On the southern shores of Lake Texoma in north Texas, over 320 trail runners played at the 32nd annual Cross Timbers trail run. As compared to the wet and goopy adventure in 2012, this year saw run-dreamy conditions – sunny, cool-mild temps, and a trail in great shape!
An out-and-back course that contains the toughest initial (and last) six miles of any course in north Texas. More than a few first-timers are surprised by the leg awakening fun this course provides. And don’t forget the beautiful lake views along the way!
5 mile, half marathon, marathon, and 50 miles (2 loops) of dirt.
After a spicy 3:53 50km second place finish (behind David Brown who broke the course record) at Big Bend 50km mid-January, Texan Eric Gilbertson pushed the pace with the Cross Timbers lead group that contained Nick Seymour of Oklahoma, Greg Bargo of Texas, and Charles Corfield of Colorado.
After reaching the far-end turnaround of loop 1, Eric separated from the small conga-line of front-runners and was setting the pace solo. Steady and conservative was the focus.
Eric finished the first loop in 3:54:55 and had to wrap his head and body around one more loop on the challenging course.
“Before heading back out for the second loop, I guess I felt a bit apprehensive. I just felt more fatigue than I should have with 25 miles to go. But I also felt good knowing I’d just completed half the course in under four hours.”
Greg, Charles, and Nick all finished loop one 8-13 minutes behind Eric, ready for the chase during the final loop.
In the early miles of loop two, Eric focused on his body to dial in a run-smart pacing strategy.
“I paid very careful attention to how my body was doing, and I really watched my footing. I know that when I get tired I tend to get sloppy, and it was way too early yet.”
Eric arrived at the turn-around and held the effort as steady as he could on the return trip.
Then the bonk/fatigue-monster tried to display its nasty head.
“I kept worrying and fighting to keep my spirits up.”
When ultra runners talk about the mental aspect of the sport, now is one of those times…
” I just kept telling myself how much I love trail running. At one point I was actually surprised (as dumb as I know it sounds) that the thought simply struck me as true right then and there. It also helped that I was really taken, aesthetically, with some parts of the course. I really hadn’t expected it would be so nice.”
Then a gift from a fellow runner in the final technical and rock littered three miles.
” Fortunately, someone at the last aid station gave me one of their own gels. I was really grateful for that. It got me home.”
Eric went on to win the 50 mile scamper in 8:27:50!
Charles Corfield finshed 17 minutes later for second.
Always interesting to hear why members of the tribe play and keep playing in the ultra world. Here is what Eric had to share on this topic.
“Must be that I have a perverse interest in prolonged exertion. I’ll admit, I’m sort of obsessed. And I assume I’m like most runners who do these distances in that, for some odd reason, I have a very strong desire to do them and to push myself (which is of course easier and more fun to do in competition). This doesn’t seem clearly rational, all things considered. I’ll admit that. Though there are certain things I can point to that may go some way towards justifying it. Such as: I have a certain aesthetic appreciation for the body’s (and mind’s) ability to endure the longer distances. I enjoy being outdoors, especially on trails I’m unfamiliar with. (The notion of adventure running appeals to me, though I’m not sure I’ve done any running that would count as such.) Fundamentally, though, aside from the love of endurance, trails, and racing, I just enjoy the activity of running itself. I enjoy the simplicity and purity of it. And I enjoy the rhythmic, repetitive, and meditative nature of it. Running is primarily a solitary activity for me (and I live a pretty solitary life in general), but I enjoy meeting other runners on the trails, and I like how we all encourage and support one another out there. You know, you’re out there slogging away and you see a lot of these runners are working just as hard and hurting as much as you are, and they still think it’s important to acknowledge your effort and give you a word of encouragement. It’s just nice. There seems to be good mutual respect among trail/ultra runners. I guess it’s no surprise considering how grueling we all know it is sometimes. Such mutual respect may even be a necessary consequence of the activity. I do think ultrarunning has actually trained me to be a bit more respectful, considerate, and empathetic in general. On reflection I think the desire to develop these traits and to remind myself of their value is in fact one of my motives for making myself run such long distances. That’s something that I didn’t foresee when I first got into trail and ultrarunning. I thought it was essentially a fun activity that would keep you fit. But it’s much more significant than that.”
Top 5 male
- Eric Gilbertson – 8:27:50
- Charles Corfield – 8:45:59
- Greg Bargo – 8:53:13
- Nick Seymour – 9:31:04
- Kyle Kasenurm – 9:47:06
Local Sherman runner, Elicia Marquez, finished her first ultra, the 50 mile sloppy muck-fest at last year’s Cross Timbers. Welcome to the sport! 🙂
Why Cross Timbers?
“What initially caught my attention about the Cross Timber’s 50 mile trail run was the distance and of course, THE CHALLENGE. I am what you call an athlete that runs for the celebration of “life”. What I mean by this is that when I turned 26 years old I ran my first marathon to celebrate 26 years of living an extremely healthy/blessed life and placed first in my age group.”
This, with no meniscus cartilage in her right knee.
