Monday, November 30, 2015

Wow, it has been way too long since I posted last. Well, our world has turned upside down in some interesting ways.

We (Joyce & I) have sold Tejas Trails. Part of the deal was that we would stay on for a year to a proper handoff. And so we have. We will have to work the races in the spring and then WHO KNOWS ?

I have also terminated the column I have been writing for Inside Texas Running for the last 8 years. I started in 2008 and can't believe I managed to come up with something new once a month for that long. Anyway, I now have more time to invest elsewhere.

I continue to coach, so I created a new business name to coach under (Trail Zen), which I played with and twisted around for a good long time till it landed with that exact sequence of letters. I like that most people actually hear Trails End when you say Trail Zen. Works either way for me. Also, Sonia (my daughter) who helped me develop the original logo for Tejas Trails was also excited about re-inventing a new logo for me. Started with the word TRAIL, in which she turned the A into a mountain looking shape, then twisted the TR at an angle so as to climb the Mountain. Then imbedded the Zen in the mountain and then under it. So, the (TR) Trail Runner climbs the mountain to find Zen. We (me/erica/sonia) took some liberties with this, but it sort of flowed in that direction easily. Also, my primary Totem has always been the chameleon (yes, and I have other lesser totems), and that is what I used for the Tejas Trails logo. Yes, the Lizard logo was actually a chameleon (who knew), and I figured since we have sold and moved on to something new, we should simply give the chameleon wings and let it fly. Sounds like a dragon, right!? So I started playing with ideas referencing dragons: Dragon-Ass, Dragon-Fly, Dragon-Breath, Snap-Dragon. So we started playing with art that contained dragons. Somehow or another, I plan to use the dragon (a chameleon with wings) but it has yet to develop where I want it. I have plenty of time to work this out.

Also, I still plan to work with Liza Howard & the Bryants in line with the RWB Trail Running Camp for veterans. This has been a load of fun and very rewarding, that we hope to continue. I expect we will be doing this again in October for the next few years.

Guadalupe Traverse will happen again this April (2016) as a long trail running weekend, with a grand troupe of characters. For some this is a last long run prior to Jemez Mountain Trail Run in Los Alamos New Mexico, our spring destination race these past 4 or 5 years.

And thats just the tip of whats going on... Anyway, I should be more regular from here on for awhile !

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Jemez Mountain Run 2014

Thoughts tumbled round and round, falling over each other, confusing each other, one dominant for a moment, then another... but for absolute certain... none took charge. My eyes were closed, somebody was talking non-stop directly into my ear, the buzz of the aid station background noise, somebody yells and snaps a picture, and suddenly it all fades into focus as I open one good eye to see what I hear. Bobby Keogh yells something at me, points down, and is gone. Ace, Nancy, & Rene are swarming round the edge, looking down, and yelling their numbers. David takes my picture and moves off the other way... the way that is calling me, the short way back. Joyce should be here soon and I could wait for her... to go with and finish with her in the 50km. But she could be running well and might appreciate running her own thing, and I'd complicate the whole run for her. I'd basically be quitting, bailing, wussing, whining... compromising my own plans by taking the easy road home. That is not the plan... to run the 50km! The plan is 50 miles. I need a 50 miler to be ready for Bighorn in four weeks. I have no time for a re-do. I need to do it today. It would sure be nice to share the rest of the day with my wife, to run her in.

I stood up and went over the edge, down into the Caldera, taking the 50 mile route... as planned. The cutoff was in another 30 minutes, so I had to get hard after it now. No more screwing around. No time for thinking about what-ifs. I had to run. I slipped off my feet, landing hard on my ass directly on a rock, and sliding. I could feel my skin being scraped as I slid off the rock and onto another one. One of my hands too! I managed to arrest the slide, catch myself from farther damage, and slowly stand up. I could hear Nancy laughing and pointing at me. Yea, even I can bust my buns and look a fool. One good thing about the fall though... it really spun me up, got my blood pumping in more places than my ass. Once reoriented in the right direction and vertical, I started running, and running well, for the first time today.

