Texas Treasure Quest 6HR – May 21, 2016 – 7IL Ranch, Cat Spring, TX
Tired of the Same Old?
Let’s all admit it…sometimes running gets old. Think about it…there are days when you don’t want to do it, you are stuck in the same old routine and you are tired of running the same old route at the same old speed at the same old time of day. Like anything in life, we need to keep our running varied and make things spicy! Variety is the spice of life…different is good!
And different is exactly what the Texas Treasure Quest is…it is a “race” unlike any you have every done. I am even hesitant to call it a race because you are not going for the fastest time or the most distance in that time. Nope, this is a game…where strategy, planning and some thoughtfulness dictate how well you will do and running is but the means of transport. I found it to be a truly refreshing event and had way more fun than I imagined I could.
So What Is It?
Well, simply described it is a “choose your own” adventure trail race. You sign up to run for a certain amount of time (3, 6, 12 or 24 hour options) and your goal is to run the trails and accumulate as many points as you can in that time period. Points are accumulated by finding various treasures (stamps), hidden along the trails. There are few rules regarding where/when/how far you run. You can pick your route, run any trail you want, in any direction, at any point in time. This is one of the refreshing things…no structure on where/when you run!
The trails are not marked other than by color. You are given a map and are on your own to navigate the course and find the “treasures” that are marked on the map. While this sounds easy, sometimes the treasure can be somewhat hidden and the map locations are not spot-on (the treasure could be within 0.1 miles of where shown on the map). Different treasures are assigned different point values depending on how far away they are from the “home base.” Where thoughtfulness and strategy come into play is around how you collect those points. You are only allowed to collect 5 treasures on each trip. After that you must return to start/finish and “cash in” your points. After that you are allowed to go out on another trip. Treasures are worth anywhere between 1-5 points…so the best trip you can have is getting 5 stamps for 25 points. As you ponder the map, you must decide how to make your trip most efficient (collect the most points in the least miles). Once you collect a treasure once, you cannot collect it again. This all involved far more planning and strategy than I thought it would! There were also bonus items that were worth a lot of points on the course. You had to either carry these back or wear them back. One dude carried an 80 lb. (yes 80) kettle bell over a half mile…sick!
If going solo isn’t your thing, there were also team options for all the times. You could do a 2 person team or a 4 person team. The team had to stay together at all times. Next year I think I’m going to partner up with someone…sounds more fun!
Speaking of Fun
The trails themselves were fun to run on, and more challenging than you might think. There were sections of tall grass, and some decent water crossings (I stupidly went right down the middle of one that ended up being waist high). This made things interesting and more challenging than the fairly flat open trails that these appear to be. There were some sections in the woods that were actually somewhat technical with lots of roots and some washed out sections. This was a working ranch, so dodging poop was a must as well. The challenge really got going around 10AM when we had a decent thunderstorm roll through. With frequent lightning and heavy rain, the trails became a sand muddy mess (it was a TROT race after all, it had to rain). There were sections of the orange loop where the trails actually had running water on them! All this meant was there was 100% chance of fun! Once the trails got good and wet, they ended up pretty muddy. Since this course had a lot of fine sand on it, this actually worked its way into my shoes and I ended up with toe boxes full of sand by the end.
So I’ll leave it at this…the above is what makes trail running fun. It’s the unpredictable nature of the course (a dry fast trail can turn into a we mud fest very quickly), and you never know what to expect. Embrace the change and it is a blast.
My #1 goal of this event was to do something different and have some fun, and I did both of those things! I took it pretty easy on pace and covered something like 28 miles in 6 hours…again, this wasn’t a race. While I f’d up the strategy on the 1st trip out, I quickly figured out a good way to score points and got much more efficient with my trips after that. The most important thing I did over that 6 hours though was discovering the joys and wonders of the aid station buffet. When I’m racing, I don’t eat a lot of real food so I can try to keep the stomach in good shape…for this event though I think I had a hollow leg because I mowed down a few PB&J sandwiches…with a Nutella sandwich stacked on top…I now have a new favorite thing.
Some quick gear notes – I’m not normally a hydration pack guy (I prefer holding bottles), but I used my Nathan Vapor Air vest with a 2L bladder full of water and a flask full of Tailwind tucked into one of the front bottle holders. I never refilled the bladder, I refilled the bottle twice. The vest was key in this race because you needed your hands to hold maps and stamp books. I ran the course in my Altra Superior 2.0. Probably more shoe than I needed, but still was comfortable for 6 hours.
So, I enjoyed some adventures searching for that Texas Treasure, got to spend some time getting wet and soggy on the course, and got my mud run in for the year. After I was done I hung at the ranch to spend some time with the TROT gang and just enjoyed the atmosphere of trail racing. What more could you want?
So – the Texas Treasure Quest was a blast…if you want to do something different and need a refreshing change to the standard race…this is it! Highly recommend you check this out next year. You can find more details here: TROT Texas Treasure Quest
As you know, I like stats…but we’ll close this post out with non-racing related ones…because sometimes you gotta do something different…
The Stats (Author’s Note – These are liberal estimates and are not exact so they may be inflated just a bit)
Piles of poop Dodged – 657
Piles of poop Stepped In – 24
Number of lightning strikes within 1 mile of my location – 15
Pounds of sand emptied from one shoe – 4
Highest water level crossed – 2.5′
Hours I spent looking for treasure M4 – 5
Hours I spent collecting all other treasure – 1