Saturday morning was unusually cold in the Hill Country, close to freezing in some areas, but that didn’t stop trail runners from racing at Cactus Rose in Badera and BigFoot in San Marcos.
First, the longer races at Tejas Trails’ Cactus Rose event. The experts at Tejas’ marked out a 25 mile loop that hits all of the big climbs at the Hill Country State Natural Area. Runners could pick between races at 25, 50, 75, 100 miles or a 4×25 mile relay. Nearly 150 runners entered one of the individual events and 6 relay teams completed the 4 loops. I’ll list the winners below, full results are here.
A couple standout results to highlight: Carmen Cheadle won the 50M in 10:27, over 2 hours faster than second place Fawn Hernandez. Carmen’s time was good enough for 4th place overall. Joe Schmal, in his first 100 miler, ran an impressive 18:46, about 3.5 hours ahead of Philip Williams. Joe would have finished in 4th place in the relay, beating 3 teams as a solo runner.
Jordan Vonderhaar ran in the relay and emailed me his thoughts on the event:
I ran the 2nd leg of our relay team, so as I went out for a counter-clockwise lap, I spent the first few miles going the opposite way of pretty much every runner (except the 4-6 fastest runners that were already ahead of me). By mile 8-9 I was done seeing those that were on their first lap and I did not see another runner until mile 22ish when Joe Schmal passed me for his 3rd lap going clockwise. I was really hurting at this point and still had to climb Boyle’s, but Joe looked really fresh at mile 52-53 for him. Since most of the aid stations were empty, I spent the majority of my 25 miles completely alone. It was much more mentally challenging than I had anticipated. I constantly doubted if I was going the right direction on the course, and sometimes if I was even on the course at all. One wrong turn would have been easy to make and then I’d be accidentally running the wrong way. To make things worse, if I did somehow end up going the wrong direction, I wouldn’t find out for several miles at least. The possibility of working so hard in perhaps the wrong direction was such a mental struggle. This really gave me a new level of respect for those that finished all 4 laps. The sheer mental fortitude it would require to continue along the course in the dark, completely alone after so many miles is unfathomable. How does anyone keep going through that? I truly can’t understand it.
But isn’t this experience what we all love about trail running? Testing our limits to see what we’re capable of? And when we eventually reach our physical limit, and we push beyond it into the wild unknown, we finally reach that place of inner clarity and discovery. A place that can’t be taught or described, but can only be experienced through hours of willful struggle and suffering. It is in the inferno of experiences like the Cactus Rose that the iron of our souls is forged, and I am grateful to have experienced it once more.
The winning relay team was from Spectrum Trail Racing and they set a new course record of 14:26. That’s about 8:40 pace on some of the most technical trails in Texas. Spectrum assembled an all-star team of Jason Brooks, Paul Terranova, Justin Wendling, and Michael Kurvach. Kurvach’s 25 mile split of 3:22 would have won the 25 mile race by about 20 minutes. I emailed with Jason Brooks, Spectrum co-owner and a member of the relay team:
Armadillo Running: That’s a superstar team, was the goal to beat the course record?
Jason Brooks: My goals when I assembled a team were simple: 1) get in a good training run in preparation for the 2018 Bandera 100K, 2) share the trail with some friends (and teammates from the Spectrum Race Team), and 3) rack up some points for the Spectrum-Trail Zen Texas Trail Racing Championship series team.
When Mallory investigated historical results, she pushed us to go after the course record but I honestly don’t think that changed anyone’s individual goals. I think most of us were just out to get in a training run and/or have some fun.
AR: I imagine the weather and course conditions were near perfect. Tell me that you guys had a blast….
Jason Brooks: Aside from having a great team, the weather was definitely a contributing factor to our success. The temperatures were low and the air and trails were dry all day. Everyone had a great time running the course and I couldn’t be more proud to have these guys as friends and teammates.
