The second year of the Tinajas Ultra event was held last weekend at Colorado Bend State Park, about 90 minutes north of Austin. This race has garnered a reputation as one of the toughest in the Hill Country, rivaling even Bandera or Cactus Rose. The 100K course has nearly 6,000 feet of climbing, thousands of turns, and millions of rocks.
The 100K winner this year was Chad Prichard in 13:27. Dennis Runyan of Trail Roots was second in 13:51 and Ben Evans was another 8 minutes back in third. These times were excellent, but nearly 3 hours slower than the stellar 10:38 from Anthony Jacobs last year.
Only three women finished the 100K, led by Kari Seher in 16:41. Michelle Ekrut was second in 21:41 and Nancy Marks third in 23:40.
The women’s 50K was more competitive, with Breanne Pruit winning in 5:56, just 5 minutes slower than Mallory Brooks’ course record last year. Shawna Myers was second in 6:28, with Amanda Hayley third in 6:44.
Zachary Miller won the men’s 50K in 4:41, well back of Joe Schmal’s course record of 4:15. Douglas Cooper was second in 5:09. Ross Knight was third in 5:57.
The half marathon winners were Justin Miller for the men in 1:55, and Megan Reed for the women in 2:01.
Tejas Trails founder Joe Prusaitis was in the 100K race and fell, suffering a dislocated finger along with a case of “cactus butt.” He’s OK. Check out his blog for the details.
Tejas also included 50K and 100K relay events. “The Trail Roots Guys” were hoping for a challenge from Spectrum in the 100K, but that group didn’t show (scared?). Joel Stanford, Anthony Jacobs, Joe Cooper, and Doug Ailes still ran fast, completing the 100K in 8:35, three hours faster than any other team, and 5 hours faster than the 100K solo winner. Between them, they also collected the CR (course record) on just about every Strava Segment in Colorado Bend
Joel Stanford sent me his take: “The Trail Roots Guys were trying for a mixed team in the highly flexible (up to 7 person) 100K relay at Tinajas, but our female picks succumbed to injuries or were traveling on the day of the race. Accordingly, we became a single sex team with a double goal of 1 – Enjoying everything Colorado Bend has to offer and 2 – Winning while hopefully setting a CR. We accomplished both of these while running ~25K segments each. I’m too lazy to check and see if we hold the CR! (ed. I checked, you do.) Colorado Bend State Park is a very interesting, starkly beautiful, and sometimes very difficult terrain to run on, but it’s wonderful and is well worth attention and love from fellow trail runners. Tejas Trails put on an incredible race as usual, and I’m looking forward to going back next year for more adventures.”
And from Joe Cooper: “For me the race was a test in staying competitive without having a field to run against. I hadn’t run in a race since the Never Summer 100K last July. I ran the third leg at Tinajas, which meant running on my own the entire time as the field had stretched out by then. Anthony had told me Doug’s time (he ran the same leg on the first loop) though so I had a time to shoot for. I forgot how technical the course was especially in the first few miles! Starting fast meant that by the time I hit the creek I was so far in the zone that the crossings had me stopping to get my bearings which left me with a lot of time to make up midway through the run. Luckily that’s possible with some very fast Jeep roads on the course. This course had a little of everything. The finish for my leg was very rocky descending into Gorman Falls and the climbing back out. By that point, with a technical start and essentially a tempo run in the middle to make up time, my legs were trashed. I squeezed in just over Doug’s time and with enough speed to keep us on track for Anthony to finish out with a big course record.”
People are still buzzing about the Austin Marathon weekend, now about 3 weeks ago. I wanted to follow up on a few things so I emailed with William Dyson, the Communications Manager for High Five Events.
Armadillo Running: I’ll start off by asking about the biggest change for 2018: the new course. The runners I talked with called it “hard but fair” and “good to see so much of Austin, especially the East Side.” What is the perspective from High Five a couple weeks after the race?
William Dyson: We’re extremely pleased with the new Austin Marathon course from an overall standpoint. Runners have told us they enjoyed the new marathon course when they mentioned achieving their goals, PRs, BQs, and of course Allison’s OTQ. When routing the new course, we wanted several aspects of the Austin Marathon to remain the same (Texas State Capitol finish background, loop course, Congress Ave. start line) while improving other aspects (traffic flow, showcase more of Austin, improved spectator experience). The new marathon course better represents Austin and provides spectators more opportunities to see runners on course (most of the course is within ~3 miles of downtown).
AR: You added prize money and attracted more elite runners, but it was a couple locals, Allison Macsas and Joey Whelan, who won the marathon with some excellent times. Were you surprised at those results?
William Dyson: We were not surprised by those results; we were absolutely thrilled with those results. We knew we’d attract more elites after doubling the prize purse from last year (2017) to $20,000 this year. The 2018 Austin Marathon/Half Marathon elite field was one of the best in recent memory and we expected great racing. Joey is an up-and-coming elite who announced his arrival to the marathon party when he ran 2:21:37. He won the 2018 3M Half Marathon and is going for the Austin running trifecta as he intends to run 2018 Cap10K. I didn’t know this until after race day, but Allison was close to not defending her title. Long story short, she showed up, defended her title, and qualified for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials. Increased prize purses, overall athlete experience, fields like this, and the times produced will continue to push our elite field to the heights we expect.
AR: FloTrack covered the race live. Did they get a lot of hits? Do you expect them to cover more local races?
William Dyson: FloTrack is still compiling the data from their livestream and all the side videos produced before and on race day. I don’t have the exact numbers from their livestream yet, but the partnership is successful and beneficial for both companies. I expect FloTrack to continue exploring all options for their company and see how they can further engage with and support the running community.
