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.
I really enjoy the races the Waco Striders host at Cameron Park. This is the easier of the two courses they have at Cameron Park. I must say easy is a relative term. The two courses are some of the toughest courses I have run in Texas. But I have not run in the Texas mountains yet. The thing that makes these courses tough is that you are always ascending or descending. There are very few flat areas and the downhills are technical. The course is not one of the more scenic courses but there is a nice view of the Brazos River before you descend to the finish. I was prepared for the extra mileage they always put in the races. This time it was only an extra half mile. The odd thing is that they did not have bananas for the runners. They had the usual water but then popsicles and donuts.
I really like that this year they have wooden medals and soft thin cotton shirts. I do not like the tech shirts or the under armour type shirts. Overall it was a good time and good race.
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.
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.
This is another run/hike situation. It was suppose to be a twelve mile trail run that turned into a run/hike due to all the pictures. I actually ran a decent time considering the conditions. The temperature was in the mid 80s which is not too bad but the humidity was at 70%. It was the humidity that was the most difficult obstacle to overcome. Did I mention that the run was on a mountain. The course had a two two and half mile uphill climbs. When you put the heat, humidity and hills together, you get a difficult trail race.
The park is located north west of Little Rock, AR in Paris, AR. The park is very spacious and also has the highest point in Arkansas. Of course I had to get to that point. I did but the sign was gone and there were several people looking at the ground. I had a race to run so after I realized the sign was not there I continued my run. The course had so many views. The course lead runners on narrow trails with a ledge on one side and the mountain wall on the other side. Eagles were soaring below the ledges and you would look down on treetops. Even though it was a humid and hazy morning, I could still see for miles from the ledges. I had an awesome time in the Arkansas mountains.
This was a challenging 12 miles but I would do it again. I more than likely will do it again next year. Plus there is another race in another state park in the area I want to run. This was hike 29 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.
Next blog is the park I have been waiting two years to get to in Arkansas.
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.
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.
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.