My first race for the new year was the Roundtop Trail Run in Anthony Gap, NM. This local race was put on by race director, Mark Dorion of The greatest WordPress.com site in all the land! fame. (Watch his site for future trail races.) The course was an eight mile out-and-back trail that runners could do repeatedly up to four times for a total of 32+ miles. I tend to get bored after several passes on the same trail so I opted for 16 miles. We ran on a portion of the Sierra Vista National Recreation Trail that goes from Anthony Gap, NM just over the Texas State line all the way to Las Cruces, NM over 35 miles away.
|"Turn around when you see the sign that says, TURN AROUND."|
The morning was chilly with some wind up in the pass of the Franklin Mountains where we started. Now many West Texans will tell you, “That is not wind; it’s New Mexico sucking!” (Ba-dum-bum) However, I know better, because the “Land of Enchantment” is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. With its many national parks, monuments, forests, caverns, and cultural sites, New Mexico is hard to beat especially the newly designated Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument where this event was run.
Ultramarathon trail races tend to turn into reunions amongst runners because our sport is so small and we get to know each other very well. Slog up a 10,000 foot mountain in a driving sleet suffering from nausea with a stranger and you will soon be friends; possibly best friends by the time you commiserate all the way to the summit. This race turned out to be a gathering of my running family including local training partners, Team RWB members and our friends from Albuquerque, Roswell and Las Cruces.
|Team Red, White and Blue enriching the lives of veterans.|
The course was mostly run on a gravel and dirt road with some shorter sections of newly built single-track trail that parallel the road. I was able to run the entire course despite a few short hills that weren’t too steep.
As I began to approach the four mile turn-around, I noticed the lead runners coming back towards me. I overheard some grumbling and cursing and was able to discern that they had gotten off course at some point. Having run this trail in training the week prior, I knew there was some extra flagging through the desert marking a future re-route of the S.V. Trail. Unfortunately, the leaders thought this was part of the course and didn’t heed the sign that read, “TURN AROUND RETURN TO START”. Oh well, what’s a few bonus miles amongst friends?
In addition to pink flagging, the trail was marked with “RIGHT” and “LEFT” signs, decorative gourds, kid’s toys and a strange species of fowl. I believe it is know as Gallus polyethylenii (Plastic Chicken). Aid stations were spaced several miles apart and usually included bottled water, cokes, boxes of animal crackers and other goodies scattered on the ground amongst the cactus, shin dagger and coyote poop. Trail runners aren't picky; we appreciate the support.
The great thing about this race is that you always meet runners along the way as you travel back and forth from the start to the turn-around. I stopped to take a lot of pictures of people including this one of “Flying Ellen”.
|Ultrarunners really know how to have a great time don’t ya think?|
I felt strong for most of the race, but started to slow a bit on the last four miles especially on a few of the up hill sections. I finished in about 3:08 though, and felt good enough to socialize for a while afterwards. Thank you Dorion family for your hospitality in putting on this event. Next month is another fine race on the opposite end of the trail in Las Cruces. I highly recommend the Sierra Vista Trail Runs on March 5th. They will offer 50, 30 and 10K options for only $1.00 per kilometer. What a bargain!
|My running family: Angelica, Laura, Miguel and Susie.|
See you on the trail.