Race: Beacon Rock 50k

Runner: Maria

Date: 6/10/17

Location: North Bonneville, WA

Results – 7:33:49

3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most

***My Crew!*** It made the experience so much more special to share it with my sister, who is the reason I got into this ultrarunning business anyway.

  1. The views from the top of Hamilton Mountain: Even though the day was a bit cloudy so Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood were hidden, you can’t beat the Columbia River views.
  2. The camaraderie. Everyone was cheering for one another!
  3. Aid station entertainment and enthusiasm: Wy’east Wolfpack did an amazing job running the aid stations. Not only did they cheer, but they did a combination stretch-dance as runners approached the aid station. They always put a smile on my face.

Not so much – aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

When the announcer thought I was a 25k-er that had just finished the race, when alas, I was only halfway there. And when the Wy’east Wolfpack guys suggested I eat a tortilla with crushed up oreo inside, telling me it would “make me PR.” I loved the enthusiasm, but it was yucky.

Weird factor – what’s the weirdest thing about this race

Nothing that I can think of.

Highlights of your race – what did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular

This was my first ultra, so honestly the entire race felt like a highlight! But more specifically, I had enough juice for a little kick at the end! Coming down off of the last climb up Hamilton Mountain with about 6 miles left to go, I felt a wave of endorphins that allowed me to pass about 5-6 guys. It was incredibly rewarding to feel that my training had paid off and that my body could take me all the way to the end.

Lessons for others – share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

I went out to the course two weeks before the race and did one 25k loop. Being familiar with the course made the climbs much easier mentally (but not physically!).

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Even though it wasn’t a particularly hot day, it was only about 60-65 degrees, I got incredibly puffy. I need to work on my salt/liquid management.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

There are multiple points in the climb up Hamilton Mountain where you think you’re at the top. You’re not.

Aesthetics – is it a pretty course

GORGEOUS! While most of the course is in the woods, they are very nice woods. The Hamilton Mountain climb has amazing views all the way up, then opens up onto a very lovely ridge (or the “saddle”). On a clear day, you can see the snowy tops of Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood.

Difficulty – is it a tough course

The 50k had about 7500 feet of elevation gain. My legs definitely seemed to think it was a tough course! The four climbs are spaced out almost evenly throughout the race, so there is time to recover before the next one.

Organized and well run – did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

Very well run.

Competition – is there a strong field?

I’m not the best judge of this because I’m a bit of a slow poke.

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.

Nope. I signed up a few months in advance, but I believe the race had sold out by the week before. I camped (for free) at the group camp near the start line the night before the race and the night of the race. It was fun being around the other runners the day before the race, and easy to get to the start line on time!

Aid Stations

During the 50k, you pass the aid stations 5 times. There is one aid station in the middle of the course that you pass 4 times and 1 at the start/middle/finish line. They were well stocked, but I wish there would have been potatoes and salt. I turned to the pickles to help my puffy hands.

And maybe some people dig the tortilla with crushed up oreo….

Weather and typical race conditions –

Race day was a typical June day in Washington: rain, sunshine, and clouds, and around 60-65. I’m not complaining because I heard it was 100 degrees the year before!

Gear – did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?

With so many aid stations, I didn’t need to carry much other than water and shot bloks. But I think that some people ran out of food and water along the course, so look at the distance between aid stations and make sure you have enough!

Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends 

Not especially. My awesome crew were out on the course cheering, but they were among the few spectators along the course. It’s about a 3 mile hike along the course itself to get out on the main part of the course where the runners pass multiple times per loop. But the halfway point is also the start/finish line, so most spectators were there.

The Overall Score – how many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it

5/5! It was a great choice for my first ultra!

Photo: Glenn Tachiyama

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