I want to start off by offering prayers and condolences to the runner and his family that was struck by lightning and killed during the race. It was difficult for me to write a running recap of this race due to this tragedy.
I have always wanted to run a race with a tight cutoff time. I did not expect this to be that race. I thought with 10 hrs for a 50K would not be that bad. My very first 50K was under 9 hrs. Little did I know what I was getting myself into. I know that about 179 runners registered for the race. I do not know how many actually started but only 103 had finishing times. I was planning to get pictures on the way back but that did not workout. I do not know where to start.
The course was tough. Let me restate this, it was the toughest most unique course I have ever been on. There are parts of the course, as a hiker, I would not even think of hiking. I got close to 1400′ of elevation gain in the first 25K. It is less than Piney Woods but much more difficult. I guess the easiest way to explain this course is this way. It is a mixture of Colorado Bend SP with the rocks, Cleburne SP with the short steep hills, Lake Mineral Wells SP with the squeezing and climbing crevices then throw in some Arkansas cliffs and Louisiana low land terrain. The lack of wind made it a sauna the entire time. Mind you it never got above 83 degrees but the humidity was about 67%. The funny thing was people at the start complaining how hot it was going to get and might reach 85. I was laughing to myself thinking I have not had one run in months that low.The elevation profile is deceiving and hides the difficulty of the course.
I tried not to run stupid from the start. I took it easy at the beginning. It turns out that was the wrong strategy. I should have ran hard at the beginning and at every possible place I could have run. I did not think the hills were going to be that technical. I am talking hands on ground going up and down these hills. Did I mention two ladders on the course? Plus water crossings and mud. It had not rained in awhile and the course was mostly dry but every “obstacle” was extreme. The course went down into a basin of a waterfall.
I got to the turnaround 10 minutes past the cutoff. I changed into dry clothes and did the math on making the finish cutoff. I could drop three minutes per mile on the way back and make the cutoff. I was feeling pretty good. My legs were fine and I was hydrated and ate properly during the first half. I was not low on energy but something in my mind said do not go back out. The clouds were breaking up and the sun was out so I was not worried about rain. Several others decided to try their luck and return and they looked much worse off than I. The volunteer asked two more times if I was going back out and I finally said I am done. I truly believe in divine intervention and I know that is the reason I did not try to finish the race.
The rain eventually came and it was heavy but it did not stay around for long. I would have got caught in it more than likely on one of the more runnable sections of the course. I think I could have made the 10 hr time limit but it would have been close and not very fun in the rain and on a wet course. This was also the time the tragedy struck. The runner was a quarter of a mile from the finish line.
I am leaning on doing it again next year. I am going to run my usual dumb race because I know I will not be able to keep up a fast pace for more than two miles at a time before something slows me down. So if anybody wants to run the most amazing course you will ever run, I am willing to do it again. On a positive note, I wish I had gotten some pictures because the course had so many picturesque places and features. I was awestruck running the course.
BTW, my legs are still sore.