Mud Mud Mud ….. I am glad I grew up in the country playing in mudbecause the Oauchita 50 had plenty of it this year.
The week leading up to the race I constantly checked the race weekend forecast. I was happy that the temps were staying warm but the chances of rain kept changing from 100% to 20%. The last few days, before the race, the rain chances seemed to be holding steady at 20%. The down side to the lower rain chances meant the humidity would be very high.
Race morning came and there was water and mud everywhere, but I was still incredibly excited about this race. One, it was going to be the first time I had ran the same race twice and I was curious how running it would feel now that I had two years of running under my belt instead of just one. Two, the Oauchita 50 was my first race to have the privilege to run as part of team, Team TROT (Trail Racing Over Texas). Since I knew my feet were going to be in mud all day I opted to run in my Altra Superiors to keep my feet closer to the ground and help minimize slipping. The race started promptly at 6 am and runners followed a police car 2.5 miles up the road to the trail head. Last year there was not a police escort and a car almost plowed into the runners shortly after the race start.
The road miles miles clicked by quickly as I enjoyed the conversation with fellow runners and attempted to not get blinded by the flashing police lights we were following. Upon hitting the trail the group slightly spread out and everyone settled into their own running rhythm. The climb up Pinnicale was a much easier and shorter than I remembered from last year (it’s amazing how your perspective can change after a year of running). I took it slower going down on the backside than I normally would have due to the slick rocks, I figured this would not be a good place to fall and eat it. After the descent a 50K runner, Daniel, and I started running the same pace and struck up a conversation. It’s always fun meeting someone new on the trail, you get to talking and the miles fly by.
The first crew aid station came up at mile 16 (North Shore aid station) where I met my crew chief, Daniel, who I might add is the best crew a runner could ask for. Daniel had everything I needed ready for me when I met him at the aid station. I quickly drank my Hammer Heed/Perpetuem mix and grabbed my food for the next 14 miles. I was off running down the trail in less than a minute, before the very nice aid station volunteers could even ask if I needed anything. At this point I was starting to feel the effects of the humidity, everything on me was drenched and covered in salt. This section, North Shore to Hwy 10, had tons of water crossings. Last year I was able to use the rocks and not get my feet wet, this year there was no avoiding it plus my feet were already soaked from all the mud and standing water on course.
As I came into the turn-around aid station I saw there was only one runner ahead of me, I really figured there would be several. Once again, Daniel met me at the aid station with my Hammer Heed/Perpetuem mix and the food I needed for the next section and I was out of the Aid Station in less than a minute. Back through the million water crossing I went as I made my way back to North Shore (now mile 34) Aid Station. The nice thing about out and back courses is you get to see the other runners, so for a few brief seconds you have some company on the trail, which made this section pass quickly. I slipped in and out of North Shore in under a minute, following the same routine as the previous two Aid Stations.
The last 16 miles I ran a comfortable pace and was enjoying being out on the trail. I’m not sure what mile it was, but somewhere in this section there was an “unofficial” Aid Station with a group of friendly guys who had set up some tables with a few food items and a large stock of beer. Although a beer sounded good I decided to wait until the finish for one. Once I hit the road I knew there was only about 2.5 miles to the finish and dry socks.
Even with all the mud and humidity I am happy I was able to run 15 min faster than my time last year and that the effort level this year was considerably less than last year, with no post race soreness.
The things that were the same as last year are: the race is very well organized, has amazing volunteers, yummy post race food and beer and the most unique winner’s trophies I have ever seen.