This was the 2nd annual Captain Karl’s Run “the All Nighter”. The format is different to all other races I had participated before. Instead of a fixed distance, the race was divided into two durations, the 6 hour race and the 12 hour race. The location is Burnet, TX. Right in the middle of Hill Country, about a 60 minute drive northwest from Austin and 2 hours north from San Antonio.
As you might have heard in the news, this area got pounded by rainfall during the week leading to the event. Flashfloods damaged many homes and businesses and rescue teams had to rescue folks from treetops and rooftops. I was a bit worried the race would not start due to such devastation but the RD assured us we were still on.
I set up a tent at the start line, somewhere within the Inks Lake State Park. My family and Dad were there to make sure I went into the trail and not chickened out of the race. Later on the family left for a hotel in town but my Dad camped out to crew me all night. The start of the race was at 7:00 PM.
As expected, the trails were wet. As expected, Hill Country does have hills. As expected, running through the night requires of concentration, lights and sure footing. As expected, I regretted not having taken a nap prior to the race. Slightly expected, having walked SeaWorld the previous day was not a smart move. Not as expected, Hill Country has monster hills. Nowhere close to expected, these monster hills are made of granite. Beyond any expectation, these granite hills can puddle lots of water that together with ankle deep stream crossing and running inside creek beds made for a race 50%+ in the water.
The race course had to be modified just hours prior to the race. For obvious reasons, the park service had to open some flood gates which allowed water to take over half of our race course. The RD and volunteers did a great job at switching to plan “b” and marking and tagging the modified course. The course was not only marked with the usual orange ribbons but hundreds of glow sticks lit the trails making it difficult (not impossible) to get lost.
I started my run hoping to break my ultra distance record of 50 Km within the time allowance. I felt it was going to be easy, considering my previous 50 Km took me 6:30. For the reasons previously explained, my plans had to change and my results were significantly reduced. After loop one (5 miles) I had decide 40 miles was feasible. After 20 miles, I just wanted out. After 10:40 I gave up with a total of 32 miles. I guess I did break my previous record by 1.5 Km.
The winner of the 12 hour race managed to put in 50 miles in 11:00. A total of 51 runners participated. The aid stations were very well staffed and full of drinks and food I never thought I would crave in the middle of the night. Race packets included a hat and a 3 watt LED flashlight. I also won a t-shirt for being the runner that traveled the most to get there (maybe a prize I should not brag about). All proceeds went to the American Cancer Society. Breakfast egg burritos were awesome, this coming from a Mexican whose palate is never impressed by Mexican food outside Mexico. The final wildlife count was: 1 armadillo (alive), 1 snake (no rattler), 2 gophers, several squirrels, even more white tails and evidence of granola bar eating raccoons. Vegetation encounters at high speed (first two loops) were frequent, cacti and desert palms at waist level and below were unavoidable.
I strongly recommend this run if you are looking for a night running experience. The location is beautiful and is convenient if you are looking at visiting surrounding cities. The charitable cause is worth it. The runners are mostly locals and great running pals. Even without the abnormal rainfall, this race should be considered a higher than average challenge. If you are interested visit www.traversetrailrunning.com
See you out there on the trails.