About a week ago my racing friend Paula messaged me asking if I was going to run the Flint and Steel Trail Run. I had never heard of it but thanks to my buddy Mr. Google I found out that it was a fund raiser for New Life Ranch, a summer camp 80 miles east of Tulsa in Ozarks. So I signed up for the 5K race and Saturday made my way over there.
The temp was 33 degrees as I left Tulsa and kept getting colder and colder until I got to the camp down in the Flint Valley where it was a brisk 27F. I was a little underdressed but as the sun came up, the wind quit and although the temperature didn’t change much it felt a lot warmer.
So I ran with Paula, and her friend Misti, and her husband. When I say run, well I guess we walked. Sorry, I walk most of my races these days. Hope I didn’t burst your bubble.
There were two other races going on, which is typical for trail runs. A 10K and 25K with staggered starts and we run on each others courses quite a bit so you have to pay attention to the ribbon colors. We managed to stay on the right trail, which is an accomplishment for me given that I got off course on two races this year.
And we took lots of photos.
Flint Creek, an incredibly beautiful, clear running creek runs through the property. I had no idea that Oklahoma had such a pretty creek. The water quality in the area is under threat because of “chicken houses” put up by farmers in the area where they raise hundreds of thousands of chickens and the associated runoff and odors. After seeing the creek I can understand why area residents are concerned. The state has a very muddled response, meaning that they are doing nothing.
A good time was had by all. A great course, great shirt, and medal, a nice grilled chicken sandwich lunch afterwards. So I give this race five stars out of five. I was also first in my age group of the race. It be very rude to ask me how many were in my age group, because I would have to report that I was the only one that showed up, just think of the hundreds of thousands that could have raced but did not.
Last Sunday I ran in the Quarter Marathon segment of the 2019 Post Oak Lodge Challenge races, three days of trail races of both metric and mileage based races from the Quarter and 10K up to full Marathons. This is the tenth year of the races and I think I have run in maybe eight of them and it has been really cool watching this event take off from something relatively small and cool to something that is a lot bigger and still cool.
This year, like last year, there was some rain in the days ahead of the event, but it didn’t seem near as wet to me as last year, especially the first half.
The race is mainly along single track trails and it has a nice vibe to it, rolling in and out of the woods and meadows and up and down the hills.
And it was extremely well marked which is something since there are so many races over three days and many of the races use the same segments for part of the time and then diverge. So I was keeping a sharp eye out for the yellow ribbons with black polkadots.
At about halfway, things started getting a little messy. you can see some of the maneuvers above that us back of the packers use to negotiate the mud.
And sometimes you can’t do anything about it at all. Maybe edge toward the side. Running through the tall grass is an imperfect solution as it grabs your legs and the ground is uneven. I had several elite runners lap me on the muddy segment. Their technique is to just run through the mud.
And we had a few creeks to cross. I would love to have a video of my tip toeing from rock to rock here. Again, the elite men women just run through it.
And then here. My foot my have slipped off the log going across. The water was ice cold. I only fell once during the event when I slipped sideways and fell on my butt. That was a week ago and my running clothes are still on the back porch while I figure out how to clean them.
The feature that everybody gets to run of all lengths is the “Hill from Hell” one mile up a hill. This is the view from the top. That is downtown Tulsa way over yonder.
And then the post race five course luncheon. Simple but good and filling. Chili, potato salad, potato chips, bottled water and beer.
When I first started running races years ago, nobody had medals, now they are all the rage. Post Oak had nice medals back before they were cool.
The race was supposed to be a quarter marathon which would be about 6.5 miles. It ended up being a little shy of seven. No big deal, that is the way trail races go. I think the race directors laugh and laugh. I finished just about last in every category, but I finished, vertically and had a great time. I finished it thirty minutes faster than I did last year. Last year it was my first race after my injury the previous November so I walked it and the mud just made it miserable. This year, I jogged the easy downhill legs and was able to do a much easier pace and at least stay in sight of a few people.
Thank you to the race directors, sponsors, the army of volunteers it takes to put a good race on and my fellow participants as well as they Post Oak Lodge which good naturedly puts up with people tracking mud and and out of their facility for three days. Trail Racing is the nice and kind type of racing. The elite guys always warn you that they are coming up behind you, because on single track trails you have to move aside, and they say thank you or good job as they pass. Everybody is good natured and friendly.
The course was great, the aid stations wonderful, the food afterwards, great, the shirts, the medals. You can tell that they work hard to make it a great event.
This morning was my return to the “Escape from Turkey Mountain 5 Mile” race. Two years ago I ran it and injured my knee when I fell on a rock and caused me to miss about two or three months of running while I rehabbed with physical therapy and exercise. Last year I waited to too long to register and they filled up so this year I was ready!! There were a lot of people there and I went to the back for the start.
