Another Top Ten List:Most Difficult Races of 2018

I have been asked the same question over and over again lately. What has been your favorite race so far in 2018? I was thinking that this list is going to be the same as my most difficult races of the year. The list is the same except for one race. The most difficult race did not make my favorite race list. I decided to do the most difficult list and wait on my favorite list. So far this year I have done every race distance I have wanted to do except one. My 50K is this weekend and then I have a couple more races planned to end the year with 25 races. I have done a 5K, 5 miler/8K, 10K, 15K, 20K, 25K and a 1/2 Marathon all on trails. I have done races in freezing weather and snow. I have done races in unbearable heat and humidity and pouring rain. The views from some of these courses have been absolutely breathtaking. All the races and training has been leading up to this weekend’s 50K. The following 10 races as difficult as they were are going to make this weekend easier but not easy.

10. The Wild Canyon Ultra 10K in Caprock Canyon State Park-The rain made the course wet and slick. The course was hilly and rugged but manageable to run. The views were by far the most impressive.20181114_123511.jpg

9. Rugged and Raw 10K at the Cedar Ridge Preserve-The preserve is my training ground and I am there about 3 times a week. A race here is just different. The trails are difficult on a normal day but this was a particularly warm and humid day. 20181114_124531.jpg

8. Rough Creek 10K at Rough Creek Lodge in Glen Rose, TX-This race is well known for the Rusty Crown. It is a torcherous uphill that is a definite leg killer. If that is not bad enough a steep downhill that tends to sends running crashing to the ground. 20181114_125300.jpg

7. Down N Dirty 8K at Cameron Park-I ran this race last year not knowing how hilly the course was going to be. I was not surprised this year and it still kicked my butt. The last climb after the 5 mile mark is the one that gets me.20181114_130102.jpg

6. Cross Timbers 5 Miler off of Lake Texoma-The rain made this course a muddy mess. This is one of the more technical courses but with the pouring rain it was down right impossible to run. The views were nice when the sun finally came out but it was a beatdown of a race.20181114_131043.jpg

5. DanMan 1/2 Marathon in Oklahoma-I wanted to get this distance done this year and nothing was going to stop me. I ran in freezing temperatures, rain, snow and mud. I finished and was ten minutes ahead of my predicted time. The course was not too tough but the elements made it a doozy. I only got half of the elevation profile.20181114_131951.jpg

4. Ragnar Trail Relay in Comfort, TX-The three courses were difficult but once again rain was what made this a difficult race. The 7.5 and 3 mile courses were not too bad but the 5 mile course was treacherous. It was by far the most technical and I had to run it night with bad lighting. 20181114_132702.jpg

3. Chupacabra 15K at Cameron Park-This is another race at Cameron Park but the start/finish is at the bottom. The course is relentless. It is always going up or down or a switchback. There is not a straight or level part on the entire course. It slowly wears a runner down.20181114_133339.jpg

2. Mount Magazine in Arkansas-They lure you in with a free race then you realize it is a trap. The heat and humidity were way too high for that early in the morning. The course was probably the most beautiful and dangerous. The cliffs are unforgiving and the climbs last for miles.20181114_134207.jpg

  1. Pineywoods Ultra 25K at Tyler State Park-I did not think I was going to finish this race. Another rain soaked race with high humidity and muddy trails. The distance was the longest race to date but I fell apart well before the finish. My legs gave out and I finished, barely. The race was not that technical or difficult but it was just one of those races where nothing went right.20181114_135316.jpg

The biggest factor in making these races difficult besides the elevation changes was the the muddy courses and high humid temperatures. The good thing is that these races make me prepared for anything. I like the weather prediction for the 50K. It is supposed to be sunny and dry with a temperature range between 46 and 62.  Hopefully the 50K will not make this list but the list of one my favorite races of the year.

See ya on the trails.

Lake Thunderbird State Park

Lake Thunderbird State Park is located in Midwest City, OK which is just southeast of Oklahoma City. I did not know if I would be able to get a hike in due to all the rain. The rain held off and I got to hike and run about nine and a half miles. The views of the lake were nice but all the wildlife was the highlight. There were deer and other woodland creatures all over the place. The trails were not marked as well as I would like but most trails I have been on in Oklahoma are not marked well. There were some elevation change but not too steep or long. The trails were very runnable. The were some muddy spots but the trails held up really well. 20181024_084650.jpg20181024_085510.jpg20181024_084556.jpg20181024_091223.jpg20181024_092903.jpg20181024_094204.jpg20181024_094214.jpg

The fall colors were a nice surprise. The different trees and grasses were fun to see. This was hike 40 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next hike is down the road in Norman, OK.

