The Brazos Bend Trail Races 100 Miler, 100 Mile Relay, 50 Mile, Marathon and Half Marathon took place on December 13-14 at Brazos Bend State Park outside of Houston, Texas. With 831 registered runners across all distances, this was officially the largest trail races to ever take place in Texas. I signed up for the Marathon a few weeks before the event to cap off my 2014 season. This race would be my first Marathon (having raced ultras, but always going past 26.2) ever and I was really looking forward to trying out a new distance. Going into the race I really wanted to go for broke and had a goal of winning the race while running sub 3:00.
Brazos Bend State Park is an incredible and beautiful place. The views along the course were amazing. The trail was exposed and fast for the first 13 Miles with gravel/dirt/hard sand terrain and wooded/forest terrain for the last portion of the event. The air horn went off and the race started off quickly with a pack of 5 of us going through the first mile at 6:20. At this point the pack included Tracie Akerhielm, Paul Smith IV, Lonnie Coone, and the 14-year-old phenomenon Kaytlynn Welsch who led for the first 2 miles. Kaytlynn (12th) and her younger sister Heather (8th) both finished with very strong times over the Marathon course.
As soon as we hit Mile 3, I moved to the front and continued to push the pace in an effort to maintain sub 3:00 pace and drop some of the other runners. For the remainder of the race I ran up front, mostly solo, but could see Tracie fairly close behind me up until Mile 10 or so. Miles 3 to 13 were very uneventful, I continued to run around a 6:40-6:50 pace on runnable trail before splitting the first half around 1:28. Once I saw this time, I knew I had banked 2 minutes just incase something happened to my pace in the later stages of the race. This was a huge benefit and at this juncture I was still feeling spring in my step and running with confidence.
After coming into the Brazos Aid Station (Mile 14.4), all runners in every distance made a quick turn around and headed back out onto the trail, retracing the way they came in for half a mile or so before taking a right onto a new section of the course. This was the point in the race that things started to get rough for me. The new section of trail was muddied up with slick sections and a few places with large divots you had to constantly avoid along with some spots of deep mud. This continued for the next 8 miles, while my pace suffered, before we retraced our route and hit a piece of familiar trail that took the Marathon back to the finish. These final 2 Miles injected a newly found pace back into my legs. The final half-mile ran across a section of road and into the finish pavilion. The second I made the finish arch out in the distance, I pushed with all the effort I had left, crossing the finish in first with a time of 3:00:16.
I would have liked to finish in under 3:00, but I was pleased to finish in the fashion I did with only tapering, racing, and recovering with no real training in the past three months and feeling that I’m not in super great shape right now. Running this kind of time so late in 2014 gives me confidence in my level of fitness before I take a short break then begin training for 2015. This event was an awesome experience. All of the race staff, volunteers, and racers made it one that I won’t soon forget. I hope to add more Brazos Bend Trail Races to my racing calendar for 2015 and onward!
UltraSportsLive.Tv covered the event. Check out their upcoming race schedule, they’ll be at Bandera and Rocky Raccoon in January of 2015!
Fuel: 2 Clif Chocolate Energy Gels, 1 Clif Mocha Energy Gel & 2 Bottles of Tailwind
Gear: TNF Ultra Trails (Shoes), TNF Compression Shorts, TNF Singlet, Smartwool Compression Socks, Amphipod Belt & Handheld
Zion 100K/100M – April 10-11, 2015
Do you find Marathons or 50Ks more difficult? Which distance do you prefer?
What Marathons, road or trail have you raced this year? Do you have any on your calendar for next year?
Have you ever raced one of the Brazos Bend Trail Races or other events that Trail Racing Over Texas puts on?