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.

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.

Rough Creek Trail Run 10K

The Rough Creek Trail Run is held in Glen Rose, TX which is about an hour and a half southwest of the DFW metroplex. I chose this particular race because I wanted a tough but short race before my 25K the next week. I am getting really use to running 10Ks now so this was the perfect distance. The tough part was the infamous Rusty Crown. The Rusty Crown consist of several 40+ degree gradient up and down hills ranging from 300 to 80 feet in length. If the uphill does not wear you out, the downhill will knock you down. I did not make the mistake I made last race but not eating enough. I was properly nutritioned and ready to run. The course had some rain on it from the previous days but held up well and the steepest parts were fine. Prior to the race it was great to see all the familiar faces from the different running clubs. The Waco Striders Running Club had members running the half marathon, North Texas Trail Runners and Dallas Dirt Runners had runners in all of the distances. The Rough Creek Ranch was absolutely beautiful and the morning sky was awesome. The sky was mostly cloudy and there was a heavy fog before the race. By the time the race started, the sky was clear and the fog has burned off. The Rusty Crown was everything I had heard about. It was a tough first climb and the first decent was the worse part of the entire Rusty Crown. The rest of the ups and downs were difficult but the first two were leg killers. On the way up many people had to stop and take breaks and some had to bear crawl up the incline. On the way down several people fell or just slid down on their bottoms. I had a strong run and felt good the entire time. I did not fall or need to use my hands to go up the inclines. My time of 1:27:41 was a good time for me. I took 4th in my age group and finished with four negative splits. I even passed five people in the last mile and a half.  20180915_063643.jpg20180915_071259.jpg20180915_072049.jpg20180915_092101.jpg

I had a good time at this race and feel really good about the race next week. Plus this was the race I did not get lost and also directed about a dozen other runners who missed a turn back on course.

Tuff Enuff 10K

The Tuff Enuff 10K is the third race in the Huaco Cuatro Series. The race is in Woodway, TX which is southwest of Waco. I ran the course last year in the 5K. Being familiar with the course did not work out in my favor. I knew the course is not as hilly as Cameron Park. I knew I could start out fairly fast and hold my pace without too many steep hills. My overconfidence got me by my lack nutrition before the race. I did not eat much the night before and nothing the morning of the race. I hit a wall about two thirds of the way into the race. I was drinking an electrolyte drink during the race but it did not help the lack of nutrients. My time was about 12-15 slower than what I expected but I still ended up second in my age group. The Waco Striders Running Club put on another great race and I cannot wait to run the last race. As a bonus, I won a pair of shoes. I ended up getting a pair of Hoka Torrent trail shoes. I have only run in New Balance but I decided to try something different. Screenshot_20180827-143619_Facebook.jpgI am the big guy starting my stopwatch.

40048563_997136720464239_4933314429639983104_n.jpgMy second place age group award.

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This race series is really fun and I am happy to have met so many good people.

Next up I take the Rusty Crown challenge.

10 of my favorite trails races

I was going to do a top 10 trail races but changed it to my favorites. I did not know how I was going to put them in order so it had become a random list of favorites. I have been out of commission for over a month. I could do some hiking but no running. During the unwanted break from trail running I had a chance to look over some of the 40 plus races I have run over the last two years. I have missed trail running and speed hiking is losing it’s luster. I have finally been released to run but I lost much of the little endurance I had built. These are my favorite races in no particular order.

10. The Mammoth-I have run this race twice which is a rarity because I like to do different races. This was also my first trail race.22538943_719551654916633_5436678689366950007_o.jpg22712615_723111544560644_6197470883484751293_o.jpg

9. Waco Striders Cross Country Trail Race-This race was one of the most painful races I have run. Once again this was a rare race I have done twice. The below graph says it all.20170318_135848

8. Piney Woods Ultra-I did the 10K last year and will do the 25K this year as a training race. This is a surprising tough course that slowly breaks down runners.UE.Piney.WoodsLogo

7. Natural Bridge Caverns Trail Race-The only race that starts a 1/4 mile underground. It is not an overly tough race and the atmosphere was awesome.NBC 5K.jpgStill uphill.jpg

