Montalto Challenge (May 3, 2014)

IMG_20140504_123754 Saturday marked my fourth time running this fantastic local race.

Since it was scheduled to happen just one week after the Blue Ridge Marathon this year, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it.

One slow, creaky three-mile run on Thursday was the only running I’d done since the marathon. I wasn’t sure if it would be wise to run the race or not, even though I definitely wanted to.

As I was trying to decide, I read on twitter that the winner of the Big Sur Marathon had run Boston the week before.

I suddenly felt very silly for worrying about running a 5k.

Kurt and I registered at the Monticello visitor’s center on Saturday morning, then jogged the two miles down to the starting line.

I snapped some pictures of the race course on the way down.

IMG_20140503_080141_705IMG_20140503_080111_626IMG_20140503_075849_481It was a chilly 48 degrees, but the sun was shining, and the forecast was calling for a warm, partly sunny spring day.

The all uphill race begins near the bottom of the Monticello Saunders Trail. It follows the trail up to Saunders Bridge then makes a sharp turn and heads up several switchbacks to the finish line on top of Montalto.

IMG_20140504_071501_946Course profile:

montalto challenge profileMontalto is on private property and is usually closed to the public.

IMG_20140504_071345_258The gate is open on race day, though. It is a unique opportunity for the public to enjoy this beautiful mountain.

At about 8:15, we lined up for the start.

IMG_20140504_131019I wasn’t planning to race, I was just there to run and enjoy the experience.

I took the first mile nice and easy.

I picked up the pace a little for the second mile. I passed Thomas Jefferson (or T.J., as we, his closest neighbors, like to call him.)

I slowed down once I hit the switchbacks, but was surprised that I was able to make it almost all the way to the top without taking a walk break. I definitely ran more than I had last year. I guess taking the first two miles easy had left me with more energy.

I crossed the finish line, found Kurt, grabbed some water and went to pick up our swag. I noticed that we didn’t get a stainless steel water bottle this year (we had every other year), but the offerings were still pretty sweet:  seed packet, tasteful & gender-specific t-shirt, coupon for Ragged Mountain Running Shop and a Trail sticker.

IMG_20140504_123313In addition to the usual post-race bananas and snacks, there was coffee from Greenberry’s, bread from Great Harvest and chocolate covered banana chips from Relay Foods.

New this year, was a “Montalto Challenge” backdrop & photographer. Kurt and I had our picture taken.

14103350681_d5eaa8347d_b(1)(photo copyright clairjonesphotography)

T.J. did, too.

13919965340_9af1170701_b(photo copyright clairjonesphotography)

There was a live band and, of course, the spectacular mountain-top view.


IMG_20140503_090246_152IMG_20140503_091002_965The award ceremony was short and sweet.

The winners received the usual Tour-de-France rip-off polka-dot t-shirt. They also received beautiful wooden bowls made from wood found on the trail.

IMG_20140503_094025_748The age-group awards were broken down into 10-year groups instead of five this year, so I was surprised when Mark Lorenzoni called my name for second place in my age-group.

I won two tickets to Monticello and a Ragged Mountain t-shirt.

Interesting side note: My finish time of 30:34 would have gotten me an age-group award in the 40-49 age group, but NOT in the 50-59 age group. Charlottesville’s 50-something women are FAST! Case in Point: Sophie Speidel (age 51) was the 3rd woman over-all.

We were sad that they were not allowing people to walk back down to the visitor’s center this year. We have always enjoyed walking or jogging back down to the car after the race. This year, everybody had to ride the bus.

My times for this race:
2014: 30:34
2013: 29:17
2012: 31:10
2010: 29:25


Author: healthyincville

Nemophilist Trail runner Introvert Animal-loving vegetarian * My ideal city would be car-free. I love my cats.

6 thoughts on “Montalto Challenge (May 3, 2014)”

  1. Wow, that’s quite a 5K – all uphill! What are the winning times like? It looks like a beautiful course though, and the view at the top is spectacular! I love that bridge. I think I must have a thing for bridges that you can run over 🙂

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