Bobby had a good lead on me, but I thought to catch him, if I could. My vision is awful and I worried about finding the route. If I could just hook up, I'd feel a lot more confidant with finding my way. So, I ran... and I told my aches and pains to shut up. I didn't have time for long conversations with the beat up old bag of bones inside my clothes.

The previous 22 miles wasn't much to talk about. It was dark for awhile, then I was miserable for awhile, then I was worried for awhile, then I climbed over one great big ol mountain that started the bones whining, and by the time I arrived at decision point, I was ready to take the short cut home. I hadn't talked to anybody about it, but it was in my mind. Problem was, I was so confused by the time I got there, I had to sit down to work it out... and that took awhile.

The Caldera is wide open and pastoral, with lines of trees along the endless rolling dirt road, and a sky in turmoil... thick black & grey clouds mixed with pastel blues. I couldn't see far enough to know if Bobby was close enough to catch, but ran like I knew that I would... and in time, I did see two dark shapes well ahead. I made it my mission to catch them, and so I did. It was Bobby... and also Rene. I fell in with them, and backed off a bit, to recover from my surge. A little further, it was just Rene and I who found the Aid Station... and soon after, we turned off the road.

Tufts of brown and light green grass filled the field as far as I could see to the left and right, with barely a visible track leading through it... but track it was, It wasn't strait or constant, as we dropped down, skipped to tracks right and left. Before long, we turned up... towards the trees and the mountains. It was the thunder boom that drew my attention to the misty white cloud that filled the entire space down valley. A light rain began, but it wasn't enough to warrant a rain jacket yet, and not knowing if it would continue or pass, we kept moving. The coolness of it felt great though, and helped me to manage my energy well even as we started to climb. Not only did I not feel the need to slow down, but I took the lead and started to move better as we climbed.

The so called 'new trail' was no trail at all. Matter of fact, it crossed ditches, downed trees, and was rarely if ever in a direct line. Nancy caught us in the trees and I could still see Bobby just back a ways. We wondered about, as the light rain got heavier, turned to sleet, hail, and then snow. I took the time to put on my rain jacket, and renewed my surge up through the fall-downs. I following the bright orange flags, which were now very easy to see in a background of snow. The ground was quickly being covered with huge snowflakes, as was my shoes.

Everything was white on top, and I kept going even though I didn't see any flags. I made my best guess and kept going til I did see flags. My intuition worked well for the most part, but did cause me to take a staggering route. We were heading down now, not steep, but constant, and I got on a roll. There were no longer any flags to provide comfort, but I recognized landmarks now and again from my last trip through here a few years ago. I only hoped with all the changes, this was not one of them. The snow eventually gave way to rain, and between the two, I was now soaked through... but quite comfortable. My energy was keeping me well heated and warm.

I stopped every now and again to see if anyone was still with me. With the rain and snow, and a rain hood on, I couldn't hear anything other than the rain hitting my hoodie. I wasn't sure if Nancy thought I was lost or maybe she trusted me, but each time I stopped to check behind, she let me know she was concerned. Its alright, I'd tell her... but really I wasn't too sure. We went on this way for awhile, longer than I expected... but still moving very well. And when I thought we should have been at the aid station, there was still nothing in sight, and I began to wonder. I slowed down for fear of going too fast and too far in the wrong direction. Thankful that the rain hid my head and my concern from Nancy, who remained behind me, I kept on keeping on... hoping it would work itself out soon.

It wasn't soon, but eventually we did roll into the next aid station. We were both pretty excited, knowing full well, that we just had one more big climb and should we arrive at that aid station in time, would be free to finish at our leisure. We had well over two hours and pretty excited to get after it. Expected only to top off my water, I ran into the station, wearing a grin, and pretty damn pleased with myself. The rain soaked aid station worker wasn't smiling back. She said I was done!!! The race has been cancelled. Why? What? The next mountain top is covered in snow and frozen over. It isn't safe and people are coming back.

