Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Red Dirt Shuffle Review

It's time to put my thoughts together with these pictures that I have had loaded for a couple of days. Last Sunday was the first of many years for the Red Dirt Shuffle, a halfish marathon and a quarter-sorta marathon. I have played on these trailz a few times before, and I knew the first time I ran here that this would be an awesome place for a race.

Lake McMurtry publishes a decent trail map--not loaded with details, but you can at least tell there is a trail going around the lake and if you look carefully, you can navigate the turns.  

The half and quarter ran different loops. The quarter had the easier and shorter south loop, while the half had the more technical and longer north loop to do before finishing with the south loop.

We had quite a few more halfers that quarter horses.

I was happy to have 100 sign up and 85 show up for this event.

The north loop was run in the counterclockwise direction. The course can best be described as an out and back with offshoot loops on the way back. At times, you might see runners coming back your way, but for the most part, you only saw who might be just ahead or behind you.

I spent Saturday marking, using only styrofoam plates with arrows tacked to trees. Where it was feasible, I put wrong way signs on the trailz that you were NOT supposed to go on.

A nice view of the lake greeted the half marathoners in a couple of spots. The quarter had a couple of distant views.

Like wooden bridges--these trails have them.

Near the aid station and about half way through the north loop, the trail crosses this powerline easement. I think a trail addressing these rolling hills would be a good addition.

There's a little bit of everything on this trail system. You have roots and rocks, sandy trails, trails through meadows, through thick wooded areas, on pine needles, through briers, and tropical reeds.

The south trailz had an easier track. I rode my mountain bike on the north side and it about killed me. I think I could ride thew south side without pushing my bike near as much.

The mt bike riders in the area do a LOT of trail maintenance here. About a mile of new trail had been cut in the past few months replacing sections with erosion issues. Every foot of the trail seems to be well thought out.

Building these bridges means lugging lots of heavy treated lumber a long distance into the woods. Their dedication is commendable.

A narrow downhill spiral. A runner ahead stretches it out while I stop for a picture.

This was my favorite bridge. Instead of dragging a truckload of treated 2x6s in, fallen trees from the area were used. They tied these together with a steel cable drilled through each log. The bridge bounced and swayed.  If it were only 100 feet higher!

I hang around the start/finish for most of the race. Jeremy Wiley pounds out a finish--his first trail race and first half marathon. His daughter was waiting for him to give him his finishers medal.

Red Dirt Shuffle 1/4 Marathon Women's top three from left to right: Amanda Cothern took 3rd, Elisha Adams was 2nd, and Katie Brown was the female winner.

Men's Quarter Marathon top three: In the red next to me, Shayne Hudson took 3rd, on thee right Skylar Turner was 2nd, and in the yellow Craig Harrison was the 1/4 marathon winner.

Red Dirt Shuffle Half Marathon top three: in the Red Coyote shirt Debbie Murnan was 3rd, on the right Shelly Chronister was 2nd, and in the blue speedy Katie Kramer was the ladies Half Marathon winner.

The men's race top three from right to left: Cameron Plate was 3rd, Aaron Ochoa was 2nd, and Justin Franklin was the Red Dirt Shuffle Half Marathon winner.

But the awards were not through yet. Roman Broyles and Cindy Metcalf were the men's and women's longest shufflers. They spent more time on the trailz than anyone else, and were warmly rewarded for their accomplishment.

An honorable mention for longest shuffler goes to Leaha Kopp, who barely out-sprinted Roman and Cindy to the finish line. This was Leaha's first trail race and first half marathon. She had faithfully put her training in for 13.1 miles and was treated to an extra 1.5 miles, due to my evil habit of adding a wee bit to the length of my races for good health.

Susan Melon Westmoreland made these amazing finishers awards and trophies. 
This is real honest red dirt from the Lake McMurtry area. She sifted the dirt, funneled it into over 100 of these bottles, made the lettering and stuck it to the bottles, glued the cork and eyelet in, and cut and tied the leather strings. She is an artist.

