I had heard many good things about Rocky Hill Ranch in Smithville. TX. I was looking for a race to run there and found several. I decided on the Austin Rattler 10K. The ranch is located about 45 minutes southeast of Austin. It was amazingly beautiful. The drive out the was very picturesque with the bluebonnets and indian paintbrush flowers all over the place. The two days leading up to the race the mornings were very foggy but this morning the fog burned off early and it was a fantastic day. The race had people from all over the country. I talked to people from Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma and of course Texas. They announced runners from Maine and California also. The race date was April 1st and this is mentioned due to my trend on getting lost.
I started out running strong and feeling good. I was staying behind a pack of five runners for a long time. I was trying to hang on the back of that pack but got dropped. The next thing I know I am running by myself for fifteen minutes. I check my phone and I have ran over the 10K distance by a half mile. I continue and start to see several runners flying through the trails. They were the 33K runners. I realized I was lost. I got directions and missed my turn again. I am now 8.5 miles into a 10K. I find some volunteers to get placed at spot on the course where I should not get lost. Yes I do mean placed. I had to get an ATV ride. I was going to finish and was not going to get a DNF in a 10K. I get dropped off where I made my second wrong turn and finally pass where I made my first wrong turn. At the finish, I realized I was less than a mile from the finish line when I made my first wrong turn. I ended up running 10.4 miles. It turned out to be my long run before my first 1/2 Marathon next week.The crazy look you get when you realize you ran an extra 4.2 miles and still did not come in last place.
I had a great time even though I was lost most of the time. I finished in a very unspectacular 2:30:35. Although the course was muddy in some sections, the time was not good. I guess I played an April Fool’s Day joke on myself.
My next blog will be about the 1/2 Marathon then back to the trails.
I signed up for this race because not only is it the oldest trail race in Texas but also one of the most difficult. What I did not expect was several inches of rain the night before and the morning of the race. The course was tough enough in perfect weather but now it is a mud run. As I mentioned before I do not like mud runs. The adventure was the trip to the race and the race itself was also strange.
First on the drive to the race I got lost. It was pitch black outside and raining hard. I am just driving along and the next thing I know I am crossing a bridge and I am in Oklahoma. I make a u-turn and five minutes later I see a sign welcoming me to Texas. I finally get to the parking lot and it starts pouring down rain again. Finally the sun is starting to rise and the rain stops.
Secondly the course was soaked and muddy and very difficult to run. As a large trail runner I especially struggled in the mud. Plus uphill in the mud is much worse with all the gravity working against me. I only passed two people on the course and they were both injured and in need of EMS personnel. I did meet several people on the trails that made it fun. I even saw one lady leaning on a tree eating pretzels. I finished in a very unimpressive time of 1:58:12 and last in my age group. I did get lost though, I might have moved up a place or two. Some of the views of Lake Texoma were very impressive but the 1000 feet of elevation change in mud was something I will not want to experience again.
The funny thing about this race is I want to do it again but it has to be dry. I thing the course would be awesome and I know it would be challenging.
Next up is a fun 10K close to home.
I love waterfalls. I do not care of the size. I love the huge straight down drop ones but also the long multi tiered shallow ones. I was even amazed by a dry one once. I had not been to this area of Oklahoma in about 20 years but this place advertised springs and waterfalls. It has been raining a bunch for about three weeks so I decided it would be a perfect time to visit the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Located in Sulphur, OK, which is about a two and a half hour drive due north of Dallas. Driving in the park to the Travertine Nature Center you pass four very different waterfalls. I was here to see Little Niagara Falls and it did not disappoint. I was not expecting a huge 40+ foot waterfall but a ten foot high velocity waterfall. I got exactly what I wanted. I got there early and there were not many people but after a three mile warmup hike, it started to fill up. It was hard to get good pictures without random people in the photo. I ended up hiking to Little Niagara, Bear Falls, Garfield Falls, Pebble Falls, Sycamore Falls, Lost Cave Falls and Panther Falls plus Travertine Island, Antelope Springs and Buffalo Springs. The falls were amazing and all different. The water was crystal clear. There were some springs and falls that are so clean that you can drink from them. I decided to pass on that decision. The number of falls seems to be a bunch but they are only about a quarter to a half mile apart. I was constantly finding more and more picturesque places here that I stayed twice as long as I scheduled. Panther Falls
Little Niagara Falls
Falls and clear water
Bear Falls I think
Garfield Falls I think
Crystal clear water
I had a hard time narrowing down what pictures to use. I would use all different pictures at a different time. This was awesome and I only hiked half of the park. I will definitely have to return.
This was also hike 17 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. This series has me exploring places that have been magnificient to see. So far I have hiked up mountains, down in canyons, around lakes and on a beach.
The next hike I continue my exploration of Oklahoma.