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Trail Running Course

Cross Timbers Race Report – 2008 Part 2

(In case you haven’t read part 1, check out Cross Timbers Race Report – 2008 Part 1.)

Cross Timbers Race Number

“…Go!” (Something like that.)

The run started on a road for a very short distance before we connected onto the trail. Of course the race started with an uphill grade.

Once in the woods, the route was a singletrack path that contained plenty of roots which seemed to be the gold standard for trail running. I reminded myself to be light on my feet and to stay alert. I kept myself initially towards the back of the pack because I did not want to start pushing any type of pace. Some runners were already in conversation and I actually talked a bit with a runner named Matt who explained a bit about the course and told me to save some for the final six miles. Little did I know, he would actually be the race leader before too long.

The course seemed to continually progress uphill and then downhill, toss in some switchbacks as well as some mini stream/water crossings. The sun was slowly starting to peak through the trees and I knew it was going to be a special day to be playing in the woods.

Cross Timbers Sunrise

It was really tough to maintain the desired sub-150 heart rate with all of the climbing so I just tried to hold back on the effort and go with it. I was a bit concerned because I did not want to blow up by 15-20 miles but I didn’t want to walk every climb either so I took my chances.

Cross Timbers trail1

After a couple miles of sitting in with the group, I decided to move my way up. When little openings in the trail would present itself I would mention “on your left” and accelerate a bit to create some space. The trail began to move us closer to the shoreline so some beautiful views were on display with the sun rising along with the calm waters of Lake Texoma. Along with the beauty, I got to climb up and down rocky portions of the trail. Parts of the trail I was even on all fours, pulling myself up the rocky path.

Eventually we would head inland a bit again and the course would provide some opportunities to catch your breath as the trail provided some brief moments of flatness. It was a bit hard in these portions to hold back the effort because I just wanted to fly.

Eventually I arrived at the first aid station (around 3 miles) and was looking for some HEED as that was what the race director mentioned would be the electrolyte drink on the course. Well unfortunately this station did not pick up the HEED in the morning and only had Gatorade. I was not going to mess with my stomach so I just went with water and hoped the next aid station would have HEED.

For a few miles the trail became somewhat quiet as I was running alone. Periodically I would get amazing glimpses of the lake and just try to absorb all of the beauty that I could before I had to climb another root and rock infested hill or tiptoe my way down a channeled path. At the next aid station, HEED actually was available so I filled my bottle quickly, thanked the volunteers, and was off down the path. I was also told I was second place overall. That shocked me a bit but did explain the quiet trail.

Cross Timbers trail2

There was one section of the trail that came out to the shoreline within this quiet bay. All I could hear was the slow moving waves coming into shore and gently releasing its energy against the sand. I wanted to stop and just soak in the ambiance for a while. My feet had other plans so I kept moving along.

My body and mind were still feeling pretty good at this point (~ 7 miles into the race). I was keeping the heart rate in the mid 150s as much as I could. If grade, rocks, and roots were not enough, I also got to do some beach running. It was a very nice beach that had plenty of fine sand. We need a few more challenges. I also finally began to see a few more people on the trail as I began to catch the 50 milers that started 30 minutes before us marathoners. That seemed to provide a bit of a boost as we would share some words of encouragement and continue on our own journey.

Cross Timbers trail6

Cross Timbers trail4

As I was approaching the 10 mile turnaround, the leader Matt, was approximately 3-4 minutes in front of me. I had a small momentary thought on trying to catch him but quickly woke up and reminded myself to run my own race. My main concern was trying to hold it together and to comprehend running back along the same route. It was a bit intimidating to think about so I tried to remain focused on the 10 feet in front of me.

Cross Timbers trail5

Around 15 miles I could notice my calves getting a bit tight from all of the climbing. I hoped that would not become an issue in the miles ahead. I also experienced my first major root monster attack. I was running down a singletrack slope and just completed passing a 50 miler when my left toe was bitten. The monster held on for what seemed like an eternity before I yanked the foot away front its jaws. Somehow I recovered and did not go down.

I began to notice my concentration levels wavering a bit. The fatigue was starting to set in. At the next aid station I ate a couple strawberries and a piece of banana to hopefully bring some additional focus/fuel to my mind. I am not sure if it helped but I didn’t run into any trees and the fruit tasted pretty darn good.

After a few teasing sightings of a road, the trail-head was finally exited as I now ran back towards the main race area to begin the final six mile out and back section. I was feeling pretty tired at this point but I was still able to maintain a heart rate in the 150s so I knew the body was getting enough fuel and still had some miles left in the tank.

This section of the course traveled mostly along the elevated rocky ledge along the shoreline. The path would periodically move inland and then back towards the water. This section included the most technical portions that required you to get your hands dirty again in order to continue moving along the trail. I had to jump down rock ledges, move over and around very large rock, work my way up and down a very steep rock and root filled staircase.

Cross Timbers trail7

Cross Timbers trail3

Eventually I came up to an aid station and asked, “Is this is the turn-around?”. They said “yes”. Boy was that great to hear. I also grabbed half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before I left because it just looked so darn good. As fast as my tired and sore legs could carry me, I retraced my steps until I arrived at the trail head onto a road that led back to the start/finish area. I ran a steady pace towards the finish banner and was grateful that the end was finally here. What a race!

I believe I was able to hold onto second place overall which is my best finish so far. (Official results aren’t posted yet.)

I talked to Matt (overall winner and great guy) after the race and he mentioned that the course was tougher this year because the final 6 miles used to have 2 miles of road running. Nice.

Cross Timbers Finishers Award

My unofficial (polar watch) time was: 4:27:16

Update: (results are now posted)

Official Time: 4:27:17 2/27 OA

Overall Winner: Matt Crownover – 4:04:25

HRavg: 158bpm

Complete results can be seen here.

Photo note: All pictures were taken during the the initial 14 miles. (excluding the finisher’s award) Too tired to take pictures after that point.

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

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