I heard so many great things about running at Possum Kingdom Lake and this race in particular. I just had to sign up and run. I decided on the 17 miler which would give me one entire loop of the race. I am glad I only did 17 miles because it was hot and humid. The Texas weather has been very wet lately but also very humid but just in the last few weeks the heat has been turned up. For many runners, this was there first hot race. The rain has closed the trails and for those who do not road run they would have had limited running time in these conditions. I was lucky enough to get run a 25K and a half marathon in last past few weeks. I also have trails close by that rarely close since they drain really well.
I brought my sleeper camper to this race to stay at the state park but decided to stay at the start/finish line area instead. I did not have electricity at the start/finish line so I had to make do with a cool breeze coming off the lake for my A/C. We had a group of about 15 people stay in that location so good times were had by all the night before the race.
Even though the race start time was relatively early, it was already humid and warm. The first 4 miles was uphill and sandy. It was not an ideal start because both of those conditions take a toll on your legs. The course had constant elevation changes so getting into a running rhythm was difficult. Luckily about 4 and a half miles in there was a long flattish downhill section that lasted about a mile and a half. I got into a good pace and felt fast and comfortable. It was a trap. It was the only part of the course that could be run like that and I went way too fast to early. The first manned aid station was over 6 miles from the start. By the time I got there I was drenched with sweat. I decided to go with a hand held instead of a vest. I should have done a vest. I got a refill and iced everything I could and started off down the trail. The views I got until the next aid station were awesome. The course turned extremely hilly and challenging but the views were worth it.
I got to the second aid station and stayed a bit longer and this time took in some food. I re iced and refilled and headed off for the final six plus miles. This section was not as difficult but I was exhausted. I could not keep a decent pace and rarely found a running rhythm. The hills were not as extreme but still plentiful. There were also some nice prairie land sections which were flat but I could not get enough speed to make them fast. I also took a nose dive in the section trying to swat at bugs flying around my head. I learned a lesson this day. I cannot outrun bugs flying around my head and I can trip over nothing. I get to the final aid station and I am absolutely spent. I spend more time here than I should but get food, ice and refills.
I am on my way to the finish line knowing that the sand section is on its way. I am so sweaty that the sand on my shoes look like mud. I know that I am running downhill but it does not feel that way. I am really tired so now I am walking a bunch. I only start running again when I hear the noise at the finish line. The sand ends and I get to the road and the short but very nice downhill finish.
It was a tough race made tougher by the heat and humidity. I think the aid stations were spread out to far. I ran out of liquids twice. Overall a great course ran by a great company. Trail Racing Over Texas(TROT).
One more race till I take a two month break and stick to training for the 100K.
The race was amazing. The race was held at Palo Pinto Mountains State Park. The state park is not open yet but the runners got a sneak peek of what the future of the trails might look like at the park. The park is located in Strawn, TX which is about an hour and a half west of the DFW metroplex. The hill country of Texas makes up most of central Texas and this area in the northwest part is beautiful. It has the hills and flowers and some great views.
The race offered distances ranging from 5K all the way up to a 50 miler. I chose the half marathon because I am starting to like this distance. It is long enough to feel like hard work but short enough to recover fairly quick. The half marathon course consisted of two out and backs over a changing terrain. The trails held up well from the rain overnight. They were wet and had some muddy spots but overall in good shape.
The first out and back was a feeling out process and not difficult. The course started with two small but steep uphills. The first major climb came after a water crossing. The water crossing was not too deep so I rock jumped to keep my feet dry. The top of the climb had great views but I could not get good pictures because of the weather. It was cloudy and very very humid. It was smoove sailing down the hill to an area filled with wildflowers. The trail went into a forest type area in which the trail turned a bit muddy. After the muddy section was the turn around point of the race. I decided to get most of my pictures on the way back. I was feeling good and I wanted to get the picture before the second out and back. I got to the start/finish ahead of my three hour half marathon pace.
I started the second out and back drenched in sweat. My shirt and shorts were soaking wet. My shirt was feeling heavy and my shorts were clinging to my legs. My nutrition and hydration was still good but my clothes were an added weight. I had to tuck in my shirt to keep my shorts from falling down. The water crossing was a bit deeper but crossable without getting too wet. At the top of the climb the temperature dropped at least ten degrees. The sky got darker and thicker clouds came rolling over the course. I made it almost to the muddy part when it started to rain on and off. I got to the turn around and the sky opened up. It started to rain consistently. The thunder and lightning started after I was out of the now swamp like muddy section. I could see lightning bolts go from cloud to ground. As I started up the backside of the biggest climb it started to pour. At the top of the climb, it started to hail. By now the trails were flooded and muddy. There were mini waterfalls on the big hill. The water crossing was shin deep. The rock jumping idea was scrapped and I just ran through the water. I finished drenched and exhausted. My time of 3:17:13 was slow but I was happy just to finish.
Overall, I really liked to race but better weather would have made this race great. I did get to see another Texas state park. I have week till my next race in this same area.
This year I hiked 50 new trails in 45 new places. I was doing the 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series which is to hike 52 new places in 12 months. I did not get to 52 new trails but the 50 new trails were worth the travel. I found some local city parks and many state parks. I ventured into two other states besides Texas. I liked the hikes in Arkansas and Oklahoma and already have plans to return to both states. I also had some first in my trail running. I did my first 1/2 Marathon, 20K, 25K and 50K all on trails. 2018 was an awesome year to be outside.
Mount Magazine 20K
Wild Hare 50K
Mount Nebo, Arkansas
Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma
2018 was an incredible year and my plans for 2019 are even more adventurous.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
These are my 10 favorite trail races. Most of these races were first or something different from usual races.