On January 18, a low-key FA trail scamper for 78 runners took place on the Ouachita trail single-track in eastern Oklahoma for the second annual Ouachita Switchbacks. Great running conditions welcomed runners to a challenging and beautiful single-track scamper to the top of Winding Stair Mountain before retracing your path back to the start-finish. Those that wanted more than 18.4 miles continued on for an additional out-and-back on another section of the trail system for the full 50 km experience.
Defending champ, Josh Snyder, was off the front in the early going and knocked off over 30 minutes from last year’s effort to earn a repeat win in 5:17:49!
Race host, Tommy Brennan, put together a solid chase for runner-up honors.
Men’s Top 3
- Josh Snyder – 5:17:49
- Tommy Brennan – 5:29
- Aaron Ochoa – 6:40 (or maybe 6:25)
The top 3 women all cruised into the finish within 5 minutes of one another with Melissa Linan (after collecting a few bonus miles) returning back to the fire pit first in 8:20.
Coleen Voeks and Deb Johnson both cruised in at 8:25.
Women’s Top 3
- Melissa Linan – 8:15
- Coleen Voeks – 8:25
- Deb Johnson – 8:25
Dianne Diebold dials in a new women’s CR by three minutes with a 4:05 finish time. A nice 4th overall placing as well!
Jenny Bailey finishes 8th overall for second place honors.
Women’s Top 3
- Dianne Diebold – 4:05
- Jenny Bailey – 4:34
- Hali Repass – 4:46
Jordan Christy puts together the second fastest time on the course for the men’s win in 3:20.
Jared Wakeham finishes alone in second.
Men’s Top 3
- Jordan Christy – 3:20
- Jared Wakeham – 3;47
- Kasey Ng – 3:51
Tough As Nails
Our Tough-As-Nails finishers were Janet and Chris Cantwell finishing the 50km adventure together in 9:37!
Race Report – Stream Whisperer
I have played a little bit on the sweet trails in eastern Oklahoma but this would be my first Ouachita Switchbacks adventure.
Race organizer, Tommy Brennan, was super kind in opening his home and allowing me to rest my eyes a bit Friday night under a bit of anxiety as both my vehicle lights blew out just as I got to his home Friday evening…in the dark!
Hmmm…I had planned to run the 50km but knew there was no chance in making it back to north Texas before darkness so I decided to scamper through the 18.4 miler and then race the sun home hoping I wouldn’t have to duct tape my fenix flashlight to my car hood to see the road ahead.
Saturday morning, I waiting for twilight before heading out for the 8:30am start for the 18 miler…or so I had thought.
The drive to the trailhead was about 40 or so minutes from Tom’s house. A relaxing drive as the sun began to light the scenic rolling terrain.
On the drive, one interesting residence had a sign posted – Beware of Me!
I arrived at the race start at 8:00am and Tom was just about to start the pre-race briefing. I ran up, said a few hellos to Todd Enlow, Julie Dolph, and took a few pics when Tom announced, “Let’s all start together in about one minute!”
A few colorful words are said under my breath and I just had to laugh…after I quickly grab a bib and trot back to my car to get on my running shoes and the rest of my “stuff”. I start my watch as the runners take off down the trail.
There are times in my life when I feel like things don’t quite go as expected…repeatedly.
How does one respond?
How does one react?
This trip felt like one of these growing opportunities. Far from a life crisis but an opportunity none-the-less.
I giggle as I put on my shoes, vest, remove layers, and grab my water bottle.
Ten minutes after the race start…I take my first steps on the trail.
The single-track begins immediately.
Have to say, no trail congestion. One bonus of starting 10 minutes late!
Follow the blue blazes (paint stripe on tree)!
The trail was semi-technical with periodic hidden rocks under a bed of leaves. Run light. Pay attention. This is trail running!
It didn’t take long and something else became quite apparent – little stream crossings…and lots of them! Most you could hop across and not get wet but for those in which the piggies took a short swim, the water was cool, refreshing, and fun!
Up and down. Up and down.
- Single Blue Blaze – keep going essentially straight
- Double Blue Blazes – A switchback or turn of some kind
This was definitely useful when running along a leaf blanketed trail.
More creek crossings.
I would eventually catch up to the tribe enjoying the day.
Enjoyed a couple miles with Russell Bennett and Todd Enlow before beginning the big grunt up to the top of Winding Stair Mountain.
Switchback. Switchback. Switchback…
To the top!
Greg Sisengrath and Melissa Linan were gliding down the switchbacks as I power-hiked up. They looked good and relaxed. Both running the 50km.
Tom’s father graciously manned the turnaround aid station at the top.
After a brief chat it was time to start the scamper back to the start. Couldn’t mess around for too long. I had to get home before dark. 🙂
More blue blazes.
More great trail.
Back to the start-finish in 4:40 race time. A 4:30 if you remove the 10 minutes of putting on shoes and chapstick. 🙂
Enjoyed some tasty chili and catch-up with Lori Enlow, who was helping out at the start/finish before jumping in the Outback and beginning the second leg of my weekend race.
I made it home about 15 minutes before cut-off (darkness).
Thanks to Tommy, his family, and the rest of the volunteers for helping put together a fun little adventure for the tribe!
Next time, the 50k.
After the day playing in the beauty of eastern Oklahoma, I couldn’t help but think how living in north Texas provides relatively quick access to a diverse mix of terrain:
- The rugged beauty of Texas Hill Country, the Piney Woods, desert-like red rock canyons
- The lush, green, mini-mountainous (big hill) terrain of eastern Oklahoma and Western Arkansas.
- A day drive (11 hours) to the mountains of New Mexico (Santa Fe, Los Alamos)
- Plus our own fairly diverse mix of trails in north Texas within a fairly short drive.
Be active – Feel the buzz!
David – EnduranceBuzz.com
Posted on 11 Feb 2014
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