While I stood there and tried to process what she was saying, Nancy was becoming visibly upset. Hell, I dont know if I could have made the next aid station cutoff, but I didn't I think I could make either of the other two times I had run this race either... and I did both times. I wasn't going to allow my own bad thinking to get in the way of what was attainable, but this was something else completely unexpected and insurmountable. The race was over. I was done, so was Nancy's birthday run, Rene's 2nd finish, and Bobby's 10th.

Rules are rules and the decision of the race is final, so I allowed myself to slip into a new place. While not succeeding in my goal... it was one hell of a day in a little slice of heaven. I got to run through snow and hail, over mountains and calderas, with some damn good people. As much as I would have loved to finish this beast, I am almost as happy to have had a good go at it.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bandera TX

A multitude of runners on a day with a multitude of weather changes make for an epic event guaranteed to leave some lasting memories. At 7:30am 882 trail runners fade into the damp & misty morning. With the ground dripping wet and saturated with moisture, the gooey mud quickly becomes the main issue.

With a stellar field of runners in for the USA 100km Trail Championships as well as the Montrail Ultra Cup points and Western States slots, we expect some fast times. But that was before the mud! Sage Canaday completes the first 50km loop under 4 hours, with Dave Mackey back another 9 minutes. A couple of local favorites, Paul Terranova & Erik Stanley, soon after, followed by Karl Meltzer. The ladies have a good battle going as well. Michele Yates, followed by locals Melanie Fryar & Liza Howard, are all under 5 hours. The 100km format is two 50km loops. It's rare for anyone to ever run a negative split, and today is no different, but Sage still surprises us by pushing himself fast over the last set of rugged hills to reset the course record at 8:13:49. Dave Mackey has always run well here, and does so again today despite the nasty conditions to take 2nd overall and first master in 8:53:27. Paul Terranova was high flying towards the end with his heart set on a Western States slot to the point that he almost runs down Mackey for a 3rd place time of 8:55:41. Rounding out the top five is Karl Meltzer in 9:01:27 and Erik Stanley in 9:21:50.

Michele Yates holds true from start til done, looking strong right into the finish with a win in 10:08:48. Melanie Fryar is never far back but can never quite close the gap for 2nd in 10:17:30. Sabrina Little passes Liza Howard mid loop and finishes 3rd in 11:00:03, while Liza takes masters honors and 4th overall in 11:07:56. All of these runners and a few more finish before the sun goes down around 6pm, but the race is far from done. The all encompassing mist cloud finally lifts just before sunset, such that we finally see the sun just before it slips over the horizon. About the same time, a cold front blows in and drops the temperature 20 degrees in less than an hour. Just like that, we have an entirely different race. 12 hours of mud dries up in an hour of 28mph gusts of damned cold air. As cold as it is, it makes everything so much easier to run and work through. 256 100km runners whittle themselves down by 72% so that 185 collect a buckle. Its always those that come in during the middle of the night and early morning that are the most emotional. I can never tell who is gonna drop a tear until it happens, and when one cuts loose, the voice goes next, and the darkness doesn't hide a thing.

Last year's 100km winner, Timothy Olson tries on the 50km this year and runs away with it in 4:18:23. Bryan Morton logs 4:23:19 for 2nd, and Rasmus Hoeg 3rd in 4:42:28. Jennifer Benna was set to run the 100km and switches to the 50km the morning of. Turns out to be a good choice, as she wins the women's 50km in 4:59:05. Denise Bourassa takes 2nd in 5:22:59, with Claudia Zulejkic 3rd in 5:41:05. 258 50km runners run the single 50km loop through the mud and the rocks and the slop with 246 finishing for 95%.

