2015 Bandera 100k Race Report

2015 Bandera 100k Race Report

2015 Bandera 100k Ultra Trail Race will not be an event I will forget for a very long time.  When Jeff mentioned that we should do this race as a great way to end the peak weeks of training for Rocky Raccoon 100 I thought it was a great idea.  When you are running 85-90 miles per week the more races you can involve the better as it takes away the monotony of running on your own, plus it allows you to test pacing and nutrition strategy. As race day neared I started to worry about the effects of running on such a difficult course would be on my legs.  I worried about injury and getting sick as the forecast was not a pretty one.  On race day all of these went away except for keeping true to my only two goals for Bandera 100k.

  • Goal 1: Stay vertical.  Do not take chances to avoid falling and what could lead to injury.
  • Goal 2: Finish under 16 hours and get yourself a lottery ticket to Western States 100.

How did the day go?  What are my thoughts on the race organization, the course, the volunteers and everything in between?  Let's find out.

Friday January 9th - The Day Before Bandera 100k

On Friday I drove 5 hours from my home in Dallas to the Flying J Ranch where Jeff had booked us a room.  On my way down he texted me that he upgraded our room to one that had a kitchen and a laundry room.  Little did we know how important that laundry room would be. When I got to the hotel and brought my bags in Jeff and I went to grab a bite to eat and then over to the pre-race meeting and packet pick-up.  While at packet pick-up we met two athletes that had run Bandera 100k the previous year and they were able to answer the three questions we had.

  1. Q: What time should we show up?  A: Get here prior to 6am so you get a close parking space and not dealing with lines.
  2. Q: How hard is it to pick up drop bags? A: Crossroads drop bag can be picked up as you are leaving the park.
  3. Q: Are there any sections on the trail that you can run? A: Yes, middle 20 for sure. First 5 tough as well as last 5.

After hearing that information we set out to eat dinner.  Keeping to the program of eating like a King for breakfast, a Prince for lunch and a pauper for dinner I decided to have a greek salad and fried pickles.  After having a bowl of fruit before bed I was set.

Saturday January 10th - Bandera 100k Race Day

4:30am wake-up call.  Breakfast of coffee, toast with peanut butter and sliced banana and it was off to the race site. I decided that I did not need drop bags on the course and just packed a bag for the start/finish line.  In that bag I had a pair of fresh shoes to change into along with a full change of clothes.  Jeff and I made a commitment to ourselves that we would make a full change of our upper body clothes regardless of how good/warm we felt.

Loop 1 - The First 31

When we lined up I repeated my 2 goals in my head as the clock was counting down.  Having Jeff with me and running into training partner Troy at the start helped to calm me down to just run and not 'race.'  Once we started moving the nerves left and it was time to execute the plan of start slow and then go slower.  We ran with all of the 100k participants for the first 5 miles which included a section that is vertical and one athlete slipping on the ice and falling backwards into Jeff who blocked him while I grabbed the front of his shirt.  I made a mental note to make sure to be careful at that spot when I came around for Loop 2. When we reached the Nachos aid station things started to clear up in terms of athletes.  The spreading out started to take place and we could start to run.  This is also the first time on the course where the sotol is not tearing you up.  The sotol cactus hurts as it pulls your skin when you run through it.  There is no avoiding the cactus so you have to suck it up and get through it as best you can. [caption id="attachment_9797" align="alignright" width="600"]bandera 100k - race report - ultra trail run Bandera 100k Course Profile[/caption] Jeff and I stuck together through the sections from Nachos to the Cross Roads Aid station and then when reached Mile 20 he mentioned to me that I could go ahead if I wanted to secure a good time because I was able to descend really well.  I told him that if I get the itch then I would go ahead.  When we hit the last mile before getting to the Cross Roads Aid station a second time I was in heaven.  I latched onto Troy's hip and we descended that last mile at a very fast pace and I was loving it.  I had a huge smile on my face and when we hit the aid station Troy and I were laughing that we were actually able to run.  I waited around for Jeff and Troy took off.  After Jeff came into the aid station we headed out and this time after about a mile I kept running and was now on my own. I kept repeating my race strategy which was to run the flats, walk the hills and cascade gracefully down the descents.  I could feel that my legs were strong and I just kept on plugging until I reached the Last Chance aid station where I grabbed a couple of Oreos and moves on. In the last 5 miles from Last Chance to the Lodge I came upon an athlete that was walking and seemed to be walking gingerly.  When I caught up to him we were chatting and he told me that he fell at the 11km mark and probably broke a rib.  When I asked if he was going to stop at the turn around he said that he would because he was having trouble breathing and could feel the rib floating.  I was in awe that this guy went past all the aid stations between the 11km mark and what was now about the his 45k mark and still moving.  Tough. Tough. Tough. When I got to the Lodge I stuck to the plan of making a full upper body change so I swapped out my wet and sweaty tops for dry tops and it felt great.  When I took off the Hoka OneOne Mafate and put on the Hoka OneOne Stinson Trail shoe it felt even better.  My feet felt light and I was ready to run.  I opened a foil packed with a FlapJacked pancake and ate it as I set out for Loop 2. [caption id="attachment_9805" align="aligncenter" width="172"]bandera 100k - ultra trail race - runner - race report Check out the mud on my shoes at the end of Loop 1[/caption]

