Trail Running in Texas & beyond


Rocky Raccoon 100 Pace Chart Analysis


A few friends asked me their opinion of their goals at RR100 and a sample pace chart.  I’ve done some looking at RR100 splits in the past and I love a running the numbers so I was happy to oblige.  In looking at the numbers previously there were clearly some trends.  Sadly, time will prevent me from going in depth but what follows is a general overview and I hope is useful to some Raccoons.

About the numbers

I decided to look at 20 hour to 24 hour finishes. That worked out to 338 records.  I didn’t use all the years since due to formatting it would have meant additional data scrubbing but it covers about 5 different years and a wide range of conditions.

I choose those finishing times because there are many people shooting for sub-24 and faster than 20 hours, well, those runners have enough advantages and can figure it out on their own 🙂

Included is each loop split and the variance from loop to loop both in minutes & as a percentage. Loop to loop variances are color coded so that it is easier to see patterns or significant jumps within the data set.

Color code legend:

  • blue = negative split
  • green = less than 30 minutes slower than the prior split / less than 10% slower
  • yellow = 30 to 45 minute slower than prior split / between 10% and 15% slower
  • orange = 45 to 60 minute slower than prior split / between 15% and 25% slower
  • red = 1 hour slower than prior split / greater than 25%

Download PDF of Raw Data:  RR100Split-20h to 24h

Some assumptions

The basic assumption is that a race run closer to even splits is more efficient race and therefore closer to the potential of that runner.  Research and studies of elites tend to run even or negative split races and that many PR / PB races closer follow the same pattern for distances ranging from 5k to marathon. However, ultra race, especially at 100 miles is a bit different and even all time great races out there show slow down in the later stages.  Additional complications are than most ultras are either not loops are long loops so we don’t get the granulator details we see with marathon or track running.

However, even still, looking at some of the best performances still show less variance on a per split.  For example, look at Zach Bitter’s track efforts or Max King at the 100k world champions to name but a few. Ian Sharman’s classic RR100 run  in 2011 had splits of:

  • Loop 1 – 2h 29m
  • Loop 2 – 2h 25m
  • Loop 3 – 2h-29m
  • Loop 4 – 2h 35m
  • Loop 5 – 2h 46m

What do the numbers show?

Well, that is up to you, for now to dig into the details.  I’d like to spend more time with the data and add back in age and gender to see what additional patterns emerge.  But on first glance, the patterns are I see are:

  • Most runners go out too fast and then hit a wall.  We all know that but …
    1. Runners chasing 24 hours tend slow down greatly on loop 3 & 4 and then bounce back with a stronger loop 5 (likely motivated by getting in under 24 hours).
    2. Runners in 21-23 hour bracket tend to run 3 great loops, then hit a massive wall. While often their Loop 5 looks good in terms of variance, loop 4 is a sea of orange with many runners being 90 minutes to 2 hours slower than their first loop for 4 and 5.

I bolded what I consider ‘good’ runs. Basically, runs that are all green for each loop or with only a single yellow loop.

Pace Chart

Based on the numbers, here is sample pace chart.  I suggest starting with this and then look at the numbers for yourself to fine-tune your own.

The simple strategy is try to stay within 10-20 minutes of the prior loop.  Ideally, you’d run very even splits but based on the history shown here, it seems unlikely that will happen, so these represent realistic splits given most people’s tendencies.  If you are great at even splits, someone like Ian Sharman or Thomas Orf, then stick to those, you’ll be better for it. Most of these charts factor in the loop 4 slow down that repeats over and over in the numbers.

  Loop 1 Loop 2 Loop 3 Loop 4 Loop 5


3h 30m

3h 45m


4h 15m

4h 30m


3h 35m

3h 50m

4h 10m

4h 35m

4h 50m


3h 50m

4h 5m

4h 20m

4h 45m




4h 15m

4h 35m


5h 10m


4h 10m

4h 25m

4h 45m

5h 15m

5h 30m

Tips on RR100

There isn’t anything new here but as someone who has organized the aid stations at RR100 and paced runners out there here are few things I’ve seen over and over.

  1. Too much time spent at aid stations.  With some many aid stations, you lose a ton of time if you stop at each one. If you plan on running very light and using the aid station food, the grab and go, don’t stop.  Even the longest aid station break should be less than a couple minutes but for most you to grab and go as quick as possible. Even if you use the aid station as a running break, a walking break is better for you on several fronts as you save time and won’t tighten up.
  2. The danger of Start/Finish.  Start / Finish is where your crew is at, your friends, a chair, your car, all of it.  Unless you have a medical issue, time will slip away at the biggest and busiest aid stations. Personally, I also find all those people including my crew throw me out of the mental zone. If you do need to get something from your bag at Start / Finish, make your plans before you get there, get it as fast as possible and walk out. 
  3. Don’t change your shoes unless you have to.  This is a huge time sink and often not as necessary as people convince themselves it is.  Take care of your feet before the race.  However, if something is causing problems, deal with it early because it will be faster to fix early and keep you running than having to deal with it once reaches the critical stage.
  4. Know the weather.  Every year people get caught out because they don’t realize how fast it cools down once the sun goes down. 

