Chris Russell’s recap of the Rockhoppers at the Nueces trail runs March 2, 2013.
It was another fun and interesting weekend working the Texas A/S at
Nueces. Lots of Rockhopper sightings and a few stories to tell. This
report will be typical Chris Russell bullet style. First section is
general A/S happenings and non-Rockhopper stories and 2d section is
geared towards the Rockhoppers. Please pardon the typos.
– Left Friday afternoon and hit the road at 5:30p. Enjoyed the company
of Anabel and Edward. Beautiful sunset but literally blinding at
times. Slowed down to a crawl in a few places because I couldn’t see
since we were headed straight west on HWY 41. Next year I will try to
leave earlier or clean windshield
– As simple as Camp Eagle is to get around during the day, at night is
– The room I stayed in had 12 beds so it was fun living dormitory
style. Lots of positive energy and excitement.
– One runner brought a microwave and toaster. She wanted her pre run
breakfast of hot oatmeal and toast! Talk about racing by how you
practice at home! Scott Rabb was really impressed and said he needed
to start bringing a microwave to his races.
– Chris Porter was trying to find me and randomly knocking on doors
asking if, “Is Chris Russell here?”. I have no idea how many doors he
– I am convinced the world isn’t made for 6’8” people. My legs were at
least 6 inches off the bed.
– Sleeping bags combined with vinyl coated mattresses equals lots of noise.
– Rumor had it I was snoring but I choose not to believe it. (M wife
confirms these rumors)
– Was up by 4:30 to meet Joyce at 5a. Ughhh!
– Ran into Liza then. She was suppose to work Texas but her family was
sick. Drove all that way to give a runner a headlamp. Who else would
– Started setting up A/S at 5:30a. It was me, Rachel, Tom Watson
(worked with me last year) and Chris Porter’s, daughter Corbyn. Holly
joined us later (more on that later).
– It was tons of fun hanging out with Rachel. Been forever since we
had seen it each other for any length of time.
– It was really cold first couple of hours. I thought it was colder at
7a than it was at 5:30a.
– I had fun with Corbyn. It was fun teasing a teenage girl again.
Whenever any boy younger than 20 came running by (several in 10K
race), I would say “Hey Corbyn, he’s pretty cute”. She would look at
me, roll her eyes and say, “He’s in middle school. Besides I’m frozen
like a popsicle wearing a dorky stocking cap. I do not want to meet
any cute boys right now. Your almost as bad as my dad”. I was insulted
I wasn’t worse than Chris.
– When we were setting up the A/S I see Tom mixing up some Heed. I
said, “Tom, what are you doing? That is waste of good water. No one
drinks Heed”. sure enough, one of the very first runners we saw comes
in asking for Heed. Tom looked at me triumphantly. There are still a
few Heed fanatics out there. Still Gatorade drinkers outnumbered Heed
– One of the first visitors to our A/S was Dave “Endurance Buzz”
Hanenburg. Dave was covering the race from Texas because runners hit
it twice per loop. Apparently he was wandering around lost not sure
where A/S was (you have to walk to it) until he heard my melodic
soothing voice and followed those bread crumbs to the A/S. Chris
Russell’s voice is a key navigational aid.
– Having a two side A/S presented it’s unique challenges. We were
constantly having to keep track on which side majority of runners were
coming into based on the point in the race so we would know where to
focus our resources. Eventually around noon, the 50K and 50 mile
runners were spread out and both sides got hit equally but it was also
– It was great for following the race. Watching the duel between Kona
GS and Jason Bryant was very exciting until Cody Moat passed both of
them at the end and shocked everyone.
– One danger of a 2 sided A/S was runners somehow crossed through
caution tape and wanted to repeat the last 9 miles they had just run.
One runner was wearing an Ipod and didn’t hear us screaming so we had
someone chase her down.
– The most enjoyable thing about the 2 sided A/S was runners were
amazed at my ability to rapidly move from one A/S to the next (not
realizing it was the same A/S and there aren‘t many 6‘8“ A/S workers).
