Yesterday I decided to take a random trip out to Bastrop State Park and run the trails where Trail Racing Over Texas will host the Wildflower Half Marathon on May 7th. I can undoubtedly say that with the exception of Franklin Mountains, these trails will be the best ones that TROT has utilized for a race to date. For those of you running, you are truly in for a treat. I can only describe this course as some beautiful sexy single track!
So, the purpose of this post is to give you, the runner, a nice preview of what to expect this weekend. I went to run these trails to check them out, get a good idea of what to expect on race day, and give myself some confidence come race morning. I always find I perform better on trails I’ve run on before…so hopefully these tips help you prepare so you can also be at your best on race day.
Just one quick disclaimer – I ran the entire course with the exception of the orange trail, which is a very short section (0.6 mi). I did two loops of the “green” route that is marked on the race map located here: Race Map.
So here is a rundown of what to expect:
You get a little bit of everything. The first half mile is rocky with loose rocks. You will run into almost any surface you can think of across the course. The climbs/decents in the hilly areas are mostly loose rock. In the less hilly parts you have some sandy sections. There are also some softer surface areas that are more hard packed. Plan on a little bit of everything. Oh yeah, there are some wet sections and areas where very small springs cross the trail. Nothing deep, but you will splash around a bit in small sections, and your feet probably will get wet (but this is a TROT race, so that’s normal!).
The course rolls gently. There are no hard climbs and there are no steep decents. There are some stretches that are flat. There are only two or three real hills where you feel like you are climbing (the 1st one is literally right out of the starting gate). I got about 550′ of gain over my 11 mile run yesterday, so expect something on the order of 600′-700′ for the half marathon. The longest/steepest climb is right at the start/start of the loops…that should warm you up!
The trails are in great shape. There are some areas where there has been some washout and you need to watch your footing, but generally they are very runnable (about 99%). There are a few trees down across sections where you will need to stop running and duck under them, or jump over. By and large though, the trails are in near perfect condition.
I saw two snakes, so yeah, they are there. One of them was a rattler. He quickly slithered away when he heard me coming…but he did scare the s*ht out of me. Other than that, the monarch butterflies were out in force, and there are these cool little lizards that dart along the trails and run ahead of you!
What I’ll say here is that a lot of these trails are very tight single track. On about 50% of the course there is only room to run single file in one direction. These trails are not open at all. In a lot of sections the lush growth around the trail has you pushing tall grass and flowers aside to run. So…with this in mind…it will be important to stay aware of who is behind you, and yield to faster runners on this looped course. I would also encourage you to not run with headphones, as it is likely people will be calling out to you when wanting to pass (plus this is nature, drink it up!). These trails are very tight!
There is only one must have at a TROT race, and that is that you carry something to drink water in. The aid stations are cupless. They are not kidding in the e-mail. If you want to drink, bring a bottle, or a cup, or anything else that will hold water. If you don’t have a bottle, I would recommend checking out Nathan products. I personally will be running with the Speed Draw Plus Insulated. They offer a wide range of options which you can find here: Nathan Hydration Handhelds.
One strong recommendation that I’ll make is that you wear high socks or compression sleeves. Since the tails are very tight you are constantly brushing up against the growth along side the trail. While there is nothing particularly spiny, spiky or otherwise harmful growing here I was glad I had sleeves on to protect my lower leg.
You will also want to run in trail shoes. There are sections of the course where the added traction will help you run better.
Most of All – Have Fun
Like I said, these trails are awesome and this venue is amazing. The wildflowers are still out in droves and the course is green and lush. The rest of the post is just some captioned photos on what to expect. Take it all in, enjoy nature, and have a blast out there. Have a great race, and see you all on Saturday!