Send a Vet to RWB Trail Running Camp

— Update —

Fun times were had by six loons who loves some hill repeats. Started with rain and lightning, ended with some sun peaking out from the clouds. After 106 repeats run and additional $$ donations by people who couldn’t join us on the hill, I sent RWB Trail Running camp $200.



Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 12.14.44 PM

— Previous —



The RWB Trail Running camp is one of the most special weekends I’ve had a opportunity to experience. This Memorial Day weekend, I’d like to raise money that helps fund this amazing camp.

How you can help —

Hill Repeats for $$

Saturday, May 23rd, 6:30am.

I’ll be doing hill repeats at the Hill of Life in Austin, TX. Come join me and for every mile you run, I’ll donate a dollar from a the matching pool.

Route will include normal repeats and cliff loops. Come start early or join later. My plan is for 25-30 miles so I’ll be out there for a while, rain or shine. It will be humid so bring plenty of fluids. I’ll have some ice.


For every dollar you donate this Memorial Day weekend (Friday 5/22/15 to Monday 5/25/15), I’ll match your donation dollar for dollar (total matching pool is currently $250 — see below to help raise the matching pool).

To donate go here:

Send me a picture / screen capture of your receipt via my contact form and I’ll match your contribution.

Provide Matching Funds

Matching funds are a great way to increase the power of giving. If you or your company, want help increase the matching pool, please contact me.

Spread the word

The more the merrier.


Paleface 30k, Cactus Rose Relay


I haven’t been doing a good job writing down my work-outs but overall the training for October has been ok. No pain or issues with the running other than a new job messing with the schedule and rhythm a bit. On the running side, I want to get the volume up from about 35-40 per week to 55-60 per week. That will require some focus but overall I am feeling the legs are coming around a bit of struggle in September with getting back to mileage. The weight training is going well and I feel the technique improving and the impact that has on the quality of the workouts.

Paleface 30k

Went into this race rested with to having to skip a few workouts at Travis County Strength and runs due to work. Had a terrible run on Wednesday and was really questioning my training but showed up to the race with loose and rested legs.

A cold front provided a light rain and low-60s starting temperatures as we headed out on the 15k loop in the dark. The trail heads up a jeep road before dropping us into a series of mountain bike switchbacks that work their way up the gradual climb to the high point on the course. A few roots, some rocks but very runnable overall.

First loop was done in 1:22 and, after a water refill, I headed out for another tour of the course. The rain had picked up and now there was quite a lot of water on the trails making it slippery in sections. I picked a target to get to the first aid station with the idea in mind that if I got there by a certain time, I could make back to the finish for a good time. I arrived pretty close to the target and headed back. I played it safe through a rocky mile or so before really pushing the last two finish with a time of 2:44:28 (1:22:17 first loop, 1:22:09 second loop). 8th overall and 15 minutes faster than previous year.

Felt good about this race as it was one of the first races I ran every step (except refilling bottles and 2 bathroom breaks). I am still learning what it means to “run” these distances and where the threshold line lies.

Cactus Rose 100 Mile Relay

Justin put together a nice team for Cactus Rose. I was concerned about being the slowest on the team and holding them back. There was another team that signed up that was quite strong and I didn’t want to be the weak link.

I had volunteered to be the first leg since I didn’t mind heading out the day before and getting up at 3:30am for a 5am start. I preferred the clock-wise direction and figured it was likely to be cooler in the morning which suits me well. When the forecast showed 90 degree temps, I was extra glad to have that early morning leg.

Start to Equestrian was uneventful though I arrived a few minutes slower than my rough plan. I didn’t feel that bad but didn’t settle into a groove until about 3 miles in. As we hit the field, things began to click better and the 8 & 7 trails sailed by until we arrived at Nachos aid station. I filled up my bottle and as I walked out felt a sharp tightness in my left knee. I haven’t had any issues there for almost 2 years so that was an unpleasant surprise. Got going again and didn’t pay much attention to it as we made our way up and over Ice Cream Hill and back to Equestrian and then got to the Sisters and Sky Island. All was ok until I started up Boyles and the pain increased and reduced me to a power hike. The real trouble was going downhill as it was flexing the knee wasn’t going well and the act of lowering down myself down the rocks and hills put a lot of pressure on that area of the knee. Up and over Cairns felt like it a crawl as time slipped away from what felt like a great run up to that point. In hindsight, I guess I was moving ok but I sure didn’t feel like it at the time.

As we hit the flats, I was able to jog again and then run for the final mile and came in for the loop at 4:09:03. On one hand, I felt a bit down since, without the knee trouble, I feel like I would have been a good bit faster. On the other hand, anything under 4:10 is a solid time and I knew my teammates would rock it.

Justin ran an outstanding loop in the heat and showed up almost exactly 4 hours later (3:59:21). Very much to our surprise, the second place team’s runner didn’t arrive for another 50 minutes. He is a strong runner but had some stomach and heat issues.