My wife Dana was awesome as ever, helping me mark and pull course markings, wrangling all the aid station food, and keeping me sane. The race events go well when she's at the helm. I am bad at forgetting to thank all of my volunteers. So this time, I'll echo Dana's FB thank you.
Thanks to all our Awesome Volunteers yesterday. Kate Ellisor and Shannon Ojeda Jennings Jessi Wiley her two kiddos you all were so awesome. Ken and I appreciate you so much. Thanks to all the Runners that helped after the run to pack up. Kathy HooverRoman BroylesMike Rives, Cindy Metcalf, and if I left you out please forgive me. I know you all were tired from the run. Can't forget the awesome Susan Lydon Westmoreland, so gifted, made our medals. She's so amazingly talented and creative. TZ calls her his Chloe--if you watch 24 will know what I mean. Actually he made the statement if she was Chloe that must mean he was Jack Bauer. Of course I laugh and stated she is definitely Chloe but he wasn't Jack Bauer lol. Thanks to Brian Hoover for timing our race.

Oh come on--I AM Jack Bauer!!

Finally, I really enjoyed putting on this race. I enjoyed shuffling around and marking the route, and pulling plates after the race. And I got more than my share of souvenirs from my endeavors.
I have over 200 chigger bites. Now, as I type on Thursday evening, the insane itching frenzy is almost gone. The red spots are scabs. How chiggers get from my feet all up my legs, all over my buttocks, my belly, my back, my armpits, and even my face--I dunno. This is the second worse batch I have ever had. If you ran the race and got not even a chigger nibble, you can thank me. I got em all.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Some pictures of Turkey Mountain other than what the TV stations show.

I have noticed that in all of the TV stories on Turkey Mountain, the video is always of the main trail head, or from the upper parking lot, and sometimes by the outlet mall plot. That's where the camera crew park their truck, and heaven forbid they venture into the woods to actually see how awesome these trailz are. The view from the overlook on the Ho-Chi is safe from the mall development, but is a perfect example of the treasure that we have.
Heading west, the Snake Trail has some of the easiest and most used routes in the urban wilderness. It's pristine single track, and is usually decorated with an assortment of wild flowers.There are several beautiful ponds. Feel like fishing? There are perch, catfish, and smallish bass. It's also a perfect place for a quick swim--if you're a dog.
I lead a group of runners on SUnday mornings and Tuesday evenings, and we explore all of the 25 miles of wilderness trailz.The wildlife on Turkey Mountain is diverse. There are deer, squirrel, raccoon, opossum, armadillo, occasional bobcat, mountain lion (I have seen one), river otter (I have seen one of these too), beaver, and hundreds of species of birds including American eagles. This vista is on the northern part of the proposed malls parking lot. Paving 60 acres leaves a lot of animals homeless.

Another problem is the rain water runoff. Rain exits flat paved surfaces as soon as it falls, and will cause incredible erosion problems. I am no specialist, but he Mooser Creek water shed would be greatly altered. I would imagine the YMCA would feel the consequences after a heavy rain.

Pepsi Lake would be in danger--being pumped with mud from the rain and erosion.Other beautiful features that few people have seen--the falls below Pepsi Pond. The lake is a little low right now, but at times, the falls are beautiful.
This is Mooser Creek. There is not really a trail leading to this view--but their should be. To me--mall construction means destruction of so many of Turkey Mountain's best features.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Forgotten Malls of Tulsa

Recently, I was asked to "like" a Facebook page Forgotten Malls of Tulsa. A niece of a friend's former boss created the page, and has taken a lot of pictures of abandoned and struggling malls and shopping centers, which goes to show that the success rate is less than stellar--no mater WHERE they are built. Case in point: The RiverWalk Crossing, The I-44 Best Buy / Bed Bath & Beyond shopping center are two of the newest. Tulsa Hills seems to be booming, but with an outlet mall a mile away, stores like Belk's, Dick's, Ross, Michael's, and Radio Shack will suffer greatly, and if they close, there will be more abandoned buildings. Truly--do we need any more new retail stores in Tulsa? Could we not use facilities we already have? Check out here page, which has links to several good articles.

