Fire on the Mountain 50K & 25K

A special and permanent “thank you” to the people who made this year’s event possible: Michele, Starla, Scott, Jeff, Michelle, Michael, Shelly, Jamie, Cary, Lily, Crystal, Andrea, Carly, Jen, Ray, Stephanie, Noah, Josiah, Lucas, Susan and the Elder kiddos. From pre-start to finish, you guys and gals were simply amazing this year.

Congratulations to Adam Lowe, Parker Goss, Katie Shepard and William “Wes” Suitt for their individual victories. It was wonderful to see everyone (friends old and new alike). What a great day in the woods!

2021 race date: Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021

* 2020 race coverage
* Lowe to take over as FOTM RD in 2021

2020 Race weekend timeline of events (This will be updated for the 2021 race in May/June)

Saturday, Oct. 31

2 – 5 p.m.: Packet pick-up at Green Ridge State Forest Headquarters (Exit 64 off I-68). Click for Google Maps link. Address is 28700 Headquarters Drive NE, Flintstone, MD 21503.

Sunday, Nov. 1

4:45 a.m. – 6:40 a.m.: Packet pick-up begins at start/finish line.
** Those who have not picked up their bib number by 6:40 a.m. will have to wait until the race begins before receiving their bib. Runners are strongly encouraged to arrive as close to 4:45 a.m. as possible. 
7 a.m. – Race begins
11:30 a.m. – Cutoff time for official 25K finishers
5 p.m. – Cutoff time for official 50K finishers

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Update 10.16.2020: All volunteers, plus runners who submitted a legible email address will receive an email with instructions, including any COVID-related changes to race weekend, in the week leading up to the race. The information for runners also will be posted here on the event website and shared on social media.

A note about COVID-19 (9.1.2020) — If the race is cancelled due to virus-related restrictions in place by public health officials, each entrant will receive 100 percent refund of entry fee (not including online vendor fee, if applicable).

Email fireonthemountain50k@gmail.com or call 240-347-1563 with any questions or concerns. You can also visit the PHDC Facebook group to start a discussion.

CAUTION – it’s hunting season
Per advice from Runner’s World, runners should AVOID brown, black, green or any other natural-looking or animal-like colors.  Also, avoid red, white and blue (including on your bandanas, socks, etc.). Bright neon orange, yellow and pink are strongly recommended. Hunter orange is always a good choice, too.

Directions

* Directions to parking area/finish line. Click for Google map here. …
* Take Exit 68 off I-68.
* Take Orleans Road South for a total of about 5.7 miles (bear right at sign for Bill’s Place).
* Cross low-water bridge.
* Turn right off of bridge onto Oldtown Orleans Road.
*  Stay on Oldtown Orleans Road for about 2.7 miles to reach Carroll Road.
* Park in grassy field across from Carroll Road – or follow directions of event staff.
** It will be DARK on race morning. Drive slowly and pay attention.

Drop bag info:
You will bring your own drop bag and put it into a designated vehicle on race morning. The bags will be available at Aid Station 4 (mile 16.4, the “oasis”). Don’t put car keys in the bags! The bags might not beat you to the finish line. And if you forget to pick up your drop bag and request us to mail it, we might (if we can find it) but you will incur the wrath of the RD. It takes not only money, but time, and sometimes that’s difficult to come by in a household of four children (ages 19, 17, 9 and 5). Yes, those children are available for rent.

The 10th running of the Fire on the Mountain 50K will take place on Sunday, November 1, 2020, in Green Ridge State Forest in Little Orleans, Maryland.

* NEW FOR 2020: We are adding an individual 25K(ish) distance to the day’s activities. The distance will challenge runners with a mix of single-track trail, rocks, roots, stream crossings and forest service roads. Like the 50K (10 hours), there will be a cutoff time (4.5 hours) to be considered an official 25K finisher. 