The 25km runners take the most punishment in the shortest distance by avoiding most of the flat sections. They trade mud for rocks, which on this day, is a great deal. Peter Mallett slides in to win in 2:03:56, while Joshua Torres takes 2nd in 2:06:54, and Alex Docta 3rd in 2:11:22. Emily van Dyken wins the women's 25km in 2:26:01, with Samantha Allen 2nd in 2:28:02, and Samantha Manrique 3rd in 2:33:52. The 25km horde has 368 runners with 357 taking home a medal for 96%.

Bandera began as a small local area run. We made it tough and nasty to suit the temperament and personality required to train for a mountain race right here in central Texas. Over the years, it has done just that. Besides that, it has also attracted quite a following. There is something about the race, the terrain, the park, and the people that has a strong pull. It grew slowly at first and then quickly after a few years. Its not just the runners who come from from all over the country. Many of the same people come back each year to work an aid station, mark the course, provide medical care, haul water, and stuff packets. Engineers and electricians, doctors and nurses, cops and lawyers, students and teachers, its all the same... our merry little band continues to have fun helping each other do what we all do just for the fun of it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Prickly Pear 50km - 2012

It was a hard rain and it had been that way for awhile. Friday night and SXSW was just getting cranked up, so I waited til after 7pm to head south. Didn't matter! Bumper to bumper stop and go traffic took me an hour just to get through Austin, and I live in Austin. Neither the traffic or the rain cleared up as I finally made it out of town. Over 2 hours later just shy of San Antonio, I pulled off in Selma. I met John and a few of his work mates at a pub just of the highway. We shared a beer or two and a few lies then headed over to John's place nearby. My legs were still cramping from the 2 hour stop and go traffic as I lay down to sleep. I thought that if I just pounded the water, it would stop... but all it did was make me get up constantly all night to pee.

John needed to drop by his workplace in the morning, so we drove over to get what he had in his car that he left there the night before. When we arrived at the McAllister Park, we had about 10 minutes to pick up our packets, gear up, and go. Didn't really have much time to think about options, so I simply went with what I already had on, including rain jacket, Tilley hat, and gloves. Didn't take me very long to realize it was way too much, so I stripped off all the extras and left them at the first aid station.

It was raining pretty good, coming in waves of mist at first. If you can imagine what its like to run with the deer, this is what I imagine it would be like. Just following your instincts, taking the path of least resistance. Bodies lined up in order with some being passed and passing others as we snaked through the trees. Because of the crooked path we took with our large pack, we must have completely surrounded a small herd of deer that tried to wait us out, but then freaked and simply took off strait through our congo line. One barely missed colliding with the woman in front of me, but besides everyone being startled, nobody missed a beat and the deer were gone... for now. There was very little talking and the little said was muted by the rain and the sloshing of the mud.

I could run along the main track at first, but then it got so messy and slippery that I switched to the side berm of grass when I could. Sometimes this required that I ran side to side for aways. I know it was longer, but if I went down the middle, I could never count on my foot landing and staying where I put it long enough for me to get the next foot down. Because the mud was as slick as ice, I had to take short rapid baby steps. But, on the sides, I could open up and run. I knew this was going to take forever if I didn't get my speed up, so I gambled now and then... and on one of those gambles, I slipped and performed some acrobatics. Somehow I managed to not go down, but I almost wish I had as my performance stressed the limits of the shorts I was wearing and ripped out the inseam. Well, the reason I wear tights is because my legs slide against each other every stride I take... and without the material there for protection, I would chafe my inner legs bloody. I have done it before, so I know. And now I have a real problem and there is nothing I can do about it til I get back to my truck for the spare pair I always take with me.

Running like a cowboy, legs wide apart, sliding out on every step, and laughing like a fool... I was enjoying the tough time I was having. I considered packing it in for a moment, but these sort of moments always come to test my mental and emotional strength. I like to think that you really never know what kind of character you have til times are hard. How you deal with it defines who you are. I recalled a friend who died from Lou Gehrig's Disease, another drowned, a brother stabbed to death, a daughter with cancer... and I begin to laugh quietly at first and then loudly at how simple and easy my issues are in comparison. I am alive and I can do this, and they all wish they could be right here right now if they could. Just thinking about it lights me up. And I begin to love every damned slip and slide even more than I already did.