AR: I heard that overall, the crowd support for the runners was good, but I saw at least one area on Cesar Chavez that was a bit sparse. How do you go about improving that aspect of a race?
William Dyson: We anticipated some quiet stretches with the introduction of the new marathon course. Improving the amount of race day spectators is something that will take time. It’s literally a day-to-day, year-to-year, person-to-person opportunity to tell people about what’s going on and explain why they should get involved. And it’s not just spectators, local businesses, companies, and neighborhoods all have a chance to get involved with race day and be a part of the action. There was a Bacon Aid Station at Mile 22! I spoke with Royal Blue Grocery on Congress Ave. towards the end of the race and they were busy all day. Granted they’re near the finish line festival, but that opportunity to make money and support spectators presents itself to any business within a 1-2 block proximity of the race course. As the Austin Marathon grows and the city continues to embrace its marquee running event, the number of spectators will increase along with the number of businesses who open their doors. This cycle will continue, more folks will get involved, and in a few years time, this course will be flooded with spectators.
AR: Every race relies on volunteers. Any particular story about someone who did something special for this event?
William Dyson: All 3000 of our volunteers are amazing. They’re the backbone of our event. Without them, the event doesn’t take place. It’s that simple. They stuff bags before event weekend, interact with runners at the expo, and ensure race day goes as smoothly as possible. One story that comes to mind is Bill Schroeder when he was driving the lead vehicle on race day. Bill is a big name in the Austin running community and he knows his stuff. He knew the route inside and out and has years of experience in the running world. He was driving the lead vehicle when someone just started walking across the street pushing a stroller, oblivious to what was happening around them. Bill was familiar with the course and knew what was going on around him (press truck, filming trucks, lead cyclists, etc.) and was able to avoid the unaware pedestrian and continue navigating the rest of the race. We give everyone who works with us specific instructions and directions as it relates to their role, but when you have knowledgeable volunteers who can react quickly and appropriately in certain situations it makes a world of a difference.
AR: Any particular changes that you plan to make for the 2019 event?
William Dyson: No significant changes planned at this time. We will continue to decompress, review notes, and incorporate participant feedback. Rest assured, planning for 2019 is currently under way! We will fine-tune the entire elite application process (for Austin Marathon, Half Marathon, and Manzano Mile) to make it that much easier on athletes and ourselves. We want to increase the prize purse across the board, marathon, half marathon, Manzano Mile. We want to work with more businesses, companies, neighborhoods, and churches to ensure Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019, is as enjoyable for the City of Austin as it is for everyone else involved. The more we can get Austin involved, the more it’ll attract runners, the more runners we attract the great our economic impact can be on Austin. Like always, we’ll investigate every option available to better the participant experience.
AR: What is the status of the bid for the 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon? Is there anything the local running community can do to help?
William Dyson: Meetings are taking place. Conversations are being had. Documents are being created. Presentations are being reviewed internally before submission. All options are being explored as the March 19th deadline approaches. This is a huge opportunity for Austin and our amazing running community. There isn’t really much the running community can help with at this time, unless someone wants to infuse large sums of money into the application process! But really, when the time comes, there will be an opportunity for the Austin running community to mobilize and become one like never before.
AR: Your next race is Cap10K on April 8. What changes are you implementing for this year?
William Dyson: The biggest change for Cap10K this year is the introduction of a finisher medal for the first time in the event’s 41-year history. We’ve made some minor tweaks to the finish chute to ensure it continues to flow to the finish line festival. Aside from that, we’re not making any major operational or logistical changes. We’re preparing for another running of the largest 10K in Texas, followed by a massive finisher party at Auditorium Shores. Come join us!
Thanks to William. I’ll be out at Cap10K yelling and cow-belling!
One last local news item: the Austin Runners Club has substantially upgraded their website. I noticed it last week while looking at the Distance Challenge results and then read the details in their weekly email. I particularly like the race calendar and the map with weekly group runs. ARC membership is the best deal in Austin for a runner: $30 per year and tons of discounts from stores, vendors, and races. Their next race is the Daisy 5K on May 19.
I’m on vacation for the next week so you’ll have to suffer through an issue of The Interval as edited by Andy Bitner.
I’m sure most of you saw the news the Roger Bannister passed away. I noticed lots of articles about our first sub-4 miler. This NY Times obit was good. For a deeper analysis of Bannister the runner, I liked The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb. I haven’t read Bannister’s autobiography, Twin Tracks, but I’m told it is excellent.
I mentioned the Tokyo marathon last week and the amazing performances from Japanese runners. Turns out there are good reasons for this, check out this article from Outside.
I like this new ad from Nike. Reminds me of an old Superman movie, but funny and with runners…
Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel have started on an attempt to set a FKT on the Grand Himalaya Trail. That’s about 840 miles and 230,000 feet of elevation change. They hope to complete the FKT in less than 28 days. You can follow their progress here.
If you haven’t read any of elite runner Dakota Jones’ articles for iRunFar, this one is a good place to start. It’s a hilarious profile of JLu, a volunteer at many Colorado trail races.
And finally, I liked this article from Outside on the move by REI and other retailers to stop carrying products from companies that profit off of assault rifles. There are several ways to voice your opinions: at the ballot box and with your wallet are two of the best.
As I mentioned above, the Cap10K is coming up on April 8.
The Rogue Trail Series starts with 10K or 30K at Walnut Creek on March 25.
The Daisy 5K is on May 19.