Saturday, January 23, 2016

Mountain Mist Instructions

I included this on my blog since it gives the background of Mountain Mist.  Dink writes a letter like this every year, but I have never found it to be so sentimental and honest.  I am so glad his dream is being realized and that I am a part of it.  
Dear Katie,
Please make note of the race start time, 7:30 a.m.
Mountain Mist Final Instruction's 2016
Welcome to the 22nd Annual Mountain Mist Trail Run. It's hard for me to believe that I had the idea and took the initiative to put together the first ever trail run in Huntsville when I was only 28 years old. Not only was it the first trail run, it was the first race to go beyond the marathon in Huntsville. I had a vision of Huntsville runners getting off the road for a change and venturing out onto the trails, running beyond the marathon. It was also the only trail run in the state of Alabama at the time. I also felt like if I could establish a good trail race in our area, it could possibly influence others to create other trail races in the state.
I remember when I first started running the Mountain Mist trail back in the 1980's. I am certain that I was the first person to ever "run" McKay Hollow. I ran the trails of Monte Sano on the weekends, usually alone but I did encourage my friends to join me from time to time. I would do long runs on Saturdays and Sundays on the trails. I would never see another runner on the trails, just an occasional hiker, hunter or even guys on 4-wheelers. After several years of running the trails and more trail knowledge, I put the course together in my mind, laid it out on paper to the Huntsville Track Club board members along with plan of execution, and Mountain Mist was created.
22 years ago, my biggest concern with the race was out of state runners getting lost on the trails, it is still a concern today. We mark it best we can and since the trail is usually so muddy this time of year, it makes it easier to follow as long as you are not in the top 10, just follow the muddy footprints. Weather is the second biggest concern. This year, it looks like it is going to be pretty cold and with rain throughout this week's forecast; it's going to be a slippery, wet, muddy trail run.
Another concern I had 22 years ago was this, believe it or not. I was worried that the course was going to be "too easy." Back then, the shortest trail race around the South was Pine Mountain 46.2 mile trail run in Georgia. There were no 50k trails races back then. In fact, the first Mountain Mist was advertised as a 30 mile trail run, it was more like 29.5 miles. It was not until 3 years later that 50k races emerged and Jim Oaks and myself decided that we should go ahead and adjust the course and make it a 50k.
That first Mountain Mist, I waited at the top of the infamous "Waterline Trail" for the first runners. To my surprise, when DeWayne Satterfield was the first one to reach me, he was barely jogging, his face full of despair and he was doing what we refer to as "the ultra-shuffle." I just smiled and felt a since of pride, I knew I had laid out a course that would challenge all comers. In my own words "No one is ever let down, just shut down, beaten up, broken and left bleeding."
That first Mountain Mist had 36 finishers. This Saturday, we should finish more than 300 runners as usual. I was out on the trails this past Saturday; I saw more than four large groups of runners out on the trails getting ready for the race. My vision and goal of a thriving trail/ultra-running community has long been reached. There are multiple trails races of all distance here now along with several trail races all over the state of Alabama including two 100 mile trail races. I like to think Mountain Mist was the leader; it set the stage for trail running in Alabama. Mountain Mist is a classic. I see the hats, infamous skeleton shirts and other Mountain Mist swag at races all over the country. Be thankful you will have a chance this Saturday to experience another Mountain Mist Trail Run. Thank the volunteers who give up hours and hours to make this race happen, there are many. Be thankful for your health and that you are still out there; enjoy "The South's Premier Trail Run."


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