Perfect temperatures and clear skies brought together roughly 70 runners all ready to trample the trail early Saturday morning.
For some, this race was a way to meet up with familiar friends for the monthly organized trail run put on by the Arkansas Ultra Running Association (AURA). For others, it was their final opportunity in the AURA trail series to earn points and raise their ranking for the year. And, for a select few, add falling-on-trail to their bank of race memories.
This was going to be my first time running on (and for the most part seeing) the Magazine trails. The main buzz I heard prior to the race was “you will love it—it’s so beautiful!” Honestly, I hear that about most of the trail races in Arkansas, and I usually believed them, but I didn’t realize how impressed I was about to be.
Many trail races have a considerable section on the pavement in the beginning and/or end, but not this one. You practically start on the trail and end on the trail! The total distance is about 17 miles (or a 12 mile cop-out). The course is one giant loop with the exception of a 3 mile out and back. The course also runs along the rim of the mountain with some magnificent overlooks. As for the trail terrain, it is very runnable, with no creek crossings, just many switchbacks—up and down hills—rock stair- steps, phenomenal overlooks, and soft, double-track trails.
Let me reiterate: phenomenal overlooks. The trail almost forces you to stop and admire nature’s beauty (or you’ll fall off the cliff and Mother Earth will laugh at you because you were taking her for granted). The views were vast, green, and blue—you felt like you could see the entire world!
For those worried about getting to stop and admire the views AND run a good time, have no fear. You can do both! How, you ask, do you get to have your cake and eat it too? Well, on the out-and-back stretch, which was down part of the mountain and back up, you were greeted by millions of loving mosquitos and gnats who were waiting patiently to run your ass back up the mountain. This ensured that you didn’t stop, for they would inhabit your ears and eyes, and then choke you. This way, it felt better to choke on the lack of air from a hill workout, than gag on the bugs. So, relax…spend all the time you want looking at the views, you will have motivation to make up your time later. At least we did this year!
Following the race, “P.T.” was grilling hot dogs, hamburgers, and veggie burgers for all us hungry souls. Runners got to reminisce about their experiences, discuss upcoming races, and refuel/rehydrate properly with their drink of choice—mostly beer.
The top overall & master’s male and female runners got bear-claw shaped plaques (representin’ Bear country), and “Podog” got a birthday song, pie, and sugar cookies.
If you’re looking for a scenic run that isn’t of ultra distance, I’d recommend checking this out next year!
Photos courtesy of Cliff Ferren, Jenny Wilkes, and Stacey Shaver