“After overcoming this setback and enduring all the aches and pains that came along with my passion, I realized that this is my true calling and decided to take it to another level. At the age of 27, I registered for the Cross Timbers 50 mile trail run. The goal this time was to run for my mom and celebrate 50 years of her life. This race was truly humbling, uplifting, and an absolutely breathtaking experience… A true cause that brought a complete sense of rejuvenation over my body and it is what continues to drive me to do the unthinkable.”
Elicia was back to challenge herself once again but this time under near ideal conditions!
Elicia led the small group of 50 mile females from the early miles and finished the first loop in just over five hours and was feeling good.
“I was super excited to be in the lead the entire race for the women. I think that is what kind of kept me going and NOT looking back… The adrenaline flowing! The only thoughts in my mind were to beat my time from last year and the lady who got first.” 🙂
Elicia kept a steady effort during loop two before having to take an extended break at an aid station, nine miles from the finish.
“My left knee was killing me due to overcompensation from my bad knee (the right knee). At this moment, I began to question myself and whether or not I would be able to finish.”
Feeling a bit self-doubt that most encounter with such a challenge, Elicia reflected on a pre-race motto.
“My motto was “All or Nothing”, so that was my reminder to suck it up, press on, push the pace and FINISH STRONG!”
Elicia went on to finish strong, over 2.5 hours sooner than last year to win the female scamper in 11:51:16!
One of Elicia’s strongest memories on the day were the volunteers.
“Many of them were the same people from last year and the fact that they remembered me and kept saying how much stronger I looked compared to last year. One man even said, “I can see it in your eyes, you are competing for something!” That I was, I was competing with myself. I wanted to be better than last year!”
Ashly Miller of California earned runner-up honors.
All 3 female finishers
- Elicia Marquez – 11:51:15
- Ashly Miller – 15:35:10
- Chrissi Labrose – 15:53:05
After runner a 1:31 at the Houston half marathon in mid January, Texan Rachel Hanson made the transition to the dirt to win the marathon in 4:26:04!
Shaheen Sattar found the legs to finish second after running an 18:23 second place finish at Rocky Raccoon 100 two weeks earlier.
Top 5 female
- Rachel Hanson – 4:26:04
- Shaheen Sattar – 4:31:51
- Catherine Clifford – 4:44:19
- Julie Pareya – 4:45:37
- Melissa Linan – 4:51:19
Don Solberg of Peyton, Colorado is quite familiar with this historic north Texas course and laced them up for yet another marathon adventure and pushed the pace in the front group of runners that included Jesse Grizzle of Colorado and Tim Jagoda, our fast-footed Texas local.
As the miles progressed, Don continued to increase the gap at the front while the chase group remained within a minute or two of one another…although rarely aware of it due to the wooded singletrack that can hide a runner fairly easy.
Don went on to win the marathon race and run what looked like his fastest time on the course in a 3:43:19!
Jesse held onto second place ten minutes back.
Top 5 male
- Don Solberg – 3:43:19
- Jesse Grizzle – 3:54:08
- Timothy Jagoda – 3:56:41
- Chris Jamison – 3:57:21
- Jonathan Moody – 4:03:48
Chris McClure of Oklahoma defended his win from last year and knocked off nearly 12 minutes under much better conditions. Chris crossed the finish line in 2:00:05!
Luis Trias led the chase group for second place honors.
Top 5 male
- Chris McClure – 2:00:05
- Luis Trias – 2:16:56
- Gerrit Cloete – 2:18:38
- Kyle Robson – 2:20:35
- Brian Myhre – 2:21:27
Local Denton runner, Tracie Akerhielm, ran in the front group of the overall to win the female race in 2:18:02 and third overall!
Alicia Hunker of Mesquite, Texas finished second.
Top 5 female
- Tracie Akerhielm – 2:18:02
- Alicia Hunker – 2:44:22
- Susannah Cahill – 2:51:23
- Tracy Jandro – 2:52:24
- Nicole Sciortino – 2:57:16
Jillian Ragsdale finished eighth overall and won the female race in 58:10!
Penny Martellino finished second, four minutes later.
Top 5 female
- Jillian Ragsdale – 58:10
- Penny Martellino – 1:02:14
- Melissa Vansant – 1:04:26
- Christine Kelly – 1:06:21
- Melissa May – 1:07:20
Gregory Carlson and Rob Radcliff enjoyed a fun five mile dash as Gregory crossed the finish a few seconds in front of Rob for the win.
Top 5 male
- Gregory Carlson – 47:09
- Rob Radcliff – 47:31
- Benjamin Graf – 50:44
- Bj Foster – 51:29
- C0lton Denmon – 56:38
Check out some of the wisest finishers. I hope this stuff fires you up as much as it does me.
- Robert Kosec (age 66), George Kempston (age 68), Robert Hancook (age 68), Duane Matthes (age 69), Jack Johnson (age 72), and Jay Norman (age 75) played on the rugged and scenic singletrack.
I love this stuff!
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:
- Chrissi Labrose finished the 50 mile adventure in 15:52:43!
Check out the video by marathon finisher, Zane Barker.
(If you can’t see the video, click here.)
- Be sure to check out all the great photos by Celeste Walz at Team Danger Ventures.
- Also, Tom Love at Tom Love Photography took a number of great images.
Special thanks to Eric Gilbertson, Elicia Marquez, Celeste Walz, and Tom Love for their gracious support with this article.
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
Posted on 13 Mar 2013