DeWayne Satterfield: 1964-2020

AJW's TaproomThe last time I saw DeWayne Satterfield was during the golden hour at the 2019 Western States 100, after he crossed the finish line. Caked in a layer of salt and smiling from ear to ear, I can still see the look on his face. It was the distinct look of both utter exhaustion and complete satisfaction that so often represents the paradoxical wonder of finishing a long ultramarathon. That was DeWayne’s second Western States finish, fully 25 years after his first.

Last Friday, DeWayne Satterfield passed away after battling a particularly aggressive form of cancer. He was 55 years old.

DeWayne Satterfield was, quite simply, an ultrarunning legend. Along with his good friend and long-time training partner Dink Taylor, DeWayne literally put Huntsville, Alabama on the ultrarunning map and inspired a generation of runners in the southeastern United States to take up the sport. As a young, up-and-coming ultrarunner in the 1990s, I was constantly in awe of DeWayne’s running prowess, from his incredible string of 25 consecutive finishes at his beloved Mountain Mist 50k to his 11 attempts at the Barkley Marathons, DeWayne was a fixture of the ultrarunning scene for a generation and a guy who, at least to me, made it all look so easy and fun.

In the early days of organized ultrarunner sponsorships, I recall looking on with a bit of envy as DeWayne emerged as a southeastern stalwart of the original Montrail Ultrarunning Team. Known for his reflective philosophical nature combined with a fierce competitive fire, DeWayne, in his prime, was a threat to win just about any race he entered. Over the past 15 years or so, I was fortunate to run alongside Dewayne from time to time and he was always, and I mean always, friendly, kind, and generous with his running advice. He had that rare quality, when he was talking with you, of making you feel like you were the most important person in the world to him at that moment.

DeWayne’s passing leaves a deep hole in the ultrarunning community, most notably in the region of the U.S. southeast that he called home but also in the entire ultrarunning universe. Representing many of the values we hold so dear in the sport, humility, resilience, determination, and a reverence for nature, DeWayne’s passing reminds us of the importance of living our values not as runners but as people, as well.

Rest in Peace, DeWayne.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Huntsville, Alabama’s Salty Nut Brewery. One of their best staple beers is their Imperial Moustache Red which is a classic Irish Red Ale with a nice crisp finish and just a touch of sweetness. Weighing in at a pleasant 5.6% and a super mellow 19 IBUs, Imperial Moustache is one of those beers that’s good just about any time.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

In memory of DeWayne, please feel welcome to share a story of sharing the trails and races with him.

DeWayne Satterfield (right) and friend Dink Taylor at the 2013 Mountain Mist 50k. Image courtesy of Dink Taylor.

DeWayne Satterfield before the 2019 Western States 100. Photo: Western States 100

There are 22 comments

  1. Caleb

    DeWayne was a friend of mine and a long time family friend of my in-laws. He officiated our wedding, and I’ll never forget that he made sure to include “and you promise to support and love Caleb even when hes running a 100 miler undertrained” in my wifes vows to me.

  2. AT

    Wow, thanks for bringing this legend to my knowledge. Just searched through his ultrasignup and I am always in awe of veterans like himself who were doing this in the early to mid 90s (and those long before that!) Nobody in my family ran, and I remember about 10-15 years ago learning about what ultra’s were via Dean Karnazes. My mind was forever blown when I learned about ultra runners. I may never run a 100 miler, but I am one hell of a fan. May his spirit carry wayward in the Southeast and all around!

  3. Liz Canty

    Thank you AJW – it has been a tough week here in Huntsville, we are all going to miss Dewayne terribly. You are spot on – no matter where you “ran” into him, you were the most important thing in the world at that moment. He has inspired my own Barkley pursuit and will inspire new runners in Huntsville for years to come.

  4. Chris

    DeWayne was an amazing runner and even better person. I was honored to know him and will always treasure the opportunity to run with him on several occasions. Always encouraging and positive. I ran my first ultra after being inspired by reading a race report of his. A legend who will be greatly missed!

  5. Whitney Sparks Herrera

    Being from Decatur, AL when I decided I wanted to become a runner, Huntsville was the best place to go to get that opportunity. I remember meeting DeWayne in the late 90’s and was like WOW now that guy is a runner!!! While he didn’t know really me personally (not me him) we attended many of the small group runs offered by the running clubs and countless races. in fact I’m pretty sure I saw him crush a run at Montesano Mt wearing only one shoe. Or was that Dink? Lol

    Anyway, he was always quick to offer kind advice and encouragement. What a treasure to the running community.

  6. Ronnie Nelson

    Thank you for the perfectly-worded tribute, AJW. DeWayne was truly one-of-a-kind. I first met him in Differential Equations class in college, and initially I didn’t like him very much, because he was that guy who always screwed up the curve. There wasn’t anything he didn’t excel at, and always with the utmost humility. We became very good friends and training partners in the late 80s-early 90s. I could actually keep up with him then, but he didn’t slow down over the years nearly like I did. As a race director of a local 8k here in Huntsville, about 6 years ago I was asked to fill out a questionnaire, and one of the questions was “If you could go on a training run with any person, living or dead, who would it be?” Without any hesitation, my answer was DeWayne Satterfield.

  7. Mallory Yawn

    “Run strong, be strong, stand together always.” Were the words DeWayne and his wife Cara wrote to us in our card they gave us for our wedding. My favorite memory of DeWayne was when he jumped up in the air at the finish line of Pinhoti 100 and twirled around!