* 2019 race page 

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Curious about the event? Listen to this podcast from Endurance for Everyone

** Course information, cutoff times, aid station info, training runs and more  (updated 11.7.2019). **

The 2020 event will be staged on Sunday, Nov. 1, in Green Ridge State Forest, located in far Western Maryland. Race starts at 7 a.m.

Some things to note for Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020

* 50K – Distance of the race is about 32.8 miles. Seven aid stations on this  out-and-back course (three are hit twice, plus the “oasis” at the midway point. Runners must complete the course as assigned in 10 hours and 0 seconds or less to be considered an official finisher.

  • 25K – Distance is about 16.3 miles. Three aid stations (one is hit twice). Cutoff time is 4 hours and 30 minutes. The course includes approximately 6.5 miles of trail (sometimes technical), with ups and downs, roots, rocks and sometimes “billy goat” trails (thin track and slightly cantered towards the creek a couple hundred feet below), plus 9.6 miles of a mix of forest service road an improved road.

* No refunds, no deferments (certain military exceptions apply), no transfers.

* All finishers under the official cutoff time for each event (10 hours 0 seconds for 50K, and 4.5 hours for 25K) will receive a finisher’s premium. You’ll also earn your event T-shirt. Take pride in both – you earned them. If you didn’t earn ’em, please don’t ask for ’em. It is unlikely a runner will negative-split this course, especially if it takes that runner 5 hours to reach the 50K midway point or more than 2.5 hours to reach Aid Station 2 for the 25K.

* We need volunteers for this event to fuel runners at 4 aid stations (7 total, but 3 are hit twice). If interested in helping – or having your school/civic club group help – please send an email to peedeepost@gmail.com. There could be a modest donation awarded to your club/group.

* Race begins at 7 a.m. on Sunday, November 1, 2020. Please note: Daylight Savings Time ends at 2 a.m. on Sunday, November 1. This means you should set your clocks back 1 hour before going to bed on Saturday, October 31. Failure to do so will have you arriving very, very early to the race site.

* As in the case with the first nine years of the race, there will be a series of semi-organized (and self-supported) training runs to familiarize runners with different portions of the race course. The series of scheduled training runs will be staged in September and October. The schedule of these runs, and details, will be posted by August 1.

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* * *  Info for 2020 * * * 

2-person relay details

Transportation for the relay is the responsibility of the participants. Each person runs approximately 16.4 miles. Runner 1 toes the start line at 7 a.m. with the 50K starters. Runner 2 meets Runner 1 at the midway point (intersection of Kirk Road and Green Ridge Road). Runner 2 runs, and Runner 1 drives Runner 2’s vehicle back to the start/finish area. Runner 2 can follow event volunteers from the start to Aid Station 1 and 2 (not AS 3) before driving to AS 4 in plenty of time to warm up and prep for Runner 1.

Relay registration: Runner 1 registers as an individual runner (includes T-shirt). Runner 1 emails the race director at peedeepost@gmail.com (and copies Runner 2) indicating a desire to form a relay team. Include the name, age, gender, city and state of Runner 2, along with team name and (if desired) Runner 2’s T-shirt size. Runner 2 will pay for T-shirt at packet pick-up ($15).

Course description

The new Fire on the Mountain Ultra Marathon course measures approximately 32.8 miles and features an out-and-back presentation in a style similar to the beloved Catoctin 50K. However, the RD does not feel this course runs like a traditional out-and-back course in that the experience in the reverse direction, especially the final quarter of the race, is a very different experience than what runners traversed on the first quarter of the race. Come on out and try a training run if you don’t believe it.

The course will, as always, start at Point Lookout on Carroll Road in the southeast corner of Green Ridge State Forest’s 48,000-plus acres. After 0.2 miles of dirt road and about 1 mile of downhill on hardcap, runners will enter the Long Pond (red) trail. The red trail intersects with the Deep Run/Big Run (green) trail, which takes you to Kirk Road and Log Roll Overlook (at mile 16.4, it remains the “oasis” and midway as in FOTM’s first five years).