Paul headed out and was back in 3:49. Peak day temperatures, a blazing first 15 miles, and running out of water in the hills made him suffer more than I thought was possible. At that point we were well under course record pace and with a strong final runner felt good about our chances. The thing about Cactus Rose is that it takes a lot to go right to have a good run out there. It eats up a lot of runners and splits them out. Jason flew for 20 miles before GI problems arose reducing him to a walk and side trips. I’ve spent more than my fair share time in the bushes and it is no fun. He rallied to finish in 4:35 for the win and just off the course record.

The best part of Cactus is hanging out at the start finish. It was a glorious day (if you weren’t running) to be outside and I enjoyed great company while cheering on amazing runners. I was very happy to see Brian Hopton-Jones get the win (and his 500 mile jacket) and Lise Plantier get the women’s win in the 100 mile. Nicole Studer destroyed the 50 mile course record a week after a course record at Palo Duro 50.

As far as the knee goes, I think I over-extended it during a session during week and the quad was pulling on the connectivity tissue causing the pain below the knee cap and to the side of the knee. Icing and some mobility work has already improved the situation greatly.

Relay Trophy:


Sept 22 28


Monday — Strictly Strength @ Travis County Strength. DONE

Tuesday — 2hr. Tejas Trails, Bull Creek / Forest Ridge. Completed 90 minutes. Good running.

Wednesday — Strictly Strength @ Travis County Strength (Squats). DONE. Good workout with the core being 50 goblet squats and then 5×5 back squats @65% max + 15 pounds. Plus weighted tire drags and other fun stuff.

Thursday — 1hr 30m. Tejas Trails, Hill of Life. Completed 80 minutes – would have gotten the full 90 but had to help a biker off the Hill of Life who wiped out pretty badly.

Friday — rest

Saturday — 4hrs.  Completed 21 miles, fun times.

Sunday — 2hr, easy. Done, light jog + power hiking.

Notes: solid week though definitely felt a bit sluggish on Tuesday after Rough Creek and a hard workout on Monday but felt better as the week went on.


Monday — Strictly Strength @ Travis County Strength

Tuesday —1hr 30m. Tejas Trails, St Eds / Forest Ridge

Wednesday — 1hr 30m. Bull Creek / Forest Ridge

Thursday — 1hr 30m. Tejas Trails, Craig Os.

Friday — rest

Saturday — 2 hours. Easy.

Sunday — Lake Georgetown loop (27 miles)

Notes: New job starts Wednesday means I’ll need to rework my gym / weights schedule. Also time to add back in the 5th day of running.  October’s goal is to get a consistent 50-60 miles per week and then start adding interval / speed / high intensity work in mid-November.

Sept 15-21 / Rough Creek Race


Monday — Strictly Strength @ Travis County Strength — DONE

Tuesday — 1hr 15m. Tejas Trails, Riverplace — DONE

Wednesday — Strictly Strength @ Travis County Strength — DONE

Thursday — 1hr 15m. Tejas Trails, St Eds — NOPE, work delayed turned into massive rains.

Friday — rest — GOT THIS

Saturday — Rough Creek Marathon — SEE BELOW

Sunday — 2hr, easy. — 1hr DONE.

Rough Creek Marathon Recap

Woke up at 3:30am to head up to Glen Rose for the Rough Creek Marathon. In a self-fulfilling prophecy, I wasn’t feeling too confident about this run. A poor long run the weekend before and knowing it was going to be a humid day didn’t contributed to just feeling blah as I lined up and the first 3 miles, which are easy and flat, were sluggish feeling. I was forewarned of the Rusty Crown that you get to run up 13 times per loop in short but steep jabs. Those were fun and didn’t really bother me much but on the otherwise easy flats, I just didn’t have much pep and I was overheating early with all the humidity. I noticed my form was all out of sorts and I wasn’t straight and extended through the hips. In retrospect, a heavy leg squat workout a few days prior wasn’t the best idea.

The second loop settled into quite a bit of power-hiking along with some jogging. As I got hot, I drank a lot of water and ended up a bit sloshy and nauseous. I never really acclimated to the heat this year and, even in the best of times, I am not a hot weather runner.  I have dropped better runs than this but I figured there was really no reason to drop and the team needed points in the series so on I went. I was surprised that no one really caught me those long last 6 miles and eventually the run came to an end. Despite the overall place (6th) and age division win, I can’t say it was a good performance but all runs are worthwhile and it was good to run some new trails. David puts on a great race and it was nice to see North Texas friends.



THIS WEEK – Sept 22 to 28

Monday — Strictly Strength @ Travis County Strength

Tuesday — 2hr. Tejas Trails, Bull Creek / Forest Ridge

Wednesday — Strictly Strength @ Travis County Strength (Squats)

Thursday — 1hr 30m. Tejas Trails, Hill of Life

Friday — rest

Saturday — 4hrs

Sunday — 2hr, easy.

Focus for this week: Solid Tues / Thurs runs for full-time. Steady running at easy to moderate effort.

Sept 8-14

Plan Actual Notes
Monday SS@TCS / Weights check.
Tuesday 1hr 30m 1hr 15m. Walnut Creek, log loop repeats.
Wednesday SS@TCS / Weights check. Back Squats!
Thursday 1hr 30m 1hr 90m, HoL to Moonshadow, Baloney repeat 2x and back. Legs were trashed from back squats the day before.
Friday 1hr 30m Nope. Work commit.
Saturday 4hr 2hr @ Mt Lakeway. Still feeling the Wednesday workout and some plantar pain.
Sunday 2hr 2hr easy.

