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.
I have been asked the same question over and over again lately. What has been your favorite race so far in 2018? I was thinking that this list is going to be the same as my most difficult races of the year. The list is the same except for one race. The most difficult race did not make my favorite race list. I decided to do the most difficult list and wait on my favorite list. So far this year I have done every race distance I have wanted to do except one. My 50K is this weekend and then I have a couple more races planned to end the year with 25 races. I have done a 5K, 5 miler/8K, 10K, 15K, 20K, 25K and a 1/2 Marathon all on trails. I have done races in freezing weather and snow. I have done races in unbearable heat and humidity and pouring rain. The views from some of these courses have been absolutely breathtaking. All the races and training has been leading up to this weekend’s 50K. The following 10 races as difficult as they were are going to make this weekend easier but not easy.
10. The Wild Canyon Ultra 10K in Caprock Canyon State Park-The rain made the course wet and slick. The course was hilly and rugged but manageable to run. The views were by far the most impressive.
9. Rugged and Raw 10K at the Cedar Ridge Preserve-The preserve is my training ground and I am there about 3 times a week. A race here is just different. The trails are difficult on a normal day but this was a particularly warm and humid day.
8. Rough Creek 10K at Rough Creek Lodge in Glen Rose, TX-This race is well known for the Rusty Crown. It is a torcherous uphill that is a definite leg killer. If that is not bad enough a steep downhill that tends to sends running crashing to the ground.
7. Down N Dirty 8K at Cameron Park-I ran this race last year not knowing how hilly the course was going to be. I was not surprised this year and it still kicked my butt. The last climb after the 5 mile mark is the one that gets me.
6. Cross Timbers 5 Miler off of Lake Texoma-The rain made this course a muddy mess. This is one of the more technical courses but with the pouring rain it was down right impossible to run. The views were nice when the sun finally came out but it was a beatdown of a race.
5. DanMan 1/2 Marathon in Oklahoma-I wanted to get this distance done this year and nothing was going to stop me. I ran in freezing temperatures, rain, snow and mud. I finished and was ten minutes ahead of my predicted time. The course was not too tough but the elements made it a doozy. I only got half of the elevation profile.
4. Ragnar Trail Relay in Comfort, TX-The three courses were difficult but once again rain was what made this a difficult race. The 7.5 and 3 mile courses were not too bad but the 5 mile course was treacherous. It was by far the most technical and I had to run it night with bad lighting.
3. Chupacabra 15K at Cameron Park-This is another race at Cameron Park but the start/finish is at the bottom. The course is relentless. It is always going up or down or a switchback. There is not a straight or level part on the entire course. It slowly wears a runner down.
2. Mount Magazine in Arkansas-They lure you in with a free race then you realize it is a trap. The heat and humidity were way too high for that early in the morning. The course was probably the most beautiful and dangerous. The cliffs are unforgiving and the climbs last for miles.
- Pineywoods Ultra 25K at Tyler State Park-I did not think I was going to finish this race. Another rain soaked race with high humidity and muddy trails. The distance was the longest race to date but I fell apart well before the finish. My legs gave out and I finished, barely. The race was not that technical or difficult but it was just one of those races where nothing went right.
The biggest factor in making these races difficult besides the elevation changes was the the muddy courses and high humid temperatures. The good thing is that these races make me prepared for anything. I like the weather prediction for the 50K. It is supposed to be sunny and dry with a temperature range between 46 and 62. Hopefully the 50K will not make this list but the list of one my favorite races of the year.
See ya on the trails.
I love running races in Waco. I appreciate the difficulty of the courses and the friendly atmosphere. Waco Striders Running Club host four trail races each year and as a group they are called the Huaco Cuatro. This was my second year finishing all four races. This year I decided to do the max distance in all four races. The first two races were 5 milers that are always longer than 5 miles. The third race was a 10K which has been an accurate distance. The Chupacabra 15K was a distance I no idea what to expect. The 5K last year was a bit long but nothing unexpected. I ran several distances around the 10 mile range so a 15K was not going to be an extraordinarily long distance. The terrain in which this particular 15K was held is a different story. Running in Cameron Park is difficult but with high humidity and heavy rain before the race made it extremely tough. I would compare this 15K to a hard 1/2 marathon on the trails. I actually finish my trail half marathon faster and finished a mountain 20K in about the same time. This was a tough race. I actually spent part of the race in last place. I am not the fastest but I am competitive enough not to be last. I finished with a not so great time but just finishing was good enough on that day. I liked the post race breakfast tacos, always a good race when tacos are involved. I will be back next year to conquer this race. The race medal(wood) was awesome.The Huaco Cuatro completed once again.The flooding on the side of the road on the way home during the second round of showers that day.
