Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ouachita Switchbacks

On Saturday I had the chance to run the Ouachita Switchbacks 25k.  

I think I should have paid a bit more attention to the description...

"Oklahoma's Most Challenging and Scenic 50K and 25K.  The race is located in the Ouachita National Forest near Big Cedar, Oklahoma.  Big Cedar is an intersection where highways 259 and 63 meet but there is not really a town there.  There are no stores in Big Cedar and there will be no restroom facilities at the race site.  It is a primitive location without electricity and so be prepared."

Primitive, but beautiful.

I carpooled to the race site with a bunch of other crazy trail runners.  All who I was meeting for the first time that day.  But don't worry, we're runners.  That means that we're friends =)

After getting checked in (and reminded numerous times that we needed to check out before we left) figuring out what I was going to carry, what I was going to wear...  We lined up to head out.

Within the first few miles, I knew this was not going to be an easy race.  I had to be talented enough to keep my eyes on the trail to avoid falling flat on my face and to be looking for the blue markers on the trees...  At times I didn't think that we were still on the trail.

Yes, we were still on the trail...  See that deer path?  That's what we were following.  Until we got to the river of rock.  Then we followed the blue marks across.

Now, when I said this was a 25k (15.4 miles), I really meant to say it was 17.77 miles.  And not because we got lost.  It just happened that the climb to the top of Winding Staircase was 8.85 miles- across a river of rock and a stream that you had to wade through.  Which on the way back felt wonderful on the calves.

Where there was a shelter and an aid station.  After refueling, we headed back down the mountain.

And to the finish line where there was plenty of potato soup, chili, cornbread, sandwiches, cookies and great camaraderie.

And since this was my first official race as a Tough Chick, the required selfie proving that I was still able to walk =)

For those of you wondering about the elevation.  The lowest point was around 940' and the highest was 2440'.

It was much more challenging than I had anticipated, but also a lot of fun.  So much, that I'm already planning on next year =)

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