“The stars at night – are big and bright….deep in the heart of Texas. The prairie sky – is high and wide, deep in the heart of Texas.” Ah yes, “Deep in the Heart of Texas”, the popular song focusing on the merits of the State of Texas that was written by June Hershey and first recorded by Perry Como with Ted Weems and his Orchestra in that same year, spent five weeks as the top song of Your Hit Parade in 1942. What does that have to do with the price of tea in China ? Well, nothing, but it sets up today’s edition of This Week In Running and the trio of events that are taking place in the great State of Texas !
We begin with the southern most event, the Prickly Pear 50k in San Antonio, Texas (the 2nd largest city in the State, and the 7th largest in the USA), taking place in McAllister Park on Saturday, March 7. This event actually consists of two trail races, a 50k and a 10-miler. The 50k is comprised of three 10 mile loops, each loop being followed by a short out-and-back to an aid/drop bag station. All proceeds from the event go to the San Antonio Road Runners Scholarship Fund. Of course, in grand Texas style, runners are treated to a post-race feast of fajitas, rice, beans, and Alamo Golden Ale.
Leaving San Antonio, we head 130 miles Northeast to Warda, Texas, home of the Doogies Run, offering 50 mile, 50k and 25k options. The events take place on Bluff Creek Ranch, located in the rolling hills 60 miles east of Austin, a working cattle ranch that has the distinction of being the first Mountain Bike Ranch in Texas. There are eight miles of well-shaded, rolling, single-track trails that wind through hardwoods and pines. The trails are 95% single track with a mix of sand, gravel, roots, rocks, and some pine needle carpet. The bluff has a 90 foot vertical drop. The trails traverse the bluff at three different spots. The vertical drop/gain is 325 feet per lap and they are still adding some new trail to the mix. The course length depends upon what distance you choose. Eight laps for the 50 milers (6.25 mile lap), four laps for the 50k (7.75 mile lap), and 2 laps for the 25k distance (7.75 mile lap).
From Warda we head 111 miles due North to our last stop, Waco, for the Toughest ‘N’ Texas Trail Runs (March 7). The 4th annual running of this event takes place in Cameron Park and features a 50k, 20 mile, 10 mile, and kids 1k (or there about). The course is a mostly single-track, rocky, hilly, and rooty trail. The 50k is run on a 10.33 mile loop. Keeping with the Texas tradition, the post race feast includes beer, fajitas, hamburgers and hot dogs, with all the fixins ! The races are directed by Tim Neckar, a man with 34 years of running experience and 24 years of coaching experience. He ran his first marathon at the amazingly young age of 14, and has completed over 75 ultras, including Badwater, Hardrock, Marathon des Sables, and Susitna 100.
Of course, Texas isn’t the only State hosting ultra events this weekend. Sonoita, Arizona plays host to the Old Pueblo 50 Mile Endurance Run on Saturday. Starting and finishing at the historic mining site of Kentucky Camp, this 50-miler is run on a challenging loop course on forest service roads and trails through the southeastern part of the Santa Rita Mountains. The average grade of the trail is 6%. The course has 7,000+ feet of climb and descent. Bryon will once again be headed down to Old Pueblo this year – check out his race preview and photo collection from last year.
Pacific Coast Trail Runs continues its highly popular PCTR Series this weekend with the Malibu Creek Trail Run (9k, 25k & 50k options). The events take place in Malibu Creek State Park, in the heart of the Santa Monica Mountains, and the center of Chumash native American life for centuries. Hundreds of movies, TV shows and commercials have been shot in this area. The 50k has 5,940 feet of elevation gain.
Also on Saturday, just South of Laurel, Mississippi, on the Longleaf Horse Trail in the De Soto National Forest, the Carl Touchstone Memorial Mississippi 50 Trail Run (20k, 50k and 50-mile options) will take place. If you haven’t already signed up, you are too late, as registration has closed and the waiting list if full, too. The course features soft dirt trails, pine needle paths, and fire roads on 12.5 and 6.1 mile loops through the piney woods. The 20 K runners do the long loop and are finished. The 50 K runners do the long loop twice and finish on the short loop, while the 50 Milers run the long loop 4 times. Runners are allowed to switch races after one or two loops, but those switching will not be eligible for trophies (but will be counted as official finishers).
The Seneca Creek Greenway Trail 50k is a point-to-point trail race beginning in Damascus Regional Park and ending at Riley’s Lock on the Potomac River in Maryland. This is a true trail race, and runners are expected to feel comfortable running trails, including being self-sufficient, navigating trails and dealing with minor obstacles such as snow, ice, blowdowns, roots, rocks, water and the like. You can check out the race web-site for the course description (the real short version, the medium version and the long version). Bryon has previously posted some photos from the latter portion of the course.
As always, there are marathons to choose from this weekend, incl
uding the following :
Sunday, March 8
Lower Potomac River Marathon (Piney Point, MD)
Feel free to click on any of the marathons listed above and peruse its website for more information.
That will put the wraps on things for this week. Be sure to stop by iRunFar.com next week for another edition of This Week In Running !