The better side of Bandera
I hate writing reports and not mentioning all the wonderful things I witnessed on the trails. There are so many other stories that unfold over the course of 31, 50…62 miles, all of which don’t even relate to myself. Here, I hope to capture some of those thoughts so I remember them down the road.
“Elites”: I love the small community that ultra running is. I also love when top runners are called “elites”. The word seems to carry a sense of ego typically, which I have never found in my ultra running endeavors. Liza Howard made s’mores for me at Cactus Rose. Pam Smith was randomly chatting with me for a while pre-race day. Craig Thornley was very complimentary of my design work and was out crewing all the Oregon runners the entire day, AFTER running his own 50k race. Jack Pilla told all kinds of UTMB adventures post-race for us under the tent. Dylan Bowman took a break from Debowing and chatted with a random friend about his race. It seems we are all pretty normal people in this community with an appetite for sharing and kindness.
“Powered by BEEF couple”: There was a man/woman running in red shirts that said Powered by BEEF! They began behind me at first. Coming down the Sisters, the male got tripped up and fell down. I recalled what Chris Russell says “road runners go around fallen runners, trail runners help them get back up” (or something like that). I stopped to see if he was okay, which he was – just some cuts on his face mostly I believe. Those two stayed within sight for the next ten miles or so, until Chapas area. It was neat to see that camaraderie.
Jeremy Day: Still wearing his bright green banana shirt. No idea what that’s all about. He offered me some words of support just before Crossroads1 when my knee had just started to get really irritating. I overheard him telling a girl he was running past “try to run the easy stuff, you’ll do plenty walking later.” I was thinking to myself, “did you hear that, knee?”
Crossroads Kids: There were three or four kids working the Crossroads aid station who were just ecstatic to be there, it seemed. Two girls were rushing to fill people’s bottles and the young boy who won the kid’s race was sprinting up and down the aisle fetching people’s drop bags. Very cool and it was motivating to see their eagerness to help and participate. It reminded me of being that age, with a similar passion for the races.
Tim Olson: Really down to Earth guy, despite winning the 100k National Championship. He even gave a pep-talk to the winning kids’ race runner before the event. Totally outdid my crewing for Asa who had a strong fourth place finish!
Joe Prusaitus: While Ellen and me were sitting near the finish line, cheering on runners late at night, Joe randomly walked over and we began chatting. What I thought was just “in-passing” became a full-on awesome history of the Tejas Trails races. Joe talked about his start so many years ago at the Hell’s Hills event, directing the Austin Marathon, his history at Hardrock, and even why he is the only Texas runner who has gotten in to the Barkley Marathons. Joe is such a laid back guy and always open to conversation, which is awesome considering the wealth of information he possesses.
Olga V and Rich/Jeanie Mihalik: All three were so helpful in trying to get my knee to a point where I could continue running. Ultimately, I called it a day so that I wouldn’t do any permanent damage, but they were large pillars of support out there while I was still fighting to continue.
Jay Alvarez & Guy in blue shirt with the round face: Jay and I randomly linked up as I left the Last Chance aid station. He had been cramping really badly and was pretty sure he would drop at 50k. It was pretty great to have a walking buddy those last, long five miles. We shared old running stories and talked about our local running groups. We also traded places every now and then with some guy who was wearing a blue shirt and was holding a standard blue water bottle. I had met him earlier, and it’s always neat to run into someone hours down the road. He had told me how his wife once ran Cactus 100 and vowed never to come back to Bandera!
Ellen: my girlfriend drove all the way out and had packed/planned to stay the night. I knew that she would have stayed up forever waiting for me to finish had I decided to continue. Ellen has been solidly supportive despite her hectic schedule and coaching duties.