It may have been toasty but that didn’t stop four new course records!
On April 4th, nearly 600 runners managed a bit of heat and visor dripping humidity at the Hells Hills Trail Run located on the varied terrain at Rocky Hill Ranch in Smithville, Texas. This event also brought some fast feet from the national scene as the 25 km scamper was the fifth stop of the La Sportiva Mountain Cup Series.
All races enjoy counter clockwise loops between 1 – 3 revolutions depending on your adventure of choice.
In typical fashion, the early miles saw a handful of speedsters trading positions. After the first 16.7 mile loop, Eric Gilbertson (AL), Jesse Hastey (TX), Edgar Martinez (TX), and Chris Robbins (TX) were all within 30 seconds of each other. After two loops and 33.4 miles of racing, Eric Gilbertson began to create a gap from the nearest chaser, Jesse Hastey (+ 8min). Texas athlete, Scott Rabb was now moving through the field and was in third position, 13 minutes back.
Eric continued some crazy consistent pacing, nearly even splitting every loop, to win the male race in 7:35:25.
Scott explains his move through the field towards the end of lap two and into the final 16.7 miles to earn second place honors.
“I caught one of them about a mile before the end of the second loop and another [Jesse Hastey] about two miles into the last loop. This gave me more motivation to now try and catch the leader. For the next four miles I probably ran as hard as I had all day, but I ran out of water and still had a couple miles to the first aid station…I concluded that he [Eric Gilbertson] was way up in front of me and I then lost the motivation to keep pushing hard as I was really getting hot from pushing the pace earlier with not enough fluids. At this point I settled into a nice pace and headed to the finish without trying to make any mistakes.”
Top 5 male
- Eric Gilbertson (AL) – 7:35:25
- Scott Rabb (TX) – 8:01:16
- Hilario Alvarado (TX) – 8:18:36
- Chris Robbins (TX) – 8:30:14
- Jesse Hastey (TX) – 8:32:38
Global ultra runner, Hiroko Suzuki of Japan, moved to the front of the female race within the early miles. Texan, Sydney Pitt, was in chase four minutes back after 16.7 miles of adventure. At mile 33.4, Hiroko’s gap to Sydney had grown to nine minutes.
Hiroko went on to win the female race in a course record time of 8:50:23 and finish 8th overall.
Sydney struggled during the last loop which allowed the fairly consistent pacing of Kari Anglin to claim the runner-up position.
Top 5 female
- Hiroko Suzuki (JP) – 8:50:23 (*course record*)
- Kari Anglin (TX) – 9:19:55
- Lorena Devlyn (TX) – 9:31:15
- Rachel Ballard (TX) – 9:34:50
- Karly Simmons (TX) – 10:08:44
After his second place finish at Nueces 50 km in early March, David Brown was back pushing the pace and off the front in the early miles. Passing through mile 15.5 in 2:01:07, a six-plus minute gap was created from fellow speedsters, Paul Terranova (enjoying a focused training day) and Brian Hopton-Jones.
All three went on to have solid second loops with David extending the gap and winning the male race in 4:05:40.
Paul even-split the run, cruising in for second.
Top 5 male
- David Brown (TX) – 4:05:40
- Paul Terranova (TX) – 4:15:36
- Brian Hopton-Jones (TX) – 4:19:29
- Brandon Ostrander (TX) – 4:23:33
- Patrick Hall (TX) – 4:33:02
Anabel Pearson (2nd female 2012 Rocky Raccoon 50 mile) and Kalynn Hodde (1:39 – 2012 Austin 1/2 mary) came through the 10.8 mile checkpoint stride-for-stride. At mile 15.5 Anabel had a three-plus minute gap on Kalynn, with Cara Bass just over one minute back in third.
Anabel ran a very consistent effort for loop two, leading to a female win in 5:09:45.
Kalynn slowed and started to drift back in the chase. Cara moved into second position and held it to the finish.
Cara, fairly new to the trail running scene, had these thoughts to share about her experience.
