YABRR: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot 100 2017 Edition
Updated: Dec 19, 2018
This one is thanks to Carl, who got us a Veterans' discount, and Shellene who had to get me there and back again.
How much change can a race director put in a 5 mile section of trail?
The Whisky Tango Foxtrot trail appears to have been designed with the mindset of "A little bit for everyone".
The race started at the top of a gravel parking lot, from there we ran to an asphalt trail. That was the first 1/4 mile and then it opened up into a glorious fresh cut section of single track, which lasted for 1/4 mile before it dumped us out onto 1/2 mile of rolling sand dunes. So far, 1 mile and three different running surfaces. After that, it settled down into fantastic trail for the next 2.75 miles. This section had some roots that I swear were stolen from Rocky Raccoon, as well as some heavy duty cables (which the trail crew had painted with florescent paint, thankfully). Also, this section had a few mud bogs that they routed us around, although I know of at least one runner who went into one of them (and I almost led a small group into one as well). After ~ 3.75 miles of running the fun begins. We hit a slight climb, turning away from the Neosho river (that turn at the bottom of the hill is actually the easiest spot to fall into the river at during the race), and then immediately have to cross 10' of evil nasty rocks over a fast flowing culvert (another easy spot for swim practice). After the culvert we crossed a ditch that they were nice and provided both carved steps on one bank, and a knotted pull rope on the other side (I actually used that to descend on laps 6+). Right before mile 4 there was a cable stretched to close the trail, on the trail. We needed to go over that, which for the most part wasn't hard - until you have 75+ miles on your legs (I only failed once). From mile 4 to 4.25 it was back to asphalt briefly and then 1/4 mile of lawn grade grass to run on. The last 1/2 mile to the aid station was pavement of various types, including crossing the river on an old bridge. Once there, you turned around and ran it back to the start. Repeat for 100 miles!
The race itself was geared towards the relay teams, so the aid stations were not to the standard of Park Road/Damnation, etc. I don't think any of the solo racers were expecting anything else though, the Race Director posted that it was mainly going to be snacks with no real food. The good thing was, when Shellene and I got there we were told where the starting line was, so we setup the trailer right by it. Carl and Elizabeth setup next to us, using the teardrop as a (small) wind block. This made our transitions quick.
I ran the first 80 miles according to plan, but knew I was going to have issues. (Bit of trivia here: I always carry Imodium at races, but in ~20 years have never had to take one - until this race). Since I was fighting the Big D (and I don't mean Dallas), my nutrition was heading south as I ran (oh, that's a poor choice of words). I was able to take in ~ 1/2 of what I planned though, including fresh hot noodles at mile 60. Lap 9 was almost all power-hike, with some running (couldn't let that lawn go to waste), and lap 10 was a walk. Early on in the race I ran with Carl, and after he stopped there were plenty of other runners on the course, until the last 30 miles. As the teams finished I saw fewer and fewer runners - the good thing is, I like running alone at night (although, normally I have a chainsaw with me). Spotted a couple of raccoons, and heard what sounded like a good sized owl cheering me on.
All in all, a very good little race. If it wasn't counter-scheduled to Rockledge it would be a good warmup for Brazos Bend, or a good way to end the year early. Of course, that assumes that you don't mind running stuff other than dirt.