YABRR: Razorback Running Revival 50k 2019 Edition
The thanks for this one is short, the race report will be long. Thanks to Sherpa John for putting on the race, Lisa for keeping me company for the first half and as always Shellene - who once again proved she was smarter than I as she raced Rockledge Rumble (whole bunch of R's this weekend)
Ok, that's the important part, what follows is just fluff.
When John announced he was putting on a new race in Arkansas he wanted feedback on the name. The trail itself was the Ozark Highlands Trail, which runs through the Boston Mountains. Me, being a history buff, and general all around bozo recommended calling the race "The Boston Mountains Massacre". Needless to say, that didn't fly, but in the end appears to have been fitting.
As I was driving to the Lake Fort Smith State Park (staring location) on Friday, I kept thinking how the area reminded me of New England, with the rolling hills (Shellene won't let me call them mountains), and leaves just past color change. The trail itself reminded me of the Appalachian Trail, including lots of steam crossings, leaf covered rocks and white blazes to follow. Since it was a marked trail, there were only a few spots where race ribbons needed to be added (which was good, it allowed the volunteers to be better utilized at aid stations). I had a campsite at the park, and it had no cell service (I had to walk down to the marina to place a call) on either my VZW or AT&T phones.
This was a first year event, with the RD being located in a different state, so there were a few small hiccups, but I've been at long running races where it's been worse, and nothing that I saw took away from the event at all.
We had been warned that we were going to get our feet wet, but he should have said that you are going to get the lower 3' of your body wet (unless you slipped, then you were swimming). Besides some stream crossings, there was one long (two part) river crossing, and two smaller ones. For the long crossing, there was a safety rope; it was crossable without it, but much easier with it. I've actually paddled a 100k kayak race that had less water flowing than that river. For the creeks you could cross most of them by rock walking slowly (did that on the way out) or just plowing through them (on the way back). Once again, my Trail Toes, WrightSocks and Salomon shoes didn't let me down - no blisters after 12 hours of soaked feet.
The trail had a mix of rolling hills with a few real climbs and good runable sections (usually broken up by creeks or mud). Since it's an open trail we also saw backpackers, campers and hunters (yup, hunting season), and for the 50k at least it was an out-and-back so I got to see everyone.
One of the joys of trail running is the fact that it challenges you (if it doesn't - run faster or pick harder races), and I had the privilege of watching Lisa push herself well outside her comfort zone on this course. While she DNF'd the race, she didn't give up, she got cut for being over the 1/2 way cutoff time. For the most part they were being hard on that time, but the aid station captain let me go even though I was also over the time. I think he figured out that I was packing in food like Hoot packing ammo in Blackhawk Down, had walked in an exhausted runner, and I was showing no signs of distress, so I was good to go (and there would be 50 mile runners behind me as well, they had a later cut at that point). I could have made the cut, but it would have meant leaving Lisa out there - wasn't going to happen and if they had pulled me as well, it wouldn't have changed anything.
From there, it was a good pace run back, with some walking, and I passed at least two 50k racers in the first 4 miles (I really had fresh legs, augmented with LEKI Micro Trail Vario Poles), and then ran with a couple of 50 mile runners for a bit. My lack of training did catch up with me, and I switched to a fast walk, walk, run sequence for the last 12 miles. During this time I ran with a 50 miler who could outwalk Ginny and Greg, trying to stay with him through the river crossings. He and I finished side by side with 2 minutes to spare.
I thought I had DFL for the 50k, but now it looks like I'll be shipping the plaque off. One runner took 18 hours (he was part of three that were out together, the other two were 50 mile runners), I'm not sure if he will be DFL since he was over the timecut (that is up to the race director - it's his race after all). What I didn't think about was runners that started the 50k at 6AM (he allowed that for runners who are worried about the time cut) and finished before me, but took longer than I did. So, the theological question becomes:
"Is DFL the last runner to finish, or the slowest runner to finish"?
As for my ankle, there were a few points where it twinged, but I didn't notice the foot droop that I've been fighting all year, so I think the twinges are just things that I need to work on over time with PT to retrain that foot to behave.
This was a tough race, with a tight time cutoff, but not an impossible one. I think that if I had gone into this race in the condition that I was at pre-injury (and had the confidence in my ankle that I have now), this would have been a 10 hour 50k.
Postscript. The reason why you always let the aid station captain or RD know if you DNF. This was from the RD post-race email:
Late last night, one runner's family dialed 911 looking for you because you hadn't sent a text since 1pm. Due to their calling 911, an emergency response was initiated by the United States Forest Service in cooperation with Arkansas Fish and Game, and Franklin County Search and Rescue, because they are obligated to respond to 911 even though there was no "emergency."