“At the start I was nervous and honestly thought I may not be able to finish because I had not been training at all for this long of a distance. The trail started off cool and pretty and I remained happy and was waiting for the next hill to come into view. As the sun came up I started feeling even more happy and content with where I was. I felt like a child skipping through the forest and kept telling myself…this is not going to last. But it did!”
“If every race was as awesome as this one I would be one happy runner!”
Top 5 female
- Anabel Pearson (TX) – 5:09:45
- Cara Bass (TX) – 5:26:45
- Barbara Pliessnig (Austria) – 5:35:53
- Leslie Miller (TX) – 5:45:07
- Jody Koehler (TX) -5:49:04
25 km – La Sportiva Mountain Cup Series
Ryan Woods (NC), Jared Scott (AZ), and Robert Krar (AZ), looked like one runner blazing by if you weren’t paying attention. The effort was hard. The pace was furious. By mile 10.8 a scant four seconds separated the trail running trio.
How spicy was the effort?
Ryan Woods shares some of the action 3/4 through the race, “I had about a half a mile of comfortable running at their pace before we hit the old roads around 10 miles. Jared opened it up immediately and we began running 5:20 pace on it. Rob and I hung tight and even pushed past for a bit. It wasn’t until 12 miles that we got back on the single track and I felt the pace slow again.”
Once back on the singletrack, Ryan decided to try and create a gap…it happened…and it stuck.
“Since I had already been working hard and I didn’t have confidence in running away from them on open roads I surged past Jared on the single track and quickly opened up a gap. I kept a good pace from then on to the finish but since I had some separation I didn’t have to throw in a kick. It was a hot muggy morning and all things considered I’m happy to have pulled out the victory. It could of went any number of different ways.”
Ryan’s winning time of 1:35:22 (avg 6:08 pace) set a new course record and keeps him at the top of the La Sportiva Mountain Cup Series.
Jared finished 20 seconds later with well deserved runner-up honors.
Top 5 male
- Ryan Woods (NC) – 1:35:22 (*course record*)
- Jared Scott (AZ) – 1:35:42
- Robert Krar (AZ) – 1:35:53
- Jason Bryant (NC) – 1:43:31
- Chris McWaters (TX) – 1:46:39
The female race came down to a display of courage between two women, Alison Bryant (NC) and Christina Bauer (AZ). Neither were in top form but both were willing to give their best on the day as Alison explains, “I had missed seven weeks of running with a stress fracture and only started running two weeks prior to the race. I did not know how it was going to go with that little amount of run training.”
Christina was feeling a bit sketchy due to flu-like symptoms.
So how was this going to play out?
Through 10-ish miles Christina kept pushing the pace at the front with Alison wondering if she could catch her…or at least see her.
“I had been trying to watch for her on the switchbacks, but I didn’t get many chances to look for her. I tried to keep running hard in hopes that she would come back, but had somewhat resigned myself to second place.”
And then at mile 10.8 things changed as Alison explains, “Then I noticed her in front of me just before we hit the second aid station at 10.8 miles. She started coming back to me quickly, I probably caught her around 11.5 miles. She attempted to go with me, but I pulled ahead.”
Alison went on to win the female race in 2:02:16, placing her third overall in the La Sportiva Mountain Cup Series.
Not feeling very good in the remaining miles, Christina held onto second finishing six minutes later. Christina moved into the overall lead of the female series.
So you would think after running 25 km on little training, your legs would be the sore part of the body. Not so for Alison.
“Funny thing, the most noticeably sore body parts were my arms – I guess it was like carrying a shake-weight for 2 hours!”
If we could all be so lucky!
Top 5 female
- Alison Bryant (NC) – 2:02:16
- Christina Bauer (AZ) – 2:08:45
- Jessica Layton (TX) – 2:24:16
- Victoria Webster (TX) – 2:24:32
- Laura Dugan (TX) – 2:28:01
Betty Davis set a new course record, averaging an 8:49 pace, and earning the female win in 54:52.
