This is another extremely delayed race recap, but I was at a point where I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to continue blogging or not. This race recap had been sitting in my drafts folder, just waiting to be completed, for a very long time now. I recently had a change of heart and decided to continue to use this blog as my creative outlet to talk about something that I love. I could’ve decided to pick things up again at my next race (or Paul, at his next race), but I enjoyed this race so much that I wanted to finish this recap – so, here it is, just long overdue.
The Natural Bridge Caverns Trail Runs includes a 5k, 10k and half-marathon. It takes place at Natural Bridge Caverns, which is located near San Antonio, Texas in the Texas Hill Country. The 2018 races took place on February 4th. We ended up running this race mostly by chance, as we had planned on visiting my mother-in-law and her husband who live in Texas during the winter, and this race was taking place during our visit. I ran the half marathon, and Paul ran the 10k.
The half-marathon started at 7:00 am, and the 10k shortly after. We had to be there by 6ish to pick up our race kits – this worked out perfectly for us, as we arrived the day before, had a long travel day, and were jet lagged, all of which made it easy for us to go to bed on time and wake up early. We stayed at a nearby hotel, which was about a 15 minute drive to the race.
Everything was very organized. Once we arrived, we had our race kits in no time, and waited between 30 (for me) and 60 (for Paul) minutes to be ushered outside to receive some instructions and information from the race director. What I really liked about this race, and found out just before we started, was that each race had a runner that would stay behind the last person, so the last person wouldn’t feel like they weren’t out on the course alone. I found this comforting because I was truly worried that I would get lost. After the race director finished going over everything, we headed down into the caverns!
I was a little nervous about this part, because caverns aren’t exactly my thing, haha. The caverns are alive, meaning that there are still microorganisms that are contributing to formations within the caverns, so you aren’t allowed to touch them (and you are reminded of this before you start). Once in the caverns, you are guided to the start point and are allowed to start, one by one (they have a race marshal at the start who confirms your bib number and allows you to start). There are a few points within the caverns where you have to walk, but other than that you get to have some fun running through the caverns. According to my watch, I was in the caverns for about a half mile or so after the starting point.
Once out of the caverns, it was early enough that we were greeted with a beautiful sunrise and the temperature were still nice and cool. The course takes you out of the park to run on the road for about a half mile, at which point you meet up with the trails.
The trails ranged from caliche trails to jeep trails to beautiful meadows, and some people saw wildlife and/or farm animals along the course (I didn’t, but Paul got to see some cows). Overall, I didn’t find the terrain that difficult for the pace that I was running at (if I had been truly racing it for a particular time, I think I would have a different story to tell). Towards the end, around the 10 mile mark, there is a very steep hill that you have to conquer and nearly everyone in my race walked at least a portion of it (myself included).
My original intent was to run purely for fun, as I hadn’t been doing any serious training and I was going from running on the treadmill to a trail race, but at around the 7 mile mark or so, I decided that I was feeling good and decided to pick up the pace for the rest of the race, but still keep it within my easy range. With 2 miles or so to go, the sun was out and started to get pretty hot, but nothing that I couldn’t manage for the last bit of the race. There were plenty of aid stations with water throughout (I can’t remember if they had any electrolyte drinks).
I ended up finishing in 1:49:35 and placing 10th overall female, 3rd in my age category. I was incredibly happy with my time given the effort that I was running at and a trail race. Paul came 1st in his age category and 3rd overall in the 10k. Your results and placing are available immediately following the race on computers that they have set up at the finish line. While waiting around for the awards ceremony, they had a ton of delicious food to eat, including watermelon, which was so nice since it had gotten pretty hot by that point!
We received beautiful medals made from geode rock – another unique and fun thing about this race! Definitely my favourite medal to date.
I’d like to come back to this race again, or run another race hosted by Redemption Racing. If you are in the area (or want to visit the area), I highly recommend this race!