EMS supervisor runs 50 miles with jaw wired shut

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 6:38 pm on Wednesday, September 07, 2011

MANISTEE — A Montcalm County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) supervisor was severely injured in a car accident last winter.
Six months later, Brandon Mulnix, 32, of Lowell ran a 50-mile race in 12 hours and 29 minutes — with his jaw wired shut.
A two-car accident the night of Feb. 26 left Mulnix and two others injured. Police believe icy road conditions were a factor in the crash, which took place on M-66 near Dick Road in Fairplain Township. Michael Vickers, 19, of Rochester, lost control of his vehicle and crossed the center line, into the path of Mulnix’s vehicle.
Mulnix’s jaw was shattered in the accident and he underwent surgery. A major fracture on the right side of his jaw didn’t heal and a plate holding the jaw together broke. To help facilitate healing, doctors wired shut Mulnix’s jaw on Aug. 17 — 10 days before the North Country Trail Run in Manistee National Forest, which took place Saturday.
Mulnix has run in several races this summer, but Saturday’s was the most difficult.
“The motivating factor was the 60-plus people that pledged support to the local food pantries,” he said. “We raised one food item for every mile so more than 3,000 non-perishable food items will be donated to communities across Michigan and as far away as Texas. I couldn’t let people go hungry just because I was hurting.”
Mulnix said running 50 miles is “almost impossible” due to issues with nutrition, lack of oxygen from having his jaw wired shut and other unknowns. He survived by taking forms of liquid nutrition.
“As an experienced ultra marathon runner I wanted to challenge the community by doing something extreme,” he said. “Last year at this race I had to quit at 25 miles into the race due to overheating. The chances of me finishing this year were even less, but I like a challenge.”
Race Director Chris Nicholas of Grand Rapids said Saturday’s race was the 12th race of its kind and featured more than 560 finishers from 29 states, plus Canada.
“You definitely want to train for hills if you want to run this course,” Nicholas said. “The wired jaw certainly posed a lot of challenges for Brandon. When you are out running a race, anything above a marathon, you’ve got to make sure you are eating substance.”
Nicholas said Mulnix’s achievement Saturday was one of many inspirational stories at the race.
Mulnix ran another race Sunday in Grand Rapids, completing the Naked Foot 5K in 27 minutes and 10 seconds. He plans to compete in the Mackinac Bridge Run on Labor Day and in future races.
To follow Mulnix’s running adventures online, visit his blog at www.brandonmulnix.com or his Facebook page.

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