I am a little late in getting my race report out for the melody Mustang Ranch Trail run. This is my third year to run this race, and it is a very well put together race, great trails, and beautiful scenery. It’s also cool to see wild Mustangs running around in the woods while you’re also running around in the woods.This year, I signed up for the 50 K knowing that if it got hot I would drop down to the marathon distance. I have no problem doing that, as I don’t like absolutely baking my brain out in the open spaces. The marathon and 50K started at 5 AM. Most everybody wore their headlamps, but I opted to go without one since in 15 or 20 minutes it was light enough to see. The race starts out across a small field and turns into a small wooded area and then gets back out into some open prairie. The first mile or so, it was too dark to take any pictures; but when I got into the words, the sun was starting to pick up over the horizon.
The Mowdy Ranch Trail Run has a 5K, 10K a half marathon, full marathon, 50K. The course has 7 miles on the north side of the ranch and then you come back to the start finish. Then you go out for about 6.5 miles on the south end of the property. Once you do both of these loops, you have a half marathon under your belt. The marathon does the same thing twice, and the 50K does an additional shorter loop to make their distance. I’d say close to half of the runners at this event do the half marathon.
After passing this tree with the face, you get into some really technical trails. Most trail runners would actually call this their favorite section as there are some cool rock formations.
My first time around, I ran the section fairly well although I did stop and take a few pictures. My second lap it was starting to get hot and I basically walked through it and endured the technical areas.
I always take a picture from this spot, but a photo never captures how amazing the view really is. After being in dense woods for a couple of miles, the break here in the tree cover shows a valley and a distant hill maybe 4-5 miles away. It's not Colorado, but it's still scenic.
This mile stretch is like running FlatRock. Not easy to run with tired legs.
If I had built this trail, I would have plotted it just as it is. I reserve the right to cuss at it, but meandering between rocks is trail running at its best.
Fortunately, my body tends to lean this direction later in a race.
It can really get hot at this race, but this year was a few degrees cooler than in years past. It was partly cloudy but when you got out in these fields and the sun was beating down on you It was a grind.
I'm not sure if this was on the north or south side trailz. Let's say south.
After my first loop, I picked up my new spiffy hat. It’s a straw hat with lots of ventilation, and a 50 UPF rating. It breathes well enough that my head didn’t get too hot and sweaty, although I still needed the bandanna to mop my brow.
These sunny sections were a good place to run. No roots or rocks to trip on, and the sooner you got through them the better. The warm weather eventually did take its toll on me. I hit an aid station on the north side where they filled my water bottle--and I promptly spilled it all over there M&Ms and potato chips. I felt kind of bad about that but they said oh don’t worry don’t worry. But I had used the last of their water in their water jug. They said they could get me a refill but I opted to go on since my bottle was about half full. That was a mistake. I got to the long Rocky technical section for the second time and my legs were tired enough that I really couldn’t shuffle through there. I just walked. I was sort of rationing my water were not wanting to run out before I got to the next stage station, but I still drained it and had about a mile and a half to go mostly in an open sunny field. I found myself getting really short of breath and actually had a slight bit of tightness in my chest. That spooked me, and I really wondered what I should do. Then, it occurred to me I had my cell phone and I could call my friends RJ and Michelle at the next state station. They could probably run out to meet me with a bottle of water. Three minutes later RJ came riding up on a four wheeler with a cold bottle of Gatorade and a cold bottled water. He stayed with me while I guzzled all that down and offered me a ride on in--but I wanted to stay in the race. When I got to their aid station I sit down drink another big cup of ice water and another big cup of ice Gatorade and felt like I was 100%. Or 90%--somewhere in there.
I went on and I knew at this point that I was not going to make the 50 K. I expected that, but I was worried that I was not going to get to the Finishline before their cut off. I did not want to hold all the aid stations out there waiting for me. So I called my buddy Chris who was timing the rice and he assured me that I had plenty of time to finish the marathon and that there were actually quite a few 50 K years behind me. I really questioned that as I think I had been lapped by all of them and in fact I had.
I was starting to think I wasn’t going to see any horses out on the range, but as I made the turn heading back towards the start finish I saw several and took a picture and walked a little further and took another picture trying to get close and as it turns out I probably could’ve scratched them on the butt. They were quite tame.
I made the aid station on the south side of the course and apologized for being so slow but they said not to worry that they’d be there even if it was until dark. I thought that was very kind but I didn’t want to keep them out there that long so I picked up the pace a little bit. Not a lot— just a little.
The south side of the course has a little more exposed sections, but this year, they had cut a few more trailz and eliminated some fields and added single track through the woods. This race gets better every year.
I probably had about 4 miles left in my race and another four wheeler came riding out to meet me. It was Clay Melody, the owner of the Mustang Ranch, and I guess the word got around that I had had a little bit of trouble with the heat and they were concerned that I was OK. Actually I was doing great but I was very thankful that they came out to check on me.
There were lots of armadillos out this day. This guy was so busy rutting around for grub worms that he was totally unaware that I was taking his picture. I could have scratched his ears. Earlier, I saw 4 babies rooting around in the leaves. They looked up at me like puppies. I could have brought one home.
When I reach the south aid station again for the final time, there were about 20 people there standing in applauding for me coming in. I was just blown away by that. I know the last place runner usually gets a lot of hoopla. That’s the cool thing about our sport, but I sure didn’t expect so many people. They told me that it was only about a mile to the finish and that was pretty close to true it’s actually about a mile and a quarter and I managed to jog that in.
They gave me my finishers medal and told me not to go away, as they had a Nother special award for me. It seems the last horse in the barn gets a special award. Again that’s something kind of unique to trail run. They gave me this little gnome which I thought was just quite fitting as it was riding a turtle. It now resides in my flower garden, and it does move around a little bit but not very fast.
So what can I take from this run? Only that trail runners are some of the greatest people in the world. I love this race, and will probably do this one every year until I’m too old to get around.