Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Historic race going many extra miles

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Audrey Jenkins is set to be a part of history. The 16-year-old from Richardson is making the trek to Glen Rose the weekend of May 25-27 — and then she’ll do a lot more traveling as she plans to compete in the first-ever High Hope Endurance Run. The event, presented by Mammoth Race, will feature races ranging from a 5 kilometer to 200K.

Yep, you read that right, 200K. That’s just over 124 miles, and those who run in it, like Jenkins, will be participating in the longest road race ever in Texas, Codirector (with Steve Cano) Michael Power said.

“We are making history in the race world. It is a unique distance,” Power said. “Ultramarathon officially begins at the 50K distance, but 100k and 100-mile races are very popular, with even 200-plus miles, multi-day events being offered around the country. There are only three other 200K races in the whole United States.”

WHY THIS DISTANCE?

The very thought of traveling that far in such a short time — participants have 48 hours to finish — is mind boggling. But to folks like Jenkins, it’s a challenge that, while most avoid, they welcome.

Perhaps it’s to prove something to themselves, or perhaps it’s to improve themselves. Maybe it’s both.

For example, Jenkins got into running after joining her junior high cross country team. While she realized she might not be the fastest runner, she discovered that she could push herself and “just go a little farther.”

Or, in this case, a lot farther, which also allows a lot of time for gathering one’s thoughts, Jenkins said.

“I love the competition and solitude of trail running,” she said, noting her goals are to finish the race, have fun and make new friends along the way.

“We think this will be a real draw for ultra runners who want to test their endurance over the 100-mile mark and will entice people to come from all over the United States,” Power said. “We expect this race to grow significantly in the next three years. We expect 150 runners to compete in this year’s event.”

DREAM COME TRUE

Power said after competing in ultramarathons for over 20 years, it has always been a dream of his to produce one. Codirecting for the Mammoth has provided him the opportunity to pursue this and make it a reality.

“I am always looking for new trails to explore. I have an app that shows local trails and I was like, ‘Huh, haven’t seen these before,’” he said. “I went out to explore High Hope Ranch and was really impressed by the trail system and ranch staff.

“We started talking about the possibility of producing an ultramarathon at High Hope Ranch and the rest is history. I took the other director, Steve Cano, out there and he was equally impressed, and we decided on the spot to make it happen.”

ABOUT THE RACE(S)

While the 200K is the race that is grabbing attention, the weekend will feature plenty of other races, including distances of 5K, 10K, 25K, 50K and 100K. The motto for the weekend is “Go big or go extinct!”

The course is varied with a mix of open pasture and rocky and hilly terrain, Power noted, saying, “It is truly a Hill Country experience.”

The 200K has an elevation profile consisting of almost 11,000 feet of gain.

“This race is different from other races because it is the Mammoth Race experience. Steve and I produce high quality races that are just fun. Trail running is pure exhilaration,” Power said. “Traditionally, Mammoth races have been 30K and under.”

Mammoth produces four races during the year. The flagship race is The Mammoth at Dinosaur Valley in October (coming up on its 10-year anniversary), The Mammoth at Cleburne State Park in April, Ice Age Half-Marathon in Granbury in January, and now they are moving into the ultramarathon world with the production of High Hope Endurance Run.

This is a 48-hour event starting Saturday, May 25, at 7 a.m., and the course is open until Monday, May 27, at 7 a.m. Participants in the 200K and 100K have 48 hours to complete the distance.

All distances except the 200K are offered on Saturday or Sunday, whereas most races are single-day events.

“It is also on a closed course, meaning we will be the only people utilizing the trails that weekend,” Power said. “Technically, you could slow hike this race and still finish in time. We encourage all abilities, and we will have people who hike the course. Ultra running is never ‘all running.’ There are miles where walking and ‘continual forward progress’ is the name of the game.

“There are highs and lows that all ultra runners experience during the course of the event. The key is to keep moving, fuel properly, hydrate properly and take care of your feet.”

BENEFICIARY

Power said another thing that separates Mammoth from other trail running production companies is that it is a nonprofit raising funds for another nonprofit — Lake Pointe Resource Center in Granbury. Lake Pointe supports families with children affected by autism and related neuro-developmental conditions, providing opportunities for evidence-based educational and therapeutic services to be accessible within the community.

Lake Pointe was founded by Madelyn Cano, wife of Steve, founder of the Mammoth Race in 2015.

REGISTRATION

Registration is open until race day. Folks interested can follow the links on mammothrace.com or go directly to the event registration page on Runsignup.com.

Volunteers are also needed. Folks who would like to volunteer can also go to the event registration page and follow the links.

All participants receive an event T-shirt. Finishers in the 200K and 100K get custom belt buckles. Finishers in the 50K, 25k, 10K and 5K get custom neck medals. There are no prizes for placement — only bragging rights.

Power said the race has something for everyone.

“From the seasoned ultra runner to the novice, it really is about the experience, getting out on the trails and enjoying nature,” he said. “Ultramarathon is undoubtedly about fitness and stamina, but is also about the spirit inside someone and the willingness to push through discomfort to achieve one’s goals. It is about grit and determination in the face of uncertainty. It’s a life lesson in athletic form.”

For some, that lesson can even include redemption.

“I signed up for a 100-mile race in March that I was unable to finish,” she said.