Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bel Monte 50k Race Report

31.4 miles, 6:28

My legs tell me this is a pretty accurate course profile

I left for Virginia right from the office at 7PM on Friday night. With a dinner stop at Fazzoli’s and a 2 hour nap break at a rest stop I arrived at Sherando Lake Recreation Area (Just a few miles from Shenandoah National Forest) around 5AM. The park didn’t open until 6 so I slept for another 1.5 hours then made my way to the race check in, just down the road. The Race started on top of an earth dam, where we all gathered at 6:45 for a humorus speech by the RD about the course directions (apparently we were a much brighter group of runners than in years past.) At 7AM the race started with a “Ready…Go!” and just like that were began our journey. The first 7 Miles were a brutal climb to the top of a peak. The climb started about a ¼ mile into the run which means big traffic jam. Know you would think this is something a trail runner would be used to, but not the woman running behind me. Spent the first 2 miles of the race (until a sped up to get away from her ranting) complaining about how “I have never seen anything like this!” and “This isn’t good people, we need to get it moving!” I was pretty amused by it, but the guy in front of me wasn’t, and flashed her frequent dirty looks, which amused me even more. The climb went pretty smooth and at the top was the second aid station. I refilled my bottle and eat a lot, as the next aid station was at the bottom of the mountain around 6 miles and 1500 feet below. I made up a lot of time on the down hill (my strongest area) but the rocky terrain of the course was really getting to me. I had never run in the Blue Ridge Mountains before and didn’t know what to expect. What I got was by far the rockiest (Word??) and most technical trails I have ever seen. There were several straight-aways that weren’t even runable with huge boulders making up the trail. I made it to the bottom and to the aid station at mile 13 in 2:50 which was a pretty good clip considering the crazy climb. The next section was 3.5 miles on a paved road. I was able to get into a nice grove here and covered the road in a pace just under 10 min miles. The next aid station was at mile 16. This is where the next climb begins and there wouldn’t be another aid station for 7 miles. I was feeling pretty good at this point and kept motoring along. Miles 16-22 were a very mellow climb (at least compared to the rest of the course) then at mile 22 we started a climb that would take us to the same elevation as the first 7 miles, excepted this time it was compacted into a single mile. It really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was actually glad when it came up because I was tired of running through all of those rocks! I made it to the top of the hill and the fourth aid station still feeling really good. From here in it was “All down hill” which was true for the most part. I was excited to get back to the down hill section and make up more time because I was already on a really good pace, but the next 5 miles were the most frustrating 5 miles I have ever run. The down hills came and I was ready to cut loose, but the rocks just wouldn’t go away. I had to be very cautious, as one wrong move could wreck my ankle, and I still had a marathon to run the next day. I did the best I could skipping across the rocks and eventually reached the bottom, and the final aid station. Most of the remaining 2.7 miles were on the roads, which always seemed to bit me when I am doing ultras. I maintained a steady pace and finished feeling strong in a time of 6:28. They haven’t posted the results yet, but I am pretty sure a finished somewhere in the top half. I was very pleased with this time. With 6300 feet of climbing this one of the hardest 50k’s I have done (Second only to LLTH). It was also one of the most beautiful courses. The climbs were rough but the views of the streams along the way and the far reaching views from the peaks were stunning. I was very happy to beat my time from LLTH. As I was sitting around munching on some food in the picnic shelter after the race I looked to my left and saw David Horton! He lives in the area and was helping with the race. I was too much in awe to introduce my self, so instead I watched him from a distance and eavesdropped on his conversations. Some one said to him “Hey David, did you run the race today?” To which he replied “No, I heard it was going to be hard so I didn’t do it.” Pretty humorous coming from a guy who has won the Hardrock hundred miler along with numerous other ultrarunning accomplishments. After about an hour I packed up at 3PM and started the drive home, the LONG drive home. I stopped once to sleep for 1.5 hours and stopped a few times for gas and snacks, trying to refuel my body so I would be able to run the marathon on Sunday. I made it back a little past midnight and hit the sack. One down one to go.


Kim said...

Horton's latest protegy, Sarah Johnson, was first female in this race. We met her at Punxy last year, a very nice (and cute!!) young lady. (Around your age!!)

Good job on this race and without much sleep=at all!! Sigh, it must be nice to be young. I remember doing things on little sleep but they didn't involve running long distances.
I will keep this in mind when you say LTH was a harder course because I am planning on running the Louisville course next year.

Josh said...


I saw Sarah after the race, cute indeed!

I think this course had a bit more elevation change then LLTH, but the climbs at Bel Monte were compressed into two really big climbs which was easier for me as apposed to bing all spread out at LLTH.

Scott Dunlap said...

Holy cow, that's quite a course profile! Nice work. You are definitely on pace for Mohican!