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Rocky Raccoon 100 – 10 Trail Running Tips To Help You Finish

The Rocky Raccoon 100 mile trail run takes place down at Huntville State park in early February, northeast of Houston Texas. This event is one of the flatter 100s but that doesn’t mean it is easy. 100 miles is still 100 miles and there is no way to shortcut that (unless you drop).

For those new to this trail race and distance (myself included), I wanted to pick the minds of those that have experience with finishing this physical, mental, and spiritual challenge so that we may have that extra bit of insight be able to do the same.

The Course

Joe Prusaitis of Tejas Trails includes the Rocky Raccoon trail run in his smorgasbord of trail running adventures so you know it will be a high quality event. He lives this stuff.

Joe’s Rocky race page has lots of great information worth checking out.

Here are few of the highlights:

Rocky Raccoon 100 Get Your Butt To The Finish Line Tips

mike-k-trail-runMike Krejci finished Rocky Raccoon in Feb ’09 with a sub 24 hour finish (Mike’s RR Report). Mike had these tips to share about Rocky:

  • Flat and fast but watch out for the tree roots. – This course is the opposite of Bandera. The footing is excellent except for pine tree roots that reach out and grab you from time to time.  It is a rare runner who does not fall at least one time on this course (I fell at least four times).  You may even want to practice tripping yourself in training and learning how to fall!
  • Go out SLOW. – I can’t stress this enough. The terrain will not slow you down at Rocky, so pacing yourself is the hardest thing to do in this entire race.  If you want to be able to run at the end, you have to have a very, very slow first 20 mile loop.  Do not worry at all about your position in the race.  For example, I was in last place for the first 4 miles of the race and was still able to finish under 24 hours.
  • The fourth loop sucks. (my translation) – Mentally the 4th loop (miles 60 to 80) is a challenge.  I strongly recommend you have a pacer here to get you through this tough patch of the race.  The final loop (miles 80 to 100) is also difficult, but there is something uniquely challenging about that 4th loop.  I feel so strongly about it, that if I only had a pacer for 20 miles I’d have them run the 4th loop with me instead of the final loop.
  • Be a roadie. – You do not need trail shoes at Rocky — road shoes work great — probably even better than trail shoes.
  • Have a run/walk ratio plan. – You don’t need to train specifically for hills while training for Rocky.  There are some small hills, but nothing steep.  In fact, because the terrain is mostly runnable you need to come up with a run/walk ratio to use the entire race.  I like a 8 minute run 2 minute walk plan, but you can mix it up with what you are comfortable with.  But you need to come up with a plan because it is the rare runner who can run the entire 100 mile course.

Bonus Comment: Bring the kiddos. – It has an awesome 1 mile kids race that most children really enjoy.  And there is plenty to do in the park while waiting for their crazy parents to run by.

    matt-c-trail-runMatt Crownover has raced the Rocky course three times (sub 24 hour finish) and has paced other runners a number of times. Matt had these tips to share:

    • Two for one. – If you are running Bandera 100 km and Rocky Raccoon 100, you only need to train for Bandera, not Rocky.  Rocky is a freebie IF you don’t kill yourself at Bandera.  So, mentally, you never need to train for Rocky.  Just train for Bandera, get to Bandera, do your 60 miles–but not so hard that you cannot recover in 3 weeks.  Then, celebrate by doing very little the next couple of weeks–I mean VERY little (stretching, yoga, maybe a little light jogging) and rest up.  Rocky will require NO MORE physical training than you will do for Bandera.
    • There’s more to a 100 than just running. – The longer the race, the more the non-running elements matter.  For Rocky, you will need to manage all the non-running pieces: clothing (it can get very cold) food, fluids, crew vs drop bags, pacing, etc. All of these can be authored from the comfort of a nice chair while drinking a beer.
    • Have a walk plan. – Unless you are a total stud, you can only run about 70 anyway, so make a plan. Have a walk plan to which you adhere from THE BEGINNING.  I have run lots at Rocky, pacing and racing.  The worst were the times I tried to run too much, then “death marched” the last 40.  Far faster–and simply more enjoyable–were the times I ran/walked from the get go.
    • Make your peace with the loops. – Some people gripe that it’s not linear, or not an out and back, or whatever….they gripe about the loops.  I too used to do that.  But in truth it’s a failure to accept the event on its own terms.  It is what it is.  A track mile is 4 loops, Rocky is 5, no point crying about either.  More fruitful is to APPRECIATE the beauty of it.  Many fail here.  It is really lovely to know you can’t be lost (ask somebody who’s been lost after mile 80 how fun that is), to have gear/crew/etc. every few miles.  Rocky is a very supportive race, and it’s good to allow that part of its truth to bless you.   Western is a very desolate race–I went 55 miles before I saw my crew.  But I got my mind around that feature and allowed it to be beautiful to me…and same for Rocky. Just don’t fight it.  Accept it, try to let it be who it is, and you will run better.
    • Accept the unexpected. – No matter what you do/plan, something will go wrong. This is, the single difference between ultras and more traditional races. It is also what allows ultras to be spiritual teachers. There will be times you think Rocky sucks, and I’m not saying it won’t–it might really suck.  But you need to know that whereas in a 10-k you’d be wise to say: “uh-oh, there goes my race” in Rocky you will just say: “this is part of it, there is nothing wrong with me.” This is part of the sport and the beauty is that you can stay patient, stay calm, and work it out.

    This is some really great and powerful insight to help you get to the finish of the Rocky Raccoon 100 and other 100 milers. Good stuff!

    A special thanks to Mike and Matt in sharing these practical tips.

    If you are a Rocky Raccoon 100 trail run veteran, please feel free to share any additional tips in the comment link below.

    Be active – Feel the buzz!

    David – EnduranceBuzz.com

    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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