Loop 2 - The Second 31

As I started running I could feel how light I felt.  My hydration pack felt lighter which told me that I would need to fill up at some point because being out on those trails without liquid would not be a good idea.  My feet felt great and it seemed as if the mud was not sticking as much to the Stinson as the Mafate.  The best feeling though was the fact that I was dry. During the first part of Loop 2 I kept repeating to myself that I needed to race the daylight.  I am not a fan of wearing a headlamp and with the trail being difficult and my first time on it I wanted to get as far into the loop as I could before having to wear the headlamp. [caption id="attachment_9806" align="alignright" width="199"]Bandera 100k - ultra trail race - race report Middle of Loop 2 - Notice how clean my shoes look now[/caption] It was at this point that I made the decision that aid stations were pit stops and not an opportunity to strike up conversation.  My goal was to stop at the aid station and down two cups of coke and grab two Oreos to eat as I walked.  When I hit Nachos there were about 10-15 athletes hanging around and I went right past them following my plan.  Relentless Forward Motion was the name of the game at this point. As I came upon hills that were not steep I made the decision to run them as opposed to walking them because at this point I have nothing to conserve my energy for.  I ran the flats, the uphills and descended and I felt myself getting strong.  Reaching Chapas I followed the aid station plan and kept moving. When I hit Cross Roads the first time on Loop 2 I refilled my hydration pack as well as the two Oreos and Coke and then kept on going because I knew in this section there were some steep climbs as well as the fun descent that I wanted to hit in the daylight.  I was fortunate enough to do so and when I got to Cross Roads the second time I grabbed a cup of coffee because the sun was setting and I could feel that I was getting cold when I left aid stations due to their warmth inside the tents. As I left Cross Roads I was only focused on getting to Last Chance.  4.2 miles and nothing else mattered.  During this section I came upon Ted who was Bib# 333 and I stuck to his tail as much as I could.  Eventually Ted and I ran into two other athletes and we all ran as pack for a while.  After about 1 mile one of the athletes pulled over to use nature's restroom and we kept going.  When we reached Last Chance I could tell that we were covering quite a bit of ground at a decent pace and yet my legs still felt very strong.  When we left we ran into another athlete but it was not long before it was just Ted and I. After having run 5-6 miles together we finally decided to chat.  As I found out Ted lives in Austin and is from Zimbabwe.  What a great conversation and what a great way to kill the last 4.7 miles.  At one point I told Ted that when we hit the field he did not have to worry about out sprinting me because my only goal was sub-16 and injury free.  His response was: the podium is all yours.  We had a good laugh. Ted and I were clicking off the miles and passing a few runners when I told him that I thought we were finally done passing other athletes and this was with about 1.25 miles to go.  Sure enough within minutes a head lamp appeared from behind us and I remember hearing Ted say something along the lines of: somebody caught us. That was all I needed to hear and for whatever reason I took off like a jack rabbit.  I began descending as if it were a perfectly gorgeous 55* day out with the sun shining.  Except it was below 32*, raining and muddy beyond belief.  When I finally stopped descending and realized I had smashed my toe and knew I was within 0.25 miles of the finish line I had thought I would stop running and coast in.  My legs had a different idea and I kept running.  In fact I ran so much and so hard that I wound up being that dude that passes people as they get close to the finish line.  I apologize to the two ladies I passed but my legs were moving without my control it seemed. As I crossed the finish line I looked at the clock and saw 12:52.  Not only did I eclipse 16 hours and earn a ticket into the Western States Lottery but I also beat the 14 hour goal and was now below 13 hours as well.  WHAT?!?!?! [caption id="attachment_9795" align="alignright" width="300"]bandera 100k - ultra trail runner - race report USATF 100k National Championships[/caption] The official from USATF asked if I was in the Championships and before I knew it he was handing me a medal as well as getting a belt buckle from Joe the Race Director.  I walked into the lodge area to get my gear as I was expecting to go to the car and change and then come back to get Jeff when I realized he was standing in front of me.  When I asked how he managed to close so  fast he told me that he crushed his ankle and was driven to the finish line.  I was bummed because our number one goal to stay injury free was not accomplished by Jeff.  We walked back to the car and got changed when I saw the back of the USATF medal and it showed 3rd Place M40-49.  WHAT?!?!?!?! Two days later I am still shocked by the race I had.  It was nothing I expected but I am very happy with the outcome.  More importantly I ran this morning and my legs feel pretty good.  In addition to that Jeff says his ankle is feeling much better and he thinks he will be more than ready for Rocky Raccoon 100 on January 31st.

Thank You

Thank you to Joe for putting on a wonderful race.  Thank you to all the volunteers who braved miserable conditions to support us.  Thank you to all the athletes for lining up to run and making this an experience I will never forget.  Thank you to my wife and stepson for their never-ending support of my dumb ideas.

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Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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