“I’ve been lucky to run trails around the world, and across this country. There are races that are higher, steeper, longer, rockier, etc. But honestly, pound for pound and inch for inch, the Rusty Crown was among the biggest–if not The Biggest–physical challenge I’ve encountered in a race. At least with a long mountain climb you can settle in, accept the grade, or the available oxygen, or whatever….. But this Rusty Crown just thwarts my attempts at any rhythm. It is a perfect combination of all I find to be out of my league: it is steep, it is loose, it is “asymmetrical” in its overall impact on the rest of an otherwise runnable course. For the strong runners, it is a fun chance to challenge the body with such diverse terrain. For the rest of us, it was just a fun chance to slow down! Oh and by the way, when trail runners gripe about something being hard, that is our way of saying it is awesome! Thanks for letting us play on this beast, she’s a beauty!” – Matt Crownover on the Rusty Crown
On September 15, the inaugural Rough Creek Trail Run took place on the grounds of Rough Creek Lodge in Glen Rose, Texas. Over 150 played on the main 13.59 mile loop that contained a large amount of fast, runnable, well groomed Hill Country terrain. Three miles of each loop was anything but runnable unless you were a part of a very select few. This section was called the Rusty Crown and was described on the website - “It’s rugged. It’s steep. It’s technical. It’s steep. (purposely said twice!) It’s fun. And it may just feel like a three mile continuous climb. No joke!”
As the race director, the number of people that actually heeded these words could likely be counted on one hand. Most will likely read my race descriptions after this one.
The race provided a half marathon (1 loop), marathon (2 loop), or 40 mile (3 loop) adventure.
40 mile (40.77 miles)
After inspiring each other two weeks earlier at Reveille Ranch, Brian Hopton-Jones and Eric Gilbertson were pushing the pace with Eric finishing the first loop in two hours. Brian, two minutes back in chase. Having struggled with steady energy in the past, Eric made sure to jump on nutrition from the start in this one.
“One mistake I’ve often made is to under-fuel in the early stages of the race. Of course I often find that I’m feeling fresh and strong for the first hour or so—and the pace often feels too slow (though it didn’t at Rough Creek)—and, consequently, I forget to take in anything but water. Then suddenly I’m weak, and at that point it seems to take another 20 minutes or so to get back to normal. At Rough Creek I wanted to be sure not to let this happen, so I started taking gels from the beginning of the race. I also ate at least two pieces of fruit at every aid station throughout the race (something I’ve never done before, as I usually rely entirely on gels), and I think this really helped to keep my energy up.”
After a marathon-plus of racing, Eric still maintained a small gap on Brian at the start of the third loop but before long both were running together until the base of the Rusty Crown.
“I followed him [Brian] till we reached the Crown. At that point, I knew I wouldn’t be able to sustain the sort of pace around the Crown that we’d kept over loops one and two. I was starting to struggle mentally at this point. My body was hurting, too, naturally. But it was my anxiety about being able to stay strong throughout the whole last loop—anxiety that seemed to be feeding on itself— that was the real trouble. And once we hit “the chute”, I let up. I just lost strength of will, so I stopped running and watched as Brian impressively trotted on up and over and out of sight. That was sort of a critical point in the race for me, since up until then I had (in my mind, anyway) been in the running.”
Brian continued his steady effort through the Rusty Crown and began to separate from Eric.
Often it is a glimpse or brief “good job” with the speedy guys and girls that often can dial up our turnover and raise our spirits. This time while struggling through the Rusty Crown in a mental funk, Eric’s mind was reset thanks to a group of marathoners.
“There was a moment on the Crown on that third loop on what I think was was the steepest climb. Here I’d caught up with a group of about six marathoners who were gradually working their way up. It felt odd to be passing them on the way up such a steep slope. In any case, they seemed to be in pretty high spirits, which raised mine.”
Eric was ready to finish strong.
Brian maintain the steady pacing all day and went on to even split all three loops and win the male race in 6:02:35.
Eric maintained a solid second place finish.
Top 5 male
- Brian Hopton-Jones – 6:02:35
- Eric Gilbertson – 6:10:52
- Thomas Aten – 6:39:13
- Matthew Crownover – 7:21:35
- Ted Ricci / Joshua Witte – 7:45:31
Beth Collins and Danieli Rodrigues passed through loop one within eight seconds of each other. During loop two, Danieli began to separate from Beth and created a 15 minute gap after 27 miles of racing.
Danieli continued to gradually increase her lead and won the female race in 8:20:25.
Top 5 female
- Danieli Rodrigues – 8:20:25
- Beth Collins – 8:53:11
- Rosie Munive – 10:42:22
- Karen Powell – 10:57:26
- Ali Wheat – 11:30:50
Marathon (27.18 miles)
Chris Brady, Suann Lundsberg, and Julie Pareya were all within 66 seconds of each other after a half-mary of running.
Chris kept her steady, light-footed turnover for the remaining loop to win the female scamper in 5:14:13.
Julie kept the race close, finishing second just over three minutes back.
Noreen Henry nearly even split the loops to move herself into top 3.
Top 5 female
- Chris Brady – 5:14:13
- Julie Pareya – 5:17:34
- Noreen Henry – 5:22:03
- Suann Lundsberg – 5:37:06
- S0nia Burdett – 5:45:12
The early lead marathoner took off like a rocket from the start but unfortunately he (and a few other lead half marathoners) accidently did not run the Rusty Crown in the proper direction. [Note: The small group of runners that ran the Rusty Crown in the wrong direction were removed from the results listing to have consistent and accurate results.]
3:30-ish road marathoner, Jerod Honrath, moved to the front and won the male race in 4:33:38 with Chris Finley less than a minute back for second.
Top 5 male
- Jerod Honrath – 4:33:38
- Chris Finley – 4:34:34
- Lyle Parker – 4:40:00
- Jorge Guevara Jr. – 4:50:40
- Michael Petruso – 4:53:12
Half Marathon (13.59 miles)
The lead group that ran the Rusty Crown incorrectly finished in the 1:46 – 2:14 window.
Top 5 male
- Eric Tepner – 2:14:24
- Brad Liles – 2:15:31
- Samuel Long – 2:17:09
- Mark Houston – 2:19:09
- Chris Wright – 2:26:41
Top 5 female
- Martha Jensen – 2:18:17
- Brittney Dellinger – 2:33:55
- Pauline Stafford – 2:40:16
- Jennifer Kimble – 2:40:37
- Misty Spivey – 2:41:37
Race Reports and Pics
- “I can’t believe that, after such a long time living a sedentary life, I would come into an aid station after running 27.1 rugged miles… feel great… and still want more—a good thing since I still had another 13.55 to go!” by Mike @ Couch to 100M
- “Someone in front of me commented that it was the Rusty Crown and said that they were trying not to look, because if they ignored it that it would go away.” by Julie @ Trailing Along
- “I swallowed my pride and broke into a power hike. i guess dave won that one.” by Brian @ Ultra Ramblings
- Race Pics - Check out all the sweet pics by HB of Movin’ Pictures.
Special thanks to Matt Crownover and Eric Gilbertson for sharing a few thoughts about their adventure. Also, thanks to HB Wise of Movin’ Pictures for taking the great collection of pics and Tyler Greenhaw and Deborah Sexton for the groovy photos.
Check out the TALON Race Guide
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David – EnduranceBuzz.com