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Bandera 25km: Know Before You Go

Bandera 25km:

The race will start near the Lodge, heading out the back road. It is not far til it goes from jeep road to single track and stays single track for awhile. With 400 runners all starting the 25km at the sane time, you need to be aware of this. There will certainly be a bottle-neck when you turn off the road, and once the herd is bunched up tight, there are few opportunities to pass. Oh you can certainly gamble now and then, but consider the prickly pear and sotol that wait for such fools. So, now that you understand the situation, you have a few choices: If you are fast and plan to compete for a place, show up early, and make sure you are on the front row or near enough. Should you start late, forgot placing as there is no way to work through all 400 people on a single track trail. You have already lost your place, but now you can relax and enjoy the run.

Photo: David Hanenburg

The fastest 25km runners may catch the slowest 50km runners before the 25km cutoff, but it wont be many. And the slowest 25km runners will be caught by the fastest 100km runners on the last section between CrossRoads and LastChance, but this also wont be many. Most of you wont see anyone other than 25km runners. I love the way this course is laid out to do just that, cut down on crowding. Still, there are 400 of you and you will be packed in with just 25km runners from start til done.

I like to tell people that I created the 25km route to be the toughest course of the weekend and in if we are talking percentages, the 25km has the largest percentage of total butt kicking of the three races. The part of the course you will miss out on is flat. You begin as a sardine and quickly become a mountain goat. Lucky Peak is about one mile in and should look like a mound of fire ants as y’all swarm up and over. It may seem a bit easy being this early in the race, but when you come back to run it again just before you finish, you will be reminded of exactly how difficult this climb is. Soon after Lucky, is Cairns, Boyles, Big Nasty, Sky Island, and then the rugged and rocky descent to the long awaited flat section we promised you. This is a big dose of hills one right after the other, and all of them seasoned with rocks. If you have already been here, then you know about the rocks. If you have not, its actually worse than you imagined. Some people get real good at surfing the rocks, but if you have not been training on loose rocky terrain, you better start now. Find a dry creek bed and run it. Nasty, huh? But maybe its already too late. Can your ankles handle the torque? Do you have weak ankles? This is one course where shoes are critical to your performance. Yea, I know some people can run in sandals, but most of the veterans are wearing some serious cushioned shoes. My two favorite shoes for this course are La Sportiva Wild Cats and the Hokas.

You might be used to running your 25km distance in a specific time that is pretty damn quick, but out here, you will need to readjust your plan. Now way in Hell will you hit that time, especially if you clocked that on a road. I suspect that you may have already checked last year’s times and maybe even the course records. Looks pretty soft, doesn’t it? Well have at it, but I wouldn’t brag about what you’re gonna do til you’ve done it.

Because of the longer time you’re going to be out there, you really should take some water with you. A water bottle is a novel idea that allows you to drink between the aid stations. I know it sound simple enough but quite a few people have not figured this out yet. A squirt of water now and again keeps the demons away. Yea, I know water is heavy, but so are your legs when you crash from dehydration. You get used to carrying a water bottle after you do it for awhile. Its really not a big deal to have one in hand all the time, but it is a big deal when you are thirsty and wondering how far to the next water station. Its real simply; carry a water bottle.

Sky Island and the descent from it are the end of the really nasty section of this race for y’all. Through CrossRoads and beyond, its pretty fast and easy… of course til you get back to Lucky Peak again. If you have not trashed yourself on the hills, this is where you can make up some time. But that presumes you ran the first half smart. After Lucky and Last Chance, its a fast half-mile back to the finish.

– Joe Prusaitis


David – Here is a course flyover I created a couple years back on the 25km scamper.

(If you can’t see the video, click here.)

Talk Bandera 25km

  • Experienced Bandera 25km runners, what other tips would you share?
  • Bandera 25km rookies, any additional questions?

Additional Bandera insight:

About the author

Joe Prusaitis Joe Prusaitis ran his first trail race in 1996, a 50 miler. Since then, he has ran at least 100 ultras, nearly 50 marathons, and a variety of other odd and various distances. Joe also sits on the USAT&F South Texas board, representing Mountain/Trail/Ultra. For more information on Joe, check out the About page where you can see his coaching and race directing projects.

9 Responses to “Bandera 25km: Know Before You Go”

  1. on 03 Jan 2013 at 7:58 pm olga

    Joe, you’re giving away all the secrets!

  2. on 04 Jan 2013 at 11:20 pm David

    Bandera is for hiking & hoarses. Running out there is hard
    Every step is earned. 25k is just enough to kick
    Your butt yet still have a blast. Every trail runner needs
    To start the year off with this classic race of Joe’s.

  3. on 05 Jan 2013 at 9:08 pm Jonathan

    I know right! Can’t wait to see you this weekend Olga! Really excited for the 100K.

  4. on 07 Jan 2013 at 9:34 am olga

    Jonathan, you’re doing the Big Boy’s race? Good for you! Hope you yell at me, I have no clue where I’ll be!

  5. on 07 Jan 2013 at 10:30 am David Hanenburg

    For newbies to trail running or new to this venue. Having ran on these trails a number of times, I would recommend (if you are not going for the win 🙂 ) to stop on top of some of the bigger hills and move yourself off the trail. Then look around and soak up the Hill Country beauty at least for a few seconds. It will be worth it and should not be missed.

  6. on 09 Jan 2013 at 4:56 am Don Hauk

    Thanks for the great write-up and excellent flyover video.

  7. on 09 Jan 2013 at 8:33 pm David Hanenburg

    Hey Don – You are very welcome! Have a great 25k adventure!

  8. on 10 Jan 2013 at 10:22 am Ultra Mama C

    aw, man. I wish I was going out again this year. This was my first 50k, almost my first DFL, and will always have a special place in my heart (and knees). Rocks on rocks. Have fun, and definitely take a minute as Dave recommends to enjoy the scenery.

  9. on 11 Jan 2013 at 8:57 am David Hanenburg

    We will miss you UMC! Look forward to visiting at Rocky and Cross Timbers!