About my blog

Welcome to my trail running site. I enjoy being on the trail where I can take in nature and clear my mind. I prefer running in the mountains, but anywhere rural will do. I have completed four 100 mile trail races and many other ultramarathons. I spend countless hours running in the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, TX. I call it "going to church". I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Transmountain Challenge Half Marathon Race Report

(Oct 16, 2010)
I’m here on the west side of the Franklin Mountains getting ready to run over the pass to the east side of El Paso. 13.2 miles of up, then down. The high point is 5200 ft elevation. I just had my breakfast of Hammer Gel and chia seeds. When we start running, the sky is a nice shade of red, no wind, and a chill in the air. Perfect weather for making our way up the mountain. The first mile or so is mostly flat, but in no time we start the climb to Smugglers Gap.

I pass some acquaintances from the Run El Paso Club and I’m feeling kind of spry until I remember that they are recovering from the Odessa and St George Marathons. I stop a few times for some quick photos of the mountains. I can see Mammoth Rock in the distance. I’m able to maintain a slow running pace and am focusing on making it to the rock at the top.

I enjoy the traffic free course along this stretch of highway near Franklin Mts State Park that is being considered for a major freeway with development on both sides. The Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition has been fighting to preserve this area as open space. The desert scenery here is spectacular and I would hate for the view to turn into hotels and strip malls.

Pretty soon my marathon recovering club runners pass me up, so I try to pick up the pace a bit. I start to push it and wish for the climb to be over. I take a few more sips of my gel/chia mix and hope for an energy boost. It’s finally working because I’m nearing the one hour point and am almost to the crest of the pass. Some folks are starting to walk as they near the top, but I’m able to keep a steady pace.

To the southwest I have a perfect view of next week’s running adventure. The club is hosting a run to the top of Mt Cristo Rey, a 4,675 foot tall mountain in Sunland Park, NM. One of the largest statues of Christ sits on top and every year tens of thousands of people make the pilgrimage to the peak to worship their savior.

Finally I’m at the top of the pass with steep cliffs on either side where earth moving machines have cut a path through the gap. There is no pomp and circumstance, but I have a spectacular view of east El Paso. A stiff breeze smacks me in the face and I start the second half of the race; all downhill. Sweet! Downhills can be punishing on your joints, but I let gravity do its thing and go with the flow.

In a while a van passes on my left and then I see the Run E.P. group again. I catch up and they are talking to the driver in the van. What are they up to? I ask if they are trying to hitch a ride and they respond, “No, they have mistaken us for a group of seniors and were asking if we needed assistance.” Haha!

Well, I bid the “seniors” farewell and am on my way. I suspect that they will again pass me before this is all over with. After running some more, I take a brief moment to turn around and enjoy the view from behind. I can see the lovely peaks and gap from where I came. The road now winds around like a snake and, after passing a picnic area, I’m almost to the bottom.

A little more running and I’m at the aid station a mile from the finish. A giant husky, complete with walk-through jaws, is waiting at the bottom. The Chapin HS mascot. Shouldn’t we be running through that giant dog mouth? I guess not, because everyone is turning right. Before you know it, I’m at the finish line and stop to take a picture before I cross the line. After getting some strange looks, I complete my adventure in 2:06 finishing 25 out of 50 in my age group.

I turn around and head back out to check on the “seniors” who are really the hard core marathon runners who log 20+ miles every Saturday morning. Here they come looking strong. Congrats to all the winners who completed this course today! I recover at the WWII memorial; “Old glory” flying above. After having some food and drink, I take a moment to remember the heroes of the “greatest generation”. It was a perfect morning for a 13.2 mile adventure through the desert mountains of far west Texas. Mt Cristo Rey awaits. See you on the trail.

P.S. The Madeleine cookies from the baby shower a few weeks ago were most excellent. Thanks to Adelle who made them!



  1. Stunning pictures as usual Greg - how do you manage it while you are on the run? I take my point and shoot but they always end up blurred and shakey!

    Sound's like you had another great run. Well done!

  2. Thanks Richard,
    I carry my Panasonic Lumix (12X Zoom)in one of my Nathan fuel bottle holders on my belt. I stop for a quick shot and hold my breath. Probably why I'm so slow. :) Hope you are recovering quickly.