Cara’s boyfriend, Alex, was very impressed with my ability to move
around. Either Rachel or Holly suggested I should change shirts every
50 minutes and really mess with their minds.
– I’m still amazed by number of runners not carrying bottles. It
started to warm up and runners would come in rapid fire guzzling water
– Joyce takes care of volunteers. Brought us a bunch of breakfast
tacos. I had 4.
– It was cold at the start and some runners stayed overdressed all
race. One guy who was doing 50K wore his black hoodie entire race.
Don’t know how he wasn’t passed out on side of trail.
– Another 50K runner may have been the politest runner I ever met. He
would come in and say, “Sir may I please have some water?” I poured
the water, he drinks the water. “Sir, may I please have some more
water?” I pour some more water. “Thank you very much sir. Which way
do I go now sir?” He did this all 4 times at my A/S. I saw him after
the race and he gave me about 20 more “thank yous” and 20 more “sirs“.
– Other runners are total opposite. One big guy wearing sunglasses
would always come in and simply hand me his 2 bottles. I filled them
and handed back to him and he would leave. No words said no thank
yous, no conversation. Maybe he doesn’t know English?
– One of the top female 50K runners came through and I said “how’s it
going Lorena?” She said, “How do you know my name?” I said, “I worked
here last year and you had cracked your head pretty good (year before
she was bleeding from side of head after a fall). You are easy to
remember” Got a good laugh out of that.
– There was a male 50 mile runner that I met at the trail running
camp. He came in on loop 2 complaining about how sore and tight his
butt was. I said, “I’m not massaging your butt.” He said, “you’re
not? I thought you A/S workers were suppose to help.” I said, “Not
part of the contract, maybe Olga will at the next A/S.” I saw him next
time through and sure enough Olga massaged had his glutes for him but
she is a LMT after all. Still he seemed pretty happy about it.
– There were a male/female duo running together. Every time they came
through they would ask for electrolytes. We would give them
Endurolytes. They would say, “no, where are the electrolytes”. Turns
out they wanted Gatorade. This miscommunication happened every single
dang time they came through. Kind of got comical. Who asks for
Gatorade as electrolytes?
– Another unique aspect about Texas A/S was 2d time through the
25K/50K runners were only 1.5m to finish. It wa comical how many
runners will hang out there when they only have 1.5 left. The two top
female 50k came through real close together. When the 2d one came
through she stopped and looked like she was taking her time. I pointed
out to her it was only 1.5 to finish. She said, “It is! What I’m doing
wasting my time here! Gotta catch that girl!” So off she went.
– Rockhoppers did us proud!! Some great performances from a time
perspective and some gut checks. I’ll try to get to everyone. I’m sure
I’ll forget someone..
– There were 2 Rockhopper happenings that stood out to me. The first
was Cara splitting her knee open during a nasty fall at mile 8 of the
race. It was terrible looking and she probably should have dropped
after loop 1. She came in around mile 33 in a lot of pain.
– This led to one of the most surreal, ironic scenes I have ever seen.
Rachel was giving Cara some medical attention and actually trying to
convince Cara that it was okay to drop at end of loop 2 and people
wouldn’t think she was a wimp for doing so. It was really bizarre
watching Honey Badger tell someone they should drop. Afterwards Rachel
said, “It is weird being on the other side.”
– I will admit listening to her Cara scream while Rachel clean her
would was hard to hear. Honestly it sounded like she was having a
baby. Cara is a tough girl!!
– The 2d Rockopper moment that stood out to me was a rare extended
daytime appearance by Ghost who was providing medical. Honestly I
don’t think I have ever seen Renzo longer than 30 seconds in the
daytime (and only then it was right before a race). I didn’t even
recognize him at first! Seriously. Don Hauk took about 356 pics of
Ghost to capture this rare appearance.
