Race: Backcountry Rise 50k
Location: Mt. St. Helens Science & Learning Center (Start/Finish)
Results – 9:12:43
3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most
1. The course was amazingly beautiful, with crazy views in every direction.
2. The race is very well run, and the RD makes sure to say hello to everyone personally.
3. The race medal, hat and shirt from territory run company are awesome.
Not so much – aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
There’s a lot of bush whacking in the first half of the course, and the hills really don’t quit until after mile 20. Due to some challenges with the hike in aid stations, distance between aid stations were as far as 10 miles. It was my first 50k, maybe not the best choice…
Weird factor – what’s the weirdest thing about this race
Weird factor is pretty low, other than the guy at aid station 2 wearing daisy dukes and high rise briefs!
Highlights of your race – what did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular
Just enjoying the views as the landscape changes from forest to meadows to the blasted landscapes nearer to Mt St Helens.
Lessons for others – share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
Wear gaitors! Loose pumice really slowed down people who didn’t wear them with lots of stops to empty rocks from shoes. Take it easy and start in the back unless you’re trying to place; it’s singletrack right after the start with a quick 1 mile downhill, so you’ll end up either running too fast or slowing down the pack. Try to keep something in reserve for miles 21 to 31, where you can make up a lot of time if you have something left in the tank.
If folks aren’t up for the 50k, the 20 mile course has many of the same amazing views and a lot less climbing.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
If I do the race again, I’ll be mentally prepared for some slow bushwacking, and know to embrace the climbing for the first 2/3rds of the race. And I’ll be chugging ginger ale at all the aid stations!
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
Expect slow finishing times, so just judge your race by how you feel and if you’re passing (or being passed) by other runners. Between mile 1 and 4, there are sections where chain link fence is embedded in the trail for erosion control. Some of the wire loops are now poking out of the trail, creating really hard to see tripping hazards. Multiple people tripped and sprained ankles in this section!
Aesthetics – is it a pretty course
It’s a really amazingly beautiful course. If weather is clear, there are views in every direction after the climb up from Coldwater lake. Mt St Helens, Mt Adams, and Rainier are all visible on clear days.
Difficulty – is it a tough course
Oh yes indeed. Technical singletrack for most of the race, with a few scary washouts. 7500ft of climbing, and 500ft of that is in the last mile to the finish!
Organized and well run – did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
This was the first year of the race, but the RD really knows what he’s doing. Felt super professionally run; I’m betting next year will be even better!
Competition – is there a strong field?
It’s a small race this year, less than 100 in the 50k. Max King showed up to win, but the field wasn’t super deep.
Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.
Race didn’t sell out, but it’s the first year. There’s camping on site (mostly on asphalt) and on site breakfast that’s free. For those who’d rather not camp, nearest motels are in Castle Rock 50 minutes away. I highly recommend the Mt St Helen’s Motel!
They are pretty basic; water, carbopro, gu’s, some fruit, coke, ginger ale and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Watch out for long gaps between aid stations, lots of folks ran out of water. And Aid station 2 had iodized water from the lake, I think, due to it’s remote location. It was an acquired taste :-\
Weather and typical race conditions
We were lucky this year; weather broke days before race so it was mostly cloudy with highs in the 60’s. It can get very hot in the backcountry, and it’s a very exposed course.
Gear – did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?
Gaitors! And lot’s of suntan lotion. A few folks had poles, it’s a toss up.
Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends
No official place to spectate until the last aid station at mile 25, unless you want to hike into the course.
The Overall Score – how many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it
I would give this a solid 4 out of 5 stars. It’s an adventure and the course is amazing!
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