Not to plan and definitely didn’t feel good on Saturday but somewhat to be expected at this point in the training cycle.

Monday — Strictly Strenght @ Travis County Strength

Tuesday — 1hr 15m. Tejas Trails, Riverplace

Wednesday — Strictly Strenght @ Travis County Strength

Thursday — 1hr 15m. Tejas Trails, St Eds

Friday — rest

Saturday — Rough Creek Marathon

Sunday — 2hr, easy.

Plan is to head up to Glen Rose on Saturday morning and run the Rough Creek trail marathon. Won’t be fast or pretty but should be a good long run.

Sept 1-7: Reveille Peak Ranch Recap

Last week – Sept 1-7

My first week of this training cycle didn’t go completely to plan but a successful finish to the week with a good 30k at Reveille Peak Ranch.

Sept 1-7 Plan Actual Notes
Monday SS@TCS 1+ hr SS@TCS WU, 3x 30 body squats, 20 push-ups, 10 jump pull-ups, 10-8-6-4-2 AHAP unbroken deadlift + clean, 10 sled sprints, + ?? I think there was more.
Tuesday 1hr run. 1hr 20m Pretty steady, easy run, rolling hills at St Eds and Forest Ridge.
Wednesday 1hr recovery run. Work conflict. Boo.
Thursday 1hr 30m run. 1h 30m Riverplace. Plantar gave me a bit of trouble.
Friday Rest    
Saturday Capt Karl’s Reveille Ranch 30k.   *see below
Sunday  1hr  I meant to go out but never made it….

Saturday night I headed out Reveille Ranch to run the 30k race. I have only be running a couple times weeks since Devil’s Backbone 8 weeks ago and with the longest being a couple of 10-12 miles but I wanted to start accruing points for the Texas Trail Championship series for the team standings so with limited opportunities left in the year, I figured I could manage through. Luckily there was a massive thunderstorm right before the race started that brought relief in cooler temperatures and provided an sprinkle throughout the evening.

After the excitement and runner congestion of the first couple miles, I quickly found myself alone for a couple miles until I came upon Mike Randall. Mike lives in Boulder but is from Austin so I tend to run across him once or twice a year during a race as we always seem to be roughly the same pace. We settled into a easy pace and chatted for a while. He is coming back from a ruptured achilles suffered about a year ago so just before the fence aid station, I left him with some friends of his and took off.

I was running with a watch so I didn’t know know my time or place but felt pretty good heading out on the second loop. After a half of mile where I ran with Nicole Studer before she took the 60k split, I pretty much was alone again to enjoy the rocks and lightening in the distance. I caught my first person of the second loop at the Creek Aid Station and through the switch backs thought I see someone else ahead (or perhaps someone was chasing me). This lead me to push the pace harder resulting in the double whammy of twisting both my ankles on the rain slick rocks and overheating a bit. Throttled back and re-grouped. I knew the 1.25 miles from the last aid station to the finish was a slight downhill and smooth so if I could get to there in one piece, I’d be able to run it in hard. It played out just like that and I caught another 2 people in that last section to finish 11th overall at 3:15. Surprised and pleased to have run pretty much even splits (1:36 & 1:39) for the 2 loops as I am never close to an even split runner. I felt pretty great after the run and wasn’t sore the next day. I suspect it would have been a different story if it was the usual 100 degree temperatures at the start, but it felt great to start off this training cycle with such an enjoyable run.

This week

Monday — Strictly Strenght @ Travis County Strength. Week 4 of the squat cycle, gonna suck so good.

Tuesday — 1hr 30m. Tejas Trails.

Wednesday — Strictly Strenght @ Travis County Strength.

Thursday — 1hr 30m. Tejas Trails.

Friday — 1hr 30m, easy / recovery. Rumors of a “cold” front for this day so must take advantage.

Saturday — 4+hr, long run.

Sunday — 2hr, easy.




Looking at the blog, I haven’t posted a race report since July 2013 (Tahoe 100). There is a saying that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. The better writers out there can weave live stories into their race reports but that isn’t really my style. Still regular documentation is valuable and, at a minimum, it is proven to help hold oneself accountable.

Recap of 2014 to date

I signed up for Devil’s Backbone 50 for my summer focus race. It seemed to have the effect of not getting me excited for the usual Texas races though I had a great times volunteering at Bandera & Rocky. A last minute decision to run Run like the Wind 6hr resulted in surprisingly fun day and a win. A work trip meant missing Possum Kingdom 52 miler but I tried to squeeze in the Exmoor Ultra while over in Europe. Lovely race but a bad day for a variety of reasons provided a DNF after 27 miles. Then nothing until a prep run at Pedernalas 60k and then Devil’s Backbone 50 in July.

