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 am back in Waco doing the Huaco Cuatro Series. I had a great time running the series last year so I decided to do it again. The first race was the toughest. I was prepared for it this year mentally but I was physically tired. I ran most of the race and cut nine minutes off my time last year. Once again the course was over a half mile longer than the noted distance. The course was changed just a bit but still was very hilly and challenging. There was over 700 feet of elevation change and a steep uphill finish. The people are also great and the tacos are worth the run alone.
I finally got some pictures of the Brazos River from the top of the course. I cannot wait to run the next three races. The new medals were also nice and the finishing plaque might not be needed.
I will get back on the trails and in the state parks in the next few blogs.
This was the final race of the Huaco Cuatro trail race series. I chose the 5K distance early so I stuck with it instead of moving up in distance to the 15K. Plus I was probably not ready for a 15K on this course. The course is similar to the 8K course I ran earlier this year. I would be not surprised by the difficult course this time. I have really become to like running not only in this series but in Waco also. This was the coldest race of the series. It was close to freezing in the morning and I was going to wear gloves but decided against it but I did wear several layers. I had a couple of runners recognize me from the first three races. We joked around me getting first place in the last race. I also talked to the president of the Waco Striders Running Club again. There was a mix up with the final series plaque and she straightened out. This race also had people from all over the country. There were runners from Washington state and Colorado. Of course, a bunch of runners from all across Texas. I ended up third at this race with a time of 45:05 minus 3 minutes because they start the time when the longer races start and do not restart the time when the last race starts. I was just barely out of the bottom quarter for all males. The race was overall very fast and I was pleased of my result. At the end of the race I had the realization that the 5K distance is getting too short. I came down the finishing stretch and was thinking this was over quick. I am getting use to running 10Ks and training runs of 4+ miles.
The t-shirt design was cool.
The plaque for the four finisher medals was also nice. I also picked up a first and a third place medal in the series. I plan to do the series again but with increasing distances for each race. After the race, I had a long day with a brewery costume tour and a Halloween party to finish off the day.
My last trail race of the year is going to be out of state. I will also get some hiking in and finishing up the 52 Hike Challenge.
I was back in Waco and ready for what the trail had for me. The first two races in Waco were longer than listed and harder than expected. The hills were steep and long and I was not ready for the longer trails in Waco. This race is called Tuff Enuff but is was the easiest and flattest in the series. I decided on the 5K for this and the last race of this series but I should have done the longer distances. I had a great time at this race and enjoyed the different park. The race was at Woodway Park in Woodway which is about ten minutes west of Waco. The race was a road start and then a single track dirt trail for the majority and a grassy finish. It was also an uphill finish but that did not deter my strong finish. I also noticed that the stronger runners were in the longer distance. The combination of a flatter course and less competition I won my age group. My first win in a race with more than five people in my age group. I keep saying flatter course but it was still hilly and not an easy course to get through.
The time of 42:39 was good considering this race was also a little over a 5K but nothing extraordinary for a trail race. I also met the president of the Waco Striders Running Club. She was nice and it was also cool talking to the other runners.
The next race is my chance to test myself on a 10K trail race.
This is the second race in the Huaco Cuatro Race Series. The first was a 5 miler that was actually a 5.7 miler. I was prepared this time for the longer run and the crazy steep hills. The good thing this time is that the race started at the bottom of the park not the top. The logic would seem to be a downhill finish. The race was in Waco so nothing is logical. It was a flat finish after a small hill and a switchback downhill. I finished the run in a lower time than the first race. I like to see my pace but it skewed because it is based on the listed distance. The actual distance of this race was 9.5K. After this race, I felt comfortable I could finish a trail 10K. The course was almost as tough as the first race and was one of the more difficult courses. I truly like both of these runs and the Waco Striders put on another great race.
This was also the race I began to see improvement in my trail running and actually being competitive at the 5K races. I am still finding my way in the longer distances. I am already getting ready for this race series again next year. I am going to do the longer races next year. These first two races were the longer races but I went with the shorter races for the last two.
Next up is the first of three night trail races. I liked the night races but might not do it again.
I decided to step up my mileage by doing a 5 miler. I found a very cool challenge put on by the Waco Striders Running Club called the Huaco Cuatro. The first of this four leg challenge was at Cameron Park in Waco, TX. I did not look at a course map nor did I see the terrain of the course. I have driven through Waco many many times and the entire city looked flat. I will get to that surprise in a bit. I got up early to make the hour and a half drive to the race. The weather for the race was great. It was a bit humid but not bad for spring time in Texas. I did not have a problem finding the park but I could not find the start. I was doing race day packet pick up so I was planning on getting there forty five minutes early so I have time to get my bib and get ready to run. I was at the park but I could not find where I was suppose to go. I was asking people where this part of the park was and they did not know. While I was driving around lost for thirty minutes, I realized this park is very hilly. I could tell that the hills were steep but it was hard to tell how steep the hills were from driving. I was really about to give up until I took one more drive up a long hill and just kept going like I was leaving the park. All of a sudden another parking lot was on the horizon and that was where I needed to be. I got there after packet pick was over but they let me get it anyway. The race started five minutes late and I was ready two minutes late. The group of runners were friendly and so were the race presenters. I liked the atmosphere of the race and I am glad I found the start. I was still a little nervous about the distance. I have never done a run this long. I did not even do training runs this long at this time. The race did not go well for me. The run was actually 5.7 miles of the toughest hills I have ever run. The distance combined with the crazy steep and long hills were leg killing. I have never experienced hills like these. The race director must like putting runners through pain. If the hills were not enough the last mile was mostly straight up another agonizing hill to the finish. I was just happy to survive. I was also questioning doing the next three races. The post race refreshments consist of the normal bananas and water which are a must for me plus some awesome breakfast burritos. This still has been the toughest race of the year for me. I have done longer races but nothing like these hills.
I have run much more since this torture race and recently did a 7.5 training run in the same time I finished this race.
After a sanity check, I prepared for my third race in three weeks with a trip to the Houston area again.