And off we went, see all those people ahead of me? They all pretty much stayed ahead of me.
See all the folks behind me? I think almost all of them finished ahead of me. Strange how that works.
Up “the Staircase” from the lower yellow trail to the upper yellow. I have been on the staircase before, I just didn’t know that it had a name. Almost every physical feature on Turkey Mountain has a name, usually several names. My favorite trail is “I want my mommy.” Run it sometime, you will be crying for your mommy.
I am rocking my new running shirt. I love it! Most expensive shirt, of any kind, that I own.
So anyway I finished without falling on anything. I stumbled and almost tripped a few times and slid a few times but managed to stay on my feet. My time was about 1 hr 30 minutes and the distance was about 5.22 miles. So my official time was only about 5 minutes faster than my last run with the knee problem two years ago but the course was a quarter mile longer than then. I am about 20 minutes off the pace I was three years ago. That happens when you are fat, old, and slow.
So, how was the race? Let me see, great course, check. Nice run shirt, check. Medal, check, Food, they had hamburgers, turned out quickly, check. Beer, check, Marshall’s craft beer, so double check. I’ll be back!!
Thank you to Fleet Feet Tulsa, and the many volunteers who make these races go. Thank you to my fellow runners for adding to the atmosphere.
No thanks to the mountain biker who almost crashed into me from behind while we were both going downhill and yelling at me “$%^$&(*&&* %^&*&^”. The convention and etiquette is that people who are participating in sanctioned events in a place, have priority over other people. It is not a rule or a law or anything, it is what people do. I would never interfere with a bicycle racer for example, I would most probably stay off the trails they were using. I had never had a bicyclist intrude like that into a trail race before. 99.99% of trail users are very considerate of others using the tracks.
This is my knee from two years ago. Lots better today. And I still have those socks!!
The Post Oak Challenge is a series of races of various lengths over three days. Lots of people “Double” or “Triple” meaning that they run two or three of the races. That is awesome, and I am not at the level of awesomeness. This year I ran the Quarter Marathon on Sunday morning. The races are held at Post Oak Lodge north of Tulsa. It is a really nice, well run place, and they are great hosts for the race.
Don’t know why but the first thing I did after getting out my car is to check out the resorts one golf hole.
And then go over to the pond and take a few pics. The Lodge is located in the Osage Hills and I think the area is beautiful.
And then I waddled over to the starting line and go to see the Half Marathon start. The thing I like about trail races is its lower stress level. Everybody is pretty relaxed and there is no pushing and shoving at the start.
And then I walked into the nearby lodge and planted myself in a chair in front of the fireplace. It was cold outside. I wasn’t going to warm up. I figured I will have six and half miles to get warmed up.
And here we are at the start, and off we went.
Every year the route is different. There are lots of trails to pick from. This year we looped in close to the lodge for a few miles before heading out.
My fellow runners come in all shapes, sizes, species.
The route alternated twisty turny, rocky intervals with long straight stretches.
We went up “Holmes Peak” the highest point in Tulsa County. My friends in Colorado and other mountainous areas are probably much amused by our “peak.” They can laugh all they want. That peak kicked my butt.
After my butt kicking, I got a pretty good view. That is downtown Tulsa way over yonder, home of high rises that don’t look so high from here.
I get passed a lot in races. Men, women, children, they all blaze right past me.
I always enjoy running by the zip line towers.
I like “tree tunnels” like this.
There were lots of rocks on this course. I am wary of rocks cuz I don’t like falling. I stumbled a few times on this race but didn’t fall.
My camera’s battery gave out so that is it.
After the race I made it back to the lodge. Got my two designated beers all at once along with some fritos and a brat. I chatted a little with my friend Rick who was Logan’s Cub Scout Den Leader way back when and is still one of the nicest guys you would ever care to meet.
The TATUR Snake Run was run today. The race is a little different in that who ever runs the longest in a given time wins. There is a three hour race and a six hour race on the same course. The course has two routes, a big loop of 3.75 miles and a small loop of 0.5 miles. You run as many big loops as you can within the allotted time and if you don’t think you can run another big loop before the time ends, you run the little loop as many times as you can. Partial loops don’t count.
The Godfather of Tulsa Trail and Ultra Running, and Race Director, Ken (Trail Zombie) giving pre-race instructions on a chilly Saturday morning. I had three layers on and running pants and gloves. Others just had shorts and a tee shirt. That is because they are tougher than I am. In addition to being a lot faster.
There is no crowding at the start line on a run like this. They have six hours to get dispersed. I always start at the very back.
