Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mowdy Ranch Mustang Run

Run wild with the mustangs--who wouldn't want to do that? I jumped in on the bandwagon heading to the Mowdy Ranch, and signed up for the max--50K of wooded trails and dirt roads. Quite a few of my friends went along for the trip too. Johnna, Lynna, Michelle, Misty, Chrissy, Jana, Christine, Lisa, Camden, Anthony, Jorge, Nancy, Tyler, Nikki, Tessa, Jess, Vickie, Pam, Shelley, Jillian, Ellen, Brian "Head-TATUR" Hoover, and probably a dozen more I am not remembering. This was a great place to get Oklahoma Dirt Trail Series points. It woulds be pretty easy to slip into the top 10 in some of the smaller attended races. 
I had planned on camping out the night before, and did--except I opted to try sleeping on the back floor of my Ford. I have always said I could through a blow-up mattress back there and be set. Academy, however, had a large assortment that were all a foot too long, or better stated, my truck was a bit too narrow. Still, I bought a camping mattress, that resembled a pool floaty, but was cloth covered. It was still a foot too long, but was close on thew width. Being the window-screen genius that I am, I devised screens on either side of my truck for some flow-through ventilation. This, with the help of a clip-on battery powered fan kept me semi-comfortable during the night and I managed maybe 5 hours of sleep.

The race people lit a huge bonfire after dark at the camping area, and a few from my group came equipped with stuff to make s'mores. Getting close enough to the flame to toast a marshmallow was impossible. At best, you could set the marshmallow on fire, and enjoy a charred gooey piece of heaven. I laid down on my belly and reached my roasting stick right up to the edge of the coals, and managed to get an almost perfect lightly brown toasted prize, and only seared a little hair off of my hand and wrist.

After a round of s'mores we retired to sleep. I never go to bed that early, and I tossed and turned until around midnight--but finally dozed off.

I had set my alarm for 56:00 am and figured I could get dressed and all the foot goo and chafing stuff put on in time to walk 200 yards to the starting line, but getting dressed and slathered up while laying down takes more than 30 minutes. I ran to the start with maybe a minute to spare, and realized I had forgot to put on my bug spray. So I sprinted back to spray down and then met Johnna near the star t line just after the runners were sent off. Then, I remembered I had forgot my race bib. Johnna needed the porta-potty, so we both took care of business, and ended up starting 3-4 minutes late.

I had hoped to meet up with Chrissy, and maybe run a few miles with her if our paces matched, but I ended up never seeing her. It was still fairly dark, but we could see just well enough to follow what was a dirt road. About a quarter mile into the course, there was a water crossing with a real small wooden bridge--if we had been in the crowd, there might have been a bit of a log-jam there. 

Within 2 miles, we hit our first aid station, and they sprayed me down with sun screen--something else I forgot. Most of our first few miles were shaded, but believe me--it got hot later in the day.

After the first aid station, we entered a trail named Copper Head Road. It was a nice dirt road that turned into a mowed path, and then switched back and sent us up the steeped hill on the course. This single track wound around through limestone rock formations that reminded me a lot of the Chandler Wilds. 

I really liked this section. We plodded our way almost a mile of technical trail that just begged to be photographed. I really took very few pictures coming through the first time, mostly because of lack of good lighting, but got many more on the second loop.

Anything resembling a good pace was wiped away through here, but I crave trailz like these. 

We were in good spirits, and decided to think of this race as an adventure and training run. Picture taking would be a priority.

Another Chandler-Park-looking picture.

The second aid station--the Sizzling Sasquatch--was manned by RJ Chiles. RJ is having a three-day event over Labor Day Weekend in Coalgate, where there is every distance imaginable up to 50K. And you can run all three days!! I will be at Do Wacka Do that Saturday but plan on running the Squatch on Sunday and maybe Monday.

More single track. As it got hotter during the day, I gave thought to taking a dip in one of these creeks. But on the south loop on one of the crossings, I was what I am pretty sure was a water moccasin just laying in the water at the edge of one of those wooden bridges. I decided pouring my water bottle on my head was better than dipping my head in the creek. 

The south loop had a bit more roads across meadows. But there was still quite a bit of narrow single track.

One of several watering holes for the horses. We were actually running on the same land where they were--no fences keeping us separate. AT times, you'd hear thew rumbling of hoofs, and a herd would run right past you from one field to a grove of trees. They never got really close, but to me, it seemed they were quite curious about what we were doing.

We made the start/finish and headed back out on the north loop. Here is the wood bridge--much like some of the ones at Rocky Raccoon. 

The first bit of single track on the first bit of single track on the north loop.

Sorry for all the pix of dirt and rocks. It's like candy for me.

I shed my shirt during the race and went shirtless until I started worrying about burning to a crisp. For the record, I didn't burn. For the record, my pasty white skin is now slightly darker than my whitey tighties.

Lynna had motored ahead--intent on getting her 50K in. Johnna and I had almost accepted that a marathon would be a fine fitting ending to a good day. It was a little too warm in the fields in the direct sun, but you could at least get a little breeze. In the woods, it was maybe 10 degrees cooler, but there was no breeze. The humidity was a little on the high side.

But Johnna was not getting along in the heat as well as I was. He started getting a bit of a headache, and her hands were swelling. I advised her to take in some more salt, and she said she had. I was worried about her headache, and she talked about dropping at the end of the loop. She had run out of water--maybe didn't refill at the last aid station? I shared my water bottle with her--I was carrying two--one with water one with Gatorade.

She ended up dropping at the Squatch aid station, and they got her a ride back. Once she got cooled down and rehydrated, she was fine.

This was the best shot I got of the roaming horses. There are hundreds of awesome photos of these majestic ponies floating around, but I wanted to post one of my own.

I caught up with Lynna at the start of the last loop. (Actually, she was waiting on me.) We ran the last loop together, and it seemed like we picked up the pace a little. I thought there might be a shot that we could go out on the short final loop for our 50K, but it would be close. The way it turned out--it really wasn't close. I got really hot on the last mile. It was a gradual uphill--not much of a climb at all, but certainly not downhill. It was also 100% in the sun, and the temps were in the low to mid 90s. And any win there might have been was at our backs so we could not feel it. So we ran a little, walked a little, and I did the shuffle thing for the most part.

We kicked it up a step the last few hundred yards and managed to finish with a smile on our faces.

So for the weekend, I came home with a nice tech shirt, a bandana with a map of the course (which I love), a cool medal, and we were fed a great spaghetti dinner, bbq after the race, and had the best wild horse encounters ever.  This race is on my schedule for next year for sure!!

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