Do Wacka Do 25K

The race was located in Erick, OK at Sandy Sanders Wildlife Area in western Oklahoma.  I was drawn in by background picture of a canyon trail.  The picture was very accurate. The views were awesome.  They were the best part of the race and a reason to run it again.  The run was not particularly crowded also. Plus they had port o potties with showers.20190907_064728.jpgEarly start of the race20190907_071301.jpgSun rising over the plains

The course was mainly jeep trail and no shade to be had the entire race. The course covered from canyon rim down into canyon basin and back up several times. The 25K was a 16.2 mile loop with just under 1400 feet of elevation gain. There were four aid stations along the way strategically place at the top of some very steep and long climbs. A switchback or two would not have hurt. Most of the hills were straight up and only one had the benefit of switchbacks.20190907_072653.jpgView over the canyon

The 25K, 50K and 50 miler started at 7 AM and it was a cool low humidity morning but it was hot around 9:30 AM and I do not believe the aid stations were prepared for the type of heat that was coming later in the day. I was worried about fellow DDR because he was doing the 50 miler in 100 degree heat. The aid stations were not like Habanero i.e. ice was not plentiful.20190907_075854.jpgLooking for shade20190907_080248.jpgShade in the canyon basin

As for myself, I ran at a good steady pace the entire race. The hills kept me from going to fast out of the gate. STRAVA says I ran my third fastest 1/2 marathon. I was surprised since there was a bunch of elevation on this course. I finished in a good time of 3:33:23 and 21st out of 47. I rarely finish in the top half of a race this distance. The longer runners did not fare as well. One of the 50K and one of the 50 miler runners dropped down to 25K. Of the 16 runners that started the 50 miler only 6 finished and 9 dropped down to the 50K.

FB_IMG_1567911109026.jpgStart/Finish line

On a side note, I would usually take my camper out to the races.  I decided to get a hotel because I thought it would be to hot to stay in without electricity.  It was cool enough over night not to have electricity and the hotel was a nightmare.  First, the shower did not work and did not find out until the morning of the race and was up to late to do anything about it. Secondly, I saw what I believe was blood splatter on the drapes. Oh crap there was blood spots on the drapes.  I finally got the shower to work by almost ripping the handle off the wall.  I went across the street to get disinfectant for the room because of blood splatter on the drapes.  The TV malfunctioned and I had to fix it, I did not to not have TV with blood on the drapes. I will be using my camper from here on out.

Lost Maples SNA East Trail

I am still on my running break and I am getting to hike places I want to revisit.  I was here two years ago and loved it.  I have not had a chance to get back till now.  I wanted to do the East Trail because I missed it the last time.  The trail also has two landmarks that the park features.  I wanted to see Monkey Rock and the Grotto.  Plus I love the view from the top of the park and the waterfalls.  The park offers a view of the Milky Way due to the dark sky and lack of light pollution.  I wanted to get a view of the Milky Way and I did but no pictures.  I tried to get a few but phone cameras are not meant for this type of photography.

The day was very hot but not as humid as it has been lately.  I got a good 5 plus miles with over 1200 feet of elevation change.  It was a midday midweek hike so not many people on the trail.  I saw most of the people in the first and last mile.  I was lucky that nobody was up on top of mountain.  The views were awesome like last time but greener.  The rain has kept the trees greener for a longer time.  The hike was just as difficult as last time even though I went counter clockwise this time.  20190707_164205.jpgMonkey Rock20190707_170029.jpgThe Grotto20190707_170712.jpgAlmost to the top20190707_174041.jpgMade it to the top20190707_174712.jpgMust have picture20190707_180323.jpgBest picture of the day20190707_181510.jpgWaterfall

I had a really good time and I still need to do the West trail.

 

The Narrows Wichita Mountains

This was my third trip to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Lawton, OK.  I have been hiking two to three sections at a time.  I have heard about the Narrows from other hikers, so I decided to check it out.  The trailheads here are poorly marked and the trails are not marked, so finding the trail and going the right direction took some help.  Although the trail markings are nonexistent, the trails are a blast to hike.  After getting directions from a fellow hiker, I took a one and a half mile out and back turned it into a two mile adventure.  It had rain plenty the past few weeks and the river had a brisk flow.  The trail had several steep inclines and the elevation gains and loses were quick and long.  I did lose the trail once but I was down in a valley with only one way out so the only thing I needed to do is hike up.  It was fairly crowded for my taste but not overly crowded.  There are many overlooks on the trail and the temperature was perfect for the lizards that were out sunbathing. 20190419_160813.jpg20190419_161831.jpg20190419_162807.jpg20190419_155753.jpg20190419_154404.jpg20190420_165516.jpg

Next up was a hike gone almost terribly wrong that involved bushwhacking.

Government Canyon State Natural Area

Government Canyon SNA is located 10 minutes northwest of San Antonio. I was hoping it would be like Hill Country SNA which is about 45 minutes away. I was surprised that is was not really like Hill Country SNA. The area has been inundated with rain so parts of the park were not hikable. I did get to all of the possible overlooks and some were nice. There were some blocked views at others but overall not too bad. The trails were very rocky and I had issues with my ankle I had twisted a few days earlier. I did get 9 miles of peaceful hiking. The hike had some good elevation changes but nothing steep. They have several trail runs out there but I will not run them. I would return to see the rest of the park.  DSC01497.JPGDSC01493.JPGDSC01486.JPGDSC01476.JPG20190128_140006.jpg

This was a fun hike but I would like to see the rest of the park when they open the trails. Next up is a short trip to Arkansas. I hope the rains have not closed all of the trails. I might have to do some concrete trails.

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.