Mountain Mist 50K Trail Race Report

photo: the beagle is impressed with the custom finisher award at Mountain Mist

An obvious Southeastern favorite

“What a beautiful day …beautiful course. I just love it”, I blurted out as I sat in the Monte Sano Lodge, roasting my cold, sore, tired legs in front of the toasty fire.

I had just completed my second Mountain Mist 50K in two years.

“Yea, it’s my #1 favorite…”, said experienced Big Peach Running Company runner Andrew Powell.

He then slid his shorts up his thigh to expose this killer, monster tattoo that read, “Trail Runners Never Die” complete with the Mountain Mist skeleton runner loud and proud.

Now, that’s “race love.”

photo: Mountain Mist 50K skeleton runner logo

There’s a reason for the allegiance

I was so excited, I was jumping out of my car seat during the 4.5 hour drive to the Monte Sano State Park in Huntsville, Alabama. I couldn’t wait to get there, get some sleep, and attack that gnarly, technical trail in the morning.

Mist has it all. Rocks, and lots of ‘em, with jagged rocks, smooth round rocks, big rock sections, gravel sections, and the cuss-inducing, ankle-twistin’, sneaky rocks hidden under leaves.

You also get those tough, long climbs at K2, Waterline, and Rest Shelter (a complete misnomer) to feed that fix for hills and test your endurance and trail stamina.

Plus, nasty descents like the knee-n-quad killer downhill section into McKay’s Hollow. This downhill, technical, section will beat you to death, especially with about 25 miles in the bank.

And in between, runners are presented with some of the most runnable, beautiful trail sections that I could only describe as “too damn pleasant”. Coupled with an unexpected bout of sunshine, this year’s Mist was absolute heaven.

Religious people have their views of heaven …this trail runner has his.

Perfection makes for a lame report

Things went so well during this race, I really don’t have an interesting blow-by-blow to share. This year’s experience pretty much went like this:

And that’s pretty much it. I apologize if you were looking for more.

Like all races, I learned stuff

If you know me, or read this blog regularly, you know this is NOT always the case, but this time, I feel like I did just about everything right. For once, I was actually somewhat prepared. The following comments are things that I believe helped me ensure a great race and will serve you well if you ever decide to join in the fun:

  1. Managed fluids and electrolytes perfectly with S-caps every hour, on the hour, without fail
  2. Ate less at aid stations, never feeling full, but keeping energy levels even
  3. Breezed through aid stations, never staying longer than a couple of minutes
  4. Kept a consistent pace regardless of terrain
  5. Paid close attention to POSE form to keep my body strong and extreme-fatigue-free
  6. Yak’d it up with other runners during some of the easier sections
  7. Took time to really enjoy my surroundings – soaking up the magical beauty all around me.

It wouldn’t be such a great race without the people

Like most ultramarathons, it’s the people that make an event so special. A huge shout-out to Dink and Suzanne, of Fleet Feet Huntsville, for putting on a true 50K classic and a race that sets a solid benchmark for quality and runner experience.

Thanks to the volunteers first and foremost.

I also want to thank all of those that take the time to introduce themselves to me, compliment my blog and race reports, and share their individual running stoke with me.

This weekend, I was actually told that, because of me, a certain runner decided that he was going to try ultrarunning.

Imagine how that made me feel… I guess this goofy, over-excitement has some benefit after all. {wink}

Saturday’s Mountain Mist was his first ultra and he completed it in a respectable 6:53, and got his first ultramarathon finisher award.

Congratulations Wayne, you made me feel really good, and I’m proud of your finish, dude.

But let’s not forget, Masters Women race killer and local GUTS runner, Sally Brooking, who ran the race with a broken foot, and still finished in 6:47.

Absorb that for a second …Masters runner …broken foot …still beat 1/4 of the field.

That’s a little crazy.

