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.Early start of the raceSun 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.View 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.Looking for shadeShade 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.
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.
Miscellaneous Hiking Post with a List
In this post there is a 15 before 50 list, I am happy to write I am done with almost half of what I listed. I am surprised that I have done as many as I have done. I focused more on trail running than hiking the last two years but still do some hiking in between races. I am not going to change my list but will recap my progress.
4. I hiked to the summit of Elk Mountain on my father’s birthday.
5. I actually hiked to the summit of Pinnacle Mountain twice and the second time was a great solo hike.
7. I had an amazing hike to Cedar Falls in Petit Jean SP. The waterfall was everything I had hoped to see.
8. Canyon Loop Trail in Caprock Canyon SP was awesome and dangerous due to the quick temperature rise.
9. I am counting hiking the Lighthouse Trail in Palo Duro SP even though it was cut off. I hiked all of it that was open.
14. I found Twin Falls in Pedernales SP last week. It was a fun short hike.
15. The Moss Lake and Echo Canyon trail hikes were fascinating and one a my many times I got lost hikes.
2. and 3. I had it planned for this summer but my schedule is getting crazy.
6. Mountain Top trail has not been in my plans. I will look to get this one in early next year.
11. and 12. Hiking Old Baldy and Crystal Cave Trail are in the plans for summer of 2020 because this might be a family trip.
13. My East Trail hike is planned this week. I will be heading to Lost Maples SNA and another state park in the San Antonio area.
As for #1, I had a chance to do Mount Scott hike today. I have also had two previous chances but did other hikes. I am thinking about a day trip to get it done. I also want to do it as an overnight trip for the stargazing
Great Plains State Park is located in Mountain Park, OK., which is about about 45 minutes west northwest of Lawton. The name of the city is an ideal name because it is surrounded by mountains. It is between the Wichita Mountains and the Quartz Mountains. The Great Plains State Park is miss named because it is nothing but hills and mountains. This was also my headquarters to go between the two mountains ranges. I unfortunately did not make to the Quartz Mountains. The prior day I spent more time than I thought at the Wichita Mountains. Plus this being the first trip with my camper I had some “forgot some stuff issues.” I did get some hiking time in this state park.
The park had the usual lack of trail markings I come to expect while hiking in Oklahoma. This time my hike to an unusual turn for the worse. I headed to the trailhead which was marked by an orange bucket with a flag in it. I had a map, it looked like somebody just drew it, and a compass so I felt comfortable. I also started the hike with plenty of sunlight and the park was not that big. At the first split in the trail I went in a direction that would take me back toward my campsite. The trail had no markings but there were cairns on the side of the trail every few feet. I quickly realized that this trail was not taking me up the mountain but around it. I wanted to get some elevation change plus look down on the park and see other mountain ranges in the distance. I back tracked to the split and headed the other direction.
This trail was a bit more defined but still no markings. I started to see blue tape on trees by the trail. I was guessing this was the trail marking. I followed them up to the top of the mountain overlooking my campsite. I got to see everything I wanted and had markings to follow to get back down. I followed the blue markings and quickly realized this is not the way I got up here. Then the markings went away, I tried to backtrack but I could not find the trail I was on originally. The trail map was no help at all. I went back to one of the higher ridge lines of the mountain and found the dam that was close to my campsite. I decided to take a direct route to the dam. I was on a trail most of the way down until the trail started to circle back up the mountain. I stayed the steady course downward and I had to bushwhack a bit to get to another clearing. As the sun was setting and trees were now blocking my view of anything, I thought of calling 911. I gave myself fifteen more minutes of straight hiking to find something I recognized. I continued in a straight line and I saw a campsite. It was the one in which was camping at but I did not know at the time. I finally get to the road and feel good. I see my camper and now I know I am about a half mile from the trailhead.
I hike the shoreline trail back to my car and the trailhead. I make it safely before the sun sets. The funny thing is I was not prepared to camp in a camper but was prepared to get lost hiking. Trail markingsMore trail markingsMaking my way upThe reason I hiked to the topThey were waiting for me.My way back downhill.Finally the Shoreline trail.
I survived to hike another day. Next up, I went back to the Wichita Mountains to finish a hike I started over a year ago.
Today I was suppose to run the Trail Madness 16K at Turkey Mountain Urban Area in Tulsa, OK. I really wanted to make the four and a half drive and get in a good run. I checked the weather a for two weeks and the forecast was getting worse and worse. The predicted temperature was going lower and the snow and freezing precipitation prediction was growing. I have run in freezing conditions and snow so not a problem but the travel concerns me. I do not think it was a wise or safe idea to drive that distance on possible icy roads. Plus, it was a SUnday race so I had no choice to return the day of because of work. The RD sent several emails earlier this week to update the trail conditions and giving the go ahead for the race. The final email stated the race was on the only thing that would stop the race would be excessive mud. Mud would not be a problem since the trails are frozen. I am assuming that some of the roads are not in great shape since the race entrances have been changed and the parking has also been changed. There are arguments among the trail running community of which is worse., a DNS or DNF. I feel really bad about this DNS and I have not had a DNF so I would say a DNS is worse. I am glad the race did not sell out and I took someone’s spot so I guess the registration fee is a donation.
In two weeks I will run my second half marathon, I have no plans on a DNS or DNF.
In 2018, I completed a race at every possible distance from 5K to 50K. I also hiked some of the most scenic places I have ever seen. So what am going to do to top 2018? I dug deep into my imagination and found some crazy places. I am heading back down to the Texas Hill country to hike a park I have never been to yet. I am headed back to Arkansas to hike another mountain but this time from the more difficult side. I have a race in east Texas that took my legs last year. I signed up up for to prove to myself I can beat this course. I will once again will run the Huaco Cuatro Series in Waco, TX but this time I am going to try to get my times much lower. I am doing this all in the first two months of 2019. I want to get back to Oklahoma in March and also a second possible 50K in Kansas. I will get my mini travel camper in April so I can travel in style. My big hikes this year will be to hike to the highest points in Arkansas (I have already done it once), Oklahoma and Texas. My big run this year will be to buckle up with a 100K also in Kansas. I am looking forward to getting out and running and hiking all around America.