Friday, September 5, 2014

An opinion from the Oxley Nature Center

This is a segment of an article from THE TULSA VOICE
Potential environmental impact
Eddie Reese, director of Oxley Nature Center, said the potential development would wipe out many smaller residents of the site, including hundreds of arthropod species, ornate turtles and three-toed box turtles, skunks, lizards and several species of snakes.
“All those things that live there now pretty much won’t be able to leave,” he said. “They’re too small, too slow. So they’re not going to make it.”
Flying squirrels, which occupy Oxley Nature Center and Mohawk Park, might also reside in the Turkey Mountain area, Reese said. Unlike the more common fox squirrel, flying squirrels are nocturnal, which makes them particularly vulnerable to development.
“The bulldozers will come in during the daytime and start pushing things around, preparing the ground for development,” Reese said. “… [Flying squirrels will] be holed up in a hollow tree, and they will get pushed over.” 
Larger animals like foxes, coyotes and bobcats would be forced into territory already occupied by their counterparts. The reduced hunting and nesting area would also squeeze out Red Tailed Hawks, Screech Owls and other birds. 
“[A habitat] can only get so small before some animals have to just leave the area completely,” Reese said. “I don’t know how small that really is for them.” 
Jay Pruett, director of conservation for The Nature Conservancy in Oklahoma, said such a development would also disturb the surrounding wilderness. Unfamiliar disruptions like automobile noise and nighttime lighting “can make [animals] feel uncomfortable obtaining food or raising young … such that they are not able to do it sufficiently,” Pruett said.
Some species, such as deer, opossums, skunks and raccoons, are relatively adaptable to such interference.  Others leave the area in search of friendlier forests, Pruett said.
The details of any development are worth an earnest look because all life is connected, Reese said. 
“I think sometimes people think that we don’t really need nature, because we’re separated from it,” Reese said. “… What they forget is that everything is tied together, and when you start taking pieces of that puzzle out, the puzzle starts to fall apart.” 
The connections are intricate and hard to overstate. For example, hummingbirds build their nests with silk from spider webs, Reese said.
“If you don’t have spiders … then hummingbirds won’t be making nests,” he said. “They won’t be laying eggs, and before too long, we won’t have any hummingbirds. … Now, how many connections like that are there … that we don’t know about? How is a turtle important; what is it connected to? … How much can you afford to lose?”

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

I would probably be nauseated starting my run from here.

I seem like I'm beating a dead horse. Here is another story/rant of what is being taken away from Tulsa. To some, an outlet mall is the best gift ever--new jobs for our city, more sales tax revenue, and BARGAINS! And all of this for a mere 56 acres of land that is not even on River Parks property. A privately owned tract that the owner has every right to sell.

But what Tulsa loses is 56 acres of wondrous nature, over 10% of a natural habitat for deer, bobcat, raccoon, and several species of birds. Yes, there is still 90% of the land--but the squeeze is put on the wildlife there, slowly pushing them out. To some, this is a frivolous argument that I won't win. Hard to argue with someone with no respect for God's creatures.

This trail will be gone once parking for patrons of the 800,000 mall is in place. There are close to 2 miles of trails that will cease to exist. This does not include the several trails beyond the property that will now be dead end trails--we basically lose the use of them too.

This vista may still be here--it's on the northern part of the plot, and providing they decide to not knock down all the trees in the picture, it may be visible from your parked car.

So, once the construction starts, get ready for this. My heart sunk a year ago when hundreds of trees were bulldozed . The heavy machinery operators were tight lipped about what was going on, although they were courteous. They were simply worker bees sent to do a job. Who knows--they may have been as sick about what they were doing as I was watching them. I was glad they left a lot of the trees standing. Those trees may not be so lucky once construction starts.

Here it is, Tulsa. Lots of concrete, lots of steel. Retail/discount shopping is on it's way. It's beautiful, isn't it?

And don't forget the infrastructure. The City of Tulsa has announced that they have no plans to widen 61st Street and the HWY 75 bridge--and hinted that Simon Properties will be responsible for the improvements. A quote from a Tulsa World story published yesterday:
At 61st Street and U.S. 75, where plans for an outlet mall were recently announced, there is no public funding identified to improve roads or other infrastructure.
The developer of the site, Simon Property Group, will be responsible for providing additional turn lanes, traffic signals and/or other improvements to provide access to the mall if determined by the city, officials said.
With the easement they could obtain to widen the roads, you can be sure we'll lose another 1.5 miles of trail.
A biking friend of mine mentioned that one bright spot was this might solve some of the parking problems at the lower parking lot. I doubt it. Personally, I would probably be nauseated starting my run from here.

I am thankful that the Kaiser Foundation has secured most of the privately owned land in our urban wilderness. I just do not want this huge sore oozing sore put within sight and and sound of our peaceful forest playground. The land south of 61st Street could very well be the next target. Development there also means the roads are widened, and Turkey Mountain loses.