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Burning River 50  Cuyahoga Falls, OH, July 28, 2018

When I learned that the Burning River 100/50 mile trail ultra ran through parts of Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio, I got super excited, registered for the 50-mile event, and made plans for our 18th national park visit and our second race-cation. In 2017, I ran the Wildcat 100 mile ultra in Pensacola, Florida. After flying to Pensacola, we picked up our RV rental. Before heading to the Wildcat, my husband Jon and I enjoyed Biscayne and Everglades national parks. For the Burning River 50, our home base in Ohio was La Quinta in Macedonia about a 20 minute drive to the start. Two days before the race, we drove on the roads parallel to the course to become familiar with the area. The race runs through Cleveland Metro Park and Cuyahoga Valley NP.  We spent the day before the race hiking the rocky 1.8 mile Gorge Trail and exploring Mary Campbell Cave in Cuyahoga Falls. Then we ate lunch before heading to the Sheraton Ballroom to pick up my swag and bib, and to get acquainted with the race rules.


On the Gorge Trail in Cuyahoga Falls, OH.


Got my cool personalized bib, Buff, and a really nice tech-shirt!


Enjoyed the big chair at On Tap Restaurant.


We picked up dinner at a great Italian take-out - Antonio's in Macedonia. I got spaghetti with sausage, bread and a salad. I couldn't eat it all.

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Jon duct taped my toes. Duct tape helps to prevent blisters.


Race day selfie with no sleep. I think I slept 45 minutes.


The 5 a.m. start at Squires Castle was cold and the ground was wet. It rained overnight.


Here I am at mile 37.3 feeling tired but good after moving faster on a tow path and slowly navigating treacherous trails.


Descending and approaching civilization and the finish with Sarah Colligan, a new friend who kept me going.

With Sarah and our finisher medals.jpg

Triumphantly sporting our Burning River 50 finisher medals. I could not have conquered the last 5 miles from hell without Sarah! 


Euphorically enjoying my tired and beaten feet in reinvigorating ice water.


Heading home and showing off my Burning River tech-shirt.

Creek crossing about mile 14.jpg

The first 11 road miles took us to a bridle path and the first of many flooded creeks. This one is at about mile 14. And the bright sun peeked through as the sky turned blue.


The last 12.7 miles were brutal. Ascends, descends, rocks, and steep stairs deep in the Ohio Buckeye Trail. Thank God for fellow ultrarunners who shared the struggle with me.

Crossing the finish with Sarah.jpg

We beat the 15 hour time limit and crossed the finish together in 14:34-ish.

With my husband Jon.jpg

And I could not have made it without my husband Jon. We celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary the day before - July 27! We continued to celebrate life and our many blessings as Jon tackled cancer with radiation and chemo while remaining physically active.


While in Ohio we ate at Russo's Pizza in Northfield. Our waitress was Mary, the owner. We told her I was running the Burning River 50. She didn't know what ultrarunning is, and anything about the Burning River ultras. When I explained what ultrarunners do, she was in complete awe. And I could not get enough of their delicious sausage pizza. I told her we'd be back after the race. We ordered ahead for pick up. I showed up dirty, smelly, and happy. She was in shock that I was still standing and smiling like nothing had taken place. And the pizza was on the house! Ohio has some very nice and hospitable folks! 


Burning River 50 was my 25th ultra and my slowest but the personalized bib, Buff, tech-shirt, and the finisher's medal are so cool. And the race directors, volunteers, and fellow runners were awesome!

Jon made a video of my journey.

To read my race report - Burning River 50: Four Angels and A Prayer in Ultrarunning Magazine, click here.

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