Next up is a bucket list race I finally will run.
The Tuff Enuff 10K is the third race in the Huaco Cuatro Series. The race is in Woodway, TX which is southwest of Waco. I ran the course last year in the 5K. Being familiar with the course did not work out in my favor. I knew the course is not as hilly as Cameron Park. I knew I could start out fairly fast and hold my pace without too many steep hills. My overconfidence got me by my lack nutrition before the race. I did not eat much the night before and nothing the morning of the race. I hit a wall about two thirds of the way into the race. I was drinking an electrolyte drink during the race but it did not help the lack of nutrients. My time was about 12-15 slower than what I expected but I still ended up second in my age group. The Waco Striders Running Club put on another great race and I cannot wait to run the last race. As a bonus, I won a pair of shoes. I ended up getting a pair of Hoka Torrent trail shoes. I have only run in New Balance but I decided to try something different. I am the big guy starting my stopwatch.
My second place age group award.
This race series is really fun and I am happy to have met so many good people.
Next up I take the Rusty Crown challenge.
I was going to do a top 10 trail races but changed it to my favorites. I did not know how I was going to put them in order so it had become a random list of favorites. I have been out of commission for over a month. I could do some hiking but no running. During the unwanted break from trail running I had a chance to look over some of the 40 plus races I have run over the last two years. I have missed trail running and speed hiking is losing it’s luster. I have finally been released to run but I lost much of the little endurance I had built. These are my favorite races in no particular order.
10. The Mammoth-I have run this race twice which is a rarity because I like to do different races. This was also my first trail race.
9. Waco Striders Cross Country Trail Race-This race was one of the most painful races I have run. Once again this was a rare race I have done twice. The below graph says it all.
8. Piney Woods Ultra-I did the 10K last year and will do the 25K this year as a training race. This is a surprising tough course that slowly breaks down runners.
7. Natural Bridge Caverns Trail Race-The only race that starts a 1/4 mile underground. It is not an overly tough race and the atmosphere was awesome.
6. Down N Dirty Trail Race-This is also a Waco Striders race. This gave me a second chance at a course that kicked my butt. I still was not ready for the final climb.
5. Run4Bibles-A race that is just five minutes from home. I also did their night race and the course is challenging. I love running this course and run it often.
4. Knob Hills Trail Race-This was a long 10K. It was actually 7.3 miles and I did not even get lost. The fun part was all of the crazy little hills.
3. Wild Canyon Ultra-One the most scenic and difficult races I have run. It is located at Caprock Canyon SP and if the canyons do not get you the weather will.
2. Mount Magazine Trail Run-My first true mountain race. The race course lead runners to the highest point in Arkansas. Plus two three mile climbs.
1. DanMan- This was my first half marathon. The course was not very technical but being a first made it a favorite. The after party was easily the best of all races.
These are my 10 favorite trail races. Most of these races were first or something different from usual races.
The second trail run of the year was the Viking Dash 5K. I have not done a 5K in a long time. I am glad I choose the 5K because the course was extremely muddy. I cannot run well in mud. I decided to pace my sister and not worry about my time. We both struggled and the mud was sticky and heavy. At the end of the race, the mud was caked on the bottom and sides of my shoes. Little did I know it would rain all February and I had two more trail races and a road race in the next five weeks. My time of 47:08 is about fifteen minutes slower than my average trail 5K time. The course was not particularly difficult but the course condition was not good. They even rerouted the course or it could have been worse. I think the race would have been really nice if it was not a mud run. The Viking Dash people put on a good race and I think the Fort Worth run will be better.
I usually do not post pictures of myself but these pictures turned out pretty good. Check out the muddy shoes. It is race day today so I will be running my third trail 10K and the sun is out and the weather is great.