Thinking back a few years ago, maybe the first year Bill added the 50km to this event, I ran a 4:25 on a very dry day that was crisp and cool. I have slowed way down and wonder if I can complete two thirds in of the race today in that time. As slow as I seem to be going, very few people are passing me. Its just me and the rain at this point. I see a few others in the areas where we switch back and forth a lot... and you can see somebody a ways ahead or behind. Occasionally, I see somebody come off a side trail that I know isn't part of the race and then they disappear ahead of me. I don't know if they are cheating, in a different race route, or just out for a run, but it surprises me each time. Most likely it was just my imagination or the spirit of D.Keitz messing with me like he always loved to do. It was always his way to force me to think in a profound way in the simplest of settings.

My leg is bloody raw when I arrive back at the end of loop one. John has just retired even though he was way ahead of me. Says this will screw up his entire week of training if he continues. He offers to go find my gear and extra shorts while I refuel. My stomach leads me to the bathroom first, then I put on a dry shirt, eat some food, and then John comes back empty handed. There are no spare shorts. I'm not sure what to do. I try some duct tape but it wont stick with everything already soaking wet. Bill Gardner (the RD) says he may have a pair in his truck, and brings back a pair of clown pants... but what they hell. The entire thing is a circus at this point and I am done without them, so I slip them on... and go!

Not sure how fast I did the first loop, but add another 30 minutes for the wardrobe malfunction and its looking like a very long day in the rain and the mud and the joy. I surprise myself by passing 5 or 6 people right away. I suppose they came in and went out while I was killing time back at the main station. I visit with a few different people but pretty much maintain a good slide, constantly moving, even if it is baby steps. I pick up my dropped jacket, hat, and gloves... just to take them back home with me. I don't need them, but I don't wish to leave them either. The mud and slick slime is even worse this time around. With a couple hundred runners in the 10 miler and then all the 50km runners in front of me on their 2nd loop, all the grassy side bars and now as slick as the main track. There are no dry places left. Its all mud now. Regardless of where I try to go, I slide down to the lowest point in the trail. After just a bit of this, I learn that I simply have to remain in the low rut which is a shallow stream of mud and debris. My lower legs were already covered in mud, but this new tact now adds mud plashes all the way up my back and chest. And oh hell yea, I am still going slow. We do pass through a few streams which I could wash off in, but it seems such a waste of time, when its all coming right back on.

The end of loop two is no more than the beginning of the final loop. I drop off my extra gear with John and he hands me a beer which goes down oh so good. Off for the final go round, it starts so well. I suspiciously think I can even run for a bit, but the mud soon destroys any thought of that. Still, I keep trying to push it and I'm quite surprised that I still have plenty of run left in my legs... if I could just plant and push off. I try this one too many times when I suddenly find myself airborne in the inverted superman position.... or maybe a flying casket... my feet level with my head, looking up at the sky. I hit the ground butt first and slide for another 10 yards before stopping. My entire back side slathered in mud, my right arm completely coated from finger tip to shoulder. What a great fall and slide. No blood, no bone, no harm! I get up and laugh at the thought of dusting myself off. If I touch anything, its gonna be mud. Mud from mud gets mud.

As slow as I'm going, I secretly revel in the thought that nobody has passed me.... until the running preacher blows right through me and disappears ahead. Oh well. I certainly have persevered through an interesting day, but speed has nothing to do with it. This one was all about bullheaded refusal to quit. I finish finally and find a nearby water-fountain with a dog faucet and wash myself off. John brings the truck around so that I can climb in and change out of the soaking wet muddy mess I've been wearing for 7 hours.

