This is a week for relays. Trail runners had the Ragnar Trail Hill Country relay at Flat Rock Ranch near Comfort. I wrote about these trails last week, for the Spectrum Rawhide race. This weekend Ragnar had loops of 3, 5, and 7.5 miles all starting and finishing at the same spot. I love this format for a relay. When you aren’t running you can relax, eat, cheer for your teammates, and heckle the competition. There were 2 main categories, Regular with 4 runners, and Ultra with 8. All teams had to run about 124 miles, or 8 times on each loop. An Austin team, Raiders of the Lost ARC (Austin Runners Club), composed of Mike McGinn, Philip Gaynor, Tyler Mathews and Iram Leon won the Ultra division. From Iram: “We started as an ultra team of 4 but due to a mid game injury it fell to 3 of us to cover over 100 miles of the 124. At the end, through the middle of the night on star lit but humid Texas hills, we got the job done of not only finishing but taking the 1st place ultra team and 3rd fastest time over all. Gotta love good teamwork.”
One of the newer TrailRoots members, Brin Bon, ran on a team in the Regular division. She and I emailed about the event:
Armadillo Running: You’re relatively new to running, how did you like the relay?
Brin Bon: I just started running this past March so this was the third trail race I’ve done but was the longest, by far. There were 3 loops altogether–roughly 3 miles, 5 miles, and 7.5 miles each. I ended up encountering a giant black cow running right across the trail a few yards in front of me on the 7.5 mile loop, which was fairly jarring at one o’clock in the morning, but it probably made me run a little faster for the remainder of that course. I don’t know how all you ultra runners deal with wildlife. Mace? Guns? I’m open to tips, otherwise my running career might turn out to be really short.
AR: I’ve competed in this event before and I enjoyed the atmosphere around the start/finish area. A good combination of support, camaraderie, and competition. What was it like this year?
Brin Bon: The RAGNAR was a really well run race, overall. The start/finish area was a lot of fun and there were people roasting marshmallows and drinking hot cocoa and coffee all night long around a giant bonfire. And there were a ton of people up and around which made it feel like an all-night trail fest, which was so much fun!
AR: How did you do?
Brin Bon: I hadn’t known until about 24 hours before the race that I would be running in it at all, and I probably wouldn’t have eaten so much and had so much beer at the TrailRoots Halloween Pub Run the night before, had I planned better. A friend invited me to join his relay team when someone else dropped out the morning before the race, but I’ve been increasing my running lately and felt like I could probably handle the mileage, so I decided to go for it. As it turns out, our team, “The Hounds of Heaven,” came in 1st in the mixed submasters category and 10th overall, so we did pretty well (thanks to a few teammates who really crushed it on their loops!). I have to give a shout out to my husband, Eli, who ran with me on the 7.5 and 5 mile loops, and who was a great cheerleader the whole time!! I’ve definitely caught the trail running bug! Like I said, I never ran at all before this year, and I’m not very fast, but I just can’t get enough of the trails. I can’t wait until my next race, my next run, or just my next opportunity to talk about trail running with other folks. I’m hooked!
Congratulations to Iram, Brin, and all the other runners at Ragnar. If this relay format sounds like fun to you, try the Spectrum Circus event in December.
The other relay was for road runners, who competed in the 8th annual Capital to Coast relay. This one is long, 223 miles from Austin to Corpus, with teams of up to 12 runners. The winning team, Houston Flatlanders, beat the previous course record by just 1 second. Several Austin teams participated including the Coast Busters, who finished 4th in the men’s open division. My friends Patrick Creel and Michael Kleinpaste were on that team.
The fall marathons keep coming and this past weekend was the 42nd running of the Marine Corps Marathon. I’ve never done this race but I hear it is special, with a tour of the major monuments in Washington DC and Arlington VA and staffed with over 2000 volunteers from the Marine Corps and Navy. It’s billed as the largest marathon in the US without prize money and had over 27,000 entrants this year. About 60 Austinites are listed in the results. One of the faster times was an excellent 3:31 for my TrailRoots colleague Lisa Smith. Other names I recognized were Chris Garlington and Erin McGann.
Another TrailRoots runner did well, running in Palo Duro Canyon in North Texas. The Palo Duro Trail Run is a great event, with distances of 20K, 50K, and 50M. Jessica Casey finished 3rd in the 50K. The canyon is incredible, with big views in all directions. The course is mostly in the bottom, with only moderate climbing. The difficulty is always the increasing temperatures as the race progresses. Last year the high was 96…
Lastly for the local items, a few words on headlamp etiquette for Town Lake Trail runners. As the days get ever shorter, more of our miles on the trail will be run in the dark. Most people rely just on ambient light but some feel the need to run with headlamps. The problem is that a bright headlamp effectively blinds oncoming runners. If you run with a headlamp on TLT, please use a lower intensity setting and direct the beam to shine right in front of your feet. If you’ve run the trail a few times already, you might consider trying it without a light. The beam of a headlamp focuses your attention on just that area and you lose the benefit of seeing everything else.
A great profile on Zach Miller from The Guardian. He’s known for training in extreme conditions. He once had job on a cruise ship and trained on a treadmill or stairs, getting in good enough shape to contend at some ultras. In recent years he’s been living and training near Pikes Peak and the results have been impressive, with a win at the North Face 50 mile and a top 10 at UTMB.
Also from Colorado, a new twist on the Beer Mile, with a course on a legendary 14% graded road. Francois D’Haene, fresh off his FKT on the John Muir Trail and win at UTMB, was the champ. From iRunFar.
Another contribution from iRunFar is this excellent interview of D’Haene by Megan Hicks about the John Muir Trail FKT.
The Moab200 was about a week and half ago and I failed to mention last week that the overall winner was a woman, Courtney Dauwalter. Trail Runner has a good race recap and interview.
A poignant article from Runner’s World on a runner’s struggle to deal with his brother’s drug addiction. Running has helped me cope with some similar issues.
The local road race calendar is sparse again this weekend. Trail runners will be racing at Bandera, in the Tejas Trails event Cactus Rose. This is a “graduate level” race in that Tejas’ marks the course and provides support and water, but runners must attend to their own nutrition through the use of drop bags at the aid stations. The course is 25 miles and hits all the highlights of this great trail system. Events include 25M, 50M, 75M, 100M, and a 4x25M relay.
A shorter trail run and closer to Austin is the BOMF Bigfoot Trail Race in San Marcos. BOMF (Back On My Feet) is a wonderful organization that strives to help homeless people through positive reinforcement and exercise. They have 10K and 30K options in the Spring Lake Preserve.