The Rockhoppers claimed the Texas Trail Ultra championship for 2015! We also took the Sub Ultra Championship for the first time. Congratulations all.
We also do a great job at Volunteering. The Crossroads aid station at the Bandera 100K, 50K and 25K races was our responsibility this year. Thanks to all that came out to help throughout the day, and night!
Below are Chris Russell’s highlights of the day,
I had a multifaceted day at Bandera on Saturday/Sun Morning. I watched Dakota and Zach do the 25K, volunteered at Crossroads and then paced Sheila at the 100K. Below are my top 11 memories from the day.
1. The warmup brothers – While staying in the warm vehicle before the race, Sheila and I entertained ourselves by watching a couple of young guys (they looked like brothers) go through an elaborate warmup series in the back lot. According to Sheila (who use to be a college hurdler) they were doing A-Skip, B-Skip, and C-Skip. Whatever it was….they were quite impressive and did it in unison. Unusual to see people warming up like that before a trail race. I tried to talk Sheila into joining them but she preferred the warm truck. I did see them in the 25K and they were among the leaders but not sure how the finished up.
2. The gorgeous weather – After several Bandera and Cactus Rose races with crummy weather (thanks to Brian taunting the Bandera Gods a few years ago) I figured we were due for some great weather and it finally happened. Cool temps…nice breeze and not a cloud in the sky. Plus the rain early in the week kept the trails firm and dust down. Made me wish I was racing. Dakota said the sunrise was quite impressive. In fact she said it was so impressive that it was blinding (literally). She said during the 25K she was having to shield her eyes because they were running right into the sun on one stretch and it was very hard to see. During the cold night (more on that later) the stars were as bright as I have seen them out there. Honestly I don’t know if Bandera has ever had a better day for running.
3. Working the big guns at Boyles – I was following my daughter, Dakota, and her boyfriend, Zach, during their 25K race. After seeing them come through Last Chance 2 miles into the 25K, Cory Torkelson and I walked to Boyles. Boyles was an interesting setup. It has always been water only but in previous years they had a table, gallon water jugs and it was manned. When Cory and I got there, it was a bunch of 5 gallon jugs and some cups. No table and no one was there. Runners were already coming through and most weren’t stopping to break into the 5 gallon jugs. Cory and I decided to help out by opening some 5 gallon jugs and pouring directly into the runners’ water bottles. Turned out to be quite a workout. Later on when I was pacing I was surprised my arms were sore. At first I thought it was from the water bottles (and I felt rather wimpy) but then I remembered it was likely from picking up those 5 gallon water jugs.
4. Retro Zach’s first trail race – This was the first trail race for Dakota’s boyfriend Zach. He had some speed but had never ran this far before so I was curious to see how he would do. One could tell it was Zach’s first trail trace by the gear he was wearing. Cotton T-shirt and gym shorts. He at least had trail shoes though. When I saw him come through Boyles he was sporting some healthy blood coming from the knee. I smiled and thought, “He has been properly christened”. Zach had a great race. He struggled a little at the end (he went a little fast) but still ran a very fast 2:42. I look forward to see what he can do in the future and if he decides to keep the retro look.
5. The Son of Jurek – The first time I saw the lead runner….I thought, “that looks like a younger Scott Jurek”. He had Jurek’s crazy curly hair and was relatively tall for a trail runner. Around 6 feet but very thin and long legs. When he came in the first loop at 3:47 I expected him to finish between 8 and 8:30 since there tends to be anywhere from a 30 minute to an hour time degradation on the 2d loop even among the top runners. He still managed to run the 2d loop in just under 4 hours and shattered the previous course record. I’m sure the cool dry weather all day really helped. The Son of Jurek’s name is Jim Walmsley and he is a budding star. He had won JFK 50 the last 2 years but it was impressive to see his speed translate to more challenging trails. He graduated from the Air Force Academy (although he is now out of AF) and was 12th in NCAA Outdoor Steeplechase final. Has also run a 4:06 mile. Cory and I got a chance to briefly talk to him post race. He liked the course although he said the first 5 miles (Sky and Ice Cream) were nasty. He was happy most of the rest of the course wasn’t like that. He even asked Cory and I how our races went (he assumed we had raced). Super nice guy.
6. Wrong Way Cassie – The women’s leader, Cassie Scallon, can thank the Rockhoppers for saving her race. When she came into Crossroads the first time on the 2d loop she turned around and started walking towards the road. This is the opposite way of the course. Well Brian, Crockett and either Rabbers or Porter saw her do that and followed along. They weren’t sure if she going the wrong way or just went to get something. She then broke out into a run on the road. They hollered at her and got her going the right way. Good job by the Rockhoppers in saving her race.