– Ghost has some great ideas for Niki about trails for the new GC
land. Take that for what its worth. Legend has a few ideas as well.
– Honey Badger had a hard time watching the race I think. She started
the day burned out from racing and happy to help at A/S to wanting to
put on a race bib by the end of day.
– Tom Bowling killed it! He destroyed his Bandera 50K PR. He was
moving so fast I didn’t even get a chance to insult him. Maybe there
is something to the Leon Creek concrete training plan.
– Tom didn’t totally avoid his Wrong Way nickname as he made a wrong
turn on his way out to the race.
– Suunto Porter ran a blazing fast 25K. Well under 2:30. Too bad it
didn’t count unless he was willing to wear jog bra, running skirt and
a wig. Still it was a great effort.
– It was great to see Robert out there and he did excellent! He was
right behind Suunto! So good to see him enjoying the trails again.
– Speaking of Robert, Lauren Baird ran as well as a last minute entry.
She seem liked she was doing well and enjoying herself.
– Elizabeth G. also killed it. She set a 50K PR of 6:26. Elizabeth and
I had same routine. She would come in fill water bottle, give hug and
off she would go. She was so steady and strong all day and she kept
showing up sooner than I expected!! Passed a ton of runners. Great
confidence boost for her before her upcoming 100.
– Elizabeth was also responsible for the most exciting finish of the
day per Scott Rabb. Elizabeth passed a girl shortly before the finish
only to have the girl try to pass Elizabeth. This resulted in an all
out sprint at the end with Elizabeth edging her out.
– Holly’s ITB was causing her immense pain and she was reduced to slow
walk. She decided to call it quits after 21 miles. Holly doesn’t do
50Ks just to death march for last 10 miles. Anyway I was happy because
she dropped at my A/S and then helped out. As she said, “I feel
worthless and like a total wuss right now, so maybe helping at the A/S
will help me feel better.” It was funny. She has a great sense of
humor and was tons of help!
– Holly’s husband, Stefan, had a strong 50 miler despite no training.
He was struggling at times but kept moving despite my best effort to
get him to drop. I was trying to convince Stefan to drop so they would
achieve the rare “couples drop.” I even promised a Rockhopper award!
Stefan, to his credit and Holly’s dang encouragement was having none
of it (foiled!). Despite my teasing it was neat to see how Holly
encouraged Stefan every time he came through.
– Alex (Cara’s BF) completed his first 50K. He was another one that
dug deep for the finish but he had a very positive attitude and should
be proud to get that first one done on a tough course.
– Edward Sousa completed his first 50 in a sizzling 8:30ish. He moved
up all his race. He took it easy at first (started in back and got
caught behind the conga line) but his pacing really paid off and he
passed runners all day. He looked so calm and relaxed. Amazing first
– Scott ran a sizzling 4:26 for his 50K. Not bad on a possible broken
toe. After seeing what he, Tony and Joe T. have accomplished I’m
dropping a bowling ball on my toe after finishing this report.
– Don Hauk also had a first as he completed his first 50K. He wanted
to finish under 7 and he came in at 6:53. Great first effort by him
and I really enjoyed chatting with him after the race.
– Jason Espalin ran a smoking 2:35 first 25K. The problem was he had
to go another 25K. He came in at mile 21 saying, “I think I went out a
little too fast”. The thing I like about Jason is how he can laugh at
himself. I really had a lot of fun with him. He was looking pretty
beat at the end but he rallied just enough to avoid having Elizabeth
chick him (she came in right behind).
– One person who did get chick’d by Elizabeth was Dustin. In Dustin’s
defense, he hasn’t trained any. I was teasing him about getting
chick’d by Elizabeth his last time through. But as he pointed out she
trained a lot of hours to only beat him by 30 minutes or so. He said
his way was more efficient.
– 50K also went through a gut check. He started off great and then
started to suffer pretty bad. Still he gutted it out and rallied at
the end for a smoking 7:13 and 7th place.