DB50 was a stunningly awesome course. The race slogan is “Unmarked, Unsupported, Unequaled” and that is definitely true. Without doing a full recap: I had an ok but not great run. I had an amazing time and won’t ever forget the experience but I can’t say it was my best run. I did feel like I acquitted Texas well, though. When I signed up, the RD emailed and said, “Are you sure, people from Texas have a really hard time with this race”. In previous races, Texas runners either were either DNF or DFL. The RD made changes to the cutoffs due to some Texas runners struggling to the finish in previous years. This year, Pam and I both finished well safe from DFL as I finished 12th at 13 hours and Pam a couple hours laters.

If you ever are looking for an old-school style race, check out DB50.

Photo via


We climbed this face up to Hylalite Peak. The route was covered in snow this year.


The backbone heads off to the left. It was pretty rocky and over 12,000 ft of elevation gain.


The meadow near the turn-around spot.



Looking back at my training for 2014, running was going well up to April but then went sideways. I made two changes around April: a new job & added weight training. The weight training is undoubtedly a good thing, but I think I hit it too hard, too fast and late in the training cycle. It really messed with my legs and overall energy level (which probably means I wasn’t eating enough either). New jobs, especially with travel, are a disruptive. Ultimately, I lost focus and my training didn’t build on the good start to the year.   I also made some mistakes in that I didn’t get the miles where they needed to be and I didn’t have a good polarized training cycle going within my weekly runs (mostly, I didn’t run as hard as I should have on hard days).

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 6.34.53 PM

The graph don’t lie in this case.

Moving forward

The race for next summer is already decided on: Fatdog 120. Seems like my kind of race and with friends to pass the miles with, it will be fun to train for. I am also going to run more local races leading up to FD120. Used well, races can help focus the training and provide good checkpoint along the way towards bigger goal. It also a good excuse to see and run with friends. Rocky Raccoon fits well within the schedule and should provide a good focus for the next 5 months. I haven’t yet set goals for RR100. I need to research it more but the one thing I know is that I want to get much better about running consistently for longer rather than my usual run, fall apart, hike for a long time and then rally to the finish.

With that in mind, the macro plan is:

Running Cross Training Races
Aug 6hr / wk 3 / wk
Sept 11 hr / wk 2 / wk Rough Creek 26.2, CK RR30k*
Oct 14hr / wk 2 / wk Paleface 30k
Nov 16hr / wk 1-2 / wk Wildhare 25k, RWB Training Camp
Dec 17hr / wk 1-2 / wk Lost Pines 26
Jan 16hr / wk 1 / wk Taper
Feb RR100

The races are mostly to get some points for the Tejas team in the Texas Trail Championship series. It is year 2 and I’ve not really scored points yet for the team.

Over this next month, I am going to be building back up to a regular routine after taking August off and then drop into a Lydiard based training program in October.

Training for Sep 1 – 7

  • Monday — Strictly Strength @Travis County Strength
  • Tuesday — 1hr run w/Tejas Trails. Moderate.
  • Wednesday — 1hr recovery run.
  • Thursday — 1hr 30m run w/Tejas Trails. Easy.
  • Friday — Rest.
  • Saturday — Capt Karl’s Reveille Ranch 30k.
  • Sunday — 1hr

Not really ready to run a 30k race for time, but the distance is good and team points for the series.

Colorado Bend Open Run

Colorado Bend is one of the great hidden gems in the central Texas state park system.  Being a bit of trek from any major city, it is not heavily used by hikers, runners, and bikers and yet it boasts over 30 miles of trails.  There is a great variety from rocky single track to open field running to sweet little spring trails.   The past 2 summers there have been Capt Karls races but as those races start at 7pm, not many have seen the full set of trails in the daylight.   For those who have run the Capt Karls races, we will be running many of the same trails but also exploring trails not used by the race.

Date:  December 28th, 2013
Start Time:  8 am
Location:  Colorado Bend State Park.   map
Parking:  Check in at the park headquarters and we will be park at the furthest parking lot to the right.  It will be marked on the course map.
Course Map:  full size download link.
Distances:   Big loop – 23 miles.  Big loop w/spurs – 25 miles.  Multiple bail-out points and short cuts if a shorter run is desired.
Cost:  free to run.  Park entry fees apply.

Course Overview


General Details

This is a group run but at the end of the day this is not an official event.  You are responsible for yourself.  While we hope to run in groups of similar pace runners, this is not no-drop run.   I will set-up water stations.  I will do my best to ensure that they are out there for the length of the day.  There will not be food or any other supplies at the water drop unless you take care of that yourself.   I will let the park staff know we are out there but again, you are responsible for yourself.

Start to first water drop

Staring in the parking lot we will head down a smooth grass double-track to the end where it meets a sweet little natural spring pool and take the Spicewood Springs Trail up.  This is a different than the CK races.  It is a lovely area so take care moving through there to leave no impact.  The Spicewood Spring Trail is a nicely rugged trail that climbs up to the road.  We will cross the road and then cross again a mile later as we head to where will pass a water drop.  This section is roughly 5 miles.

cb 037


cb 038

First water drop to Gorman-Windmill Connection (second water drop)

The rocks ease up in this section and the trail opens up in to some gentle running paths.  The CK race course bypasses much of the Lively Loop but we will hit up most those trails.   This section is about 7 miles but short cuts could reduce it down by half if desired.

cb 043 cb 044 cb 046

Gorman Falls / Gorman Springs to Cedar Chopper

The first couple miles of this next section are pretty straightforward as we climb up to the highest point in the park.  The rocks increase as we head down towards Gorman Falls.  A short spur takes down a steep descent that rewards with Gorman Falls.  Shortly after leaving the falls, we hit the springs.  Another spur leads along the bubbling year-round spring where we find a nice contrasts to the high grass plains we were just at mere miles ago.

