“In the pursuit of awesomeness, there is betterment.”
— Chris Sterling, (Chum Bucket)
9 intrepid cragsmen, including one FNG (Liberace), strapped on their climbing shoes to take on the Bel Monte Endurance Race. 7 PAX started the 25K and 2 opted for double-pain, 50K-style.
Start in Love, VA, head south on Blue Ridge Parkway for roughly 4K (downhill), then proceed off-road on single-track. Route tracked roughly (pun intended) down, up, down, up, down, up, down for many kms.
Intermittent stops were made for frozen water and various nibbles, pickings, and goodies (Camp Marty was a favorite stop).
Post-Camp Marty, route descended at conservatively a 40% grade. Maybe 60%. After .8km downward, 25k runners hit the turn-around point, and headed for home.
50k travelers continued up, down, up, down, up, down…AMRAP…until 50k turn-around.
Post the respective turn-around points, the route was up, down, up, down, up, down in alternating fashion from outbound route.
All PAXs, on the return leg, met the Blue Ridge Parkway and completed the final 4k UPHILL to the finish. Many PAX learned to swear during this period.
PAX, minus FNG Jim (Liberace), met for pre-race dinner at Blue Mountain Brewing Company. Meals were ordered, beers were consumed, and a schedule assembled for the following morning (alarms, coffee brewing, etc.). Rise and shine came at 4:30 a.m., when approximately nine alarms, all synchronized to the mobile phone networks, erupted simultaneously. Symphonic. Teeth were brushed, dry showers were taken, Glide was applied, shoes put on, and coffee was made (well, one pot…then a second pot….no, wait, coffee not made….ah, THAT’s how it’s done…coffee made, bullet dodged),…and the PAX were off.
Temps were chilly (mid-20s at start time), but as the sun rose steadily on the last day of Standard Time, it was sunny and 70 in the PAXs’ hearts. Until it wasn’t. Props to the Bad to the Bone Crew for having a bonfire pouring out heat in the pre-start Gloom.
After the start, eight PAX hung close together for the initial 4k black top section, with the appropriate mumble-chatter and backslapping. Except for Lab Rat. “Gde Lab Rat?” Gone, but not lost. Lab Rat was on it from the start, having said “Dasvidanya” to the PAX early and moseyed at break-neck speed down the mountain. More on that shortly…
Once onto the trail, the PAX spread out into roughly groups of two. YHC ran most of the way with Honey Do, Flashdance with Liberace, and Chum with Circle K. 50kers TYA and Saab lost themselves in the moment and owned it all the way. That left Lab Rat running on his own, and a good thing too as he crushed this race. 3:41 minutes if YHC’s post-race hallucinating is to be trusted. Well done, sir. YHC attributes Lab Rat’s performance to a solid training regimen and a mysterious red blood cell donation (transfusion?) 4 weeks prior the race. In unrelated news, Lab Rat issued a one-word statement at the finish in response to allegations that he had met pre-race with Russian Olympic team officials,“Nyet.”
With the PAX spread across various mountain ridges, YHC spent most of the day with Honey Do, who provided an indomitable spirit throughout the day. Thank you, kind sir, for strong support.
As this was YHC’s first off-road race, a few observations are in order:
- Funny thing about nature… there were rocks of all sizes and the occasional fallen log throughout the trail. YHC realized that concentrating on the trail step-by-step was key to not ending up face-down. In short, over 4.5 hours on the trail, YHC spent approximately 30 seconds scanning the scenic vistas for which the Blue Ridge Mountains are known. Conversely, due to selecting Honey Do as his running partner, YHC spent approximately 3 hours looking at red leg hair and black socks….the defining scenery of the day.
- Two saltines + peanut butter + Welch’s Concord grape jelly = Nirvana.
- Also, having started the day with minimal expectations for a podium finish, YHC will engage in shameless self-congratulations for finishing FIRST in the inaugural Bel Monte 33k Endurance Race. Kudos to Honey Do for finishing 2nd. This duo proudly represented F3 Richmond!! But wait, you ask. How do PAX finish 1 and 2 in a 33k race when the advertised options were 25k, 50k, and 50 miles? Ah, therein lies the magic of the Q and his compadre losing themselves in the moment and running an extra few miles. Any mathematician knows that it’s hard to finish 3rd in a 2-man race. Counting extra credit, a 20.43 mile race. To quote Honey Do, ”That’s a ballbuster.” FEBA all the way.
Finally, two big shout outs…first to Lab Rat, who, having completed his own race, drove back to help his injured teammates (Flashdance and Liberace). When Round 1 of his search came up empty, he nonetheless found a cramped runner literally curled up in a roadside ditch, administered modest life-saving first-aid (have some of my soda?), and returned the man safely to base. A simple act of kindness, perhaps, but a lifesaver to that man, for sure. Double-well done, sir.
Lastly, a round of backslaps to Flashdance for offering lodging to the PAX. What a place! YHC had hoped for a free floor space – bonus if carpeted. No, sir. This was first class all the way. Thank you, Flashdance.
Bel Monte 2018 Sign-up opens soon. Circle back for details.