This is the six hour guys and gals taking off. Ironically enough, they run faster than the three hour crowd, in general. Mainly because they are in great shape. Imagine ripping along at seven to eight minute miles for six hours? I can imagine it for one mile.
We ran this section but I actually took the photo on the Thursday before the race. True Confessions.
The race starts and stays on the upper level of Turkey Mountain and is relatively flat. There were a few boggy spots but overall the course wasn’t bad. The thing about trail races is how polite everybody is. People kind of move out of each others way, the slow runners yield to the faster runners overtaking them. I’ve never heard a cross word exchanged between runners.
I got into a pretty comfortable pace of running a half mile and walking a minute throughout the race. I stopped at every aid station and had a cup of water and a cup of gatorade. I had two nutter butter cookies on every lap. I don’t know why, it was working for me and I just went with it. I also had a few pickles for the sodium and a couple of banana segments for the potassium. I never did feel depleted out on the course.
I didn’t drink beer on the course this time. I wanted to get three big loops in and didn’t want any distractions.
I ran the three hour event and did three of the big loops and one of the little loops. I milled around a bit, had a beer and a half, a hot dog and a chocolate chip cookie. It was very breezy and cold at the end of the race so I didn’t linger for long.
I watched some of the six hour races come in and head back out. I was done at three hours. I couldn’t have done one more lap.
So I put on my finisher’s medal and went home. Thank you to the race organizers, the many volunteers and my fellow contestants for making this race so much fun. By my Garmin, I did about 11.5 miles. This has given me confidence to start looking around for a half marathon, which is 13.1 miles to do. My goal is to run the Route 66 Half Marathon in Tulsa next November. I would like to do maybe two others between now and then. Got any ideas?
Sunday I ran the Quarter Marathon Race of the Post Oak Challenge. A series of distance races over two days at the beautiful Post Oak Lodge in the hills north of Tulsa.
A nice view of downtown Tulsa.
It was my first trail race since I hurt my knee last September and my longest race at about 6.55 miles since then.
One of the grand young men of trail racing in Tulsa, Trail Zombie.
Usually I lope along and take lots of pictures and sample all the food and beverages and chat and visit. This time I sensed I might get an age group award so I hit it hard. Well, for me I hit it hard. I still walked a lot.
Trail Zombie’s TATUR Cantina at the race. The best aid station out there. All I had was a fireball shot.
Starting about a mile and half into the race I fell in with a group with good pace for me. We’d break up at the aid stations and then reform later on.
Heading up the Hill from HEll.
All the races go up the “Hill from Hell” a very long hill that doesn’t ever quite quit. I walked a lot of it.
The finish line!!
The preliminary result was that I got second in my age group. I was handed later on the third place award.
Turns out the final result was that I got second!! I don’t mind though. Also note that there were only three of us guys in the age group. The way I look at it is that the rest of the age group in the Tulsa area were still in bed, or drinking coffee. Or maybe they were running the half and and full marathon’s today.
Anyways I’m thrilled with my little wooden mislabeled trophy.
Sunday Morning was the annual running of the Turkey N TATURS 10K-25K-50K trail race on Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain. I have run the 10K segment a couple times in previous years but not this year because I am still rehabbing my knee. I wanted to participate somehow so I volunteered to man the grill cooking burgers and hot dogs.
The grill was right by the finish line literally about ten feet off the trail so I had a great view of the goings on. The race was put on by TATUR, “Tulsa Area Trail and Ultra Runners.” They specialize in putting on fun races of all sorts. They also make it fun to volunteer for them. They not only put on races, they build community.
Their were some people flying off the mountain in great times. I never get to see them except at the beginning of the race. Usually by the time I get to the end, the leaders have finished, downed a hamburger or two and a couple of beers, talked with their friends and get in the care and are gone.
This guy finished the 50K. That is over 30 miles folks. Amazing stuff.
I’ll never win one of these awards but I can sure take pics of them.
Did somebody say Ginger Snaps. I can’t keep them around the house. Once the box is opened, the cookies are gone. Best not to have them around.
I love the low key supportive atmosphere of the event. Here is an 11 second video of a typical finish. No crowding and pushing. Just encouragement at the end.
I had a great time. If you run, or walk, really, try a local trail race sometime. You’ll like it.
The sun was just coming up when I got there but the place with abuzz with activity. On a race like this the organizers and volunteers have already been out since dark thirty marking the course, putting up the various tents and starting gate, cooling the beer down and getting the food ready.
The local Fleet Feet Sports franchise sponsored the race. Tulsa is lucky because we have three really good running stores who not only sell shoes and running clothing but also give back to the community in various ways. They all have training runs and various programs to help runners of all experience levels. Fleet Feet though has the best decorated vehicle though.