Leaving the springs is a long, somewhat rocky, but manageable climb out up to our next water drop.  This section 6 miles long.

cb 063 cb 065

Cedar Chopper back to first water stop

As we descend back down towards the river, the rocks increase again.   Some good running mixed with twists, rocks, and views before hitting a trail that follows the river.  After 1.5 miles of smooth trail, we hook back up over Lemons Ridge Pass where we find more rock to dance with.   Some may opt to bail out here and take River Trail back to the parking lot about a mile further down the road.

As we cross the road, we head back down a trail we rain many hours earlier.  After 1 mile, we take the left split to head down the Spicewood Canyon trail and back to where we started.

cb 071 cb 072 cb 068


Additional Details

Recommend a hydration pack.  You could carry bottles since it won’t be hot and the water stations are not that far apart, but with a hydration pack you can carry more food / nutrition, first aid pack, and other supplies.  The trail will take longer than you initial expect especially if you stop and take pictures or soak in the scenery.

I will have a sign-in / sign-out book.   This will be helpful in keeping track of people.   If you bail out early, please sign-out so we don’t send out a search party.  Cell phone coverage is pretty dicey out in the park.  It is nonexistent at the parking lot and spotty at the high point.

Some may camp out the night before.  I will not be reserving any spots and will decide myself whether to camp or drive out closer to the date of the event.

Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Race Report

The Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, 2012, a mental tumbler fell into place and I knew it was time to run a 100 miler.  Endurance running is mostly whether you can mentally wrap your head around the activity.  You don’t so much as decide to run a hundred as one day you just know you are are ready.  While there are several great races in Texas, it always seemed inevitable that my first 100 would be a mountain race.  It gets the mind engaged and you need that while piling up the training.  So I choose a course that has over 4 vertical miles of elevation gain:

elevation profile

(we do this profile twice.)


I entered 2013 in pretty solid shape.  Bandera came the second week of January and I simply had a terrible race.  Part of it was tweaking my back on a muddy day but I also feel like I gave into the conditions too easily.

I started back up in early Feb and early March saw one of my best races to date with a 5:06 at the Nueces 50k.  I also ran reasonably well at Hells Hills through 34 miles (5:45) before deciding that I was not interested in running one more lap and stopped shortly thereafter.

Around late March or early April I flipped my training over to a polarized approach.  The theory was impressed upon me many times (hard on the quality days, very easy on the other days) but it wasn’t until I adopted a heart-rate monitor that I was able to figure it out.  It was quickly apparent that I was running too hard on the easy days.  With the polarized approach in place, I found that ramping up the miles became much more doable, I wasn’t feeling worn down, and the quality workouts were improving.

The miles increased on plan through end of May leading up to the Dirty30 (50k) outside of Golden, Colorado.  I chose this race because it was in the mountains and was equal to or greater than Tahoe in terms of average altitude and average ascent / descent grade.  As a bonus, I could visit some good friends.  While not a fast day, I enjoyed the race, ran well enough, and felt it was exactly what I needed.  The following day I hit my first 14er.  That may have been a mistake as the net effect of that weekend, on top of a high volume 3 week period, was that I felt like a laggard the next 10 days or so.  A DNF after 30k at Caption Karl’s Pedernalas Falls continued my good race / bad race cadence that I had going dating back to Cactus Rose.  At least that set me up for my next race to be a good one.  I had some solid runs peppered in the last few weeks so I knew I was coming around after that short training bonk period.

The TL;DR version:


As you can see, lots of mid-30 to mid-40 weeks with a bump up to 50s and 60s here and there but not what you would what you would call consistent, high volume training.

Pre-Race / Travel

As expected, the TSA security people took quite an interest in my self-bagged Tailwind sports drink:

tucker 010

Had an outstanding breakfast at plow in SF.  Very likely the best potatoes ever.

Drove to Carson City, weighed in, dinner with fellow Texas runners, and hit the hay.


5 am comes and we are off.  One bonus of traveling from Central timezone is that I was able to get to sleep early.


(picture via the TRT100 facebook page)

Determined not to go out too fast, I settle into the mid-pack as we climb up towards Hobart.  The morning was pleasant but warmer than normal.  It was a preview of the day to come.

The early views are fantastic.


(via the awesome photo set by Mountain Peak Fitness / Joe Azze)

As I exit the first aid station, I link up with Reece and we chat away.  He provides some great feedback on how I can improve the Rocky Raccoon start / finish aid station experience next year.  Reece is wise and keeps us on a relaxed downhill pace so we didn’t trash our quads early.  I am thankful to run these miles with someone who is both an experienced 100 mile runner and someone who had been on the course before.

