YABRR: Tinajas 100k 2017 Edition
Unlike most local races, this one got little DDR support due to it conflicting with Mowdy, so it was a thankless race (other than Shellene of course).
I ran the inaugural Tinajas 100k this weekend, and had a time (I refuse to use the word fun, challenging, scenic, muddy and annoying all come to mind). Since I have never run the Cap't Karl race, I am not sure how much of this course is similar, so I'll compare it to Bandera 100k.
As for the course, the first leg is ~ 3 miles with maybe 10 creek crossings. At the very first one there was a runner trying to figure out how to cross the waterfall at the top safely. The answer to that was to run across about 5 feet down, where it was wider. Yup, got wet feet there, but there was no way anyone was going to cross all the steams without getting wet. Smart runners had shoes in their drop bag the first aid station. From there, the next section was mostly runable - with some annoying ankle biters thrown in, as well as some nice pure open field. Then the fun begins. From the Gorman Falls aid station to the Conference Center (1st time), you are taken to two scenic area. The first is a short out and back to the river overlook, the second is the out and back to Gorman Falls itself. The drop to the falls was steep, and made safe by permanent cables. Once you make it to the Conference Center, you take the Tinaja trail out to a major tinaja (if you don't know what a tinaja is, Google is your friend), and then back on the other side. This tinaja is incredible, but it doesn't compare to Ernst Tinaja in Big Bend. This can be run, but there are some ankle biters on that trail as well. After the Conference Center, it's a return to the Start/Finish area, with a "slight" detour up to the Cedar Chopper loop. This is the only hard climb, lots of switchback, on the course. To me, it does not even come close to the soul-sucking climbs of Bandera. After you've seen the course once on the 100k option you get to do it all over again. One of the challenging aspects is that the aid stations are water only, you can drop whatever you need at them though, pack wisely. You also have to sign a notebook at each point, to prove you were there. I think that, conditions being equal, this is easier than Bandera. Of course, this year the conditions were not equal. It started raining about noon, and for the most part it either misted or rained for the rest of the race.
Race started with Amazing Grace by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. As for my race. I decided (accidentally left my GPS at home, then my MP3 player died) to run with no electronics other than a borrowed watch. Ran a smart/safe race since I knew my ankle was a weak spot, and this trail was not ankle friendly. Saw both Matt Henslee and Dat Le at the start, they were smarter than I am, and only raced the 50k. I only freaked a little on the drop to Gorman Falls, but I did spent the next 31 miles dreading having to do it again, in the dark with slicker rocks. Did the first loop just at 8 hours, managing my nutrition quite well, since I could only rely on my own food, I had a very good idea what I was going to eat when. I did have a few issues with slick mud on the first loop. Slight stop at the Start/Finish to motivate myself for the second loop. Music provided by Widespread Panic and the Grateful Dead. After navigating through the creek section (I swear they added another half-dozen crossings) I hit the first aid station and changed shoes and socks, time to put the SpeedCross to work. I spent some time running with the Rock Hoppers, they do live up to their names; but then when we hit the mud I showed them what a Dirt Runner can do with wet dirt. I did have one scare on one of the tombstone rocks (nice flat and slick) on my second lap, put my right foot down - it started to slide, so I quickly put my left food down - it slid too. Fortunately, they both found grip before I went airborne. There were multiple runners who didn't have my luck and ended up bloody (or worse: one runner ended up with 9 staples in her knee). Had a few nav concerns (thought I missed a turn, when I didn't - not use to not knowing my real mileage). The second trip down the Falls was actually easier than the first, even with it slicker. The course was very well marked, even Pepe would have to work to get lost. My second loop took just over 10 hours, but I was being more careful as time went on. Finished to more Widespread Panic, picked up my finishers award (in honor of Scott I won't call it a buckle, but it's a nice medal that can be worn on a belt if desired) and a Texas shaped chunk of Granite for the Tejas 300. I found out that I missed winning Masters by a measly 5 hours.