by Chris McWatters, RD
The repeated phrase rang throughout the bright green finish area, “I can’t believe how deceivingly hard that trail is.” Hells Hills Endurance Run got this name for a reason. This trail system isn’t in the mountains. It doesn’t gain or lose a ton of elevation. But it just never stops going up and down and left and right.
This year brought one of the most beautiful sets of wild flowers, famous Texas Bluebonnets, birds and butterflies of every color, streams with flowing water, sharp drops and climbs like the infamous “Wall” and “Grind,” and hundreds of runners.
In the 50 mile women’s race, Nicole Kalogeropoulos broke into the top five overall and a big win over the other ladies with a time of 8:25:45. The second smiley women’s finisher was Julie Koepke who has been racing a ton lately. Julie ran 9:23:41, and was just ten minutes in front of third place female Rachel Wrightson at 9:33:44. Fourth across the line for the women was Monica Egner at 10:25:16, and then Kelli Vance fifth woman at 10:25:16.
For the men’s 50 mile, we saw a standout performance from previous year’s winner Anthony Jacobs. He pulled of a new course record in a time of 6:46:24. Next across the line was Joe Cooper at 7:45:26, Lonnie Coone at 8:16:54, Brian Clark at 8:23:07, and Roger Maxwell in 8:31:03.
I also had the privilege of handing out the Tejas 250 award to Tom Bowling. Tom completed five of the Tejas Trails 50 milers this season and was the only person who pulled it off this year!
For the 50k, we enjoyed watching the leaders staying relatively close together for a while. Eventually Wade Barrett came across the line almost 11 minutes in front of second place Colin Hagan. There times of 4:10:27 and 4:21:06 respectively bested third place finisher David Bishop at 4:34:33.
On the women’s side, Sydney Lambert crossed in sixth overall out of all the 50km runners at 5:04:05. Erin Flattery was second female at 5:24:29. Then third female across the line, next to the pond, and into the shade was Melynda Hamilton at 5:31:22.
All in all, we couldn’t have asked for a better day. It was truly a joy to see the many new faces who are now in love with trail running; many finishers who thought about quitting and decided not to; and many veteran runners who have now logged several hundred miles on this long-standing Texas classic trail run!