6. Down N Dirty Trail Race-This is also a Waco Striders race. This gave me a second chance at a course that kicked my butt. I still was not ready for the final climb.27787967_10155071770440894_3307425675672448535_o.jpg

5. Run4Bibles-A race that is just five minutes from home. I also did their night race and the course is challenging. I love running this course and run it often.20180303_14083029025895_1645132918903707_3517117571591569408_o

4. Knob Hills Trail Race-This was a long 10K. It was actually 7.3 miles and I did not even get lost. The fun part was all of the crazy little hills.download.png

3. Wild Canyon Ultra-One the most scenic and difficult races I have run. It is located at Caprock Canyon SP and if the canyons do not get you the weather will.images.jpg

2. Mount Magazine Trail Run-My first true mountain race. The race course lead runners to the highest point in Arkansas. Plus two three mile climbs.20180512_092220.jpg

1. DanMan- This was my first half marathon. The course was not very technical but being a first made it a favorite. The after party was easily the best of all races.f42541f2-a723-4c44-9384-dd0df5d7648c20180412_224512DSC00779.JPG

These are my 10 favorite trail races. Most of these races were first or something different from usual races.

 

REI Mudbug Run 10K

I have no idea why I signed up for this run. Maybe because it was close, cheap and flat. I have never been to the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center but wanted to see what it had to offer. The wetlands are located in Seagoville, TX which is about twenty minutes southeast of Dallas. The wetlands were really nice. I was expecting to see alligators. The morning of the race was hot and very very humid. It had rain most of the night before and the course was muddy. As advertised the course was flat but at the end there was a long hill to the finish. The only good thing about the uphill finish was I got a chance to get all the mub off of my shoes before the finish. The hill was grassy unlike the dirt and mud of the lower part of the course. The course was 6.6 miles long which is a long 10K but nothing out of the ordinary for most trail runs. I like the added distance of most trail races. My time of 1:13:25 was very good for me. I was averaging about 11 minute miles. I was hoping for a sub 1:05 but running with all that mud on my shoes wore out my legs legs. I was ahead of pace the first half of the run but the next three miles slugging through mud wore me down.20180505_072045.jpg20180505_072519.jpg20180505_073554.jpg20180505_075301.jpg

I liked the course and the people were great. I was a no frills race but still had some good swag in the bag. I think on a dry course it would be a course I could possibly PR.

Next up back to Waco for some hills.

Wild Canyon Ultra 10K/Hike?

I am trying to decide if this goes down as a trail run or speed hike. On trail runs, I usually get pre and post run pictures. On hikes, I get pictures all during the hike. This was a registered race but I got no pre or post race pictures and took twenty plus pictures on the second half of the course. The views were so amazing and it was an out and back course so I had a chance to get pictures without missing more scenery. It is a win win for me however I see it because I had another chance to be in the great outdoors.

The race was held at Caprock Canyon State Park. It is one of my favorites. The last time I was here, the skies were clear and the temperature was rising. Just the opposite this time. The temperatures were falling and the rain and storms were on there way. The race started in the fog was that way my entire run. The course held up well while I was running. There were some muddy spots but not too bad. The course started at a high point in the park and we ran down into a valley than back up to a high point and that was the halfway point. I knew it was going to be a rough and muddy uphill finish. I was not worried about my time. I was racing the rain. I saw lightning the the thunder rumbled. I knew the rain was close behind. I finished in a decent time for the course 1:19:42. My first top half finish in a 10K. 20180421_084344.jpg20180421_084349.jpg20180421_091122.jpg20180421_091417.jpg20180421_0913241.jpg20180421_084738.jpg

The rain held off until I finished. It starting pouring down rain three minutes after I was done. West Texas storms are crazy. The rain drops are bigger, the lightning is brighter and the thunder is louder. Did I forget the hail is faster. I am glad I did the 10K instead of the 25K. I would have been miserable running in that down pour with hail. Plus cloud to ground lightning bolts are nice to see from a distance inside but not close by and outside.

This will go down as hike 27 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series due to the picture taking during the run/hike.