The Davy Crockett Bear Chase is a very small marathon run in the very small city of Groveton, Texas. Groveton, a city of about 1,000 people, is located around 100 miles or so north of Houston, just to the north of Lake Livingston. In total, this year’s marathon only had 66 finishers. There is also a half and 5k option, so the event draws a few hundred runners in total. The race is held on the Saturday of the 2nd weekend of April (April 11th this year). This is considered a late spring race in SE Texas, as summer really starts knocking on the door in late April (it was 88 degrees on 4/23 as I write this). This means that we are at the height of wildflower season, and with all the rain we had this year it has been spectacular. It also means you have a chance to get some very warm weather. Fortunately, we had a cool front slide in on Friday morning which set up a spectacular race day.
Lay of the Land – The Course:
The course is very simple, with only a few turns. It starts off in the Groveton Middle/High School Football Stadium (this just screams East Texas) and exits onto a dirt/gravel road. This road runs by some farms, a cemetary and some other quaint dwellings before exiting onto a county high-way about a mile and a half in. The county highway is a paved two lane road. This part of the course is about 4 miles long and runs over some very small rolling hills. As you look around you the scenary is perfect – nothing but open fields and farm land, and wildflowers by the tens of thousands in full bloom lining the road. If you want blue bonets, this race has them (also just screams East Texas). Around mile 5, you turn onto a dirt road that runs into the Davy Crocket National Forest and run this until the turnaround. You then head back the way you came, loop around the track and do it all over again. The finish line is right at the start line. As you finish the race, you get to do a victory lap around the track (to the cheers of 10 spectators).
Should Run It? – A Brief Review
So being fully honest, I think the answer is it depends. If you like a big city race with lots of crowds, support and spectators you are not going to find that here. Because it is a small race in the country, you don’t really get many people cheering you along. In terms of support, there are an appropriate number of aid stations with water and Gatorade, and the one at the track has some food as well. If you like small races, this one is as good as any other in SE Texas. I enjoyed that the course is pretty open, and as I described above it is as scenic as it gets for East Texas. As for travel, it is not the easiest race to get to, as it is an hour or two from the Houston Airports and a 30 to 40 minute drive from the closest hotels. So, my answer is…if you like small races and you can work through the logistics…then yes, run it. If not, this one probably isn’t for you.
Lastly, the race is put on by Steve and Paula Boone, founders of the 50 States Club. Steve has run over 600 marathons in his life, so these two know what runners want and how to put on a great race for the runner.
The Race – Play by Play:
Well, there isn’t too much to write about this one. Being small I won it in a time of 2:57:45 and was over 25 minutes ahead of the 2nd place finisher. I felt good that day and the time reflected it. Basically ran even splits, through 22, but slowed a small amount toward the end. 2nd half ended up being a minute slower than the first. I will take that any day. The race is uber low key…so no awards and nothing special…simply a teddy bear with the #1 on it.
So, another great day. Won the race and got my picture with Sock Monkey Boone on a beatiful April day…what can be better than that?
Lifetime Marathon Number: 27
2015 Marathon Number: 7
Finish Time: 2:57:45
Overall Place: 1st!
Time Rank: 4th fastest out of 27
Number of Times Running Race: 1