Significant excitement and drama…and that was one hour before the 6:00 AM start of the 20th running of the Rocky Raccoon Trail Run. 750 runners played on the plush pine needled trails intermixed within flat to rolling terrain…oh yeah, a few roots on this course as well.
One hour before race start my tent was shaking, the skies opened up, lightning cracked, and 60 minutes later the 100 mile runners began their five loop adventure with 30 hours to get it done as every runner was wet from head-to-toe before taking their first stride. Fortunately temps were extremely mild, ~60F at start time. One hour later the 50 milers got muddy on the three loop course.
With each passing hour the rain spigot was tightened and by mid-morning it stopped and conditions remained quite pleasant. Runners were even treated with the sun in the closing hours of the day before the moon took over the watch.
Defending champion and course record holder, Ian Sharman was back in Texas looking to dash off a spicy one. Ready to make Ian earn it included the likes of Hal Koerner (3rd place last year), Karl Meltzer (4th place last year), and Oswaldo Lopez (2011 Badwater Ultramarathon winner).
I hung out at Park Road Aid Station most of the day and got to see the action in person while tweeting coverage – what a treat!
At Park Road AS loop 1 (mile 15.61), it was Ian, Oswaldo, and Hal flying through in 1:56. Karl was 10 seconds back with a second chase group a further three minutes behind.
Park Road AS loop 2 (mile 35.61), Ian was holding onto the pole position with Hal now in second position one minute back. Karl drifted slightly, running three minutes behind Ian. Oswaldo fell off the current pace and was now firmly holding fourth position, seven minutes behind the lead.
Ian began to struggle early in loop 3 and both Hal and Karl moved by as Ian tried to re-group. At Park Road AS loop 3 (mile 55.61), Hal created a nine minute gap from Karl and 15 minutes from Ian.
By Nature Center Aid Station on loop 4 (mile 63.10), Ian dropped out of the race due to tweakage (hip flexor). Bummer!
Hal continued to slowly extend his lead from Karl and Oswaldo and went on to win the 100 mile scamper in 13:24:52, knocking off over a minute from last year’s finish under tougher conditions.
Karl came into this race wanting to go sub-14. Karl came flying into Park Road AS loop 5 (mile 95.61) in 13:30 with nearly 4.5 miles to go. Could he get to the finish in time?
Unfortunately not this time. Karl put in a courageous effort and finished second in 14:17:42. Gotta come back next year Karl!
Oswaldo maintained his third place position.
Top 5 male
- Hal Koerner (OR) – 13:24:52
- Karl Meltzer (UT) – 14:17:42
- Oswaldo Lopez (CA) – 14:30:58
- Brooks Williams (CO) – 14:58:37
- Josh Katzman (MA) – 15:35:57
The top TALON male was Scott Rabb (TX) who finished 10th male (11th OA) in 17:56:43!
The female race saw significant carnage at the front with 3 out of the top 4 dropping from the event. Always tough to see.
Defending champing Liza Howard went fast out of the gate in her usual fashion and moved to the front of the female race early on.
At mile 15.61, Liza cruised through the aid station in two hours and created a 13 minute gap from second place, Sabrina Moran.
By mile 35.61, Liza now had a 10 minute gap with two women charging from behind, Sabrina and now Heather Mastrianni. Liza had a bit more tension in her face and you could tell the effort was becoming a challenge.
It was fun to watch a little strategy play out between Sabrina and Heather – Heather arrived at the AS first and stopped to grab some food and drink with her back turned away from the trail. 20 seconds later Sabrina arrived at the aid station noticing Heather inside, Sabrina sprinted around the little corner away from the aid station and in front of a male runner to try and get out of line of sight. Whether there is much value to this at mile 35, it was fun to watch it happen!
In fourth position at this time was Jill Perry, 20 minutes back and working through some stomach issues.
At mile 55.61, Liza’s gap was shrinking and was now down to four minutes in front of Sabrina. Heather had fallen back 16 minutes. Sabrina had the eye-of-the-tiger, Liza did not.