How about Robert Youngren who set out around midnight to run the course, rest a little, and then start again, with the rest of racers, thus making it a 100K. …dude…

Appalachian Trail speed record holder David Horton was in attendance and it was honor to shake his hand and get some face time with a legend in the sport.

My personal heroes Susan Donnelly and Rob Apple were also running. This was Rob’s 535th ultramarathon.

Absorb that one, too, for a second – 535 races at distances beyond 26 miles.


My friend Tony and I finished together …My Douglas County Rogue Runner friends kicked ass, …Byron Backer and Carl Laniak showed up and slaughtered the course in true elite style …Fellow GUTS runner Marty Coleman with his 5:21, and new friend Bryce with his unbelievable 4:37 and 11th place finish overall.

In fact, all of my fellow GUTS members kicked some major butt. Nils, Marty, Tony, Vikena, Kim, Matt, Sarah, Sally, Janice(and bro), Andrew, Bryce, Jason(s), Andrew, Spurgeon, Jamie and anyone else I may have forgotten.

Congratulations to everyone!

What can I say, I love this stuff

If you thought I was obnoxious before with all of my running glee, just wait.

It only gets better and better.

My performances continue to improve.

I meet more and more top-notch, quality characters who add so much to my running experience, and life in general.

I’m dedicated and I’m fired up.

Life is good.

I’m glad I started the 2009 ultramarathon season with Mist.

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[...] some pretty lofty “personal best” goals, wanting to shave at least 20 minutes off of my 2009 Mountain Mist finish time of [...]

I just ran the 2010 Mountain Mist yesterday. My first 50k was a great experience. The course was muddier than ever according to some veterans. Learned about using S-caps in the future after waterline trail took its toll on me.

A top-notch event that says a lot for the runners and volunteers in the Huntsville area. Look forward to running it again.

Laying in kids area at disney surfing trail sites on my blackberry looking for first 50k…..nasty toe sprain in first trail marathon 3 weeks ago and chompin at bit for a 50k (funny how that works…..even if my toe doesn’t)….don’t know you at all but reading blogs like this reinforces precisely why I love trails only a few months into discovering them….I will be down there for this in time

I was already planning on doing this race but reading your posts has further cemented the decision for me. This will be my first ultra.

[...] the thing about Oak Mountain. It might not have the serious climbs of Mountain Mist or Mount Cheaha, but it does have a lot of these “seemingly” easy climbs. I feel I have [...]

another great report. yep, Rob is everywhere, ran with him a couple of times, interesting listening to all of the “ultra” tales.

Christian, I can just imagine the wheels turning in your head already. There’s probably a “Double” Mountain Mist in your future.

What a line-up at this year’s race!So many giants — and YOU’re one of them! (Sally with the broken foot… pure inspiration!)Thanks for sharing & CONGRATULATIONS!

[...] 50K trail race went very well, and I attribute much of mu ultrarunning success to my CrossFit training and [...]

Great job Christian! I guess I was a little bit too slow that second time around to be able to run with you! ;) You were smoken’ Anyhow I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer a slight correction to your Mountain Mist report. You see I wasn’t quite alone in my Double Mountain Mist Madness. My good friends Josh Kennedy (local) and John Nevels (Decatur, AL) also completed the Double. Great Run and hope to see you around.

Great report Christian! BTW – did I hear David Horton praising you for your blog? I distinctly heard him say something about “saving a couple” as he was shaking your hand. I assumed he was saving some of your reports!

Couldn’t agree more! This was my first 50k and I had a blast! I’m a little sore a day later but well worth the effort. MM was definitely the most rewarding race I’ve done so far.

Loud and Proud! I’m reading your posts and sharing the love of the wide open spaces. Keep Up, Be Great, Mtn Mist is a far off dream for this Phoenix runner.
I finished 15 miles in South Mtn Phoenix park today with friends.

PR…always splendid

Congrats on the PR! Thanks for another good report. I’m gonna try to do this one next year.

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