East Brandy­wine’s Mize runs 49 miles to help fire­fight­ers

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Suzanne Koup-Larsen

On Satur­day, East Brandy­wine res­i­dent Mike Mize ran 49 miles to raise money for East Brandy­wine Fire Com­pany (Sta­tion #49). The 37-year-old is an ex­pe­ri­enced ul­tra­ma­rathoner, and started his route from the East Brandy­wine Fire Sta­tion at sun­rise, wind­ing his way to sev­eral fire sta­tions through­out the county, in­clud­ing Thorn­dale, West­wood, Honey Brook, Glen Moore, Lud­wig’s Cor­ner, and Min­quas. Mize fin­ished 14 and a half hours later, around 8 p.m., back at East Brandy­wine Fire Sta­tion. De­spite the heat and hu­mid­ity, and a July thun­der­storm, Mize com­pleted the 49 miles as planned.

Mize had run Philadel­phia’s 20 in 24 Chal­lenge, a race that ben­e­fited the Back on My Feet or­ga­ni­za­tion, nearly 10 times be­fore the ul­tra­ma­rathon (a race greater than marathon dis­tance) was dis­con­tin­ued in 2016. Mize was left with a hole in his rac­ing sched­ule, and a de­sire to give back. The idea to do a run 49 miles to ben­e­fit the East Brandy­wine Fire Sta­tion (sta­tion No. 49) oc­curred to Mize some­time in 2016, but in 2017 he de­cided to put things in mo­tion. Mize chose lo­cal fire sta­tions as an­chors along the 49-mile route and then used Google maps to cre­ate the course.

Mize was not fa­mil­iar with many parts of the route be­fore set­ting off.

“If I pre­viewed the route, I may not have not have done it,” he ad­mit­ted.

There were many hills along the course, and at times traf­fic con­di­tions made things ten­u­ous.

“It was very dan­ger­ous and very dif­fi­cult,” Mize said. “It was very dif­fi­cult con­di­tions.”

Mize an­tic­i­pated the run would take 13 hours, but it took an hour and a half longer than ex­pected due to the heat.

“I walked ev­ery hill on that course be­cause it was so hot,” said Mize.

Though he stopped at many fire sta­tions along the way, he did not take shel­ter from the late af­ter­noon thun­der­storm. Af­ter the storm, con­di­tions im­proved.

“Fol­low­ing the thun­der­storm, it was per­fect out.”

Mize’s main goal was to keep him­self hy­drated, though he did need to eat to sus­tain him­self dur­ing the run. While it’s dif­fi­cult to find some­thing palat­able to eat on a hot day, Mize kept him­self go­ing with a mix­ture of en­ergy gels, gummy fruit snacks, or­ange slices, and peanut but­ter and jelly.

Mize was far from alone along the race course. Greg Kohlmaier, EMS Cap­tain at East Brandy­wine Fire Com­pany vol­un­teered to ride his bike along­side Mize at the start, and stayed with him for the en­tire 14 hour jour­ney. Most of the fire sta­tions Mize passed had some­one to of­fer wa­ter or what­ever Mize needed. In ad­di­tion, Mize’s par­ents re­plen­ished his wa­ter sup­ply through­out the day, and Mize’s wife Brid­get brought him a fresh change of clothes for the last third of the run. In ad­di­tion, a crew from the fire sta­tion drove by to check in on Mize fre­quently.

For the fin­ish of the run, Nate Mucha, a fire­fighter and EMT en­ter­ing his se­nior year of high school at Down­ing­town West, ran the last four miles with Mize in full fire­fighter gear. In ad­di­tion, as the two ap­proached Guthriesvi­lle, they got an es­cort of fire trucks and emer­gency ve­hi­cles back to the sta­tion. Au­thor­i­ties stopped traf­fic at the in­ter­sec­tion of Route 322 and Hopewell Road to al­low Mize and Mucha to safely cross and fin­ish the run.

“I had over­whelm­ing sup­port from the fire com­pany,” said Mize.

The East Brandy­wine Fire Com­pany erected a fin­ish line for Mize, in­clud­ing a large Amer­i­can flag, yellow and white bal­loons, and po­lice line tape for him to break. Af­ter cross­ing the fin­ish line, Mize was met with hugs and hand­shakes from fam­ily mem­bers and fire depart­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

So far, Mize has tripled his orig­i­nal fundrais­ing goal, with ap­prox­i­mately $3,000 raised for East Brandy­wine Fire Com­pany.

“We are 100 per­cent ap­pre­cia­tive,” said Joe Ed­wards, Deputy Chief of East Brandy­wine Fire Com­pany. “We thought it was a phe­nom­e­nal event.”

One day af­ter run­ning 49 miles, blis­ters on his feet are Mize’s only com­plaint. Blis­ters were dif­fi­cult to pre­vent and treat dur­ing the run be­cause his feet were soaked all day, ei­ther from sweat or the rain.

Af­ter fin­ish­ing the race, Mize took an ice bath to has­ten re­cov­ery of hard­work­ing leg mus­cles.

“I’m re­cov­ered now,” said Mize, less than 24 hours af­ter fin­ish­ing the race. Though he doesn’t have to go back to the of­fice un­til af­ter the July 4th hol­i­day, it’s busi­ness as usual for this ac­tive fa­ther of two.

Mize hopes his run will in­spire oth­ers to think of cre­ative ways to sup­port the fire depart­ment.

“There are more ways to sup­port the fire depart­ment than be­ing a fire­man,” said Ed­wards. “We are 100 per­cent over­whelmed by what Mike did for us.”

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF SE­LENA MIZE

Mike Mize poses for a pic­ture at the East Brandy­wine Fire Com­pany af­ter fin­ish­ing his 49-mile run through Ch­ester County on Satur­day.

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