I signed up for Habanero 50K for the heat training – the race starts at noon (!) in South Texas, so pretty much guaranteed to be scorching. Also for the sandy conditions, as prep for upcoming Marathon des Sables Peru. The race delivered extra on both counts.
Temp for the noon start was 105* F with ridiculously high humidity. Carefully avoided checking phone app for the “feels like” temperature – sauna-like, is the best way I can describe it. Temps continued to rise through the afternoon, not dropping below 100 until after 6 p.m. One gauge measured sand temps over 120* F – which was enough to feel the heat coming up through your shoes, even as the sun cooked from above.
Then there was the sand. One friend said it was similar to that patch of scrubby weeds and gritty sand between the parking lot & the nice beach. Some areas were ankle deep, others you could kind of skirt the worst parts by running through the weedy patches on the side of the trail.
And, because the race takes place at a working ranch, there was cow poop. Lots of cow poop. Did I mention the cow poop?
Race director, Rob Goyen puts his heart and soul into every event. (I wrote this same line after running his Brazos race. Still true.)
This is Rob at the race start – in a Styrofoam Habanero pepper suit! in +100 degree heat. Though he ditched the suit at some point during the race, he stayed all day & into the night at the start/finish – handing out advice, water, & high fives as we finished each loop — hugs & medals when we finished. Heart & soul.
What worked well:
- Nike shorts & tank
- OR desert hat
- Drymax socks w Trail Toes Anti-Friction lube – no blisters!
- Shoes: Altra Lone Peak
- Heat management – took every opportunity to dump ice in my hat, roll it up in my buff, stuff some in my running bra.
- TriFuel – the only nutrition my overheated stomach could tolerate
Not so well:
- Lighting – headlight was ok, was wishing I also had a handheld for better depth perception.
- Gaiters – epic fail – used everyday trail gaiters which were no match for the deep & continuous sand. Should have worn my desert Raidlights.
- Arm coolers – new ones were too heavy! & not breathable. I’ll be going back to Pearlizumi model.
- Calf sleeves – didn’t bring them! & would have saved my scraped-up ankles a bit.
I finished! No speed record – I was in it for the sand-heat-training miles – but got it done.
Hurricane Harvey hit the very next week – 3 days of torrential flooding rains. While I came through OK – safe, dry, & power on – many nearby communities were hit hard. Homes flooded, power went out, people had to be rescued from rooftops by boat or helicopter.
There are a lot of wonderful Harvey stories — dramatic rescues, kindness of strangers — including this one in Runners World. Take a close look at the photo: that’s RD Rob Goyen (sans Habanero suit). When the storm hit — Rob went to his company warehouse, grabbed his kayak, & spent 3 days rescuing people in the Houston floodwaters.
Heart and soul.