TrailNotes: Gideon, Greena-waltzing and good RDing

Another Campbell becomes youngest FOTM 50K finisher

By Kevin Spradlin

2021 race report (with results)
2020 race report and TrailNotes
2019 race report and TrailNotes

LITTLE ORLEANS, Md. — Different kid. Different approach. Same result.

Gideon Campbell, of Walkersville, Md., became a part of event history last weekend when he became the youngest finisher in 11 years of Fire on the Mountain 50K results. Going into the race, there were two people familiar to him who sat atop the youngest-finisher leaderboard: His sister and brother.

Gideon Campbell climbs from the valley floor and approaches aid station 5 at mile 20.1. With more than 12 miles to go, Gideon was struggling at this point.

It was the third consecutive year a Campbell sibling lowered the record.

At age 17 in 2019, Elijah Campbell ran with his father Jim. Jim guided Elijah to a finish time of 8 hours, 2 minutes and 35 seconds (with Jim three seconds behind). Of course, the focus was on simply finishing, but the time stamp of throwing when Elijah threw his log into the fire after a 100-meter gauntlet run in a small grassy field  near Point Lookout Overlook in Green Ridge State Forest served as a testament to his physical and mental conditioning.

Then little sister decided to join the party. Like in 2019, Grace, in 2020, chose to run with her father. While Elijah forged ahead, this time racing to a 12th place finish (7:11:58), daughter and father navigated the rocks, roots and stream crossings. At the age of 16, Grace took the title of youngest finisher in FOTM history in a time of 9:15:32 (with Jim six seconds back).

A look at the Campbell family FOTM over the last three years.

This year, though, young Gideon apparently decided to ditch dad and go out ahead — and alone. And alone he was. Gideon learned it was especially easy to be all by yourself within the 48,000-acre expanse of wilderness in eastern Allegany County. And being alone for an extended period of time, in your first ultra, isn’t necessarily a good thing.

As Gideon worked to pull himself up from the valley floor and onto Mertens Avenue, a forest service road with a primitive aid station (water jugs, aa fold-up table and a trash bag) that cut, not precisely in half, theBig Run/Deep Run (green) Trail , one could see the toll the effort of the day had begun to take on the 15-year-old.

Gideon was tired. Gideon was in pain. And Gideon wasn’t sure what to do next. He stopped at aid station 5 and contemplated what his next move should be. He engaged in conversation with an aid station volunteer. The conversation went well enough — Gideon was alert , there was either soreness or pain in his right leg, and maybe his pride was hurt, too, in a way that most teens that do not run 32 miles on a Sunday don’t experience.

After all, kids are invincible, right? The time spent on his feet was telling him otherwise. Gideon made it to aid station 3 (roughly mile 12.7) in 3:01:20, a pace of 14 minutes and 17 seconds per mile. The majority of those 12.7 miles were on the red-marked Long Pond Trail, with difficult climbs and single-track trail that could put some worry into even the most sure-footed mule.

It took Gideon nearly two full hours — to be precise, one hour, 53 minutes and 10 seconds — to cover the next 3.7 miles to the midway point and back to aid station 3/5. The 7.4-mile section is, arguably, the easiest part of the course. And Gideon had slowed by 61 seconds per mile.

Note: This list was compiled in 2021. Dates of birth for the Joshua Addison and Evan Neuwirth are not available thus, it is presumed Evan was younger in 2013 than Joshua was in 2012. This list will be updated if new information becomes available to prove otherwise.

Gideon realized he had a few choices at hand. He could quit there and then. His running day would be done at 11:54 in the morning. He rubbed the back of his leg. He took some water. Gideon said his longest run before FOTM had been 27 miles for a charity event. He knew how the tide could turn after a few more miles. With more than a little hesitation — but the steely gaze of determination familiar in the Campbell family on race day — decided to continue on.

It was the right decision. Gideon rebounded and, 12.7 miles later, threw his ceremonial log into the burning fire at the finish line just before 4 p.m. His time of 8:57:40 put him fourth on the list of seven Campbell FOTM 50K finishing times.

More Campbell — and Conley

Meanwhile, older sister Grace Campbell was competing in the second annual 25K. Fellow Frederick County runner Jenna Conley, 15, set the event record as the youngest FOTM 25K finisher with a time of 2:53:21, good for fourth overall and second among females, less than four minutes behind two-time FOTM 25K champ Katie Shephard.