Runners simply retrace their steps back 16.4 miles to reach the finish line. The course change significantly lowers the cost of staging the event by eliminating the need for buses. As for degree of difficulty, the RD thinks it’s harder than before.

“Anyone who has not run the red trail in reverse direction might understandably think, at least at first, that it’s a boring out-and-back deal,” Kevin Spradlin said. “But the red trail in particular is a very different sort of adventure going back than going towards the midway point. There’s plenty of, ‘hold-onto-that-tree’ moments as well as, ‘I-have-to-climb-this?’ and ‘is-that-the-trail?'” The course change keeps my favorite part of the race, the red trail. And then, of course, there’s that last mile.

The whole idea of staging Fire on the Mountain was to welcome new visitors and returning visitors alike to Green Ridge State Forest. This race is contested now solely on the red and green trails, but the blue, purple and orange trails are definitely worth checking out at any times. Unofficial GPS estimates that the course offers 5,387 feet in elevation gain/loss during the 32.8(ish) miles.

Image provided by Waylon Burke

Image provided by Waylon Burke

Red trail
Highest point is 985 feet above sea level (at the ridge overlooking Long Pond). Lowest point is 465 feet above sea level (near the canal, which you won’t see during race). Difference in elevation is 520 feet (but let’s see if your legs think it’s that easy).

Green trail
Highest point is 1,268 feet above sea level (at the divide of Big Run and Deep Run). Lowest point is 740 feet above sea level (at the intersecction of red trail and green trail). Difference in elevation of about 528 feet.

CAUTION – it’s hunting season
It’s archery season (not firearms season) in Green Ridge State Forest on Sunday, November 4. Per advice from Runner’s World, runners should AVOID brown, black, green or any other natural-looking or animal-like colors.  Also, avoid red, white and blue (including on your bandanas, socks, etc.). Bright neon orange, yellow and pink are strongly recommended. Hunter orange is always a good choice, too.

Directions

* Directions to parking area/finish line. Click for Google map here. …
* Take Exit 68 off I-68.
* Take Orleans Road South for a total of about 5.7 miles (bear right at sign for Bill’s Place).
* Cross low-water bridge.
* Turn right off of bridge onto Oldtown Orleans Road.
*  Stay on Oldtown Orleans Road for about 2.7 miles to reach Carroll Road.
* Park in grassy field across from Carroll Road – or follow directions of event staff.
** It will be DARK on race morning. Drive slowly and pay attention.

Drop bag info:
You will bring your own drop bag and put it into a designated vehicle on race morning. The bags will be available at Aid Station 4 (mile 16.4, the “oasis”). Don’t put car keys in the bags! The bags might not beat you to the finish line. And if you forget to pick up your drop bag and request us to mail it, we might (if we can find it) but you will incur the wrath of the RD. It takes not only money, but time, and sometimes that’s difficult to come by in a household of four children (ages 19, 17, 9 and 5). Yes, those children are available for rent.

2020 Race weekend timeline of events

Saturday, Oct. 31

2 – 5 p.m.: Packet pick-up at Green Ridge State Forest Headquarters (Exit 64 off I-68). Click for Google Maps link. Address is 28700 Headquarters Drive NE, Flintstone, MD 21503.

Sunday, Nov. 1

5:00 a.m. – 6:40 a.m.: Packet pick-up begins at start/finish line.
*Carpoolers (two or more 2020 FOTM participants in the same vehicle) will receive priority parking spaces. 
** Those who have not picked up their bib number by 6:40 a.m. will have to wait until the race begins before receiving their bib. Runners are strongly encouraged to arrive as close to 5 a.m. as possible. 
7 a.m. – Race begins
5 p.m. – cutoff time for official finishers

Prior years’ results
* Top FOTM performances – Male, Female and 2-person relay teams
* 2019 race page (men’s and women’s recaps, a few photos and more)
* 2018 race page (men’s and women’s recaps, a few photos and more)
* 2017 race page (results, a few photos and more)
2016 race page (results, photos and more)
* 2015 race page – no race in 2015
2014 race page (results, photos and more)
2013 race page (results, photos, split times and more)
2012 race page (results, photos, split times, video)
* 2011 race page (results, photos, race reports) 2011 results
* 2010 – results and photos – results

Check the PHDC Facebook group page for race and club updates.