My inner leg is bloody as hell, I have the shakes with a bad cold coming on, and every muscle in my body that I use for balance is screaming in anger at what I just did. I think I needed that. I do love running in the rain. John and I go to a nearby burger joint for a cold beer and a greasy burger with fries. I think I had the start of the cold before I left Austin, but the all day wet run kicked it into high gear. I thoroughly enjoyed the run, never once hating the mud or the rain. All the hurdles that I experienced made it what it was and I do love a bit of variety. This is probably the best place and time for me to quote an old friend: Red Spicer: "Life is a headlong rush into the unknown. We can hunker down and hope nothing hits us or we can stand tall, lean into the wind and say, 'Bring it on, darlin', and don't be stingy with the jalapenos."

Life is good

Sunday, February 12, 2012


2012 USA 100km Trail Championships
Bandera, TX
7 Jan 2012

The annual winter gathering of the trail running tribes continues to grow each year to all new attendance levels. With the 2012 USA 100km Trail Championships offering accolades and cash, and the Montrail Ultra Cup offering points and Western States entries, Bandera attracted a quality list of entrants and quite a few others as well. Three separate races for 100km, 50km, and 25km all on the same course totaled 754 starters.

The 100km is a twice repeated 50km loop over some of the most rugged terrain in this country. T'was a near perfect morning at 7:30am when 215 100km runners took to the trails and quickly broke into packs. The first loop was uneventful except for the overall speed. A pack of 10 completed the first 50km split faster than the winning 50km winner: all under 4:04. Timothy Olsen led the pack and never lost hold, staying constant, rolling in for a very respectable 8:28:40 to win the men's 2012 USA 100km Trail Champion. Dave Mackey, Joe Uhan, and Dylan Bowman battled throughout for the next 3 positions, changing places a few times, and finishing in that order. Dave Mackey 8:38:30, Joe Uhan 8:38:55, Dylan Bowman 8:40:07, and then Nick Clark 8:57:06 for 5th.

The Women's 100km had a stellar field of competitors as well, with the reigning champ, Liza Howard leading from the start. She was passed on the 2nd loop by Cassie Scallon, who held on to become women's 2012 USA 100km Trail Champion in 9:40:20. Liza Howard took 2nd in 9:56:30, with Pam Smith 3rd in 10:04:51. 154 of the 215 100km starters finished the 100km for a 72% finish rate.

The 50km started 214 with 204 finishing (95%), and then adding another 56 who DNFed from the 100km. David Brown 4:04:56 won the 50km men's title, with Jason Brooks 4:16:12 2nd, and Sean Meissner 3rd in 4:19:14. Melanie Fryar 4:24:47 reset the course record and won the women's 50km title, with a couple of Albuquerque ladies, Jean Herbert 5:00:20 and Molly Roberts 5:25:49 rounding out 2nd and 3rd.

The 25km sported the largest field with 325 starters and 317 finishers for a 98% finish rate. The city of Austin took the top 3 spots in both the men's and women's fields, with all three men under two hours: Erik Stanley 1:39:08, Jody Broccoli-Hickey 1:59:05, and Jamie Cleveland 1:59:24. The 25km course records have been hard to beat because this course has become increasingly more difficult each year. So it was a welcome surprise to see Sara Hickey 2:12:20 knock it down after it stood for 9 years. The next two women, Andrea Fisher 2:21:00 and Julie Cattell 2:29:53 also ran great times to finish 2nd and 3rd.

As the day ran down and the 25km runners went home, followed by the 50km runners soon after, we settled into a long night. The Comanche Moon delighted us with a lunar halo and brightened the trails for the runners who continued all night and into the morning. The course profile at Bandera might suggest something much easier, but it is known locally for its nasty ruggedness and fantastic panoramic views. The late night crowd celebrate sunset from the Sisters or Lucky Peak, and a rare few get to see a 2nd sunrise. While many of the elites have come and gone, Deborah Sexton, Jeffrey Linwood, and Shannon Mitchel battled each other for the illustrious DFL award, with Shannon taking the honor for her first 100km finish. We celebrated her finish about as much as we did the first finisher. It was all good.