  8. Kirk Apt

    I had the good fortune to meet DeWayne when we were teammates on the Montrail Team. We shared lodging that Montrail hooked us up with for the Leadville100. I loved his calm confident yet enthusiastic spirit. RIP DeWayne❤️

  9. Ryan Harbaugh

    After moving to Huntsville over 10 years ago, I have fallen in love with the trails here and the community of supportive runners. Dewayne was certainly part of that and I consider it an honor to train on the same trails as he. I have fond memories of getting a passing glances of him as he sped by me on his training runs and shouting “Hey!”

  10. Gary McGowan

    I first met DeWayne at the pre-race pasta feed the night before the 2000 Mountain Mist 50k, where he, with good-natured glee, demonstrated how ridiculous we would look trying to run the next day’s demanding and stupid-rocky Waterline Trail at Monte Sano SP. DeWayne was not only a terrific runner, he reveled in the challenges of tough trails and embodied the generous spirit of the ultrarunning community. I got out on the stupidest, rockiest trail in the Chicago area today as a tribute to him.

  11. Mike Lord

    I only had the privilege of being around DeWayne Satterfield a handful of times. All of those times being at Mountain Mist. The most meaningful time was in 2018. I went to the pre-race dinner by myself. DeWayne noticed I was flying solo. So he invited me to eat ate his table with some legendary runners. He was very inviting and friendly!! He was a saint of a man. He gave the pre-race speech and he did a spectacular job. Thanks to him “The Boxer” by Simon & Garfunkel became a staple song of mine. I never paid attention to the message of that song until DeWayne called it out to us at the pre-race dinner. Love you DeWayne you will be sorely missed.

  12. Al DiMicco

    Beautiful tribute AJW to a beautiful man. I knew Dwayne for many years since first running Mt Mist in the 90’s. As all have said before me, he was the kindest person to everyone and a friend to all. It broke my heart to hear of his passing. All who knew him are much better for it.

  13. Krissy Moehl

    DeWayne was one of the Montrail originals. An easy-going athlete that loved to race. His quiet excitement for his events was contagious and while it’s been years since I’ve interacted with him, it’s easy to remember his smile and can-do attitude. RIP runner friend.

  14. Rick Maehlmann

    Thought I would share a memory of DeWayne. It’s not a crazy story of him but one that is meaningful because it embodies what comes to mind when I think about DeWayne. Because we both worked on the Redstone Arsenal, we would sometimes cross paths during lunch runs. One lunch our paths crossed at the top of a steep dirt road climb. The view at the top is often worth stopping to enjoy. DeWayne had stopped and had his arm stretched out towards some point of interest off in the distance. He was with a younger runner and I could tell he was sharing his joy for the sport and the area. Like others have posted previously, DeWayne was making someone feel like they were the only person in the world to him. He was quite an encourager and someone who shared his faith genuinely. He was someone who easily earned my respect. I’m glad I met him.

  15. Joshua Holmes

    DeSayne’s loss to the southern running community and running as a whole is massive. DeWayne was a legend. I heard about DeWayne before I ever met him. He had the insane course record for this, at the time (2006), very obscure race called the Vol State 500K. It stood for a long time. He set it when he had not much competition. I barely knew DeWayne when he left a message on my Facebook wall in July 2011 while I was in the middle of trying to finish the same race. He told me, “Joshua…remember you are in an epic adventure…savor the moments good and bad. When one suffers, it lets you better appreciate feeling good .”

    He wasn’t just prolific with his volume of ultra races but more impressively with his results, his wins, his course records. Ultrasignup has him with 199 races, 97 trophies, and a 89.9% score even at the age of 55, as a male over that many races. And by my count just 2 DNF’s and one of those being Hardrock.

    I viewed my progress as an ultra runner as where I was in proximity with DeWayne at the Strolling Jim 40 Miler. I, along with many, met him there the first Saturday of May for many years.

    He was already signed up for it next month. It would have been his 23rd Jim. I remember a few years ago about 8 miles into the race finding myself surrounded by DeWayne and Dink Taylor and thinking “Oh no! I went out way too fast.” As I improved over the years I really enjoyed the fun banter we had during those SJ miles. It won’t be the same without him next month.

    He was the best of us, not just as a runner which was easy to measure with numbers, but more importantly as a human and how he treated others, like me, a total green rookie when we first met.

    Run In Peace, my friend. I miss you. – jh

  16. Amelia Boone

    I only met Dewayne once, running Barkley, but it was evident how much he was loved. He was so open and friendly and helpful to us virgins, and I won’t forget that. Thanks for writing this, AJW. Rest easy, Dewayne.

  17. John C

    Thanks AJW for this apt tribute to a guy who was as generous in spirit as he was tenacious on the trails. On a hot early Spring day 15 years ago I unexpectedly passed an overheated DeWayne toward the end of a 50k he’d been leading from the start. I asked if I could offer him anything and he just smiled and said, “Nope, it’s just not my day but do hope it can be yours. Finish strong!” What a guy and what an inspiration he was to all of us in this area. So glad to read how he touched folks from all over in an amazing career on the trails!

  18. Dave Mackey

    Dewayne was a kind, good energy soul. The few times we crossed paths at chasing each other at Mountain Mist especially, and other races, were always followed by good chats. He was so dedicated to ultras and loved them to their utmost by showing up year after year. I didn’t know him when I was on the Montrail team with him in 99/00 but his name was legend to me. You’ll be missed DeWayne.

  19. John Clarke

    I met DeWayne for the first time last May 2019 at Strolling Jim. I am relatively new to Ultras but certainly knew of DeWayne from my research on the sport. After the race I talked Barkley and other Laz races with him. He was obviously a very friendly and humble guy. I was very much looking forward to seeing him again and chatting with him at the 2020 editions of Strolling Jim and Heart of the South, in which we were both registered. Yet another good guy who has passed away too young and another reminder that life is short and we must make the most of it while we are able. Condolences to his family and friends.

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