I had a time at this race. Blaze Trail Running put on a great race. The course was sneaky difficult but was set up with so many great views. The loops with in the course intentionally went to bluffs overlooking the Texas hill country. The volunteers were awesome and the parking set up is a detail that usually gets forgotten but it was great. Plus grilling at the finish line. Not many races have a person grilling hot dogs and hamburgers at the finish line, a nice touch. The race was fairly local so a bunch of trail runners I run with during the week were there running or volunteering. Parking right by the start/finish
The race itself caught me by surprise. I did not think it would be relatively easy but it was hillier than I thought. The race starting temperature was great but the humidity was in the upper 80s. As the race went on the humidity dropped but the temperature rose. You got to love running in Texas in August. The location was at Six-0 Ranch in Cleburne, Tx which about 45 minutes southwest of the Fort Worth. The ranch is beautiful and a great place for this race. It is also a working ranch so cows were roaming around and leaving fresh patties. Morning sky
The course was set up to go about 3.5 miles slightly downhill then 7 miles with significant elevation gain and finishing with a 3 mile downhill run with a quick uphill at the end. Within the first mile I heard yelling and looked back to see what all the commotion was about, a herd of cows were sprinting between a pack of runners and people were trying to get out of the way. No one got hurt but those cows were moving very fast and way too close for comfort. About 4.5 miles in we got to the lake, the first of many scenic areas. We looped the lake which prior to running here I thought was odd but I understood why they made the course this way.The lake on one sideThis view on the other side
Seven miles in I was drenched. Not normal drenched but shoes and socks puddles drenched. I was properly hydrated but I was hungry but not hungry. It is hard to explain but I was so hungry but I did not want to eat. It is a problem I have running when I am going longer distances. I have to force myself to eat during these runs or hit a wall near the end due to lack of nutrition. I make it to the aid station at 9.5 miles and refilled my drink and just get some watermelon, big mistake. This was another place on the course where there was an awkward place to put a loop. But the view added by having the loop was worth it.One of my favorite views from the course
After the aid station there was still a but of hill climbing to do. The downhill started fast and furious as did my demise. I was holding a 12:20 mile pace until this point. I ran into the wall and my pace jumped up. I ended with an average above 14 minutes per mile. Unlike last race I somewhat expected this to happen at sometime. I have been losing weight and not taking in as many calories as I need for a race this long. My finishing time of 3:12:17 was a little disappointing but considering the course difficulty and am not that unhappy. I like the windmill and I do believe that was one of the hills on the courseOne of the few areas of tree coverStruggling up the hill
I do not have many pictures of me having fun when running but the Dallas Dirt Runners caught me having fun and turned it into a meme. My fellow runner is Sue Fee.
We were nowhere near the finish line at this point.
A good time was had by all and next week it is a 25K in Oklahoma.
I have been intrigued by this park for a long time. I have heard great things about this park. The Guadalupe River flowing through a picturesque park with high vistas, I thought this would be a great park to visit. I think I put this park on such a high pedestal. I really liked to park but it was crowded and the trail system was fairly simple. I would have liked for the trail system to run along the river longer and less people. The amount of people cannot be controlled by the park. The park is attached to the Honey Creek SNA which is available by guided tour only. I will need to do that hike and see what the other side has to offer.
The park is located in Spring Branch, TX which is north of San Antonio. This is in the hill country of Texas and a great area to hike all of the state parks. It is a great park if you like fishing or floating and playing in a river. The hiking is good but it is more of a water park.
The trails went through many different types of landscapes. They past lakeside, vistas and prairie lands. The trail was very rocky but that is not unusual for this area of Texas. There was not much elevation gain on the trails even though they start on the river and end overlooking the river from a bluff.This part of the river was moving pretty good.The river looked like this but full of people.My favorite part of the hike looking down on the river.Near the edge of the cliff.Hiking through a large open prairie.
This is another run/hike situation. It was suppose to be a twelve mile trail run that turned into a run/hike due to all the pictures. I actually ran a decent time considering the conditions. The temperature was in the mid 80s which is not too bad but the humidity was at 70%. It was the humidity that was the most difficult obstacle to overcome. Did I mention that the run was on a mountain. The course had a two two and half mile uphill climbs. When you put the heat, humidity and hills together, you get a difficult trail race.
The park is located north west of Little Rock, AR in Paris, AR. The park is very spacious and also has the highest point in Arkansas. Of course I had to get to that point. I did but the sign was gone and there were several people looking at the ground. I had a race to run so after I realized the sign was not there I continued my run. The course had so many views. The course lead runners on narrow trails with a ledge on one side and the mountain wall on the other side. Eagles were soaring below the ledges and you would look down on treetops. Even though it was a humid and hazy morning, I could still see for miles from the ledges. I had an awesome time in the Arkansas mountains.
This was a challenging 12 miles but I would do it again. I more than likely will do it again next year. Plus there is another race in another state park in the area I want to run. This was hike 29 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.
Next blog is the park I have been waiting two years to get to in Arkansas.
This is my third trip back to Arkansas and it was awesome. My first stop was at Mount Nebo State Park. The park is located in Dardanelle, AR which is northwest of Little Rock. The first thing about this park that caught my attention was how steep the road is to get into the park. Hwy 155 is a notable road that is known in the area but not to me. It has several switchbacks but the steepness is what really stood out. I also did not have this park as a must visit park. I was in the area so I decided to check it out. I made the right decision.
I got a map and hiked the Rim Trail. The trail had plenty of great views. I also did a little venture on the Gum Springs Trail. The two of many highlights on the trail were Sunset Point and Lover’s Leap. The views from these overlooks were absolutely spectacular. The other overlooks were great but these two stuck out most for me. The hike was not difficult but scary at times. I was on a thin trail with a cliff on one side and a mountain wall on the other. Plus the thermals on the east side of the mountain were blowing. It was tough to keep balance and fight the wind. I got to see eagles use the thermals to dive and rise through the air. Watching the birds use the thermals was another highlight.
This was the beginning of an amazing three day trip in Arkansas. I was not too surprised of the beauty of the state parks. I liked seeing a different part of the state. This was also hike 28 of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. The start of these 52 hikes have been amazing so far.
Next up is another Arkansas mountain.
Hot Springs National Park located in Hot Springs, AR. I have heard good and bad about this park. I saw both while at the park. It was weird going to a national park in the downtown of a midsize city. I did not like the heavy city traffic and their was no easy way to get to the visitor center. The parking situation was interesting at best. The best entrance I found was at the Gulpha Gorge campground. It was also where I parked because of a road closure and I did not want to park in the city. The trails were great and clearly marked. As previously stated, it would be hard to get lost on these Arkansas trails. They are more clearly marked than the state park trails. The signs on the trails give you distance and direction. This was also a special hike since it was my 52nd hike of the 52 Hike Challenge. It might not have been a summit or a waterfall hike but it some majestic views.
The majority of my hike was on Goat Rock Trail and Hot Springs Mountain Trail. The trails have a good bit of elevation change and good views. As it has been noted in my previous blogs about this trip, the trees that make the hike great also create obstructed views.
I am going to have to reblog this hike as a picture only hike soon. I am having technical difficulties. Nevermind I got it down.
I am going back to trail running for the next blog.