Mowdy Ranch Mustang Run – Marathon Edition
We did the Fourth Annual Mowdy Mustang Run yesterday, June 9th 2018. tl;dr – It was a great race, extremely well run and supported by very friendly folks, challenging course and we had a lot of fun with it. Strongly recommended but due to it being run in Oklahoma in June, it’s a challenge.
Wildlife alert – This isn’t your street run in the middle of urban America. On the back half of the first loop I took a step and realized there was a 3′ copperhead’s head about 8″ from my foot, his natural brownish coloring blended very well with the dirt/sand/clay i was running on. Luckily he was facing the wrong way or this race might have ended differently. Later on the back half of the second loop there was another four footer that I believe was a water moccasin lying across the trail. It was far easier to see with its darker coloration.
Now while neither of these two snakes are typically aggressive and their bites are rarely fatal to adults, it’s still going to ruin your day if you get bit. So keep an eye out.
- Shoes: Altra Lone Peak 3.5
- Socks: Injini Toe Socks in medium weight short crew
- BCG Compression Shorts
- Champion Shorts
- Underarmour Heat Gear Tank
- Underarmour Halo
- Hand Customized cooling towel with an ice pocket
- Plantronics BackBeats
- Scosche 24+ HR monitor
- Fenix 5x
- Google Pixel 2L
- Nathan VaporKrar 12L Hydration Vest
- Platypus Bladder
- Ultimate Direction 500ml Soft Flasks
- CrankSports eFuel, eGel
- Trail Toes anti chafe cream that we like to refer to as “Trail Crotch”
We drove down the day before. Because of the early race start, the travel time and packet pick up at 4:00 a.m. we’d of had to leave right after we went to bed to drive down the same day so off we went the evening before.
You can rent bunks in the bunkhouse for not much money and it’s a real set of bunkhouses with lines of double bunk beds along the walls, if you can handle sleeping in a room of strangers it’s a lot of fun. There is also an area for camping out by the Start/Finish line if you’d prefer that which is free. Depending on your preferences either one is viable.
They had a big (BIG) bonfire set up down by the camp area and you could drive down (or walk) and set up a chair and watch the fire if you wanted. The camp area was about a quarter to third of a mile away from the bunk/main house.
There was also spaghetti dinner the night before as part of your entry. We didn’t partake as we had dinner with both families at Cracker Barrel before we left.
As usual for a race we didn’t get a ton of sleep for the all the usual reasons including of course sleeping in a strange place surrounded by strangers and were up with the other early risers around 4:00 a.m. and were ready by around 5:00 with all the usual pre-race stuff to do. We’d prepped fairly well and didn’t have any pre-race surprises other than for whatever reason my race workout hadn’t synced to my watch.
The 50k and marathon runners all started at the same time. Lights were definitely needed for the first 30-45 minutes as after starting out within a quarter mile we were in the “Shire” which was forested and pretty dark and pretty rocky/technical.
Overall the course was a mix of terrain, from hard packed ground that was practically paved except it was uneven under foot because it was, well… you know actual ground and then to some pretty technical stuff that was very rocky and had a fair bit of difficulty to traverse especially on lap 2 once you started getting (or had gotten) tired (or injured).
The route was run twice to make up the marathon distance with a 3rd sub loop on the back half for the 50K’s to get them their distance.
I’d like to call out the fact that the course was EXTREMELY well marked, it would be impossible to get lost. All the white markings were always on your right and the next marker was always visible. They included tree tags, wire ground markers and streamers clothes-pinned to the trees. All you had to do was make sure the markers were on your right and unless you were vision impaired you could always see where you needed to go. Unlike a 30K we ran last year in spots, with this race we never had a moments confusion as to where we needed to go.
They also looked to have swept the trail free of leaves in those places where there were leaves and mowed the trail in the places where it went through the meadows. You honestly couldn’t ask for a better laid out course. Kudos on a job well done.
There was a lot of sun to be had as the big chunk of the trails were without tree cover. An issue if you’re prone to burning. Me thanks to my genetics I went the whole day out there without sunscreen and came back with a little redness, no pain. A ginger would probably have spontaneously combusted so if you’re fair skinned, pile on the SPF 50.
There were aid stations, all manned except for 1, every 3 miles. All the aid stations were well staffed with people and the usual running fare.
We’d like to especially call out the staff at the 6 mile / Bigfoot station. They were extremely good at their jobs. Welcoming, friendly, encouraging and they had us restocked with ice and water on our second loop, cooled down with portable misters and a piece of cold watermelon in our hand and headed out in a minimum of time. For a race that had nothing but a high level of quality and professionalism these particular guys and gals stood out and rocked it hard. Bravo!
The first half we were doing okay, slower than a street run by a fair bit but a lot of that time was lost in the very rocky trails that made up a fair bit of portions of the first half of the first half. Which is a weird way to say it but there you go.
