTop
Mountain Mist 50K Race Report
Huntsville, Alabama

Written by Mike Jusko

This race was recommended to me back in October by my friend and fellow ultra runner, Donita Robins. I jumped at the chance to run a 50K in the mountains since we lack mountains in our area. Once again my mouth writes a check and forces my butt to cash it. I ran back to back 50K races at ‘The Duel’ in Wichita Falls, Texas the weekend before this race and I mentioned to one of the ultra runners that I was doing Mountain Mist. He looked at me and said…Mountain Mist is one tough race, good luck with that. Great.

Friday I fly in to Birmingham at 5:00 pm and rent a car for the hour and forty five minute drive to the Monte Sano Lodge in Huntsville, AL. The pasta dinner was from 6-7. I walk in at 6:55 and pay my $10 and enjoy pasta and salad while Fleet Feet Sports owner and race director, Dink Taylor (for the past 18 years) stands up and welcomes everyone. He gives us a little back ground on the race. Fortunately, the weather is supposed to be ideal he informs us (he was spot on…it was an incredible day). He introduces us to DeWayne Satterfield, 8 time winner of the MM50K. DeWayne provides us with a colorful description of the trail and what lies ahead of us. After DeWayne finishes, Dink introduces us to David Riddle, 30 years old and a Huntsville local (now living in Cincinnati, OH). He holds the MM50K course record of 3:42:59. David is also a member of the USATF World 100K team (rightfully so, holy cow is this kid fast!). David gives a few pointers of not going out too fast and to be very wary of what lies await for you at miles 24 and 29. In my mind Im thinking, OK just how badly can this be? He was not joking. Dink chimes in that very few folks run the last 14 miles as fast as they run the first 17 miles. I was determined to be one of those folks. I grab my bib and nice technical race shirt at packet pickup and head back to the hotel. I explore a little of the downtown Huntsville area and then head to bed.

I am a member of a Marathon Running group on Facebook (thanks again to my friend, Donita Robins). Shawn Barber is also a member of this group and has graciously offered to drive the hour or so from his house to meet me at the race since I knew no one (Donita was supposed to make the trip with me but she had to cancel due to an irregular heartbeat…good call on that…this race is NOT for the fainthearted). Shawn met me at the lodge entrance and guided me to the bag drop area and the place where I was to pick up my chip. I saw a sign that said NO BIB = NO CHIP…and then it hit me…I left my bib on the desk at the hotel room. Damn rookie mistake. 25 mins from race start. So for me…this is when the real race started. I sprint back to the car and fly outta the parking lot. My hotel is 15 mins down the mountain. Speed limit is 35…that’s the speed I slowed down to when I went thru the stop signs and red lights (I sure hope Huntsville doesn’t have those damn red light cameras!!). I get to the hotel and fly up to my room and grab my bib. I scream back up the mountain, park and run to the lodge. The national anthem had just finished and Shawn is walking towards me with my chip. He places it on my shoe while I pin my bib on. Boom…the gun goes off…we are DEAD LAST to start. This is not a normal place for me for a race…I’m usually dead last at the END of the race…not the beginning!! Shawn and I start off and meander thru the woods and I’m marveling at the beauty of this trail. We are chatting along the way and moving at a very easy 10-12 min pace. Shawn stays with me for about 7 miles to the first aid station. He grabs my toboggan and sunglasses and graciously takes them back to the drop bag section for me. He also informs me he has placed a cooler with my name on it at the bag drop. Wow…thanks Shawn!!
I leave the first water stop and head out. The trail is muddy but manageable. The views are breath taking at times. The rock formations are incredibly beautiful. I’m still maintaining a 10-12 min pace in fear of what lies ahead. I meet several VERY nice people on the trail. Most are from Nashville, TN or Atlanta, GA. I’m the only Texan that is running this race (sorry Nita). Trail runners are extremely friendly and quite talkative during races and overwhelmingly encouraging!

I make it to mile 17 and I’m at the 3:30:00 mark. I’m feeling refreshed and my legs are not fatigued in the least. There have been no serious challenges yet, only a few places uphill that required walking. I’m determined to finish this race in under 7 hours. 14 miles to go, I decide to pick up the pace to around 9-10 mins per mile. The first rock incline I encountered around mile 10 only had about 551 feet of elevation climb. The second one at mile 24 took my breath away. You had to walk over a double waterfall ledge to get to the incline. I took several pictures and videos of this wonder of nature. As I was putting my camera back in to my Spi belt I see a guy slip off the waterfall and slide down the 12 feet or so in to the water. The poor guy was screaming the whole way down. Everyone was frozen in their tracks praying that he would land safely. I ran down to the edge of the rocks as far as I could and helped pull him from the water and up the ledge. We took inventory and assessed that nothing was broken, but I truly think the guy was in shock. I know I was! He seemed ok and we went about the task of climbing this beast to the top. We had to utilize rock climbing skills to negotiate the 700’ of elevation gain that was straight up. There was no running, only climbing. Mile 24 took me 24 mins and 48 seconds to complete. Fortunately, the trail smoothed out and even had some elevation losses and I was back to a 10 min pace…until I hit mile 28. Once again I stare up at this beast of a climb. Fortunately, I had sandbagged the first 17 miles and I have gas in the tank and fuel in my quads. I begin the ascent. This time the elevation gain was only 544 feet but it was over a mile and a half…all of which I walked/trotted. I make it to the 29.3 mile aid station and they inform me that there is only 1.8 miles left and it’s all smooth trail. I actually feel great and do those final miles at a 9 min pace and end up with a 6:45:46 finish time. I came in 138th of 278 finishers. I passed 140 folks over the trail and 90% of that was in just in the last few miles. I covered the last 14 miles in 3hrs and 15 mins…mission accomplished! I cross the finish line with a smile and removed my heavily muddied shoes and socks. I hobble in to the lodge and devour 2 large pieces of pizza. I walk over to the bag drop and find the cooler Shawn had placed for me…low and behold…2 ice cold Mic Ultras were waiting for me along with my toboggan and sunglasses. Thanks a million Shawn…a beer has never tasted so good then at that moment!

I highly recommend this race to anyone that enjoys a beautiful, challenging trail. This is not a trail/race to cut your teeth on by any means. The course was marked very well and the aid stations were well stocked and had MANY cheering smiling faces. A big ‘THANK YOU’ to Dink & Suzanne for their hard work and also to all the volunteers that made this race one of my absolute favorites. After conquering this beast, I now know I’m ready for the Cross Timbers 50 miler at the end of February!