by Karen Riddle
Palo Duro Canyon S.P.
October 16, 2004
Ah, Palo Duro – now if anyone asks what my favorite trail run is – I know what to tell them! This was the most beautiful trail I have ever been on – I can’t believe I had skipped this one year after year. (Oh – that’s right – one year the horse had stepped on my foot, the other years . ? .? )
After leaving Big Al (the husband for those of you who don’t know!) in Hale Center, about an hour and a half from the canyon, to rope, ride and tell tall tales with his cronies, I headed to Canyon to get a good night’s rest before the run (this is an important issue for me!!!) I had gotten a room at a small privately owned motel, Buffalo Inn – couldn’t have been better – $32 a night, refrig. and microwave in the room and the owner had coffee made for me at 5:00 a.m. ! ! !
I got to the start early, picked up my packet, did all the pre-race things, back and forth to the car and bathroom a couple time, tried to find NTTRers in the dark and was off with the 50 milers and 50Kers. There was lots of support from the NTTR’s, especially Paula Billman. We were off in the dark, cool morning, perfect weather for running, packed tight, stomping through mud and whatever else for over a mile or two. Our one water crossing had cinder blocks placed for us to ‘bridge’. The pack was tight and cramped, until the 50 milers and 50Ker’s split up.
When the lights came on, the view was breathtaking! The canyon is magnificent! The colors of the rocks and the changing of the view with each turn!! It is a geologist’s playground. We would do a 6 mile loop and then join back up with the 50 milers for two 12.5 mile loops.
I ran with Lou Meyers for a while, also known as ‘The Ancient Britt’ who comes here every year and has for, what did he say, 40 years?? He said he was going to strip down naked at the something Locos Aid station and surprise them – I said I had better get a move on – I wasn’t sure I was ready for that this early in the race !! What fun we have, huh? I found out after the race that Lou is 76!!! That couldn’t be! He told me to tell Suzi Cope hi and to tell her that she is one sexy lady!
This trail is very runable, hard packed red dirt, with occasional shoe sucking mud patches from the 3 weeks of rain they had. But this mud was in just a few places – for the most part the trail was dry. Rocks did exist and yes I did fall twice, but I think I tripped over my own shadow those two times, pulling the left hamstring this time – stretched, and walked it out. I actually waited in anticipation for hills to walk up – lots of downs and I needed some walking breaks!! I love this trail!!
The first loop was extremely slow due to the bunching at the start. Paula was there to assist any and all – did she know all these people? She offered me a sip of the best coffee. I hoped to get in a better 2nd loop, which I did. I felt I ran my best, ran most of the time, only walked up hills, kept aid station breaks to a minimum, and, kept the potty breaks to a minimum also!!! Third loop, back to slow – the hills that I was looking for earlier, suddenly appeared, the miles lengthened, but I still felt great. Well, my time was still not going to get me under 7 hrs., but I was hoping to break 7:30 with no trouble. . . . . . . . . but it wasn’t happening – and I can’t really say what was preventing it . . . maybe me stopping and letting the fast 50-milers pass me? Maybe me slowing down when I felt like speeding up when there were slow runners in front of me (until I did actually pass them)? Maybe it was my legs screaming because I put them through a 7:38 mile and right after, a 26:18 5K at the Race for the Cure last weekend. Everyone knows that is not my normal speed! ! ! ! ! Who knows, I didn’t get lost, I ran my best, I didn’t eat too much at the aid stations, didn’t talk too much, I only walked up hills. Whatever – my new goat was 7:38 (my mile time last weekend!) and I pushed and finished, feeling super in 7:38:48.
The finish was full of spectators, crew, 20K and 50K finishers, and several AT100’s filnishers were there also, either running or just supporting – oh, and the first 50 miler beat me!!! Lunch was served! It was a beautiful day. I was so glad I came here. It was a great run, a great day and I plan on the 50-miler there next year!