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Chamber of Commerce hosts inaugural Mountain Madness at Fausett Farms
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The inaugural Mountain Madness 15k begins as runners set off across the horse field of Fausett Farms March 23. - photo by Bob Christian

Based on the success last year’s less formal family and fun run, the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce commemorated the first week of spring by hosting the inaugural Mountain Madness at Fausett Farms 15k trail run March 23.

At 15 kilometers, or just over nine-miles, the course wound its way through picturesque woodlands that belied the rugged nature of a race that featured two steep, treacherous inclines, a road crossing and a pair of water crossings intermixed with horse pasture and gravel footing.

Despite its daunting first impressions the race attracted more than 100 participants in pre-registration and a stream of people showing up to register on the day of the event according to volunteer Melissa Mayton.

“I don’t know how many have come up to the table today, but it’s been pretty steady,” Mayton said. “It looks like a pretty good mix of runners with some saying they have been doing this for years and others talking about (it being their first time).”

Because of the combination of distance and terrain experienced runners expected the course to take between 90 minutes and two hours, but event organizer Eric Graves stressed the event was designed for all experience levels as he briefed the assembled runners prior to the race.

“I can’t say enough (about) how much the goal is for everyone to have fun today,” Graves said. “What better way to spend the first Saturday of spring than with a run, jog, or even walk through the woods.”

A walk in the woods was exactly what attracted first time runner Kim Zillioux to Mountain Madness at Fausett Farms.

“I am going to run as much of it as I can,” Zillioux said. “But at the end of the day it’s a short, three-hour hike in the woods on a beautiful day.”

Veteran runner Anthony Stopek was attracted to the race for much the same reasons, although he looked prepared to master the course as he tightened his cleats and strapped a variety of water bottles and snacks to his belt.

“I like running in this area. It’s nice weather and woods, no matter how hard the trail,” Stopek said. “This is the first run of this year, and the first one is always different.”

Although official times for the event were not available as of publication, it appeared that all runners had cleared the course in the supported three hours of the race.

The first male to cross the finish was Allen Bray of Peachtree Corners followed by Alex Compton of Decatur and Pat Reed from nearby Jasper picked up third. The female winner was Smyrna’s Shala Reifinger while Janell Pham of Atlanta and Michelle Cox out of Kingsland took home second and third-place honors.