Brazos Bend 50K: Pacing to a 50K PR

The Trail Racing Over Texas Brazos Bend 50 is billed as a fast course with great views along the way including some gators. Trail running distances include 50M, 50K, 25K and 10K. I recently ran the Zion 100K (15 days prior to BB50) and after deliberation about whether or not I was recovered or even prepared to run another race so soon I signed up for the 50K one week before the race. I felt like I wanted to do some fast running and wouldn’t take the 50K as an all out effort. In fact, my girlfriend and fellow Trail Racing Over Texas teammate Tracie Akerhielm was also signed up for the race and I hoped to help pace her to a strong finish. Initially, I assumed a 3:45 on the course wouldn’t be too big of a task so that was where I set my sights.

Gators Frequent The Race Course

The 50 Mile race went off at 6AM and the 50K/25K races set off an hour at 7AM. The race started off at a good pace with 4 runners in the 25K taking it out hard and a second group forming in the first few miles with Tracie, myself and another 25K runner. We ran through the first 3 miles and the heat was already starting to creep up. Luckily, a quick rain shower hit and cooled everything down to a reasonable temperature. We continued to run through the course and at mile 4 we caught up to one of the other 25K runners who had dropped back from the original pack. He latched on and our group of 3 became 4. We ran through the first aid station and maintained our constant pace. The drizzle turned into torrential downpour mixed with thunder and lightning for a mile and a half stretch from Mile 6.5 to 8, turning the quick and clean trail into muddy puddles and creating slippery footing for the remainder of the race. Tracie and I stopped at the next aid station around Mile 8.5. I filled up my bottle with more CarboPro HYDRAC5 powder and topped it off with water before taking off. The rest of loop one was like clockwork. I came through 25K at 1:44:21, threw my empty bottle down and picked up a pre-filled bottle with more HYDRAC5. Tracie had to take a little bit of time to fill up her bottle and make some minor adjustments to her gear. Once she finished we were ready for loop two and started running again at 1:45:33, just over a minute later.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 9.16.22 PM
Waiting For Tracie To Refill Her Bottles After The First 25K Loop

Our first mile of loop two was a little quick as we ran around a 7:35 despite the stop. Once we hit the first mile we went into a short half mile out/half mile back section that we made quick work of in the beginning of the race. The second time through this area was a little more difficult with the rain and hundreds of athletes passing through since our last visit. The middle of the trail was a slippery and muddy adventure with most runners coming back against us taking to the high grass on the side of the course. We ran from side to side dodging runners and searching for the most compact footing. After the turnaround we cross paths with the third place 50K runner, Aaron Wieczorek, who playfully yelled out “I’m coming for you!” I took this as a challenge and once we were back on better footing I dialed back into our previous pacing.

Fellow Team TROT Members Melinda Coen & Matt Zmolek


Miles 17 to 22 were uneventful, our splits were fairly consistent despite the muddier conditions that made running just a little more difficult than early on in the race. I started having some stomach issues around Mile 19 that I hoped would pass, but was forced to hop into the bushes on the trail around Mile 23 before starting back up. I also stopped at the next aid station while Tracie skipped it so I was now around 30 seconds or so behind her and would remain there until we reached the turnaround aid station and she refilled her bottle and I threw mine down to finish up the final 5 miles with nothing in hand. Unfortunately, my hamstrings only held up for the next mile as I started feeling the fatigue and lack of recovery from my Zion 100K race. My pace dropped from 7:00 to mid 7’s for the last 4 miles and I pushed into the finish, crossing the line in 3:33:07 for 2nd place. The fact that I ran this race on tired legs with no real expectations gives me great confidence of running a fast 50 Miler later this year. I can not wait to get out there and run fast when I’m fully tapered/recovered!

Crossing The Finish Line

I’m proud to say that Tracie put two minutes on me in those final 4 Miles to finish in 3:31:05, taking the overall win. The race was such an awesome experience. Rob Goyen, Race Director and Founder of Trail Racing Over Texas and Team TROT knows how to put on an excellent race. I’ll be running his next race, the Horseshoe Trail Run at Jack Brooks Park on May 16th. Anyone who is looking for a great trail running experience should consider joining. There are 5K, 10K, 25K and 50K options. I would also like to thank CarboPro for fueling me throughout the race with their amazing HYDRAC5, Trail Racing Over Texas, and to Team TROT sponsors Altra Running and Feetures for keeping my feet happy during the race. Until next time, enjoy the trails!

Tracie, Rob And I After The Race

Race Photo Gallery:


2 thoughts on “Brazos Bend 50K: Pacing to a 50K PR

  1. You two were super fast! I think I came in maybe a minute behind you on the first lap. I could see you two up ahead when I started Lap 2. I was pretty determined to catch up, but you two just kept consistently widening the gap over the next 25k! Awesome race, great report, and congratulations on taking the top two places, you two definitely earned it!


    1. I couldn’t tell which race you were in when we hit the turnaround on the first loop. When we finished the first 25K I stood there and waited for Tracie so we could continue running together and so I could help her maintain her pace. When you came to us as we were doing the first small out and back and said you were coming for us, I was like uh-oh because you looked strong. I must have looked back a hundred times expecting you to pull up next to us over those next 5 or 6 miles. Great race to you as well, I think given the conditions our times would have been a few minutes faster if the rain had held off!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s