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Aid Station information — (will be revamped for 2020)
*
Please note items are subject to change, but the general goal is to only add to, not subtract from, items listed available for each aid station. As in recent years, there will not be any sort of gels at the aid stations. Bring your own and you’ll be guaranteed to have the flavor and brand you want.

Aid Station 1 — 5.6 miles
Supplies:  Water, sports drink, bananas, cookies, pretzels

Aid Station 2 — 3.3 / 8.9 miles
Supplies:  Water,sports drink, bananas, cookies, pb & j slices, pretzels, Mountain Dew, Pepsi, Pringles chips, M&Ms, gummy bears

Aid Station 3  — 3.8 / 12.7 miles
Supplies: Water only

Aid Station 4 (a.k.a. “the oasis” and relay exchange zone)
— 3.7 / 16.4 miles (a.k.a. the “Oasis” and Relay Exchange Zone)
Supplies:  Water, sports drink, bananas, cookies, pretzels, Mountain Dew, Pepsi, Pringles chips, M&Ms, gummy bears, pickle juice.

Aid Station 5 — 3.7 / 20.1 miles

Water only

Aid Station 6 — 3.8 / 23.9 miles (this location will change slightly)
Supplies:  Water, sports drink, bananas, cookies, pb & j slices, pretzels, pickle juice.

Aid Station 7 — 3.3 / 27.2 miles
Supplies:  Water, sports drink, bananas, cookies, pb & j slices, pretzels

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Shirts
A note (or two) about shirts:

  1. Shirts will not be mailed.
  2. Shirt are earned. You must finish under the established time limit for each distance to receive one.
  3. Shirts are to be picked up only by those who earn them.

Cutoff times
We learned in 2018 that having only one hard cutoff time is insufficient. The 10-hour limit allows the slowest runner(s) to maintain a pace of 18 minutes and 17 seconds per mile and still be considered an official finisher. Beginning in 2019, there will be a hard cutoff time of 2 hours and 45 minutes at Aid Station 2 (mile 8.9). There will be a second cutoff of 5 hours at Aid Station 4 (oasis at midway point). This means that if a runner has not arrived at the designated aid station by the designated cutoff, they will not be permitted to continue.

The race director and event volunteers reserve the right to implement additional cutoff times on race day based on the progress of the race.

Spectator information

One year we had spectators park in areas that were not designated as spectator parking. One driver, instead of obeying to the rules and adhering to the race director’s request to move the vehicle, asked “why” when asked to move the vehicle WHILE THE PERSON WAS PARKED ON THE COURSE. The first runner came through the area without the issue resolved, which put the runner at risk. This was completely unnecessary.

We now strictly enforce spectator-related rules. If the spectator does not comply with the first request of an event staff or volunteer (and/or common sense), the runner the spectator is following risks disqualification. It’s a safety issue, folks; one I never thought I’d see come up on what could very much be a spectator-friendly course.

This year, spectators are allowed near the start (on Oldtown Orleans Road – no parking on Carroll Road), Aid Station 2 (limited), Aid Station 4, Aid Station 6 (limited) and the finish line.

Spectators – some of you offered, in the days before the race, to volunteer and follow your runner through the race. This is not only permitted (limited to a  certain number of people) but encouraged — and we are grateful for your help. Contact the RD at peedeepost@gmail.com if you’re interested in being a part-time event volunteer.

Gels: We won’t supply them on the race course any longer. Bring your own; put some extras in your drop bag that you have access to at mile 16. You’ll be good to go with the flavor(s) you want.

Deferments: Beginning Oct. 28, 2013 forward for future FOTM events, no deferments except for military deployment (PCS/ETS/leave not included).