Race photos are here:
BEFORE MY START: My 2nd race of 2021 was the Purgatory Trail Run 5K, held on January 9th in San Marcos, Texas, at the Purgatory Trails Park. There was also a 10-miler. The 10-miler started at 8 a.m. There were 77 finishers for the 5K and 66 finishers for the 10-miler, so a nice little turn-out for this event on a chilly Saturday morning, with the temp at start time around 40 degrees – with a ‘feels like” of 38. Thankfully, it was a clear day with no wind, and we had lots of sunshine. I arrived at race location with about 40 minutes to my start time – just in time to see the 10 milers get started – and got a few pre-start photos.
ON THE COURSE: From a friend of mine who had done this event before, and sent me some photos she took, I knew this was a pretty rugged course, mostly single-track trails, a couple of hills, and pretty rocky along the way. With the pandemic this was, of course, a ‘social distancing start with 2 – 3 participants starting out every few minutes. I am pretty slow at regular road racing, so knew I’d probably be really slow for this trail event, so I waited until everyone else had gone, and was the very last 5K participant to get started. Plus, I figured since the course was an out-and-back…if I fell down somewhere along the way someone on the way back to the finish could save me. :p I actually managed not to fall down – stumbled over a couple of rocks in various places, but managed to stay upright – and did pretty well. Normally I run/walk around 11-something to 12-something minute miles on the roads, but with this course it was more like 14-minute miles, sometimes having to slow down to walk or run more carefully with the abundance stones there were at various spots along the way. I ended up 6th out of 7 in my 60 – 69 males age group, finishing in 47:57, averaging 14:04 per mile. Also, my garmin showed I did 3.4 miles instead of 3.1, and a couple of people that were in the same proximity as me for most of the course, told me this is what their distance showed too. So we all got an extra .3 miles of fun, lol. The guy that was first overall in the 10-miler did it in 1:19, averaging 8 minutes per mile, which is pretty darn impressive, given that the 10-mile folks went to the Upper Purgatory trails part of the park, which have some really major hills. The first 5K guy did it in 24 minutes, and the first woman in 26. How they managed not to fall at that pace going over those rocky places…jeez.
AFTER MY FINISH: Right after I was done, got a couple photos of some others coming into the finish line, including the lady I did most of the course with. Then got some water and a banana and just walked around a for a bit sipping my water and eating the banana. Then back to getting some photos of some of the Happy Finisher participants.
Epilogue: This is a very nicely organized event. The 5K course is tough, but it was somewhat like one particular trail I run on at times at McAllister Park in San Antonio; so once I got going and saw the terrain, I felt I would be just fine – although on some parts of the course, my pacemaker showed my heart-rate was getting up there at times, lol, but nothing I haven’t dealt with before on the occasional run. I felt pretty good the whole way and really enjoyed interacting with the other participants along the way. It was like we were all a big team out there in the ‘wilderness’, lol, helping each other out at various spots, with warnings about the terrain, and making the correct turns to stay on the single-track course; there were flags along the way marking the course for us, but at a few parts, no flags, so had to be careful we were making the correct turns. Thanks to this group of friendly participants helping each other out, we all did manage to stay on course. Also, since this was an out-and-back on single-track trail, the trail maneuvering got interesting at times, lol, as we slower participants met head-on the speedier participants making their way back to the finish. Everyone cooperated with each other though and it all worked out nicely. I would do this one again and recommend it to others.
MUCHO THANKS TO: All the supporting sponsors that allowed us to have this event, including Guadalupe Brewery that provided some really good post-race beer; Athlete Guild for the course setup, timing, and results; and thanks to Scott Wood who was on the trails with his bike helping directionally challenged people like me stay on course; all the race volunteers out there for us on a chilly morning; to David Smith for being our event MC; and to anyone else involved that I may not have mentioned here. Thank you all so much.