This was the final race of the Huaco Cuatro trail race series. I chose the 5K distance early so I stuck with it instead of moving up in distance to the 15K. Plus I was probably not ready for a 15K on this course. The course is similar to the 8K course I ran earlier this year. I would be not surprised by the difficult course this time. I have really become to like running not only in this series but in Waco also. This was the coldest race of the series. It was close to freezing in the morning and I was going to wear gloves but decided against it but I did wear several layers. I had a couple of runners recognize me from the first three races. We joked around me getting first place in the last race. I also talked to the president of the Waco Striders Running Club again. There was a mix up with the final series plaque and she straightened out. This race also had people from all over the country. There were runners from Washington state and Colorado. Of course, a bunch of runners from all across Texas. I ended up third at this race with a time of 45:05 minus 3 minutes because they start the time when the longer races start and do not restart the time when the last race starts. I was just barely out of the bottom quarter for all males. The race was overall very fast and I was pleased of my result. At the end of the race I had the realization that the 5K distance is getting too short. I came down the finishing stretch and was thinking this was over quick. I am getting use to running 10Ks and training runs of 4+ miles.
The t-shirt design was cool.
The plaque for the four finisher medals was also nice. I also picked up a first and a third place medal in the series. I plan to do the series again but with increasing distances for each race. After the race, I had a long day with a brewery costume tour and a Halloween party to finish off the day.
My last trail race of the year is going to be out of state. I will also get some hiking in and finishing up the 52 Hike Challenge.
I was back in Waco and ready for what the trail had for me. The first two races in Waco were longer than listed and harder than expected. The hills were steep and long and I was not ready for the longer trails in Waco. This race is called Tuff Enuff but is was the easiest and flattest in the series. I decided on the 5K for this and the last race of this series but I should have done the longer distances. I had a great time at this race and enjoyed the different park. The race was at Woodway Park in Woodway which is about ten minutes west of Waco. The race was a road start and then a single track dirt trail for the majority and a grassy finish. It was also an uphill finish but that did not deter my strong finish. I also noticed that the stronger runners were in the longer distance. The combination of a flatter course and less competition I won my age group. My first win in a race with more than five people in my age group. I keep saying flatter course but it was still hilly and not an easy course to get through.
The time of 42:39 was good considering this race was also a little over a 5K but nothing extraordinary for a trail race. I also met the president of the Waco Striders Running Club. She was nice and it was also cool talking to the other runners.
The next race is my chance to test myself on a 10K trail race.
Equip Disciples put on two trail runs each year. I missed the first one but was able to run the La Nuit 5K. La Nuit is French for the night. As you may have guessed, it was a night trail run. It was not as dark as the last night trail run due to the course being just ten miles south of Dallas. The other good thing is that the race takes place at the Cedar Ridge Preserve. The preserve is just five minutes from my house which takes away drive time. It was the first time I had been at the preserve at night since they close the gates at sunset. This was one of the smaller races I have done so placing was not a problem. I did have one of my better times at 45:38 on a very hilly and difficult course. I am extremely familiar with the trails but it was another hot and very humid summer night. My glasses fogged up and was running blind the second half of the race. The fogging of my glasses is becoming a trend that I do not like. I did take first in my age group sort of. The overall winner was in my age group so I was first in the master’s age.
I had a great time at the run. I had a chance to meet and talk to some good people. It was also a run for a good cause. I will definitely do the day race.
The next race is a 5K back in Waco. I have been running 10Ks on the road and now I am ready to move up to trail 10Ks. I had already registered for two more trail 5Ks.
This is my third Xterra trail race and my third third place finish. This is also my third trip to Dinosaur Valley SP. It is also my second of three night trail races sort of. I will get to that in a future blog. The pattern of three was interesting but just a sidebar. I had done a few road 10Ks prior to this run. The distance did not bother me but the course was brutal. This is my second race here and this course was more difficult and it took me five minutes longer than my first trail 5K at the park. This course lead the runners to the top of park and on the steepest trail in the park. The first mile was basically straight up hill with a few flat breaks. We were literally going uphill with hands on the ground. The rest of the course was downhill but very technical and very dark. The single track downhill was also on the side of cliffs, so falling off of one of those kept my pace slower than normal. My time of 47:04 was not too bad considering the conditions. It was also a hot and humid Texas July night.
At this point, I did not realize I do not like running at night. I ran two more times at night and now I will not do it anymore. I say so but it might happen again in a special circumstance.
My next trail run is at my favorite place to trail run. Plus it is just five minutes from home.