Runner: Frank Fisher
Race Date: 11/12/2021
Location: El Paso, TX
Results: 5th OA
Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/6247738241
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
- It’s in my hometown.
- It’s technical af!
- Views forever!
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
I kinda wish it was longer, but other than that it was cool.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
Nothing weird. Some kids came and ran it then had to go to school, losers… Lol!
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
Highlight number one is I didn’t die! I sort of enjoyed the views, but I was to busy trying to consume oxygen to enjoy a lot of the scenery. Being in only modest shape and living at sea level made for an interesting day. Race starts at around 5000 ft in elevation and goes up to 7000 ft. Normally, this wouldn’t bother me, but holy smokes… I was sucking wind immediately. My legs felt great, but I had to go kinda slow on the way up so as not to pass out. On the way down I figured I would make some time up on everyone else, which happened for the most part but I wasn’t able to go as fast as I wanted. Just not as sharp technically as I would’ve needed to be, but it was fun and once I got past a bit of fear it went well.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
There are 3 route options, I chose the most direct route because it’s a King/Queen of the Mountain race and why would you do it any other way? The other two routes are quite a bit longer and I never even saw the flagging for them. On the direct route, it’s pretty much a scramble till you get up to the saddle and there is a trail up the ridge to the top. I highly suggest following the locals.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
Lesson number one, be in better shape and don’t let this be your second trail run in a few months. It’s 5 days later and my quads are still sensitive to the touch.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
Follow the locals. It’s extremely rocky, technical and there’s lots of stickers and things that will hurt you. You’re probably going to get hurt and bleed some. I came home bloody and bruised, others faired a little worse, you need to be on your p’s and q’s and be focused the entire time. Make a lot of mental notes on your way up as it looks a bit different coming down and easy to miss the fastest route down from the saddle. This is an ankle breaker of a course for numerous reasons, by far the most technical race I’ve ever done. Had I not grown up on this stuff I imagine it would be fairly daunting.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
If you like the high desert and mountains, it’s beautiful. The view from the saddle is fantastic, and even better when you reach the top. You get to see Texas, New Mexico and Mexico in all their brown and dusty glory.
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
Yep. It starts out on a dirt “road” for about a quarter mile that’s full of large sharp rocks, loose dirt, loose rocks and sand. Then you turn off the trail and pretty much pick your own path from there across some scree fields and up the hill which is mostly large sharp rocks, loose dirt and solid rock. At the saddle you follow the ridge on some better surface but there’s a few spots of modest scrambling. Closer to the top is fairly easy and probably the nicest most well defined trail. Then you go back down the way you came and it’s pretty gnarly.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
Well run, Trail Racing Over Texas has been around a while and had it together pretty good.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
Nope, sorry locals, but not particularly competitive. I stopped and took pictures (was really just catching my breath), talked to a photographer and spent a few minutes at the top talking to one of the volunteers (also still trying to catch my breath), and didn’t take this particularly seriously and got 5th having not prepared for this whatsoever.
Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.
Easy to get to, I registered the day before. I think that had day of registration as well.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
No aid stations.
Weather and typical race conditions
Beautiful, sunny and a little chilly in the morning but it warms up quick.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?
Wear your grippiest shoes with good lugs. Maybe gaiters too, lots of loose rocks and dirt.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
How’s the Swag?
Good, I really liked the shirt.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
4 stars. I loved the course and would do it again, and probably do one of the longer races they have that weekend. Several distances to choose from up to 100k.
Frank Fisher is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with Coach Frank, check out his coaching page.