7. The Birders – During the day (at Crossroads) I found myself talking to Mariana and MJ. They had both done the 25K. Knowing how much Marianna likes birds…I asked her if she had seen any birds during the race. She replied that she had and her and MJ got to talking about the birds they had seen at Bandera that day and previous runs. MJ commented that there were a lot of unique birds here. Listening to them was peering into a different world. I have run at Bandera well over 100 times and the only birds I ever paid attention to were some that insisted on sitting on a trail one morning during a run Tony and I did a few years ago. It was quite interesting listening to them. There is a whole other world out there.
8. 3 for 1 (Take that Tony!) – I was committed to pacing Sheila the last 20-25 miles. Around 450p I headed up trail 7 towards Nachos in hopes of running into Sheila. When I was almost to Nachos…I not only ran into Sheila but also Jean Perez and Carrie Knapp. Sheila and Jean had been running together all race and Carrie decided to upgrade from the 50K to the 100K (after completing her 50K). So I had the pleasure of pacing these 3 lovely ladies for most of the rest of the race. They did great…I pushed them through the flatter sections and they really dug deep and would run (the R word as Carrie calls it) when I asked them to (although Carrie was very good at perceiving walkable inclines in the dark). When we got into Crossroads I made sure to let Tony know I was pacing 3 lovely ladies. Score one for the Cactus Kid!:)
9. Brian’s crappy headlamp – I pulled an Anabel and left my headlamp at home. I did set it out but forgot to grab it. Brian said he had an extra one that he had somehow acquired (he wasn’t even sure if it was his). Turned out to be an old Petzl. It wasn’t long before I noticed that everyone’s headlamp was so much brighter than mine. In fact there were times I wasn’t sure if mine was working. Carrie’s Energizer headlamp dwarfed mine. When she was running behind me her light totally absorbed my light. I tried to change batteries but still the same crappy light output. To make matters worse…the case had a hard time staying shut so every time I touched the headlamp the case would break open. Oh well beggars can’t be choosers. Still it was a better situation than the Legend. His headlamp went out on the Sisters which resulted in an up close inspection of the rocks and a busted bloody knee.
10. The Cold Night – It got darn cold at night!! One had to layer up pretty good. The biggest impact of the cold is how much longer A/S stops take. Often times a runner would have to get more layers from the drop bag (assuming they had layers in their drop bag) or spend some time eating hot food. The cold definitely makes one hungrier and the food taste better. The quesadillas and ramen with mash potatoes were incredible! At the Lodge Sandy gave me Sausage wrapped in tortilla. Heavenly. Another impact of the cold is once a runner sits down by one of those heaters there is a good probability they may not go back out. Definitely don’t want to get too comfortable! The coldest I got was in the initial section between Crossroads and Last Chance. I was wearing gloves but hands were cold. My body warms up well but hands not so much. My fingers felt frozen but Jean came through with some hand warmers that did wonders. Thanks Jean!!
11. Sheila’s amazing finish!!! – When we left Crossroads and headed towards Last Chance all 3 ladies were struggling a bit. Jean had fallen and hurt her back. Carrie’s knee was really bothering her and Sheila had muscle cramps. It looked like we would be walking the last 9 miles in. About a mile before Lucky, Sheila was in the lead of our train and we noticed that she was starting to trot and pull away. Jean told me to run ahead with Sheila and tell Sheila not to worry about her and Carrie. They would be fine. Soon Sheila’s trot started to resemble more of a run. Before I knew it we were at Last Chance. Sheila made a very quick stop at Last Chance (Sharpie was there and hanging out with Roger) and we were soon headed towards Cairns. Sheila was definitely smelling the hay!! Except for the uphills she was running everything!! I was having to work! We kept passing runner after runner. By the time we hit the bottom of Boyles she was almost in a full out sprint. I later figured it out and Sheila moved up 13 places in those last 5 miles. That is a lot of people to pass in the last 5 miles of a 100K with spread out runners. It was great to see her finish so strong (she said her cramps finally went away) and on such a positive note. It was a big highlight for me!
There are many other great stories…the awesome job the Rockhoppers did at Crossroads and some of the folks that were there all day, the great job Jazzy and Sandy did at the Lodge, joking around with Chris Porter’s son Joe and Brian’s XC kids telling Joe how the varsity XC guys get all the girls (I don’t think Joe believed them), and it was great seeing so many Rockhoppers do their first Bandera race (Aash, Susan and others) and it was also really nice to see Claudette and Mariana out there running again after extended breaks.