With brother Gideon’s 2021 finish, Grace holds the record for second-youngest FOTM 50K finisher. She also holds that same spot in the 25K. Her time of 4:22:25 was good for 39th overall among 55 finishers.


Jamie Greenawalt, 53, of Bedford, Pa., made personal history on Sunday when she stopped the clock in 7 hours, 35 minutes and 15 seconds, good for 20th overall.

It was her second-best effort in six tries on the FOTM course, which was a point-to-point affair from 2010 to 2014, then switched to an out-and-back journey in 2016 after a one-year hiatus in 2015. It was, Greenawalt noted, her best performance on the arguably more-difficult out-and-back course.

Greenawalt placed third in the female standings, just shy of 20 minutes behind fellow Bedford resident Kari Brown.

Greenawalt was the third woman to cross the finish line in 2020 as well. Her time of 7:46:19 was good for 22nd place overall.

In 2014, sister Shelly Cable somehow convinced Greenawalt, then 46, to toe the start line of what was then a point-to-point 32.8-mile trail race for her first ultra marathon. Cable guided Greenawalt to her first ultra marathon finish, with a time of 7:16:23.7, earning 28th place overall (sixth female).

Greenawalt returned in 2016 after the event took a one-year break to finish 21st overall and seventh female (8:32:38.5). On the new out-and-back course, which requires runners to traverse the Long Pond (red) Trail twice, including the second time on tired legs after having logged 23.9 miles, she finished in 8:32:38.5.

She was sub-8:00 in 2018, taking 34th overall and 10th female in 7:58:22. In 2019, she lowered her personal best on the new course to 7:46:19 (22nd / third). Last year, she finished in 8:05:54, placing 24th in the pandemic-limited field (fifth female).

More on those fast Bedford women

Jamie Greenawalt is not the only woman from Bedford County, Pa., to have success in Green Ridge State Forest. In fact, good performances started in FOTM’s inaugural year in 2010, when Kari Brown, then 36, finished 12th overall and third female in 5:53:09.1. Brown’s time still ranks sixth on the top 10 list of FOTM women’s performance list. And Shelly Cable, Greenawalt’s sister, wasn’t far behind — finishing fifth in the women’s standings (17th overall) in 6:32:29.7, earning the Women’s Masters title that year.

Kari Brown, of Bedford, Pa., has a long and successful history with the Fire on the Mountain 50K.

Brown returned in 2011 and finished 80 seconds out of second place; third female, she finished in 6:08:11 (10th overall).

In 2012, a Bedford woman took top honors. Michelle Roy, 33, placed 24th overall in 6:13:05.2. For the third consecutive year, Brown earned a top 3 finish (26th overall in 6:16:07.5).

In 2013, Brown returned to FOTM again and placed fifth in the women’s standings (27th overall, 6:14:02.1).

The year 2014 had Cable bring sister Greenawalt to FOTM. Both with Bedford addresses that  year, Cable placed fifth in the women’s standings with a time of 7:16:23.3 — good for second in the women’s masters division and only 0.4 seconds ahead of sister and new ultramarathoner Greenawalt.

In 2016, the course changed to the arguably more difficult out-and-back version it is today. In fact, it was recognized as more difficult even by the race director, who extended the maximum time allowed on the course an extra 30 minutes to 10 hours. For the second straight year, Cable placed fifth in the women’s standings (8:15:20.8) and second in the women’s masters division.

In 2019, Greenawalt was back, and took third in the women’s standings (and first in the grand masters division) in 7:46:19.

And Bedford men? They’ve been great, too, but that’s a story for another day.

Submitted photo
Adam Lowe, right, presents Aaron MacGray with the 25K champion’s loot.

Adam for the win!

No, Adam Lowe did not win the 11th running of the Fire on the Mountain 50K this year. He was too busy this time serving as first-year race director.

The 39-year-old won the 2020 event in 4:56:17 — seventh all-time in FOTM history — then was announced as the new race director six days later. Social media users and runners raved about his effort and their experiences because of it.

Positive reviews came from Jason Hinerman, 43, of Shepherdstown, W.Va. (sixth place, 6:18:25), Daniel Moses, 41, of Silver Spring, Md. (26th, 7:46:51), and many more. After the past 12 months of work and first race day, it seemed the right decision for Lowe to take this race into its second decade.






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