A set of shorter trail races were also held on Saturday, at the Back On My Feet Bigfoot Trail Race in San Marcos. Back On My Feet (BOMF) is a non-profit that works with the homeless. From their website:
Back on My Feet seeks to revolutionize the way our society approaches homelessness. Our unique running-based model demonstrates that if you first restore confidence, strength and self-esteem, individuals are better equipped to tackle the road ahead and move toward jobs, homes and new lives. For all in need, we aim to provide: practical training and employment resources for achieving independence; an environment that promotes accountability; and a community that offers compassion and hope. For all with the capacity to serve—volunteers, donors, community and corporate partners—we seek to engage you in the profound experience of empowering individuals to achieve what once seemed impossible through the seemingly simple act of putting one foot in front of the other.
BOMF set up a course in the Spring Lake Preserve area of San Marcos. The trails were a mix of technical singletrack and smooth doubletrack and had a moderate amount of climbing. Runners could choose between 5K, 10K, and 30K options. I’ll list the winners below, full results are here.
The 30K runners started at 7am, still in the dark with their headlamps ready for the first technical section just a couple hundred yards away. Dan Hayes led most of the race, but fell in the last miles and was passed near the end by William Gillette, who went on to win by 13 seconds. My friends Jimmy McWilliams and Ken Turlington did well, finishing in 10th and 12th places, respectively.
I ran the 10K and had a great time running with Jonathan Torres. The last half mile or so was a smooth downhill and we were flying. I was just trying to stay with Torres and hoped he would run out of gas, but he never did. I pulled about even with him on the last turn, but he still had another gear and dusted me over the last 100 yards to take second place.
The 10K was won by Luis Briseno. Scott Merritt led much of the way, but took a wrong turn near the end. Scott sent me his thoughts on the race:
I found myself jockeying with a guy most of the race, both of us missing turns here and there, but essentially running together. We got through mile four and I decided to push the pace to see if he would respond, which allowed me to open a small gap. Things were looking good until I missed some turn on the second mini-loop, leading me back onto the main 10K course and to an eventual 7.5 mile 10K. Clearly I could use some more practice running trail races. Nonetheless, it was a great morning and my celebratory moment came when I got to run the final 150 meters with one of the BOMF members, followed by a high five and a hug. Totally worth it.
I love BOMF’s cause and really enjoyed the experience last year, so I was just excited to be out there. The race itself was fun, challenging, and inspiring to be out there with many BOMF members who have overcome so much and trained hard to represent their cause.
I encourage you to check out BMOF. You can donate, of course, but they also like to have people to run with BOMF members.
One last local news item, with the opening of the new Austin library the Butterfly Bridge over Shoal Creek at Second Street is now open. My U Loop pals tested it out this morning.
I’ve written about the Comrades Marathon before, so I was happy to read this great article from Runner’s World on the race and what it means to South Africa.
A new course record at the Javelina Jundred this past weekend, near Phoenix. Patrick Reagan ran 13:01. That’s 7:48 pace for 100 miles. Coverage by iRunFar.
From the evil genius behind Barkleys Marathon is Big’s Backyard Ultra. Winning the race is simple, just be the last person to complete a 4.1 mile loop that starts each hour. This is the second year of the event and Guillaume Calmettes won, running 249 miles in 60 hours. Coverage from Men’s Journal. Spectrum has a similar event, The Game, coming up in a few weeks at McKinney Falls.
A new world record in the Beer mile. Corey Bellemore lowered his record by a second to 4:33.6. It takes him about 8 seconds to down each beer so he effectively runs a 4 minute mile. Coverage by Flotrack. (H/T to Matt Fletcher)
The big local race this weekend is Run For The Water. This will be the 11th year for this great event, which includes 10 mile and 5K races along some of Austin’s most popular running routes. Last year, about 2000 people were entered into these races. The 10 mile race is the second event in the annual Austin Distance Challenge. The beneficiary for the event is the Gazelle Foundation, who have done incredible work improving water supply for poor communities in Burundi.
Trail runners will also be racing this weekend, in the Spectrum event Wonderland. The 10K, half marathon, and marathon races are held at Muleshoe Bend park along the shores of Lake Travis.
The next big fall marathon is Sunday, with the New York City Marathon. All eyes will be on Meb Keflezighi in his final marathon as a pro. Check out this great article on Meb from Sports Illustrated. Other coverage from Let’s Run.