I wasn’t wearing my watch so it was nice to find out that I was pretty much on schedule as we enter Tunnel Creek.  I think I wrote on my race plan 2h 30m for my wife, but my first, more detailed plan had 2h 20m.  Anyhow, we were there at 2:20 and after re-stocking supplies, I am off to the Red House Loop.

I lose track of Reece.  I get it in my head that he was out front as I head down a long, steep descent.  I probably hit the downhill too hard.  I feel it in the quads.  Where is Reece when I need him?  Overall, the first pass through the Red House loop is uneventful.  As I crest the finial climb I see many of the Tejas runners who were running the 50k and 50 miler.  They all look great.

tucker 009

(With David Jacobson at Tunnel Creek Aid Station.  Mile 11 for him, mile 17.5 for me.)

Next up is the section that most don’t really talk about in the reports.  It doesn’t have a memorable name like Red House, isn’t as imposing as the “slightly stupid hill” aka Diamond Peak ski slope, nor is as beautiful as Snow Valley.  However, this 13 mile section played a pivotal role in my day as I didn’t run it well on either loop.

By the time I hit Diamond Peak, it is getting real warm.  Down right hot even.  I heard into the 90s up on the ridge, possibly warmer in spots.  Record temps for the race.  Single digit humidity and UV factor at 12+.   I fuel up, weigh in for the second time (no issues), and decide to take the hiking poles and hike the ski slope.   It is slow.  There are cramps.  Yup, this sucks.

tucker 008

(me as I make my towards the Diamond Peak slope)

Stumble off the slope, pack away the poles and off to Tunnel Creek.  The map lies about how far it is between Bull Wheel and Tunnel Creek.  The heat is on.

While my weight has been steady at all the check-ins, I feel behind on hydration.  The goal here is to finish.  A silver buckle.  Sure, a 26 hour time would be great but a finish is the priority.  I decide that the only way to stay solid is to be patient and take my time at aid stations.  Beware the chair and all the bs.  Hobart is first time I see a clock since Diamond Peak.  It is 2:30 and I tell myself I will head out at 2:45.  I am gone by 2:44.

Snow Valley is the best part of this course.  I haven’t seen a picture that does it justice.  I hang out with the boy scouts for a bit and trade high-fives.  I would rather push the pace but I remind myself that I promised to give Scott something to work with when I pick him up at mile 50.  Down, down we go.  Stay relaxed, don’t trash the quads, have fun.

I arrive at mile 50 about 45 minutes behind whatever mythical schedule I projected in advance; before realities of running 50 miles in the heat, with elevation, and altitude have set in for this first timer from the flat lands of Texas.  Hot and dirty.  Spirits are in good order.  It is mayhem at the start / finish line.  I catch up with my friends who finished the 50k, change my socks, re-stock supplies and pick up Scott.  I want to change my shorts but with the all the action, I’d rather to be out of there and back on the trail.  It seems like we were there longer, but only 12 minutes pass by before we are headed down the road.

tucker 006

(Scott and I, before we head out)

I am thrilled to have Scott with me.  For the last 9 hours I have pretty much run alone.  I like running alone but having someone to chat with definitely helps pass the time.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t much company at that moment.  He was itching to run but I wasn’t going anywhere fast.   I focus on a good steady hike.  Others pass us by to my dismay but I am in no position to go with them.  The leg cramps are still working their way out of my legs.

Hobart greets us with strawberry Ensure smoothie.  Unicorn tears.  I head out before carnage of the other runners in the tent gets to the head.

I could have swore that it was downhill to Tunnel Creek.  Guess not.  At least the sunset is magnificent.

At Tunnel Creek, Scott eats the aid station food so I don’t have to.  Friends are made while we take our time.  Scott is happy to talk to someone since I am not holding up my end of the conversation.

DSC01360 (1)-XL

(This isn’t us, but the dude in green kneeling down is awesome.  Wish I knew his name. via Joe Azze / Mountain Peak Fitness)

Everything is stretches out on the second time through.  The descent into the Red House loop is longer, the climbs steeper.  Slow motion.  I play leap frog with Barbara Olmer.   She kicks ass.

Tunnel Creek visit #5 contains chicken soup, Desitin for the chafing, and more kind words from the aid station volunteers.

I had it my head that Bull Wheel was the peak on this next section.  While it is the top after climbing up Diamond Peak, on the way out it is only about half way up to the high point.  I kept telling Scott the turn to head down to the lodge was just “up here”.  I doubt he was listening to me after the 3rd or 4th false alarm.   To my surprise, we catch a few people on the descent into Diamond Peak lodge.  Everyone is suffering.

Mile 80.  Wiped out.  I am seemingly losing pace with every step.  There are small blisters on the feet and chafing ‘down under’.  New socks, new shorts, Desitin, ginger beer, and vanilla coconut water coffee and I am off to tackle the hill I fell apart the first time through.  Despite how I feel, it doesn’t even cross my mind that I could drop here.  Perhaps, I am too tired to contemplate anything other than forward progress.

