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‘Testing their limits’: Officials say delayed 2020 Mountain Madness Trail Run went off without a hitch
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Dozens of runners came out on Saturday June 20 for the annual Mountain Madness Trail Run. - photo by Erica Schmidt

Despite being postponed from its original date in March, Dawson County’s 2020 Mountain Madness Trail Run went off without a hitch over the weekend, according to organizers, drawing dozens of runners from all over to brave the challenging course. 

“It was the perfect day at Fausett Farms,” Chamber of Commerce President Christie Moore said after the June 20 event. “We are grateful to our partners and sponsors who enabled us to host the second annual Mountain Madness Trail Run and to show off the natural beauty of our county. We had tremendous feedback from participants and we’re already looking forward to next year’s run.”

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The end of the 15k trail race was marked by a final stream crossing under the finish line. - photo by Erica Schmidt

The annual Dawson County Chamber of Commerce event boasts steep climbs and rewarding views of Fausett Farms. The 15k run begins with an open start which allows runners to space out before entering the double track trail in the woods and ends with a final stream crossing under the finish line.

Jon Hager, the overall male winner, said that the run was very difficult, so finishing is about focusing less on speed and more on the runner’s knowledge of how to pace himself and how to navigate the tricky parts of the course. 

“It’s one of those races that it’s not necessarily how fast you are, but it’s race IQ because it’s so hard,” Hager said. “But it was great — it was well marked and well organized.” 

Hager, who has been regularly running trail races since November, when he converted from running road races, finished the race with a time of 1:06:55, breaking the 2019 winner’s time of 1:14:59. 

For overall female winner Sally Bray, this year was her second time participating in Mountain Madness Run. Bray, who finished with a time of about an hour and 32 minutes, said that the challenging aspects of the run are part of what drew her back for a second year. 

“It’s a really challenging course; it has some really challenging climbs, and some of the descents are what we call ‘quad burners’ meaning you can’t just barrel down them,” Bray said. “It’s also got some really good rollers that are a lot of fun, great views, and the river crossing at the finish is a nice touch, so I’ll definitely be back again next year.”

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Participants take off from the starting line to run the challenging course. - photo by Erica Schmidt

Because the event normally takes place earlier in the year, before the weather starts heating up, Bray said that temperature outside was a big factor for this year’s race. 

“It was a lot hotter this year which made some of those big climbs at the end real tough in the sun,” Bray said. “So it was great to be able to sit in the river at the end and let my muscles recover in that cold water.”

Race participants also included several members of Dawson County High School’s cross country team, who are preparing and conditioning for the upcoming cross country season. 

Wiley Dennis, a rising Dawson County senior who was one of the first runners to finish the race, said that the steep grade of the course makes it difficult for runners to find their stride, which makes it almost impossible to slow down in certain areas along the trail. 

“If someone can do this course and not walk, I would worship them,” Dennis said. “It was like going on a frontier; it’s a really good way to push yourself and test your limits to see how far you can go.” 

After participating in the run for the first time, Dennis said he enjoyed it, despite the course’s difficulty. 

“It was very exciting, I had a fun time, and I’ll definitely come back next year,” Dennis said.