Rocky Raccoon 100mi & 50mi

Huntsville, TX
4 Feb 2012

It was epic! Rumbling thunder boomers, lightning flashes in the clouds, rolling sheets of rain, and a thousand people gathered under the tall pines for the annual gathering of the trail running tribes for Rocky Raccoon. Race staff, park staff, volunteers, runners, crews, families, photographers, sponsors all made for a large collection of energy on the ground to match the energy in the sky.

For the first time in 15 years, the rain poured upon the runners of Rocky Raccoon. 376 century runners burst from under the tents where they had huddled to stay dry at exactly 6am. The lead pack included Ian Sharman, Hal Koerner, Karl Meltzer, and Oswaldo Lopez. Liza Howard was part of the group just back of them. An hour later we repeated the same start under the same conditions for the 50 mile race with 298 more runners. All told, we now had 674 runners on the course. The 100 course is five 20mi loops and the 50 mile course is three 16.7 mile loops. The two courses are the same for both groups except for a shortcut on the back side of the park.

Ian and Oswaldo finished the first 20mi loop side by side in 2:27, with Hal just 30 seconds back, and Karl another 30 seconds. Still pretty tight for 20 miles. Loop two had Ian and Hal cross the 40 mile point side by side with another 2:27 loop, with Karl just 95 seconds back, and Oswaldo 9 minutes behind Karl. Loop three saw Hal take the lead with a solid 2:37, with Karl holding steady just 10 minutes back, and Ian falling off pace and soon done for the day. Oswaldo lost 20 minutes, but was still running very well. With the course deteriorating into mud and bog from the mixture of heavy rain and 700 runners on a multi-loop course, it surprised me how well all these guys were doing. It was certainly taking its tole on the field with only 58% of the field finishing. Hal increased his lead on loop four with another solid 2:49, while the others slipped over the 3:00 mark. Understand that 3:00 is pretty quick for a 20 mile loop in these conditions, but Hal seemed to have it dialed in today. The final loop saw Hal's 1st 3:00 time, while Karl ran a 3:30, and Oswaldo still running well to close with a 3:10. And thats how it ended with Hal Koerner winning the 20th annual Rocky Raccoon 100 mile race on an epic day with a phenomenal 13:24:52 in the worst possible conditions. Karl ran a smart race as well for 2nd in 14:17:42. Both of them were faster than last year's near perfect conditions. Oswaldo was 3rd with a very solid 14:30:58.

Liza Howard ran just off the lead pack on the first loop with a very quick 2:35, with Sabrina Moran, Jill Perry, and Heather Mastrianni 15 minutes back in a pack. All the leading women backed off for the 2nd loop, with Liza and Heather both taking the best times with a 3:09. Liza led by 10 minutes over Sabrina and Heather, with Jill another 15 minutes back. Loop three saw everyone holding steady with each running a 3:30, but for Jill who withdrew. Everything flipped upside down on loop four with both Liza and Heather dropping from the race, leaving Sabrina up front with nobody close. Sabrina Moran closed out the race with a 17:06:10 to win the women's 100mi race, with Vikki Baylis (20:01:51) and Liza Canowitz (20:09:18) taking 2nd and 3rd.

219 runners finished the 100 miler for the worst ever finishing percentage in 20 years. The runners who took more time suffered the worst because of the wet conditions. The water and sand mixed to create a liquid sandpaper that slowly worked on the soft skin of everybody's soaking wet feet. More people dropped because of their blisters that mixed with more sand, mud, and water and the pain associated with sliding on the slippery mud. Those that persevered all night long and into the second day paid a heavy price, not to say that even the earlier runners didn't have the same issues... but for a much shorter period of time. It was about as emotional a finish as I have ever seen in 20 years... over and over again... all night long.

