Imagine Sean Connery saying, “Welcome to the Rock!” White Rock is not Alcatraz, but you have to admit it does sound cool when he says it. No, this race is not in Texas nor does it go around White Rock Lake like the Dallas White Rock Marathon does. Instead, this race is hidden in northwest Arkansas in the Ozark National Forest. In my experience, when heading to a trail race or run you’re usually getting close when you start to lose cell phone reception.
It’s been 20 years since the first White Rock Classic. The Forest Service closed a portion of the original route in 2011, resulting in the race being cancelled that year. Last year it was decided to modify the course allowing the race to continue.
For the first running of the new course, Cole Crosby came down from Norman, OK to record a blistering time of 3:53:55. Fayetteville’s Katie Helms recorded a female best of 5:14. Those will be the course records until the race returns to the traditional route, if ever. PoDog encourages you to “Please continue to pay your taxes” in hopes the road and bridge construction will be completed soon.
“No fees, no frills, no wimps” is stated on the website. People come to this race for the pure enjoyment of running. The weather was cool and runners took refuge in their vehicles until it was time to start. Everyone congregated and caught a glimpse of the awards designed by Chrissy Ferguson.
The course was on dirt roads. What it lacked in being technical it compensated for in its ups and downs. With an out-and-back you know that every hill you go barreling down will be a climb on the return. The course has a give and take relationship, if you will. It rewards you with some long descents, but punishes you with equally as long ascents. In addition to the footrace, there is a mountain bike race that takes place simultaneously. (report from the 2012 MTB race) Every now and then a mountain biker would go speeding by or you’d see them grinding it out going uphill.
Nice vistas are your background as you make your way to White Rock Mountain, but there is nothing more breathtaking than the apex of the mountain. The sign-in sheet is strategically placed at a pavilion that overlooks the Ozark National Forest and the surrounding Boston Mountains. The panoramic view is well worth the 16+ miles it takes to get there. Now, the fun part is turning around and heading back to the start. Sarcasm doesn’t translate well in writing.
I hear it’s not uncommon for dogs to join you on your run. I had one that accompanied me for a few miles. The flour made mile markers were no match for my new-found friend.
Katie Helms won again this year, but it was another Oklahoman, Tom Brennan finishing first overall after a third place finish last year. I’m taking bets guesses on when the road under construction will be complete. Leave your bet guess in the comments. Someone will contact you with further instructions.
The next race in the Arkansas Ultra Running Association Ultra Trail Series is the Big Rock Mystery Run on Saturday, March 30, 2013. Want to know the course? Wouldn’t that be nice? No one knows, except for our beloved Chrissy. Show up and be prepared to unlock the mystery of Big Rock! You never know what you may have to go over, under, or through. It’ll be fun! I’ll see you there!