I hung out at an aid station yesterday at the War Eagle 50K Trail Running Festival at Hobbs State Park near Rogers, Arkansas. This third year event is the creation of Jeffery Genova with the help of Rush Running in nearby Bentonville, and they've got trail running in their blood probably worse than I do. My buddy Shannon McFarland asked us if we would be interested in manning an aid stop, and it sounded like fun. Our original plan was to camp Friday and Saturday night, and spend Sunday running trailz over there--but the bad weather and heavy rains kind of took the wind out of our sails as far as camping goes, so we left out from Tulsa at 3:30 am and made a day trip out of it. We met up with Shannon's wife Jody a couple of miles away at 6:00 am, and followed her to our place in the woods.
We set up our tents and tables in a light rain, and were thankful we were on a gravel parking lot so standing all day in mud or water was not an issue. John Nobles was on board to help. He would normally have ran the 50K, and would have no doubt placed, but was dealing with a fractured a bone in his foot and sporting a cam-boot with a nice Hefty Cinch-Sak wrapping.
Our oasis was at mile 6, and again at mile 22 for the 50Kers. We brought our TATUR gear out, but other than our tent and banner, everything else was furnished for us. (Except Dana's protein bars, which I am munching on right now--so glad there were some leftovers!)
Heavy rain was forecast for the day--at least 80-90% chances of it. My friend Zach Adams posted on his Facebook wall: "Just left Rush Running Co.... Asked a dude what the chances of War Eagle 50k being cancelled due to severe storms and lighting. His response: "Zero". I love the badassery of trail runners!"
The start of the race was delayed ~30 minutes due to lightning, and we were primed and ready for the front runners. And the rain--it stopped at about 9:00 and was cloudy and 64° for the duration of the race--perfect conditions for June 1st!
Nick Seymour, a TATUR and friend from Yukon, OK blazed through leading the 50K.
After hitting our aid station, they headed across a large gravel parking area and entered another trail here.
The trails looked great--not at all like the muddy mess I thought they would be. My secret plan was to wait until all the runners made it through. My thinking was between the last runner to reach mile 6 at an 17-18:00 m/m pace, and Nick at mile 22 at a 7:00/m/m pace, I would have about an hour to get a few miles in.
James Reeves aka the farmer grazes at the buffet. Dana was in top form serving snacks and drinks like a pro. I almost did not recognize James--clean shaven and short hair.
First female was none other than Lori Enlow another TATUR from Tahlequah, OK. Buth Lori and Nick were running well. Could TATUR sweep the wins in the 50K?? That would be AWESOME, as those Rush Runners have mopped up at our races the past few years. :-)
Royalty passes through. The good king, Mr Eric "EPIC" Steele demonstrates a good standby Karate move.
My favorite Dirt Doll, Coleen cruises through, grabs some fruit, and speeds away.
We got slammed for a while, with clusters of 10-12 runners at a time refilling bottles, grabbing PBJs, Pringles, Oranges, then moving on.
A cool shirt. I've been called that.
Polly comes through, takes a couple of hits of Coke, and gets briefed on how far ahead Eric was. AT this point, I thought she was within striking distance.
Wes buzzes through, and to my surprise, he did not have a beer?? Our usual group from Tulsa was kind of small. We had Wes, Eddie, Polly, Karrie and Eric, and I'm not sure if we had any more Tulsans.
A large group leaves out. Six miles down.
Friendly faces. Julie and Peggy came over from the OKC area to run 25K. Peggy and I do a little "dueling cameras."
Karrie and Eric are enjoying the day running 25K.
One last rush at the watering hole. Check out John's foot skirt. He had picked up the nickname Sled Dawg, and I'm guessing the surfboard-sized skis plate he was dragging around had something to do with that. Injuries suck. I could tell John was aching to run.
Dave was one of the course sweepers. It was nice to have an assigned person to give us a heads up as to where the final runners were. Having been the last runner many times myself, I like knowing someone is keeping tabs on my whereabouts, and making sure there is still aid where there needs to be. David Newman also was sweeping. They took different trailz, and eventually pulled course markings after the 50K runners passed through.
Jody was super at our aid station. She had great course knowledge, which was helpful several times when runners had questions about where they had been and how much further they needed to go.
Mike Rush came by, and John just HAD to have a photo shoot with him. Such passion in their faces. I am puzzled as to why John had a Rafael Robles shirt???
And then I got to run!!
The trailz were soft, with very few muddy spots. If all of the course was like the section I ran, I'd have to call it perfect. The trailz drain extremely well, with just enough small rocks to offset dampness, and pine needles to keep it soft.
I did not have my Garmin, but I ran 30 minutes out, and came back. It was hard to turn around, as each curve invited me to have a look around it. I climbed each gentle incline to get another great picture, and then down the next downhill because it was just such sweet running. I could have gone on all day, but I suppose I had to go back. These trailz are as good as it gets--and there are miles and miles of them. I do know this race has a few longer steeper climbs, but compared to the rocky trailz of Turkey Mountain, these are easy running.
I did not make it back in time to see Nick come through the aid station, but caught him on the trail. He was moving so fast that he is a blur. I have an app on my iPhone which would have shot a clearer picture, but did not have time to find it before he flashed by.
I did get back in time to see Lori, who had increased her lead in the race. I had been given the assignment to man the cowbell, so much cowbell was delivered.
Epic Steele had stepped it up on his second loop. He was on a hunt, and I was sure he would knock down a PR this day. It is apparent that his shirt removal was not due to nipple chafing.
It was a bit calmer as the day wore on. There were far fewer 50K runners that 25Kers, and by 22 miles, they were spread out. But even the last runner was running a good pace. Had I ran, I don't know if I would have been ahead of her.
This sign cracked me up. I saved it for later in this post--after the last runner came through, we packed up our shit and got out of there.
Dana and I needed to get home, so I did not get to see the runners finish, but I did swipe a couple of significant pictures of a couple of TATURs as they finished.
Nick Seymour strolled across the finish line winning handily running 4:28:30--just shy of a PR.
Lori Enlow finished in 5:00:30 winning yet another race. Her time was a PR and a CR. TATURS ruled this race--came to Arkansas and took home the hardware. I have an idea they will return the favor though. Might be the makings of some smack-down.
We had a great time helping out. Hats off to Jeff Genova and Mike Rush, and a host of volunteers for putting on a first class event. And thanks is due to Hobbs State Park for allowing events like this. I can't wait to come back over real soon to spend a weekend running here.