Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bel Monte 50 Mile

woooooo hooooooooooooo longest run of 2008! Saturday was the first running of the Bel Monte 50 miler in Sherando Lake VA. In previous years a 25k and 50K were run on the amazing trails that surround the lake and climb up to the blue ridge parkway. I had originally signed up for the 50k but decided that hay the 50 mile is new, I should just toughen up and run the big one. So I did.

Wow, what a tough 50 miler! I have competed in many 50 milers since my first in 1999, but none of them took longer than this one did. I managed to break 10 hours by a few seconds....and I ran hard. Ultra stud VHTRC clubmate and Charlottesville Running Co teammate Mike Mason won the race in 8:58. H0racio chased him all day and finished 2nd. Results here

I started the day in the dark trying to pick my steps through the first few stream crossings following the light of those around me who wore headlamps. The temps were a bit chilly (40's) but the sun would soon rise and raise the temps into the high 50's. When in the sun my long sleeve shirt was too much, but along the highest ridge lines in the late afternoon I was glad I had it on as a cold wind was blowing. Luckily the rain showers that were fore casted never came and it really was ideal all day.

Since I wanted to place pretty well I started out at a good clip while keeping my breathing in check. Since the 25k and 50k started with the 50 milers many of the fast folks were long gone before I knew it. I settled in with a good group and eagerly watched the miles tick by on my Garmin. ( stats here! )We had the first big climb of the race right off the bat. It also happened to be the best trail (least technical) which was a bummer as I really would have liked this incredible trail in the last 6 miles when I was whipped and whining for some good footing.

Before too long I fell into step with Dave Peterman and Brennon Wysong. The miles ticked by as I blabbed on about my bad memories from Western States and our previous runs at the incredible Massanutten mtn 100. At the 13 mile aid station VHTRC legends Robin Kane and Joe clapper ran on by us and would continue to stay together all day. They had started a bit more conservatively than I did but they spent the rest of the day 6-10 minutes a head of me.

After a few road miles I moved on alone and stayed alone for all but a few minutes for the next 7 hours. With the long out and backs it was never too lonely though and I had a great time encouraging the other runners. Nutrition-wise I continued to stick to cliff shot blocks as my primary fuel. I ate one twinky, drank a fair amount of coke, and added NUUN tablets to my water bottle at each fill up. Aid stations were well stocked and plentiful and as expected the course marking was outstanding.

As the miles ticked by I continued to move up in the field. I passed some runners and moved up by default as others dropped out. As I started up the last big climb I was holding on to 5th place and all I could think was...please let this go quickly... But, 5+miles at 16 minutes per mile really did not go too quickly. I got to the top out of water and hurting but with out being caught. I thought I had it in the bag until as I started to leave the station I took one final look back and saw the Dave pulling in. Doah! I gotta work now! The last 7 was downhill and ridge line running and easily was the most technical of the the entire race. Ugh! so many rocks! Signal knob has nothing on Tory ridge. Ever so slowly the miles ticked by and when I was almost down I came up on Joe. He was moving slowly and was suffering once again from the vision problems that plaque him. When oxygen flow to his eyes is lessened they cloud over and he slowly looses his vision. This makes trail running all but impossible.

Joe is a great guy and good friend so I was happy to escort him on in to the finish. I just lead and he stepped where I put my feet. The clock continued to tick and I figured for sure we were going to miss the 10 hour barrier but with a bit of a push on the final blacktop piece we managed to get across the line just in time.

All in all it was the best effort I have put out since the 3:01 marathon I ran at Marine Corps last October. The feet, ankles, and knees were aching pretty good on the drive home, but the leg muscles felt surprisingly good due to some hot lasagna at the finish. A very nice treat!


Bedrock said...


Good seeing you and cngrats on a strong run. That course was brutal! I had a very tough day but managed to finish - good training for MMT. Congrats again.


Greg "Loomdog" Loomis said...

Brutal indeed. I was really thinking the last 13 miles that what we were doing was the best MMT training there is. Too bad I'm not running it this year! Congrats on the finish. And good luck in the next 2 months