Trail and ultra running club in the North Texas and greater Dallas / Ft. Worth areas

A Brief History of the North Texas Trail Runners

by Fred Holmes and Scott Eppelman

The organizational meeting of North Texas Trail Runners was held at the Irving, Texas home of Fred Holmes, club organizer and first president, on April 18, 1996. Eleven trail running enthusiasts from the Dallas area were there. On the agenda was planning of the inaugural Rock Ledge Rumble 50k.

The previous December, at the Sunmart ultras, Fred met Donna Perkins and Chrissy Duryea (now Duryea-Ferguson), who were selling shirts to raise money for the team that would represent the U.S. at the 100 km world championship. Holmes was appalled to learn that team members would get only about $150 each to help cover travel costs. Jay Norman, a founding NTTR member, was also there. The two decided to use the Rumble as a means to raise money for the 100 km team.

At the next meeting, club officers were elected and by-laws adopted. That summer the group's first attempts at organizing club runs were made: a small run at Lake Lavon, and a night run at Lake Grapevine's Northshore Trail. This trail is the favorite training ground of club members, and it is the site of the Rock Ledge Rumble, which takes place during November. The July night run, which has become a favorite annual event, is also held there.

NTTR has grown and attracted new members, led by President Britt Starnes. Along with a strong core of Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex runners, the club has members in Austin, Houston, Amarillo, east Texas, Arkansas, and even Lou "The Ancient Brit" Myers in England. We try to encourage road runners to get on the dirt and try the trails. We have been fortunate to add new, enthusiastic members. While NTTR does boast many experienced and talented ultrarunners, that is not all we are about. Runners of all ability levels who want to enjoy the beauty of trail running are welcome.

As the club has expanded, so have our events. Suzi and Michael Cope are in charge of The Grasslands Run, a 50-miler in Decatur. Scott Eppelman has continued the Dallas tradition of 24 & 48-hour Thanksgiving weekend running with the Ultracentric 24/48, in Addison. Paul Stone is race director for several ultras including the East Texas 50k in Tyler. Sarah Brown did a great job with NTTR's summer club run and picnic, which was held early in June at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose. The Last Running of "Ferd's Hill" in Irving is in its sixth year.

NTTR runners have taken on the challenge of running ultras all over the U.S. and even internationally. Neil Hewitt and Robert Tavernini completed the Grand Slam. Robert became the first Texan to finish the Last Great Race, six 100 milers in one summer. This year Letha Cruthirds will try to become the first Texas woman to finish the Slam.

Our old timers aren't fading away yet. Jay Norman broke his age group record at the AT100 by over an hour, in an amazing 22:49. At the 2000 Ultracentric 24/48, Chuck Chandonia and Fred Holmes finished first and second, patiently wearing out runners as much as thirty years younger than them. Betty Norman has finished all eleven Sunmart races.

Tyler Curiel's idea of a team competition against Arkansas runners at the Arkansas Traveller 100 has evolved into the AT100 Team Challenge, which mighty team Texas has won all four times, with NTTR runners scoring each time.

But we haven't forgotten our roots. Tom Crull is now RD for the Rock Ledge Rumble, which continues to grow and improve. Adding a 10k run has introduced many "roadies" to the trail. And in the last seven years, with the help of Lou Myers and others, NTTR has donated over $10,000 to support the U.S. 100 km team. The Ultracentric has also contributed funds to the team.

NTTR is about fun, fellowship, and supporting each other. You'll know if we are at an ultra, as we will be proudly wearing new club logo shirts and having the most fun. Our finish line tent at Sunmart is becoming legendary, thanks mostly to club member Mark Dick. If you're new to NTTR, take a few minutes to browse through our web site, and introduce yourself to us at a race!