East Brandywine’s Mize runs 49 miles to help firefighters
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.”
Mike Mize poses for a picture at the East Brandywine Fire Company after finishing his 49-mile run through Chester County on Saturday.