Bandera is a Tejas Trails Event that offers distances of 100K, 50K and 25K. The Bandera 100K has hosted the USA 100K Trail Championships since 2011 and owns that distinction through 2016. Temperatures and conditions at this race are always up in the air, ranging from a record low of 10 degrees in 2010 to record high of 67 degrees in 2008. The conditions in 2015 turned out to be chilly, with light rain, and had muddy sections on the course with spots of icy and slippery rocks. Initially, I considered signing up for the 50K, but decided to register for the 25K as a build up with Way Too Cool 50K as my first real race of 2015. Going into this race, 25K is the shortest distance that I’ve raced in almost a full year. I was excited to test out a new distance on the beautiful trails of the Hill Country State National Area. I had no real expectations other than to go out and race, going for the win and sub 1:45. A few days prior to the race, course record holder and super talented runner Erik Stanley registered for the 25K. That, mixed with the conditions on the course changed my expectations, but also motivated me to give my all. I arrived to the race site at 6:30AM, opting to stay inside of my heated vehicle to avoid the chilly weather until the very last second. At 7:20AM I jumped out of my car and jogged to the start line, did a few leg swings and awaited the gun. The race started and we immediately ran from open double track and took a sharp right turn onto rocky single track. One runner sprinted to the front for the first 400 meters before stating that he had just been trying to avoid getting stuck behind the 261 starters. Shortly after his statement, Erik Stanley took the lead and I followed closely behind. I ran about 15 seconds behind him through the first two miles before he started to pull away. At this point, I was moving along, enjoying the day and terrain before taking a quick turn and slipping in the mud. My right Smartwool compression sock was yanked down so I ran the rest of the race with one up and one down, exposing my right leg to the sotol on course, leaving me to deal with some cuts and abrasions after the race. It was also at this point in the race that I turned around and knew that nobody was going to be coming from behind. This led me to not worry about position for the remainder of the run and truly enjoy the terrain, the awesome climbs and views. The 25K had around 5 “major” climbs. I came upon the second one around 2.5 Miles into the race, Cairn’s Climb. Not only was the climb slightly difficult with the conditions slowing things down and making footing more necessary to watch, but the 50K runners had started out on a different route then our race in the beginning and the 25K was now merging with these racers. The 25K shared the same route up until Mile 9 where we took a left turn and the 50K/100K runners were to take a right. Shortly after Cairn’s Climb, the climb to Boyle’s Bump began at Mile 4 and reached its peak 1.5 Miles later. Coming down from Boyle’s was my first of two significant falls. I was running rapidly into a descent covered with large rocks, most of which had some ice and slick surfaces. I hit the heel of my foot on one of these rocks and slipped down on my back, slamming my left shoulder-blade hard. Luckily the cold temperatures dulled the pain and I pressed onward. Keeping my pace quick but controlled I made it to Mile 7 and began an awesome climb up to Sky Island. Out of the entirety of the course, this was by far my favorite part. I ran up, hiking a few slick spots, until I made it to the top and things leveled out for a quarter-mile or so before dipping back down. At the very top, you can look off to the left and see everything, it was an amazing view and the high point of my run. If I hadn’t been in a race, I would have stopped to take in the beauty. Unfortunately, I still had half of the race left and couldn’t take the time. Right after my high point, I hit my lowest point with an almost face plant coming down from Sky Island. Luckily, I was able to get both of my hands out in front of myself before I went flying down towards a few rocks. There were a few more places on this particular descent where I slid into the brush and trees on the side of the trail due to the mud before regaining my balance. I kept going and hit the Cross Roads at Mile 10.75 and ran through. I never stopped at any aid stations during this race. With under 5 Miles left I was looking forward to climbing up to Lucky Peak and running hard the last 1.5 Miles to the finish. The quick finish was slowed down by sticky mud as I rounded the final corner and crossed the finish line in 1:58:09 in 2nd Place Overall. I will definitely remember this race as one of my favorites and look forward to taking on the 50K or 100K next year. I was able to see David Laney (1st) and Paul Terranova (2nd) as well as Aliza LaPierre (1st) and Nicole Studer (2nd) battle it out in the 100K as they all claimed coveted Western States qualifying spots. Huge congratulations to all the runners who braved the weather in the 100K, 50K and 25K.
UltraSportsLive.Tv covered the event with their live video broadcast. Check out their upcoming race schedule, they’ll be at Rocky Raccoon next on January 31, 2015.
Fuel: 1 – 12oz Bottle of Tailwind (100 Calories)
Gear: TNF Ultra Trails (Shoes), TNF Compression Capris, TNF Light Running Jacket, TNF Running Gloves, Smartwool Compression Socks, Nathan Handheld, Victory Sportdesign Hat, Mountain Athletics Buff
Way Too Cool 50K – March 7, 2015
Have you raced Bandera before or any other Tejas Trail Events?
What is the coldest race that you’ve run in before?
What’s your next race of the season?