Last Saturday I spent some hours in the Texas hill country running what was supposed to be a virtual race but offered the option of running at the actual venue. There were no aid stations, starting line, cheering crowds or winners, but there were other race participants on the course . The nature of trail running helped provide plenty of social distance.
I decided to drive up to the ranch Friday night and sleep in my van rather than drive up early on Saturday. I really wanted to see the sunrise. I arrived around 11:30 PM and it was pitch black out there. The owners came out to the gate to welcome me and show me where to park , which was great because I wouldn’t have known that I could park right up under the carport by the pavilion . I slept in a folding beach chair in my handicapped van that just barely fits and lies flat . It wasn’t very cold outside so I was warm and cozy with just a sleeping bag. As usual I woke up a few times but I actually slept pretty good.
When the sun was about to come up I put on my running clothes and a jacket and climbed out of the van to go look around and take pictures . I was so happy to be there! I was surprised how many other cars and campers there were . I couldn’t see them in the dark. Turned out I was parked right by the bathrooms and the lake .
After taking those photos I went back to get ready to run my half marathon. I ate a banana and drank half of a Red Bull, stashed some snacks in my vest since I’d forgotten to pack gels , made sure I had all the various things I might need in case I got lost since I’d never been on these trails before and it’s a big place, sprayed some bug spray on my legs , and locked my van . There was no official starting line but I had learned from a friend where I should start . I hit start on my watch and off I went ! I ran from just in front of the pavilion through some campsites and all the way around the lake and then out into the ranch . I hadn’t gone far before I met some cows eating grass . I’m scared of cows, but they ignored me . The trail started off pretty easy with mostly red dirt with some rocks . Later it would change a lot . There were tons of wildflowers everywhere! It was so beautiful I felt elated! Or maybe it was the Red Bull . Either way I was feeling super good . A few runners passed me which was good because then I knew I wasn’t alone . I was having a blast and enjoying the incredible terrain and views.
Sadly only five miles later I kicked a rock or a root hard and hurt my toe/foot with the bunion. That was the end of my running , but I kept hiking . My foot hurt very bad at first but the throbbing eased up enough to where I could still enjoy myself . I had the option of cutting the course and only doing 8 miles , but I decided I would rather be out there hiking in nature than sitting around anywhere. My balance was thrown off by the messed up big toe so I was very afraid of tripping again. I really needed trekking poles. I met a couple of guys, a dad and his teenage son, doing their first long distance with no real training. We hiked and chatted together for awhile. It’s always fun to meet new people, especially people who are new to the sport who are very enthusiastic about trying all the races. After a while they stopped to rest . I was ready to finish because it was warming up so I kept going . The finish line appeared sooner than expected because the course was a little short, about 12.5 miles or so . I was fine with that . At the finish line I chatted with some other runners who had already finished and then went to change clothes . It was a great day and I can’t wait to run there again!
The location is called Reveille Peak Ranch and it’s located near Burnet, Texas. It’s a family owned ranch with mountain biking trails and camping . Super friendly staff. Flush toilets and showers are available. No fishing or swimming. Trails are not normally open for day use hiking , but since the state parks were closed they opened them up to the public for a fee. Check out www.tejastrails.com for virtual race options during the corona crisis. It’s actually a very fun thing!