Monday, March 24, 2014


This was a Snake Run like no other. Well, that might be an overstatement, but we did not have snow, or rain, or mud. We had perfect running weather, great trail conditions, good fast competition in both races, and pretty good swag if I do say so myself.

Picture borrowed from Danielle Huddleston
Five minutes before 9:00, I made a few announcements explaining the course changes and other misc info to a antsy group of six hour runners.

The men's field was stacked. Aaron Ochoa, Nick Seymour, Shannon McFarland, and Justin Franklin knew there was a battle in store, and they pushed each other all day, with a few lead changes during the race. Those paying attention to their placement during the race had a good show. Trail racing can and should be a spectator sport. There was an all day battle in the ladies six hour event as well. Jeanne Bennett, Sharon James, and Madaleine Vargas paced off each other all day, and after a couple of hours, there was little doubt they would all make the podium.

Picture borrowed from Danielle Huddleston
And away they go.

The six hour runners get a 15 minute head start on the three hour runners--and this helps a little in keeping the trail from being so congested. Also new for this year, we bypassed a narrow section of the trail on the return trip to keep things from getting snarled with runners passing in both directions. It seemed like most runners liked the change. Besides the course running faster with this section being one-way, it also took out some of the modest elevation change on the return trip. Overall distances seemed like they were up a bit.

At 9:15, the three hour event was called to order. Same announcements, and a bigger crowd. There were 44 six hour contestants, and 144 in the three hour race.

The gun fired, and the crowd hustled to get out of what seemed like a wind tunnel at the top of Turkey Mountain.

Hi Julie!!

Tom thinks he's flashing gang signs.

Picture borrowed from Danielle Huddleston
And the moi]b invades the west side of the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness.

We were treated to a canine supermodel wearing this years Snake Run Shirt.

Luv me some aid station volunteers. Dana, my DW, is awesome all by herself, and she was joined by Arena, Johnna, and Charlotte, and Melon working the start/finish aid stop. Later, Ken aka K2, Phillip, Sarah, and Jen-O joined the force, and chef Wes cooked burgers and dogs off and on all day.

Picture borrowed from Danielle Huddleston
With the loop shortened from 4.2 miles to 3.75 miles, the runners came through the start/finish more often. It was non-stop action.

Picture borrowed from Beyond Ordinary Life Photography
Meanwhile, at the other aid station (Noble's Oasis) John, Jordan, and Matt served runners at mile 1, 2.1 , and 3.3. Pros--you could run without a water bottle. Cons--it was easy to spend a few minutes each time you came by, which could easily rob you from the distance you might run

Near the end of the three hours when it seemed unlikely that you could finish another 3.75 mile loop, runners could opt to run a marked 1/2 mile loop to tack on more mileage to their total. There is quite a bit of strategy to this--making the choice to hit another 3.75 and come in even 5 seconds late and the lap would not count. Hustling around the small loop as many times as possible might make a difference--and sometimes a BIG difference in your overall placing.

Arena and I counted mini-loops for the three hour race. It was tough, but we did a good job and I think we got em all.

Picture borrowed from Beyond Ordinary Life Photography
A few more pics from the three hour race. Mishelle prepares to douse the photographer.

Picture borrowed from Beyond Ordinary Life Photography
More Gatorade please.

Picture borrowed from Danielle Huddleston

Once the three hour race was over, we gave awards to the top three men and women. Katie Kramer won the event with 21.75 miles, a course record. Rachel Eraker was second with 19.25 miles. Joni Pinkley was third with 18 miles.

First place in the men's three our event went to Reed Echohawk with 22.5 miles. Brandon Alba was second with 21.25 miles. Garrett Wallace was third with 20.25 miles.

Most all of the three hour runners sat around and ate burgers and dogs, and had a beer or two. It was a good day.

The line to collect the Medusa medal was longer than the burger line. K2 was busy passing them out.

Meanwhile, the 6 hour drama was unfolding. Justin and Nick had separated themselves from their pursuers and were duking it out for the lead. Justin would pull ahead by a hundred yards or so, then Nick would narrow the gap. It seemed like the 6 hour course record was going to fall.

Edward and gave away another round of snake trophies to some very deserving runners.

Nick Seymour put the move on Justin in the last hour, and then continued to extend his lead. The old course record was narrowly edged with Nick's 43.75 miles. Justin held on for second place with 41.75 miles. Shannon McFarland also joined the 40 mile club with an even 40, adding to his collection of Snake Trophies.

The ladies race was just as tight. Jeanne Bennett finally pulled away from the crowd and won with 36.75 miles--another course record. Madaleine Vargas ran her furthest distance ever with 33.75 miles--good enough for second. Sharon James was right on her heels for most of the race and finished third with 32 miles.

Thanks to Mitch Drummond for timing the race. This is one super tough race to time--especially when the last runners are finishing the big loop while large numbers are belting out the mini-loops. Then, compiling these laps for totals all in a matter of minutes is one trick task. Mitch is patient and tedious and very much appreciated. Thanks as always to Brian too, who does a huge amount of the setup, and helped with just about everything.

Picture borrowed from Danielle Huddleston
Snake runners come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. There were 10 runners ten years old or younger in the race. Justin Huddleston ran 7.5 miles and seems pretty happy about it.

Picture borrowed from Nick Seymour
Here's a future Snake runner in the making. Nick Seymour's son gives the snake trophy some dental work. What'dya bet he wins one of these someday?

For a good report from a good friend, read Bob Doucette's blog Proactive Outside.

My friend Laurie Biby spent all day on the course taking some spectacular pictures. They can be viewed HERE. She is a top notch photographer and I am sure she has multiple pictures of every runner that was on the course. Her business is Beyond Ordinary Life Photography. Spend a half hour cruising through her shots. I bet you'll be impressed. 


  1. While I was off in Branson getting fatter you had another great Snake Run. Congratulations.

  2. We had a great time, thanks for putting together a great event!