When stars came out as runners gathered around the campfire on Saturday night, it seemed unlikely that the predicted winter storm would materialize. Unfortunately, rain started around midnight, with sleet, snow, and freezing rain arriving by race start on Sunday morning. Travel became treacherous—45 of the 81 registered runners never made it in. Because of high wind, the timing clock was tied to a nearby tree. Water bottles froze, as did the aid station potatoes, bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, and strawberries. A freak whirl wind blew grit over the aid station 2 food. While the last runners were still out on the course there was even a thunder shower—thunder without lightning—during the precipitation! Local EMT, Ray Farmer, patrolled the course. Amazingly there were no injuries on the sometimes rocky T-shaped out-and-back course.
In spite of the brutal weather conditions, the event was still competitive for some. In the 25K less than a minute separated the first two finishers, Eddie Wyrick (2:21:20) and Chris Finley (2:22:01). Just behind them was female winner, Rachel Wyrick (2:24:01). In the 50 years + category female runner, Lisa Talley (2:37:49) came in well before Andy Bowman (3:04:35) of the 21 finishers. All of the thirteen 50K entrants finished their two loops. “Trail Runner” magazine staffer Jeremy Duncan won (4:06:08). Though used to the Colorado cold, he said it took a while to get all the ice out of his beard!
Post-race, the runners warmed up with bowl of homemade chili, rice, and beans around the wood burning cast iron stove. All finishers received plaques made by Ben Bray from a cedar tree cut on the property and jars of local honey. Both male and female overall and age group winners were awarded bottles of local wine and free entry into next year’s race. In addition, both overall 25K and 50K winners were given free “Trail Runner” subscriptions.
When my home burned in November, destroying all race records and equipment, having the race seemed impossible. But Teresa Estrada convinced me the race could go on and had a new “A-OK” 25/50K start/finish line banner made. She provided the timing clock, also race numbers and snacks left from Cross Timbers. Lisa McGinnis paid the $25 entry fee, even though she earned free entry from winning last year’s race. One preregistered entrant who couldn’t make the icy drive sent his entry fee post-race. While I was chided for using old-fashioned paper entry forms, that was the way things were done 35 years ago when I started running and directing races, before computers were invented.
Photographer Mike Langille ([email protected]) managed to get finish line pictures for viewing and purchase—go to http://ww.mllphotos.com/2014 A-OK finish line and http://ww.mllphotos.com/2014 A-OK all others—before heading back to Dallas—the scariest drive of his life he said afterward.
Thanks to Brian and Jessica Baldwin who came from Calera to set up the clock and record finish times. Special thanks go to Dora Bray who provided food and encouragement at aid station 2 until the last runner came through; Ben Bray and my son Barry for setting up and clearing the course. Also appreciated were the “new” used t-shirts donated by Luke’s Locker. Last but not least I am grateful to neighbor Marvin Skagerberg, who drove my van safely back to Plano, a 125 mile trip which took over four hours on icy roads. Neighbors willing, next year’s race on my Oklahoma mountain property near Atoka will take place the first Sunday in March, 2015—better weather guaranteed.
Jeremy Duncan 32 4:06:04 (1st M)
Ruben Aguilar 23 4:17:41
Joe Kilianski 25 4:27:55
Edgar Martinez 35 4:39:41
Aaron Ochoa 39 4:40:30
Jason Bahamundi 40 4:57:25
Tina Leon 29 5:03:06 (1st F)
Arnold Begay 51 5:56:59 (1st 50+M)
Eunsup Kim 61 6:26:28
Deuk Lee 41 6:31:51
Elizabeth Thompson 25 6:32:09
Megan Walters 28 6:55:07
Sherry Meador 48 7:23:41