Capt’n Karl’s The Shoe 60k Race Report

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

Saturday evening I participated in the last of the Capt’n Karl’s Trail series: The Shoe 60k at Muleshoe Bend Recreational Area. Got there early, set up my tent, relaxed for a couple hours, and chatted with a few other runners before completing my final preparations for the race. The course was 4 ~9 mile loops for the 60k, divided into 3 sections by two aid stations. Mostly single-track, with plenty of rocks, plenty of tree cover, lots of winding switchbacks, and while there were no big hills, lots of ups and downs. And there were more rocks.

Started off the first loop feeling ok. Was running with a guy training for the Cactus Rose 100, so that was interesting talking to him about his training for that (this was his last race for it). First section wasn’t too bad, some decent little ups and downs that reminded me of the Ho Chi Minh trails, but only scattered with rocks. There were a few areas dispersed that had no rocks and had soft trail, but these areas were only short vacations for your feet before returning back to the rocky sections. The second section after the aid station was my least favorite. There was one switchback that featured big rock outcroppings, it was tilted from the right to the left, 6 inch to a foot ledges, and not much room. Yuck! I knew that was going to be interesting the rest of the night. I really wonder how the elite runners deal with this stuff—I guess they are just a little tougher. The third section definitely was the easiest. It did have some short sections with lots of small rocks, but definitely was the easiest to run.

Loop one went by OK, but I was going slower, considering I heard this was supposed to be “easier” than the previous race at Pedernales Falls. I finished the first loop at 2:15, and doing the math (which I know you shouldn’t do for races since so many things can change…) that would put me at a best case, finishing at 9+ hours. The falls I did in a shade over 9 hours, so I knew at that point it was going to be a long night.
Went back out on the second loop, and my stomach still wasn’t quite right. I tried everything I could, taking food, salt, taking water, not taking water, nothing seemed to work. It wasn’t slowing me down too much, but was just uncomfortable to deal with. Near the end of the second lap, I caught up with another runner and I guess we were both in about the same condition and pace, so we chatted it up and headed back to the start/finish. My stomach continued to cause issues—I then heard it making noise but I had no idea if that meant it wanted food in, wanted food out, or what. If only the body had a translator for you to tell you exactly what it wanted, it would make these events much easier!

One cruel tease was the 30k runners were now finishing and the race volunteers were cooking burgers, so running into the start/finish after the second loop, one could smell the burgers from a little ways out. Have to wait a few more hours before I’d get to enjoy one of those.

We headed out on the beginning of the third loop, and soon we began to walk. Thus begins the death march that made up majority of the rest of the race. The rocks were really starting to take a toll. I don’t remember exactly why we started walking, but I didn’t mind too much. We jogged the easier areas and walked the tougher ones (which was now the majority of the route for us). Soon another runner joined us, and the three of us continued along on our slow march to the finish. My stomach started feeling better after that—it seems walking for 45 minutes managed to do the trick. The three of us stuck together and chatted up the rest of the race which made the night go by much faster. I probably could have jogged more of the last two laps, but it was great having a couple other people there to talk to rather than running out there by yourself. While we weren’t jogging much, we were at least “walking with a purpose.” I think the third loop is also where I managed to roll my right ankle what seemed like a dozen times, and I think I banged my head on a couple low branches. Dummy, look up! The trails always find a way to humble you. The thought also continued to cross my mind: This is your idea of a good time on a Saturday night?

Eventually we soon began our last lap which proceeded much like the previous one—slowly. The stars did look nice, and this was the first time I really noticed the cooler weather by being able to see my breath. Every step forward was just one closer to the finish. I just wanted to be done at this point and soon, we were. We sprinted to the finish to complete another trail run. Wasn’t a great time, but I didn’t really care, I just wanted to finish. And having the company of two other runners for the last 6+ hours of the race made it much more enjoyable.

During the race, I was comparing the course to Bandera, and though Bandera is a certainly tougher course, I think this race was tougher given the temperature here was ~50 degrees greater than at Bandera. I also don’t know how I was able to handle all the rocks at Bandera, but I remember Bandera being easier to run but maybe that was just the weather too.

Would have been nice to get the belt buckle, but two out of three ain’t bad, and I did learn a few good lessons about races and the nutrition I need for summer races. Thankfully, the summer is over.

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3 Responses

  1. […] “There was one switchback that featured big rock outcroppings, it was tilted from the right to the left, 6 inch to a foot ledges, and not much room. Yuck! I knew that was going to be interesting the rest of the night.” by Utra Tortoise @ One Ultrarunner’s Experience […]

    • Hey, great job out there MD. Nice rebound in the last two from the Lake. I think the Shoe was tough, maybe the hardest of the 3. While my time from the Lakes was slowest, I think it was the easiest of the 3 courses and my favorite. I just didn’t run it very smart. What’s next for you?

      • Thanks. Yeah I’m really glad and proud I didn’t give up on the 60k’s after the Lake. Not my greatest time on the last one, but I was still happy with it. My ankle was bugging me and I enjoyed the company. I think I enjoyed the Falls course the most. I’m not sure which one I thought was toughest–maybe the Lake, but it’s hard to judge since I didn’t complete all of that course. I think I’m going to do the Rocky Raccoon 50k in November. Right now I’m just taking it easy for a couple weeks before hopefully getting in some good speed work.

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