Twygena Cotton led the chase group finishing second.
Top 5 female
- Betty Davis (TX) – 54:52 (*course record*)
- Twygena Cotton (TX) – 57:41
- Elizabeth Comer (TX) – 58:14
- Michelle MacKay (TX) – 59:02
- Jaime Orf (TX) – 1:00:27
Tennessee athlete, Robert Paterson’s 6:23 pace led to a three minute gap form the chase group and course record in 39:40.
Fifteen year old, Jake Kleinman, held off those charging from behind to earn second.
Top 5 male
- Robert Patterson (TN) – 39:40 (*course record*)
- Jake Kleinman (TX) – 42:41
- Justin Wendling (TX) – 42:55
- Karston Chatland (TX) – 46:43
- Jake Minniti (TX) – 47:34
Check out some of the wisest finishers. I hope this stuff fires you up as much as it does me.
- Robert Kosec (65 – TX) and Mirek Malinowski (71 – TX) finished the 50 km!
- Ron Goldkorn (66 – TX) knocked out the 10 km.
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:
- Edwin Thompson (TX) finished the 50 km scamper in 12:30:02.
- Michael Standard (TX) finished the 50 mile adventure in 14:36:03.
Race Reports and Pics
- “Finished up the first loop in 2:08 and put away my headlamp and ultimate direction handheld. i dumped the whole bag of powerbar gel blast in my mouth, grabbed my two amphipods and was off within 10 seconds.” by Brian @ Ultra Ramblings
- “I try to stay to the very back at the start. I’m keeping the pace conservative but it’s so funny that rush at the start line. Now that I’m wearing my heart rate monitor, I could see the instant 15 bpm jump from resting rate when they yelled “Go”.” by Libby @ The Active Joe
- “As I pulled out of the start/finish area, I jokingly asked another runner if she was ready to pace me for the second loop. She laughed, but little did she know I would tag along for half the loop.” by Paul @ Lean Forward Run Farther
- “As I mentioned before, the course has its share of flat windy trail with ups and downs in between. I got to mile 8 a little later than I expected, but I was still cruising and kept cruising for the most part until mile 13, when I had some stomach problems.” by runforpain @ Run for Pain
- “I did miss out a very important detail of my prerace preparation, that whole genetics thing. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much true endurance speed from my parents. And yes, I understand speed is all relative, but relatively I am not fast. Yet I did end up leading the race early on for about a mile.” by Jason @ Life Through the Eye of a Runner
- “I stealthily took my time getting across the starting line and tucked myself into the back end of the second or third “chase” pack, while the top runners took off at typical 50k speed.” by Paul @ GrandKonaSlam2012
- “The last few miles of a race – just about any race – really drag on for me. I get stupid. By the last dozen miles my thigh was cramping, I’d get sorta dizzy when I’d slow down (“So don’t slow down” – Andres), my math skills dropped from 10th grade to 5th grade level, and every tree looked like it was mad at me about something.” by Kind of Like Fun
- “Jeremy just laughed at me, pointed to his watch, and said, “You’ve run about six miles! We passed the water only station three miles ago!” In the darkness, or perhaps due to my own focus, I’d blown right past the three mile station! My spirits soared. I’d run six miles without even realizing it;” by Kimberly @ The Trail Lawyer
- “I found it hard to get into a rhythm the first few miles the first few miles after leaving the start / finish aid station. I felt pretty good energy wise but just couldn’t get a groove going. At the water only aid station, I refilled and took a gel. It was around here that I probably crossed into truly unchartered territory, having never run further than about 60k.” by Running Phenix
- A large collection of profession pics by Enduro Photo. Check them out, you won’t be dissapointed.
Talk some Dirt
- How was your adventure?
Special thanks to Cara Bass, Ryan Woods, and Alison Bryant for the unique insight. Also a big thanks to Enduro Photo for showcasing some of their amazing work.
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