Ragnar Trail Hill Country

I have been wanting to run this race for almost two years. Last year I did not have a team so I just waited for this year asking anybody if they were going to run Ragnar this year. North Texas Trail Runners stepped up and put together three teams. I was on the regular team since I am nowhere near being in shape to do a Ragnar Ultra. The race took place in Comfort, TX which is north west of San Antonio. It was on a private ranch which was nice. The race comprises of 8 runners and 3 distances repeated until all 8 runners complete all 3 distances. I like the fact that we ran loops unlike the road Ragnar which is a point to point race. The weather during the race was perfect. The problem was the weeks of rain prior to the race. The camp area was a mud pit. The course held up fairly well in most places. I decided not to go down early and stay the night to avoid the rain the night before. I was also lucky to pick which leg I wanted to run. I choose leg 6 for two reasons. I knew I would only have to run one leg in the dark and also I would run the longest distance first and the shortest distance last. The first leg was 7.5 miles and it was awesome. The only slow down was a cow on the course. There were plenty of cows around the ranch but this one decided to stop right in front of me. I looped around it and kept on going. The cool temperature offset the wet course and I had a really good first leg and felt great after the run. The second leg was 5 miles of misery. I could not find my brightest headlamp. The temperature was still cool but the humidity rose. My glasses kept fogging up. Plus this was the leg I was running at night. This leg also had the most falls and people getting hurt. I did not fall but I stubbed my toe really bad. I was limping with no glasses in the dark with a dim light. I really struggled with that leg. I survived the night run but I was tired and needed rest. I got two hours of sleep and I was up ready for my final leg. I had about three hours to wait but I could not get back to sleep. The last leg was 3 miles and not too technical. I was physically tired and wanted to take it easy. I started off slow but felt good and finished fast. I finished and felt good and kept on running. My team was awesome and it included my sister. I had a great time with a great group of people. I also had some time with other running groups like the Dallas Dirt Runners, Waco Striders Running Club and Cedar Hill Running Club. FB_IMG_1540128922822.jpgThese are the three loops with the elevation profile.FB_IMG_1540078922437.jpgFB_IMG_1540078936861.jpgFB_IMG_1540128947046.jpgThe trails and views from the trail.FB_IMG_1540129038101.jpgFB_IMG_1540155115940.jpgThe mud fest that was the camping area.

This was one of my bucket list runs. I have done a few bucket list items this calendar year. This race has definitely moved to the top of my favorite races list.

I get back on the hiking trails next and I ramp up my training for the 50K.

Chupacabra 15K

I love running races in Waco. I appreciate the difficulty of the courses and the friendly atmosphere. Waco Striders Running Club host four trail races each year and as a group they are called the Huaco Cuatro. This was my second year finishing all four races. This year I decided to do the max distance in all four races. The first two races were 5 milers that are always longer than 5 miles. The third race was a 10K which has been an accurate distance. The Chupacabra 15K was a distance I no idea what to expect. The 5K last year was a bit long but nothing unexpected. I ran several distances around the 10 mile range so a 15K was not going to be an extraordinarily long distance. The terrain in which this particular 15K was held is a different story. Running in Cameron Park is difficult but with high humidity and heavy rain before the race made it extremely tough. I would compare this 15K to a hard 1/2 marathon on the trails. I actually finish my trail half marathon faster and finished a mountain 20K in about the same time. This was a tough race. I actually spent part of the race in last place. I am not the fastest but I am competitive enough not to be last.  I finished with a not so great time but just finishing was good enough on that day. I liked the post race breakfast tacos, always a good race when tacos are involved. I will be back next year to conquer this race. 41abe49c-f8d7-4dc3-86b7-bdda70cfcba8-bBQ6X-.jpgThe race medal(wood) was awesome.20181013_210432.jpgThe Huaco Cuatro completed once again.20181013_132607.jpg20181013_132753.jpgThe flooding on the side of the road on the way home during the second round of showers that day.

Next up is a bucket list race I finally will run.

 

 

Rugged and Raw 10K

This my second year in a row running this race. It is located in Dallas at the Cedar Ridge Preserve. I signed up the week of the race after not knowing if I was going to run the weekend. I also volunteered to mark the course. I guess that should guarantee me not getting lost. The course was basically the same as last year so I was prepared for the extra hills on the course. My time was about where I thought it would be and it was a good first race back from the 25K disaster. It was good running with familiar faces on a course that I have run hundreds of times. 44568839_1679937798777235_5118200101579259904_o.jpg44713608_1679943352110013_5717449361944739840_o.jpg44671229_1679939652110383_6941040430238662656_o.jpgFB_IMG_1538872398141.jpg

It was a fun 10K with all the usual hills and heat and humidity. I also like that it is a three minute drive from the house. This also the first in the seven weekend races in a row that finishes with a 50K.

Oxley Nature Trails

Oxley Nature Trails are located at Mohawk Park in Tulsa, OK. I had this hike as my third Tulsa hike destination and only if I had time. My second hiking spot was closed for the day so I decided to head here and see what it had to offer. I usually do not like flat hikes especially those in flood plains after the rains. I really liked this place. The trails and views were very surprising. I spent more time here than I thought I was going to spend. I would have hiked the entire place but the whole rain in the flood plain area washed out some areas. I got to see some marsh areas and a crane up close and too personal. The lookout tower was nice. The trails also had some very cool bridges that were just above water level. The different plants really caught my eye. I was never bored even though there was nothing spectacular. The entire place was something different to see in general.  20180924_112951.jpg20180924_113310.jpgDSC01308.JPGDSC01315.JPGDSC01330.JPGDSC01336.JPG

The bonus of this hike was the people who worked in the nature center were awesome and very nice and helpful. This was hike 39 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next up is seven weekends of trail running. I hope the rain lightens up. I do not like trail running in the rain.

Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness

Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness is located in Tulsa, OK.  I wanted to do this hike to see what it would be like during the half marathon in December. The trail was very nice with some very steep inclines but none really long. The trails had some good views of the city. I like to see more nature views but the city views were not too bad. Plus the city looked much better from the top of the trails. I got there early enough to have the trail to myself for awhile but this is a popular trail so it filled up quickly.  There is nothing that really stuck out about the trail but it was a nice hike.DSC01263.JPGDSC01265.JPGDSC01271.JPGDSC01269.JPGDSC01276.JPGDSC01284.JPG20180924_093618.jpg

This was a nice piece of tranquility in the middle of an urban environment.  The was hike 38 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer series. Next blog I will continue my Tulsa hiking tour.