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.
After my first 50K, I vowed to not run another 50K. I was also told once you run your first ultra I would to run many more. I guess I was wrong. I finished my second ultra and have already signed up for a 100K. The Prairie Spirit Trail run was located in Ottawa, KS, which is about an hour and a half south west of Kansas City. Unlike my first 50K, I had no crew or fellow runners to help pace. I ran alone with the use of a drop bag. I did not use my drop bag as much as I thought. I had a change of clothes, some extra food and pain aids. I did not change clothes and probably should have changed shirts. I did eat some additional food but the aid stations were well stocked. I did use the 2Toms anti chafe pads. These pads saved the race for me.
The race started in a snowstorm and ended in the bright sun. The 2Toms came into play early because the snow made my clothes wet from the start. The 2Toms eased the rubbing and I had no chafing problems the entire rest of the race.
The race was a very flat and fast out and back course. The 50K runners had a short out and back before heading on the main trail out and back. The first manned aid station was located in Princeton and that is where I had my drop bag. I thought I was running slow but I was way ahead of my predicted pace. I had to tell myself to slow down so I would burn out early. I have this problem in my long runs. I start off way to fast and have nothing left at the end of the race. I slowed myself down by taking pictures and this aid station is also where I had my first application of 2Toms.
The next manned aid station was at Richmond. This is also the 50K turn around. I was still ahead of schedule but the race changed entirely at this aid station. The aid station to the finish would be into a 25 MPH head wind with gust up to 45 MPH. It felt like a 10 degree temperature drop and it was a tough run. I could not get any pictures because my hands had 2Toms on them and it was just to cold to take off my gloves.
I got to the Princeton aid station on the way back and still felt pretty good. I was still ahead of pace so I readjusted my finishing time and sped up. I should not have changed my plan. I struggled the last 5 miles. I also ran out of water with 2 miles left. I felt the slight uphill to the finished line and it hurt. I did have a somewhat sprint finish to get my time under 6 hours and 30 minutes. My official time was 6:29:27 which is over 2 hours faster than my first 50K and 30 minutes faster than my predicted time.
I met a bunch of good people at this race. I am going to be back here for the 100K and might pick up another two trail races in Kansas. They told me that there are hills in Kansas so I will sign up for those races.
Next up is a super hilly race in Texas.
In 2018, I completed a race at every possible distance from 5K to 50K. I also hiked some of the most scenic places I have ever seen. So what am going to do to top 2018? I dug deep into my imagination and found some crazy places. I am heading back down to the Texas Hill country to hike a park I have never been to yet. I am headed back to Arkansas to hike another mountain but this time from the more difficult side. I have a race in east Texas that took my legs last year. I signed up up for to prove to myself I can beat this course. I will once again will run the Huaco Cuatro Series in Waco, TX but this time I am going to try to get my times much lower. I am doing this all in the first two months of 2019. I want to get back to Oklahoma in March and also a second possible 50K in Kansas. I will get my mini travel camper in April so I can travel in style. My big hikes this year will be to hike to the highest points in Arkansas (I have already done it once), Oklahoma and Texas. My big run this year will be to buckle up with a 100K also in Kansas. I am looking forward to getting out and running and hiking all around America.
This year I hiked 50 new trails in 45 new places. I was doing the 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series which is to hike 52 new places in 12 months. I did not get to 52 new trails but the 50 new trails were worth the travel. I found some local city parks and many state parks. I ventured into two other states besides Texas. I liked the hikes in Arkansas and Oklahoma and already have plans to return to both states. I also had some first in my trail running. I did my first 1/2 Marathon, 20K, 25K and 50K all on trails. 2018 was an awesome year to be outside.
Mount Magazine 20K
Wild Hare 50K
Mount Nebo, Arkansas
Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma
2018 was an incredible year and my plans for 2019 are even more adventurous.