The 50 miler watched Gerardo Moreno lead from start to finish to win in 6:15:12, followed by David Brown in 6:31:51, and Olli Haavikko in 7:34:51. The women's 50 mile race was a bit more interesting. Amanda Ewing led from the start, taking loop one in 2:21, with Anabel Pearson at 2:23, and Lorena Devlyn at 2:25. But, Lorena Devlyn got some extra distance on loop two when she missed a turn and fell out of contention (it appeared) by losing 30 minutes. Amanda was still leading after loop two with a 3:00 split with Anabel closing within a minute, but Amanda did not finish the race. Anabel took the lead for the final loop, but this changed again quickly as the fading Anabel was passed by the hard charging Lorena and almost passed again by the even paced Rachael Blair. Rachel had simply run three solid and almost even splits of 2:53, 3:03, and 2:56 to take 3rd and within 30 yards of taking 2nd with the fastest closing split of 2:53. The best run of the day had to be Lorena's return to contention from her early mishap. From 30 minutes back, her anger pushed her through the field as she surged back and surprised everyone including herself with the win. And so it ended with Lorena Devlyn 1st in 8:41:38, Anabel Pearson 2nd in 8:53:38, and Rachael Blair 3rd in 8:53:43.

259 runners finished the 50 miler out of the 298 starters.

As difficult and awkward as this race was under these rough conditions, it was even worse for the volunteers. We had 150 people working aid stations, marking course, hauling supplies, working the radios, providing medical support, managing timing, packets, tents, and so on and so on. Some of the tent covers turned into swimming pools and we had to cut the tarps to release the water. Those hauling supplies dealt with muddy roads and poor visibility. Medical & radio people teamed up with a boat to ferry people and supplies across Raven Lake. But all the runners were tracked, the course was well marked, and the tear down was handled with care... til the ATV went through the back window on my truck. All in all, the volunteers rocked. They stayed and performed as well as did Hal & Karl.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cactus Rose 2011

Bandera Texas - 29 Oct 2011

The Rose threw a 5th year halloween birthday party with a perfect weather day. After a half year of unbearable sweltering heat, it was a nice treat to run in such a pretty day. We added a 4x25mi relay this year and the result was a very fast first of four 25mi loops for everybody.

In the 100 mile race, Steven Moore threw down a 4:01 for the first 25mi to move well into the lead and then backed down a bit afterwards to lower his own course record with a 19:28:32. Brian Hopton-Jones was a strong 2nd til the final loop, when Lorenzo Sanchez moved past him to take 2nd in 20:11:20. Brian held on for 3rd in 22:20:23. The women's race belonged to Rhonda Claridge from beginning to end, finished 3rd overall and 1st female in 21:49:28. Rachel Ballard was a very strong 2nd in 25:38:47, followed by Julie Grant in 28:55:50.

Eric Herzog owned the 50 miler, going out strong with a 4:02 25mi loop, and finishing with a 8:44:29. Greg Foreman was 2nd in 8:50:37, followed by Gregory Brant in 9:10:56. Anabel Pearson owned the women's 50 miler with a 10:03:00, followed by Shaheen Sattar in 10:43:25, and Amanda Alvarado in 11:55:05.

The relays set the pace this year with a couple of quick teams that hammered out 4 hour 25mi loops that never backed off. "The Right Stuff" took top honors with a 16:23:20, with splits of 4:01, 3:52, 4:24, 4:04. They were closely followed by Beauty & the Beasts with a 17:23:54. Their splits were almost as impressive: 4:22, 4:17, 3:52, 4:51.

Only 42 of 74 100 milers finished for 57%. 92 of 117 50 milers finished for 79%, with 27 joining the 50 miler finish list from the 100 mile start. It was a gorgeous day but the finish rate is never very high at the Rose. The endless rolling rock covered hills are just one of the thorns that give this beast its name. It was never easy nor was it intended to be. This is one deceptive course that is much more trouble than most expect it to be.

Joe Prusaitis: RD