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Bel Monte 50m Race Report<br><br>
Well Organized Race<br>
Beautiful Course: Sweeping views of George Washington National Forest<br>
Technical Single Track (60%), Fire Road (30%), Asphalt (10%)<br>
Elevation Gain 11,009<br><br><br>
The Bel Monte Endurance run was my most enjoyable 50 miler to date. The race was superbly organized. The race directors posted extensive information on their website prior to the event; even though the course was challenging, we all knew what we were getting into long before race day. And, with bag drops available for five of the eleven aid stations, runners could easily complement the excellent race-provided food/drinks with their own food choices.<br><br>
5:30 am packet pick up was orderly. Race directors Gill and Francesca sent us all (50m, 50k, 25k runners) on our way at 6:35. The first 20 minutes were dark--which I welcomed. I scheduled Bel Monte as a trial run for Umstead 100m (April 5) -- and one of the recent additions I wanted to test was my new headlamp, a Petzl Myo XP. The Petzl was more than adequate for the single track trail--bright enough for me and the several folk ahead, running without headlamps.<br><br>
The trail itself was well marked with orange flags and arrows. And at all the cut points -- the 25kers broke off at Aid Station 2, the 50kers broke off at AS 4 -- the volunteers and clear signs pointed us in the right direction.<br><br>
The course was surprisingly runable. I ran VHTRC's Elizabeth FA 50k the week before, in the northern section of the George Washington National Forest. Based on that run I was anticipating extensive sections of technical loose rock trails. Bel Monte did have technical sections (notably miles 43-8 ) but it also had long stretches of friendly single-track and fire road. On these calmer sections, I was able to occasionally look up and enjoy the stunning views.<br><br>
These views did not come free. The race has 11,000 feet of climb, ensuring Bel Monte a seat among the more challenging East Coast 50 milers. Though three miles shorter than Mountain Masochist, Bel Monte at 11:28 hrs took me one hour longer to complete. I found the most challenging climb to be the 1,500 feet of gain over 1.5 miles leading up to Bald Mountain summit. The challenge was more self- than trail-inflicted. As I wrote above, Bel Monte was a trial run and one of the foods I tested was vegan jerky--an experiment that did not go well. From mile 20-27 I struggled to keep food down and to keep moving.<br><br>
Fortunately, a drop bag aid station greeted us at the top of the mountain. There I swapped the jerky for another "trial" -- Vruit Juice. This stuff should be a banned substance--it's that good. I drank half a Nalgene (17 ounces), netting me 220 cals in one minute. Many thanks to Meredith for suggesting the Vruit. Powered by Vruit, Trader Joe's peanut butter pretzels, and salted potatoes, the balance of the race was a joy. Much of that had to do with my running companions -- Sniper and Dan -- with whom I ran until they burned up the final technical section of the course. My legs did feel good, though, and I was able to run 10-12 minute miles comfortably whenever the rocks gave way. This was a decidedly new experience for me. Mediocre training and poor strategy has left me exhausted at the end of more than a few previous 50 milers. Humbled by those experiences, I tried to be quietly encouraging as I came upon gutsy runners those last six miles.<br><br>
In short, the Bel Monte 50m proved excellent training for Umstead. I anticipate that, like the Charlottesville Running Company's well known GEER 100k, the Bel Monte 50m will become a destination 50m on the East Coast circuit.<br><br><br><br>
--Eric M.

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wheeeee, glad you liked the Vruit! what flavor? i get the berry flavor. <img alt="smile.gif" src=""> Good job on a hard race. Looking forward to meeting you at Umstead <img alt="smile.gif" src="">

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Great RR! Sounds like it was a beautiful run.
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