Early in loop four Sabrina took the lead and nobody was able to keep her in sight. Jill had dropped. Heather dropped at mile 60. Liza was forced to a walk as various physical tweaks from the earlier miles would no longer allow her to run. Liza walked the remainder of the loop and still wanted the 100 mile finish. Her body said, “No” and forced her to drop at mile 80, walking the final mile with her husband.
Sabrina was all alone on loop 5 and went on to win the women’s race in 17:06:10!
Vikki Baylis was second in 20:01:51.
Top 5 female
- Sabrina Moran (NJ) – 17:06:10
- Vikki Baylis (CAN) – 20:01:51
- Liza Canowitz (OH) – 20:09:18
- Sherrie Klover (KS) – 22:24:19
- Rachel Ballard (TX) – 22:33:57
Lorena Devlyn created a 12 minute gap from the chase-pair after 50 miles to win the female race in 8:41:38.
Anabel Pearson and Rachel Blair had an excited little run as five seconds separated the two at the finish. Anabel was able to create the tinniest of gaps to claim second in 8:53:38.
Top 5 female
- Lorena Devlyn (TX) – 8:41:38
- Anabel Pearson (TX) – 8:53:38
- Rachel Blair (TX) – 8:53:43
- Anna Siliciano (FL) – 9:04:15
- Danieli Rodrigues (IN) – 9:33:00
The podium finishes were earned by Texas athletes with Gerardo Moreno crossing the finish first in 6:15:12.
Over 15 minutes back, David Brown was uncontested in second with a time of 6:31:51.
Top 5 male
- Gerardo Moreno (TX) – 6:15:12
- David Brown (TX) – 6:31:51
- Olli Haavikko (TX) – 7:34:51
- Juan Morales (TX) – 7:45:12
- John Hill (TX) – 7:46:37
Check out some of the wisest finishers. I hope this stuff fires you up as much as it does me.
- Nofal Musfy (age 66) and Bill Heldenbrand (age 65) got it done across the 100 mile journey!
- John Connor (age 65), Stephen Bulter (age 66), Robert Melendez (age 65), Nova Demoney (age 78), Thelma Richardson (age 68), and Marvin Skagerberg (age 73) celebrated 50 mile adventures!
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:
- Texan, David Painter crossed the 100 mile finish line six minutes before the 30 hour cut-off. David earned his buckle in 29:53:40.
- Virginia trail runner, Luanne Turrentine enjoyed the most trail time in the 50 mile scamper and shut the light off at 21:32:20.
- “I pushed as hard as I could and I still came up short. I wanted to take my ball and go home. But running ultras is not about how fast you can run. They’re about how hard you can work.” – Liza Howard
- “By around 30 miles I caught glimpses of Hal behind and the legs were starting to feel some fatigue. Even with the surface water, the course had been fairly easy to run on in lap one, but by lap two, 680 people had churned it and it was slippery.” – Ian Sharman
- “The course is quite different from what I am used to up here in the Ozarks. It’s wide single and double track stuff, mostly a sandy dirt mix, a few roots here and there, little elevation and only a handful of rocks. For us NWA GOATS this course is paradise.” – running farmer
- “All those ups I ran up so effortlessly and honestly didn’t even know they were there, became MOUNTAINS on loop two. My legs are heavy. I feel like I am running in a lake.” - Suann on the Run
- “I was running very comfortably and things felt good. I decided it was a good time to turn on the music, so I did. And my iPod was possessed by Satan. The volume constantly went up and down, up and down. When I would walk, it would level off, so I gave it a shot for a few minutes. As soon as I started to run again, it started oscillating again. Off goes the Ipod. No music for the rest of the day.” – I AM TIMBEAUX
If you have an experience or thought to share from the event, please feel free to include in the comment link below.
Btw, if you ever plan on running this event, don’t park illegally (on grass, etc). You should have seen the tow truck brigades driving in and out of the park. The tow vehicles looked pretty new and were probably paid for from last year’s event. You have been warned! Race winner, Hal Koerner made a contribution to the local economy. Sorry dude!
Check out the TALON Race Guide
There are 150+ 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.
Be active – Feel the buzz!
David – EnduranceBuzz.com