At 7:15 the hamburgers were already cooking.
The beer was iced down. It was provided by Marshall Brewing. I love craft beers have I ever told you.
And off we went. The race was jammed up right at first because we were running on trails but after a while we spaced out. I guess that I spaced out too much and at about the 1.6 mile point tripped on a rock and fell on another rock with my knee. It was like ouch. I got up and my knee felt pretty bad so I started hobbling back to the parking lot, dreading the 1.6 miles back but then the knee started feeling better so I turned around after a short while thinking that I could walk it out but I had to climb up a few rocks and the knee started barking at me again so I turned back to the parking lot and got about a tenth or two down the trail and the knee started feeling better so I said what the heck, I have a long walk either way. So I turned around and walked the rest of the race except for a one mail segment where I ran. Fortunately there is not that much difference between my walking speed and running speed (sad to say). So I was able to finish and get some bling and a couple beers or three and a hamburger.
I think I finished near the last. I generally do. Last year I finished 94th out of 96 men. Believe it or not I finished ahead of some people this year. This year I finished 185th out of 204. Which means that nineteen people entered Yogi’s Hall of Shame except two of them were older than me so a net 17 people finished behind me that were younger than me.
Saturday morning I got up at dark thirty and headed out to western Oklahoma to Lake McMurtry to run the 12K portion of the Lake McMurtry Trail Run. They also had 25K and 50K events. The people who run these trail runs are hard core and they consider the 12K to be kind of like a fun run or something.
The Race Director, Trail Zombie got us all organized and everything with a few simple directions. Mainly don’t get lost and don’t cheat. TZ as we call him directs several races during the year, leads weekly runs on Turkey Mountain, volunteers a lot and has his own full time business. He is one of the world’s really nice guys.
And here is the start. I started out last place and stayed last place for a long time. 12K is about 7 miles and I finally passed a few at about mile four. I say a few because I think I finished 46th out of 50 or something like that.
The course was an out and back which means that we run back on the same trail we run out on. Plus the other races used this route as part of the route of their races. This means that people have to be aware of what is going on and let people pass by. I’ve run lots of trail races and I have never seen any conflict on the matter. People just pull off and let others pass and everything is cool. The whole ethic of trail racing is cool and laid back and that is why I like it. Don’t get me wrong, people run the race hard.
The race was almost entirely in the woods but we broke out into grassland just briefly a couple times.
And here is the beer stop. One stop but we hit it twice. How many races do you know provide craft beer at the water stops. I had a Coop Brewing DNR the second time, I forget what it was I had the first stop, but it was good.
And right close to the beer tent is the regular stuff, water, gatorade, pickle juice (yep, I’ve learned to have a shot of it when I can), baked potato quarters rolled in salt, bananas, cookies, nuts, m&ms. No wonder I can’t lose weight and no wonder I don’t finish any better than what I do.
I actually buckled down and ran the the last few miles to the finish and didn’t take any photographs. My average miles split was 13:30 which is not too impressive but is at least a minute faster than most trail runs I run in so I am pretty happy.
At the finish TZ told me where to find the “Leap of Doom.” It is a feature of the 25K and 50K races but they don’t let us 12K baby runners on it out of fear for our lives. But, I fortified my courage with a beer and headed out to check it out.
I could tell I was getting close. One thing about TZ is he is good at warning people. I couldn’t turn back even though I wanted to so I ventured on ahead.
And the warnings kept coming. But I was intrigued, I mean who doesn’t want to see the 72nd wonder of the world.
Here are the instructions. I don’t know how to breathe and scream at the same time, do you?
Of course I had to record the event for posterity. This is first attempt.
This is the second attempt. Do you like my shoes? Do you think I should put movie ambitions on hold for a while?
And so I survived the famous Leap of Doom. Well the other thing I needed to do was go find a geocache.
The nearest one was about a kilometer away so I walked to it. Turns out that the location was right on the the trails used in the other races. While I was looking for it several runners stopped and asked if I was okay.
I turned my Garmin watch on for the hike. I get amused at myself when I run on a geocaching hunt cause it shows me going around and around, and I did go around and around. I finally found it though.
And here is the location. I loved the old car. The amazing car geeks at Car Spotting Tulsa think it is a late 40’s Chevy. I love all the bullet holes. And yes I did find the cache.
So, I was done. Got a lot done over there in Lake McMurtry is what I think, ran a race, jumped the leap of doom a couple times and found a geocache and a neat car. So I gathered my stinky self up and drove back to Tulsa. On the way I stopped in the little oil field of Yale, Oklahoma and toured Jim Thorpe’s house. Fascinating story about the greatest athlete of all time who lived in a small town in Oklahoma. That will be on the next post.