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'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Friday, November 17, 2017

Franklin Mountains Trail Runs 2017

This past weekend I volunteered at the Franklin Mountains Trail Runs, a weekend long trail fest in Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso, TX. The Franklins are a rugged gem in the far corner of West Texas where everything bites, stings or otherwise, kicks you in the ass. I was a bit disappointed this year because I haven’t been able to run due to some health issues I’m dealing with right now. In years past, I have manned the Mundy’s Gap aid station, the highest in Texas, but knew It wouldn’t be safe for me to hike up there at this time. I hope to recover quickly and get back to running, but only time will tell how I progress. In the mean time, I’m taking short walks and enjoying time outside with my dogs. 

Spectators waiting for their runners to finish the 50K.
Mike finishing the King/Queen of the Mountain

The race actually lifted my spirits because I was able to reconnect with running friends that I hadn’t seen in a while. Especially uplifting was watching all my Team Red, White and Blue family achieve their goals in one or more of the race distances offered — 50K, 27K, Half Mary, 10K, 5K or King/Queen of the Mountain which is a 7-9 mile race with over 3000’ of vert to the top of N. Franklin Peak (7192’); choose any route. Some of my friends finished races on two or three consecutive days; the hardest being King/Queen on Friday, the toughest 50K in Texas on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday. If that isn’t badass, I don’t know what is!

A Team RWB member finishing the 50K
Look closely to see runners out there
I started the weekend by watching the King and Queen of the Mountain where my buddy Mike placed fourth in 1:07. The winners came in under an hour which is amazing considering the amount of climbing involved. The shortest route follows a steep ridge and is quite technical involving some scrambling in places. I watched the runners from the bottom where some finished with bloody knees and elbows which is par for the course in the Franklins.

Jacob running the half the day after tackling the 50K.
(Notice he isn't smiling.)
I showed up on Saturday evening to watch my friends finish the 50K after they spent a long day slogging through the mountains. This course is the most rugged, taking runners on the steep Schaeffer Shuffle and Aztec Cave trails, to the top of N. Franklin Peak, along the East side of the mountain range, over Northern Pass, back to the West side and finishing on Lower Sunset Trail. I arrived on a beautiful evening with my daughter Maddie, just in time to watch a gorgeous West Texas sunset. We rang the cowbell for the finishers, because you can never have enough cowbell when you are trying to finish a brutal ultramarathon. 

Maddie with the cowbell. There is no such thing as too much cowbell!

Several of the top winners were Tarahumara (RarĂ¡muri) Native Americans from the canyons of Mexico who are well known for their endurance running. They finished in around five or six hours while most of my friends finished between 10-14 hours. I listened to their stories of nasty falls, new shoes that were too small causing blisters, puking on the way to the peak, aching backs, leaden legs, you name it. Otherwise, there weren’t any serious casualties; just the usual few runners that went out too fast and bonked at the 25 mile point and one lady who got off course and had to be assisted by search and rescue.  


Part of the half marathon course. How 'bout all those rocks?
The next morning I came back to help at the start/finish area for the the half marathon, 10K and 5K. I mostly assisted the race director and made sure runners were going in the right direction depending on which distance they were running. Again, I enjoyed watching so many of my friends finish their races and receive their finisher’s medals and multi day awards. The Franklin Mountain trail runs are well organized by Trail Racing Over Texas which is owned by Rob and Rachel from Houston. They are very passionate about ultrarunning and care very much about their runners. While their events are premium races with high quality swag, shirts and bling, they are best known for treating participants like family. 

Rob, the race director, congratulating Mo on her second day finish.
See you on the trail.

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