Around mile 8 or 9 I took a pretty heavy fall, as usual on a stretch of terrain that was ‘easy’ which leads to lapses in concentration and a rock or root or something grabbed me and asked me to visit the ground. Pulled some things in my right thigh and left lower leg that made the rest of the race a little less than pain free. Around mile 11 or so the muscles in my lower left front calf blew up with excruciating pain and I had to remove my gaiters to get some relief. My RW ended up having to take my shoes and gaiters off for me as I couldn’t bend my right leg without it seizing up so I literally couldn’t reach my shoes to take them off.
At the halfway point we, by more luck than design, had parked the FJ next to the path so we were able to step off the trail, resupply from our drop bags and then head back (to the same exact point we left it) to the trail.
By miles 14-15 things went downhill, not literally, and my calves started locking up like Hulk’s fists every time I tried to run with a forefoot strike. I was able to shift to heel strike gait to counter that but then a half mile of heel striking and my IT Band said, “Gotcha!”.
From miles 15 on it was mostly power hiking, I’d try to step up the pace and the Pope of Nope would show up and tap me on the shoulder.
Pain’s a funny thing, sitting here writing this my brain is telling, “it wasn’t that bad you could have gone faster” but intellectually I know that wasn’t the case at the time.
With the slower pace came the hotter temperatures and hydration and electrolytes were an issue. I went through at least 2 gallons of water over the course of the race and urinated only once around mile 25 and not much then. I was sweating it out as fast as I was taking it in.
The interesting thing is after about 5 or 6 miles I was ‘recycling’ my sweat to be kind of grossly honest. The cooling towel I had around my neck would catch all the sweat and water I poured over my head, evaporation would cool it off and later on I’d wring it out back over my head. Very Dune like.
Every aid station starting with #2 at 6 miles I’d get at least 16 ounces of water, sometimes 32 ounces. Earlier in the race I was using eFuel in half the water but by mile 15 it was just water. I was taking in eGel’s and the occasional salt tablets to keep my electrolytes up. Possibly not as well as I should have been because around mile 23 the muscles in my forearms also started cramping up, the kind of seizures where it curls your middle 2 or 3 fingers into your palms and you have to press them out with your other hand until the muscle relaxes again.
At mile 22 or so there was an unmanned aid station of some ice water jugs on a makeshift table. Honestly if that hadn’t of been there and if I hadn’t of taken a good 6-7 minutes or so to sit down and cool off by putting ice water on my cooling towel and wrapping it around my head I’m not sure I’d of finished. Yes, I would have, but the thought of it being possible I might not finish this race was certainly trying to insert itself into my head.
Mile 24 and some nice folks on a quad came by and checked on us, filled our water bottles with ice water and they offered to drive us in. DNF with 2 and a half miles to go? NAFC.
Mile 25 (or so) we came to the last aid station, a Luau themed one which served as the last two manned stations on the back half of the loop. It was here that I was finally at a point where it felt like I needed to urinate. Wasn’t a lot but it also wasn’t the color of coke so I had some confirmation of no rhabdo going on which is always a concern for me when I push myself.
With a clean, albeit darker yellow, bill of health I just focused on trudging out that last mile and a half, all in the sun, and uphill to the finish line. I wasn’t in great shape mentally because at one point my RW was talking and I realized I hadn’t understood a thing she was saying. I’d heard it but it might has well have been in ancient Egyptian.
We crossed the finish line, got our medals which albeit modest in size are extremely well done and of the 40 or 50 medals I have are easily in the top 3 for just clean tasteful appearance. We then packed up where we got to watch at least two people finished after us so we weren’t DFL’d and headed home.
We stopped at Mona’s Rose of Sharon’s diner on the way back. Mona’s had good reviews on Google, the best on the entire trip and I’m happy to report those reviews were well deserved. I had a cheeseburger with fries and onion rings and RW had steak fingers with fried pickles. For afterwards we had a blueberry hand pie warmed and topped with ice cream. If you enjoy classic, good, old school diner food this is a place to get it, it was all very good, very tasty and it wasn’t because we’d just run a 26+ miles on trails in the sun.
We had some takeaways, or I did, in that you need to double check your load out before you head out. Whether it’s the start or at a drop bag break, don’t assume you put everything on your list on your body, physically double check it. For instance I had no pain relief other than prescription strength stuff which I didn’t want to take as it has a mental impact. My capsule of OTC pain relief was nowhere to be found when I needed it.
Also be ready to start at least 30 minutes before the start of the race. Make sure your electronics if you’re using them are ready to go at least 5 minutes before the start time. For example I ended up having to get my phone out, sync my calendar to my watch, then start the run on the watch and by then the race had started and been going for a couple of minutes.
Also always pack some alternate food stuffs. All I packed was eGels which get the job done but in the last quarter of the race I found myself wanting something else, a waffle or some PB M&M’s or Stinger Chews or just something other than a gel.
And the biggest takeaway is we’re going to have to train harder than ever to be ready for our 50K in November if we want to finish that race with a decent, for us, time.
All in all we had a great time, in spite of my personal physical issues, at a great race run by great people. And there were wild horses. What more could you ask for from a trail race.