The Cross Timbers Trail run, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this weekend, claims to be the oldest trail run in Texas. It's run on what they call the "Toughest Little Trail in Texas." They won't hear any disputes from me! The course is an out and back, run twice for the 50 miler, and once, plus a loop at the beginning, for the marathon. They also have a 5 mile and 1/2 marathon, which feature the toughest first section of the trail. They say the marathon course has 5510' elevation gain and loss, but my Garmin said about 7400'; I'm going with Garmin. Either way, there's a lot of up and down on the course.
|The 50 mile runners took off in the dark at 6:30. By the time the marathon started, at 7, there was plenty of light.|
Soon the sun came up and it was time to begin the marathon. The race director reminded trail running newbies not to expect to run their usual marathon pace, to expect to add about 30% to their usual marathon time. I chuckled to myself; I thought, more like 50% if I'm lucky, possibly more! After the marathon correction loop, we started up the trail. I started at a pretty conservative pace, forcing myself not to pass what I perceived to be slower runners. (I have learned that most of those slower runners are faster than me anyway!) After a couple of miles I fell in with Mac, from Mississippi, and Jared, from Lewisville. Mac, a seasoned road and trail runner who has run all over the country, told us about his favorite races and tried to recruit us to come run at some races in Mississippi. Jared has been running a few years, but this was his first trail marathon. He set a great pace, so I just stuck with him, Mac right behind.
|At this point, I practically have to go on all fours. Coming down this portion is harder than going up.|
|I love this course! Almost 100% rooty, dirt single track, winding through the woods.|
|The Cross Timbers trail doesn't have long climbs, but there are lots of short, steep ones.|
|Don't forget to pause and take in the views of Lake Texoma!|
|Buddy Teaster, one of those steady runners, was well into the second out-and-back of the 50 when I met him on the trail.|