My first race for 2009 was the Bandera 100K in Bandera, TX. This was the second year that I ran this race. The course hates me, but that's besides the point, lol. It's all rocks for the most part. The little reprieves of flat, grassy, rock-free, and runnable sections don't last very long and don't make up for the rocks or the straight up and down (no switchbacks) "hills", which become mini-mountains during the night.
You know a course is difficult, if parts of it are given euphemisms:
Sky Island - Sounds pleasant, doesn't it? But the effort that it took to climb and descend this thing while navigating so many rocks so early in the race is unbelievable. I was so high up I thought I could touch the sky. The good thing was that I was able to do this "hill" both times while the sun was still awake.
Ice Cream Hill - What a cute name, right? There is nothing cute about this climb. Although once you top out, the view below is beautiful. Then again, you have to run (i.e., slip and slide on the rocks) down the other side.
Three Sisters - These are some hard-core, ghetto divas. These hills are not the motherly type and do not nurture. Pampering is not their style. At night, they are down right scary.
Lucky Peak - Nope, I was not feeling lucky at all. Well, maybe it was luck that I didn't fall on what my momma gave me trying to go up and down this monster.
Cairn's Climb - I saw quite a few "cairns". The fact that someone would actually take the time to build these little monuments of rocks while climbing this "hill" amazes me. Maybe whoever built them just needed a break from climbing/descending. I can't tell you the number of times I wanted to knock those little suckers over, especially at night. I guess I could have; no one was around to see me do it at that point, lol.
Boyles Bump - If that's a bump, it must be on steroids. More slipping and sliding from the loose rocks, all shapes and sizes, and trail that is indistinguishable if not for the flags and glow sticks in the night. Just as you think you've topped out, the trail starts climbing again. Fun, fun, fun.
So, why did I go back, even though I knew what I was in for? It has a 24-hour cut-off! Even I can finish 62 miles in 24 hours. Last year I finished in 21:21:36. This year, for whatever reason, I finished in 20:43:43. I was absolutely ecstatic!
I love food, and the aid stations and volunteers were delightful. The Last Chance AS had pancakes and syrup at night, right before the five mile stretch of Cairn's and Boyle's Bump. Grilled cheese sandwiches (my favorite food during an ultra) at the Cross Roads AS were wonderful. This AS comes before and after the Three Sisters and is where I had my drop bag. Essentially, we hit this AS 4 times, which means I had about 4 grilled cheese sandwiches! Nachos and Chapas had vegetarian red beans and rice. Delicious!
The fleece pull-over and the finishing buckle are very nice and worth the rocks. The weather wasn't too bad, except for the wind. Several times I thought I'd be blown off the mountains, and I'm a hefty, little woman. I wondered how my buddy Fred was handling the wind. He weighs a lot less than I do, and I could just imagine the wind picking him up and dumping him in a ravine. Fred, btw, is absolutely amazing. He finished in 17:22:14. He left me in the rocks on the climb up Sky Island on the first loop.
Even though it was probably above freezing temperatures, I was very comfortable in 2 shirts, tights, a jacket, gloves, and a hat. I know that seems like a lot, but I don't move fast enough to wear less in the winter, lol.
No animal sightings. I did wonder about the cougar that lives in the Hill Country State Natural Area. During the night, I heard all types of sounds that I never heard during the day. I never turned my head to see where the sounds came from. My head was down, headlamp and hand-held light leading my way, watching for that trick rock that would take me down. I slipped and slid, but never fell. This was a good thing.
Have I mentioned that Bandera ROCKS?!
4 years ago