Colwell wins ultra debut
Congratulations to everyone who conquered the challenge that is the Fire on the Mountain 50K presented by Sheetz. Next year’s race date is Oct. 26, 2014. Hope to see you there.
* Preliminary results – updated 10/30 @ 9 p.m.
* Expanded results (with aid station splits as available)
* All-time performers (2010-2013) – click here
* Photo gallery A
* Photo gallery B
* Photos by Paul Encarnacion – click here
* Photos courtesy of Hai Nguyen – Click here
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* Race reports: ^ Joe P. ^ Dan N. ^ Staci C. ^ Shelly C.
* Potomac Highlands Distance Club Facebook page
FLINSTONE, Md., Oct. 27, 2013 — Mike McMonagle certainly wasn’t set up to win the 4th annual Fire on the Mountain 50K presented by Sheetz.
The last month, his training’s been off. Less than ideal. But first to the finish line is exactly where he saw himself after conquering the 32-mile point-to-point trail race on Sunday in Green Ridge State Forest in the hills of Western Maryland.
McMonagle, 23, a California resident with ties to Bel Air, Md., was one of three twenty-somethings in the top four finishers. He crossed the line in 5 hours, 2 minutes and 7.7 seconds — seventh fastest all-time in the event’s brief four-year history.
He finished slightly ahead of Dana Sanford, 32, of Silver Spring, Md. Sanford finished in 5:05:13.9. Four others were below the 5:20 threshold, including: Ryan Kingrey, 21, of Odenton, Md. (5:11:14.6), Eric Damtoft, 21, of Bethesda, Md. (5:11:15.2) and masters champion Greg Zaruba, 46, of Sykesville, Md. (5:15:06.4).
Though he won by more than three minutes, it was closer than that, McMonagle insisted.
“It was a race the whole time,” he said.
And for a while, it looked as if it’d be a race he would lose. McMonagle was in a pack of contenders at the “oasis,” which is Aid Station 4 and midway along the 32-mile route. Two of the three difficult trail sections were done and McMonagle had held his own, but after 4.2 miles on forest service roads as the group headed to Aid Station 5, it seemed as if McMonagle was faltering.
Instead, it appeared as if Zaruba (3rd in 2010, 5:03:41 and 7th in 2012, 5:15:20.4), Sanford or Damtoft would win. As those three crossed the wooden bridge, McMonagle’s legs appeared slow. Turns out he was just getting into his second wind.
Zaruba later said he suffered leg cramps. That happens on a course with such varying terrain — breathtaking ascents, rocks and roots and descents on hard-packed forest service roads three miles long. As soon as a runner’s legs tell the body this is what’s going to happen, the surface, and the challenges that come with it, change.
In the women’s race, 25-year-old Sarah Colwell, of Frederick, Md., won by more than 18 minutes. It was her debut at the ultra marathon distance. Colwell posted the third-fastest time by a female in the history of the course — and only 15.5 seconds behind second place. Colwell stopped the clock in 5:40:50.9, good for 10th place overall.
Carla Williams, 26, of Baltimore, Md., was second in 5:59:11.6 (fifth all-time) and Angela Russell, 37, of New Market, Md., took third in 6:05:25.5 (sixth all-time).