June 1, 2013
50 km, 25 km, 10 km
Event Report – James Reeves
This was the third year for the current format in the War Eagle Trail Running Festival held at Hobbs State Park Conservation Area outside Rogers, Arkansas. Hobbs, the largest state park in Arkansas, offers more than 30 miles of sweet Ozark single track throughout the 12,000+ acres. HSP lies within the Boston Mountain Range of the Ozarks and covers land along the shores of Beaver Lake. The festival is an annual fund raiser held on National Trails Day benefiting the Rogers Lions Club and the Friends of Hobbs. The race includes 10km, 25km and 50km events.
As usual, high heat and humidity were expected for this event. The last two years we experienced record heat waves and drought in June. However, as race day approached this year the concern was rain. And a lot of it. A couple of days out from the start the forecast called for 4-6 inches that morning with a good possibility of severe weather. Mother Nature did not disappoint. Before dawn the skies began to open and were alight with flashes of lightning. This delayed the start for about 30 minutes and allowed all of the participants to get to know each other better as the park staff opened the beautiful visitor center early to accommodate us. After a briefing by RD Jeff Genova and some words from Mike Rush, the 50km and 25km racers toed the line under gloomy skies. A short time later the 10km runners headed off onto the trail.
As the races got underway it was obvious how well these trails drain water and hold up to a bunch of folks running through the woods. Park staff and volunteers had done a great job of preparing the trails. The courses, different for each race, were all marked quite well. Aid stations were situated well, stocked as expected and staffed by experienced runners and enthusiastic volunteers. Thank you to TATUR Racing, F5 Endurance Club, GPP Fit NWA, NWA Goats and others for helping out.
There is something about 10km races here in NW Arkansas. Maybe it the proximity to the University of Arkansas and the spirit of Coach John McDonald (42 NCAA Championships in track and field) but 10km races are taken seriously around here. This race was no different and it came down to the last few meters. Frank Arellano (41:15) outlasted the speedy JD Wells (41:20) to win the 10km scamper. Austin Hunt (41:22) rounded out the podium to keep it all local in this event. On the ladies’ side Nikki Crenshaw of Bentonville threw down the best time of 58:59 to claim victory. In a close finish for the podium, Marta Kiser (1:06:19) just beat Christine Saffran (1:06:21) to round out the top three spots.
In the 25km race, the front spot was closely contested through 11 miles between Mike Rush and Trae Etheredge until Mike scorched the wet ground with sub 7 minute splits for a couple of miles to claim the top position. Mike posted a time of 1:49:14 and Trae bagged a 1:57:28 to take second. The final podium position was a dog fight between three runners including Tommy Griffin, Jeff Erickson and me. We were all within eyesight of another for miles. In the end, Tommy had what it took to claim 3rd overall with a time of 2:04:09. The men’s race may have been close for 3rd but the ladies’ was a battle for every podium step. Check this out… Katie Schweitzer 2:19:15, Layne Moore 2:20:00 and Jessica Cummings 2:20:34. That’s close folks. Katie and Layne came across the line tired, wet, muddy and bloody.
In the 50km pre race favorite, Nick Seymour, did not disappoint. He ran a solid pace and cruised across the finish in 4:28:29. Matt Clay (4:39:04) and Scott Reeves (4:43:13) claimed the other top spots on the day. For the gals, Lori Enlow came to play and dominated with a time of 5:00:24. Rachel Bender, in her first ultra and trail event, claimed the second position with a time of 5:33:04. Coleen Voeks (5:34:19) took third place honors.
I have run all three events and in my opinion it just keeps getting better and better. Ryan Holler once again came through with an amazing design (hand drawn) for the race shirts. Becky Christiansen added more local flavor by hand crafting the coveted clay Indian head trophies. The finishers medal was the most unique I have added to my collection. The course is respectable, not too tough and not too easy. The support is right on the money and there are giveaways. Who doesn’t like free stuff just for showing up? Thanks to our sponsors for the freebies from Rush Running, Salomon, Mohawk Home and the free grub from Catfish Johns, Einstein Bagels and beverages from PBR. And a big shout out of thanks to Luis Escobar (yes, the one in Born to Run) who came all the way from California to shoot some incredible photos of the race and to present his “Running With the Tarahumara” photo essay the night before the race.
Both the 25km and 50km races are a wee bit short in terms of distance. The 25km clocks in with about 1,400’ of vertical and the 50km around 3,000’ total gain.
I would highly suggest making a weekend trip of it if coming from out of town. There are some great family friendly attractions in the area including the world class Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the new Rogers Aquatic Center (water park), the 21c Hotel, War Eagle Mill and Cavern, and some outstanding local eateries. And don’t forget the Bentonville Square where you can check out the Farmers Market and First Fridays for some fresh food and kid friendly entertainment.
– James Reeves
A special thanks to James for sharing with us. You can check out his War Eagle race report and other run musings on his blog, running farmer.
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Posted on 20 Jun 2013