Phase 1 of the hill is the first mile and 600 ft climb (or so) is steady.  About the time we hit phase 2, something clicks.  The lake is silver as the nearly full moon floats above.  Power hike, turn around and exclaim “that is fucking outstanding!”, repeat.  We hit the top in under an hour, faster than the first trip through 50 miles prior.

Still not running well, even though it is ‘downhill’ to our final visit to Tunnel Creek but we jazzed about our trek up the Diamond Peak slope.   We actually exceed the split I had projected when doing my planning.  We say our goodbyes to Tunnel Creek and get a move on.


(a welcome sight in the middle of the night.  via Joe Azze / Mountain Peak Fitness)

Daybreak sustains the momentum we found on the climb up Diamond Peak as we head towards Hobart.  There are no smoothies to be found at this early hour so we press on to Snow Valley after shaking the sand out of our shoes.  There is truth in the energy the sunrise brings with it.


(sunrise via Joe Azze / Mountain Peak Fitness)

10 miles left and we find ourselves running as we make our way to Snow Valley.  There is a heathy climb up the last 1.5 miles but we maintain a solid pace.  I want to be in and out but decided to sit and empty the shoes again before making the long downhill descent.  I tell the boy scouts they are the coolest troop in the world, they give me a full cup of lemon sorbet.  We linger just a bit.

A pair of runners that we passed on the previous climb are in and out of the aid station ahead of us.  That lights a fire and we hustle out.  Until the climb up to Snow Valley, I wasn’t really thinking about passing people.  Place simply doesn’t matter, only whether if you did your best on the day that was given to you.  But as we head out on those final 7.5 miles, catching those ahead provides a distraction on which to focus.  In the first mile, we catch the 2 runners who slipped by while we were in the aid station.  As the downhill grade eases a bit, we find ourselves moving better and better. In actual pace, Scott says we were doing 9 minute miles but it feels faster than that.  We catch our breath every 4-5 minutes and then crank it up again.   2 more runners come and go before we bottom out on the far side of the lake.  There is a mile and a half left.  We jog / walk / jog for a bit when Scott mentions that it is 5 minutes to 9 am.  20 miles ago, there is no way I thought we’d be close to 28 hours.  15 miles ago, 28:30 seemed reasonable.   We were too far to make 28 hours but may as well give a try.


It pleases me to no end that the best picture taken of me ever while running is at mile 100.4 as I attempt to run away from Scott.  Picture by Joe Azze / Mountain Peak Fitness.


My final place was 40th out of 209 starters.   The finish rate is usually around 70% but this year only 118 of 209 finish, a 56% rate.  I pick up 30 spots on the second loop.  On the first loop, I ran the last 15 miles (miles 35 to 50) in 4:05.  On the second loop, miles 85 to 100 were covered it in around 4:20.  Glancing through the stats pages, I ran that last 15 miles about as fast as those who finished between about 8th and 20th.  That is nice to know for future races but there are zero regrets about this run and I wouldn’t change a thing.

I suspect finishing any 100 is an epic experience but being able to finish the way Scott and I did was magical.  A friend asked me if it was surreal.  There are very few experiences in life that truly qualify as surreal.  The elation as you run down a mountain after 26+ hours on your feet definitely qualifies.  It doesn’t seem that you should be able to do and yet it feels like the most natural thing in the world.

Success is never the act of the individual.  I would have never toed the line if it wasn’t for the support of my lovely wife.  I doubt she expected to find herself up in the mountains, crewing a 100 miler, when she encouraged me to go run with Della, our dog, 3 years ago.  Joe Prusaitis and the Tejas Trails crew provide invaluable amount of experience and unending encouragement.  Spend any amount of time with them and you can’t help but want to run further.  When I thought about a pacer, there was only one name on the list.  There was no question that I’d finish the day Scott agreed to pace me.  The race was a celebration of all the miles – the hill of life repeats – we banked together leading to the run.

tucker 003

This is one of the great buckles in ultra running.  Handcrafted, nickel buckle with a 1 ounce pure silver coin inset.  Here is a video about the history of the buckle and how it is made.  Damn straight I am going to get a belt and wear this bad boy.

Misc / Gear

Tailwind was my primary fuel source all day.  It was prefect.  No upset stomach.  Good energy.  My favorite mix turned out to be about 2/3 orange and 1/3 unflavored.  I am going to ride this combo for races as long as I can.  On a hot day it was awesome not to have to force down gels or solid food.

Salomon SLabs 5 hydration pack.   After 28 hours, I didn’t have sore shoulders.  Salomon is pricey but still the best pack out there.

Hoka Mafate 3 shoes.  The Mafates remain my old faithful when it comes to races shoes.  This course doesn’t demand this much shoe but I went with a shoe I knew I could trust.  Same goes for the Injinji socks.

The rest was more or less interchangeable.  I would forego the compression shorts in the future and stick with less material on the legs.  I had raced a lot in them in the past but I think they are going to find their way out of the rotation.

The feet may look horrible to a non-ultra runner but they survived fairly well:

tucker 005


I can’t leave you with that image so here are some more from Joe Azze / Mountain Peak Fitness:

DSC01376-XL DSC02127-XL




(last image via Michigan Bluff)