– 50K’s better half, Kim, did the 25K. Kim was all smiles. But said
something about this being her last trail race and not letting Dave
talk her into any more of these. I’m sure she’ll be back.
– Like Dave, I thought Melanie held it together really well. She was
having a really hard time breathing because of being sick and it
slowed her down some but she still got 2d and beat last year’s time!
– A couple of other gut check performances were Vidal and Matt. The
500 miles on Vidal’s Hokas apparently wore his legs out and caused
some problems. He was hurting bad but he finished 50K. Matt got his 50
miler done. He was suffering quite a bit but he kept moving forward. I
was really impressed with his effort and determination. Maybe it was
the Crockett look he was sporting.
– Larry K. had a very solid 50 mile time. He was in 10:40s. I’ll
admit, Larry cracks me up. He wears these white compression socks and
long shorts. Think 70s sock styles combined with Jordan shorts. But
don’t underestimate him. The guy can run! He was hurting at times but
kept up a great attitude and kept moving well. I thought he had a
– Fumi, as always, was most fashionable runner, sporting a new running
skirt and looking as stylish as ever. Always smiling. She was around
Larry most of race, but she really had stomach problems last 10 miles
that slowed her down. I think Fumi is one of the most popular runners
out there. Lots of people cheering for her at end with chants of Fumi!
– One late add to the 50 miler was Jessica who is aiming for 20,00
racing miles in a year or something like that. Still not sure if I saw
Jessica sweat ,but she was a bit more tired than normal. But like all
the other Rockhoppers she kept moving. She was wearing a beanie all
race. It confused me a bit because it got hot. She said when she took
it off she got cold but when it was on she got hot. Perpetual “no
– Anabel was Anabel. I don’t know her final time but it looked like
she was having a good race. She battled a couple of unpleasant issues
but she got another 50 miler done. Tanya paced her last loop and that
really seemed to cheer her up.
– Claudette had another “dig deep” race. Her ITB was giving her tons
of problems and it was painful watching her walk. I don’t know how she
kept going. But she never quit and added a tough 50K performance to
her recent RR 50 finish. I hope she can get her ITB figured out.
– Doise was cheery as awlays. We did have a fun moment. She came in
very hungry and wanted real food. We had some breakfast tacos left
that Joyce had brought us. I looked to my left, looked to my right,
slipped her a taco and told her not to tell anyone. So please don’t
let word get out. I may never get another breakfast taco (or 4) while
– Ok. I know everyone is wanting to know how the Crockett vs. Spears
showdown went down. JC opened up the early lead with a sizzling 46 min
split through first 5.5 miles. “He felt good”. Unfortunately, the
extensive “couch time” that has been at the core of his training plan
caught up to him and he slowed down. However, once he donned on the
bandanna partway through the race (it was like Superman jumping into a
telephone booth) I knew he would seal the deal. Jeanette tried to talk
me into tackling Jason at the end and holding him there until she
caught up but JC was having none of it. He has a good cushion over her
now. Barring a huge, but always possible, collapse at Hell’s Hills he
should sew up the coveted Tejas 250 title!!
– Even the Ghost agreed that JC is dead ringer for Brett with the
Bandanna on. We need to get Joe to play, “Every Rose has it’s Thorn”
or “Home, Sweet Home” when JC finishes. Ghost suggests we simply call
Jason “Rockstar”. I like it.
– It is always inspiring to see our friends have great performances or
dig deep simply to finish but there was one moment that really stood
out to me. I have a long time ultra running friend that suffers from
fibromyalgia (she has completed Bandera 100K multiple times with
fibromyalgia) and is currently being treated for cancer. She is very
weak and in lots of pain. She entered the 10K. When she came through I
asked her how she was doing. She said, “I really hurt and this is
really, really hard but I am so thankful to be out here and getting to
do this. I am very lucky.” I thought I was going to cry like a baby
right then. Toughest person I have ever personally known.