Grasslands trail marathon – some notes . . . not much of a race report.
I got all my stuff ready the night before. The marathon distance at Grasslands consists of a 12.8 plus a 13.5 mile loop from the start / finish with a drop bag / aid area at the start. The running surface in good weather and on this day was ideal for the most part, mostly dirt horse path through wooded areas. There were a few segments of bumpy trail where horses had left footprints in the dried mud and there were some sandy segments that were sandier and slower than optimal, but these were a small part of the course. Each half had two aid stations with water, sports drinks, gu’s and snacks.
I left dallas at Dallas at 4:45 and that was about perfect timing for starting the marathon. It is an easy drive . . . Denton, then west on 380 to Decatur then north for 7 miles. The marathon race was to start at 0700 and the 50 milers had already been going for about 15 minutes when I arrived at the park at 0615. The RD decided to start the marathon at 0715 to let the 50 milers come through the start / finish without the congestion of the marathon start. I had preregistered and packet pickup was quick and easy.
At 7:15 there was plenty of light for the start and we headed off along the white trail of 12.8 miles. Very early on, the entire lead pack of about 15 runners went straight along a path over a dam when we should have turned left. We ended up doing about an extra third of a mile but spent about 8 minutes in the process of both doing the extra distance and deciding where to go. This was the first of three poorly marked areas that many got confused with. The trail was in good shape throughout the course with just enough sand to provide a soft running surface although there were a few sand pits along the way and a few rough areas with dried horse footprints.
I skipped the 4 mi aid station except to check the zipper on my SJ vest. At the 8 mi aid station I filled my water bottle with the sports drink du jour (forget what it was). A cold front was moving in and we finished at around 48 degrees and stayed overcast – could not have been better.
I managed to step in the one muddy spot on the entire course at around 11 miles and thus changed shoes at the halfway point and this ate up about 9 minutes. I changed into my old Vibram Five Finger KSO Treks. This turned out to be a great choice and I managed to pick up the pace on the second half by about 45 sec per mile. I passed 12 runners in the second half and wasn’t passed by anyone.
This was a great race in spite of the poor course marking at several locations. That is frustrating but is sometimes a part of running trail races.
I wore my Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek vest and carried my phone, one water bottle, a few gu’s. One bottle per 4 mile segment was about right for the 50 degree temp. The race could have certain been done with just a hand held bottle or even just by drinking at the aid stations.