On Saturday March 19th, nearly 350 runners played on the LBJ National Grasslands trails for the annual Grasslands Trail Run just north of Decatur, Texas. Early morning conditions included some clouds, wind, and damp/humid conditions.
As the day progressed the wind continued, the sun burnt off the clouds and humidity while the temps rose. The day was warmer than most were used to for this time of year but a great day to be on the trails.
This NTTR hosted event included a 50 mile, marathon, and half marathon option.
Depending on the race distance, you follow one more of the color-coded loop trails with the start/finish area positioned near the center of it all.
The terrain offers a few subtle grade changes but is essentially flat. You run along single and double wide trail that guides you throughout the open pasture fields and small wooded areas. Short sections of sand scattered throughout the course will likely offer the biggest challenge especially if conditions are dry (like this year).
Run next to a few cattle, open/close a few cattle gates, and you have yourself a Grasslands trail run.
William Sutherland and Mark Henderson (2011 Cowtown 50k – 4:28:52) both finished under eight hours to direct the ship at the front of the male race. William created a nine minute gap at the end of the 50 mile journey to win the male race in 7:44. Mark finished solidly in second in 7:53.
Top 5 male
- William Sutherland – 7:44
- Mark Henderson – 7:53
- Steve Baker – 9:52
- Neil Smith – 10:09
- Steven Wray – 10:12
Olga Varlamova was back wondering the trails of north Texas (recently won the Cross Timbers 50 mile – 10:51:14), and ran at the front of the second main group of runners in the overall race. Olga finished tied for third overall and won the female race in 9:52.
Olga’s race report highlights the challenging day as the thermostat went up…
“I am just fried in my brain. Kind of traumatized by the burning heat and sinking sand during a 50 miler:) One more thing to add. Racing in Texas at anything above 50k is all about surviving skills, not the speed.”
Utah athlete, Susan Larsen, was firmly positioned in second place and crossed the finish line in 11:04.
All 3 female
- Olga Varlamova – 9:52 (*tied 3rd overall*)
- Susan Larsen – 11:04
- Fawn Simpson – 12:21
(I saw the marathon finish and T Bulger and Kristin Girard did not win the race. I believe they ran the half marathon and didn’t switch their race information. I will base the results based on this assumption.)
Merry Wolf created a 12 minute gap from the next chaser to win the female race in 4:00.
Shelley Egli and Candice Van Skike inspired each other to the finish as only two minutes separated the two. Shelley was able to cross the dirt line first and earn second place in 4:12.
Top 5 female
- Merry Wolf – 4:00
- Shelley Egli – 4:12
- Candice Van Skike – 4:14
- Kelly Weaver – 4:25
- Kim Gray – 4:31
The male race had some excitement in the final miles. Tim Jogoda (Cross Timbers 13 mile 2011 – 2:03:35) took the overall race lead sometime after the midway point of the race and was creating a bit of separation from the rest of the runners. At mile 22, Tim began to gradually slow as his legs could no longer produce the desired turnover. Tim pushed as fast as his tired legs could move him but around mile 24, Ron Lambke (Cross Timbers 26 mile 2011 – 4:13:29) caught and made the pass. Ron flew through the finish chute to win the male race in 3:29.
Tim dug deep to hold onto second place and finish in 3:33.
Top 5 male
- Ron Lambke – 3:29
- Timothy Jagoda – 3:33
- Gary Anderson – 3:35
- Frank Livaudais – 3:42
- Steve Mall – 3:42
Stuart White and Eamon O’Reilly finished the half marathon course within one minute of each other. Stuart held onto the overall win to cross the finish line in 1:33. Eamon was firmly in second with a 1:34.
Top 5 male
- Stuart White – 1:33
- Eamon O’Reilly – 1:34
- Roberto Hernandez – 1:46
- Seth Shiver – 1:47
- Mark Olateju – 1:48
Female race leaders, Mina Pond and Ashlee Inman also kept it a tight race as they finished within 60 seconds of one another. Mina won the female race in 1:52 and finished 9th overall.
Top 5 female
- Mina Pond – 1:52 (*9th overall*)
- Ashlee Inman – 1:53 (*10th overall*)
- K2 Richards – 1:59
- Meagan Childers – 2:01
- Keri Clark – 2:01
Check out some of the wisest finishers. I hope this stuff fires you up as much as it does me.
- Tony Dominiec (age 72), Jay Norman (age 73), Alan Englisch (age 71), and Donald Hickman (age 76) all celebrated a morning on the half marathon course.
- Mansour Koosha went after the trail marathon at age 73.
Life is play. Play is life.
The Tough-as-Nails Award
The final finishers of an ultra distance event are some of the toughest athletes that are willing to stick with it to the best of their current ability and cross that darn finish line.
The Tough-as-Nails award recipients:
- Alberto Battaglino enjoyed the most beach time and finished the 50 mile in 12:45.
- “I started running again, and slowly, over the next few miles, I began to feel better and better, my spirits lifted, doubt departed, and suddenly I was thinking with a clear head and realized this race was mine!” by Dan @ Tri My Will
- “Now, I may not be in a race, but I surely hate the idea of being passed by anyone in second half. At that time, despite feeling every small muscle from my anatomy book due to sliding in the sand, I was feeling rather strong and moving well.” by Olga @ Run More Talk Less
- “The race was hot…at least for this time of the year…and my buddy Clive insisted that we run together…and we did for the first 5 miles at a pace that sent my heart rate into the stratosphere…and I went ahead with it knowing I would pay the piper…and I did at about mile 18.” by Dave @ …And the Adventure Continues…
- “Early on, you could tell the crowd was different. We hit a gate only a 1/2 mile or so into the race and everyone quietly and patiently waited single file to pass through this tight bottleneck. Same with a creek ravine shortly after. A few roadrunners freaked at each point, but everyone else’s casualness was calming and relaxed the situation.” by Libby @ The Active Joe
- “Every now and again we’d come across a gate, and since there was usually nobody right in front of me or right behind me except Elizabeth, we’d have to be sure to close them. Not a problem, except that some of them were really high and I could barely reach the latches. Yes, I am that short. In those cases, it was easier for me to crawl under (duck under in some spots).” by Mama C @ TXSkateMom
- My race report.
If you have an experience or thought to share from the event, please feel free to include in the comment link below.
Check out the TALON Race Guide
There are 124 regional trail/ultra races in the TALON Race Guide. Be sure to check it out if you are looking for the most complete list of events in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. New events are always being added.
Special thanks to Corina Cervantes @ txskatemom.blogspot.com for some of photos you see above.
Be active – Feel the buzz!
David – EnduranceBuzz.com