Barefoot Rick's Psycho WyCo 10.35 Mile Trail Run Report - February 10, 2007

Race Director Ben Holmes warns folks about this one as he states on the event webpage ...

This is a REAL TRAIL event. Yes, I said TRAIL event. If you want to run on a sissy, paved course, this isn't the race for you! The course consists of rocky, rooty, and hilly bridle trails & single-track trails. It's a loop course, and you will be in the woods, for the most part. The length of each loop is a wheel-measured 10.35 miles; you do the math; 3 loops is 50 kilometers long. The course's trails can be challenging due to rocks & roots and the sometimes muddy conditions, and the constant barrage of rolling hills. But remember: This is Kansas, so how tough could it really be??? Actually, only 22% is flat, and the rest of the time you are either going up or downhill, and some of those hills are very steep. There is also a 1/3-mile section of paved road that you will run on at about mile 5 of each loop. But, in keeping with the theme of the race, you will be going uphill on the pavement.

He's not kidding about the difficulty ...

Not only is the course TOUGH, having all the characteristics of an Ozark trail complete with jagged limestone, tree roots and hills where you actually have to pump your thighs with your hands to get up, but it is in February, for gosh sakes! This means, in the Kansas City area at least, that the weather could be anything -- balmy or frigid. On the morning of the 10th of February at Wyandotte County Lake in Kansas City, Kansas it was the latter. One could see that portions of the trails were still snow and ice packed. As the sun was peeking over the ridge at 8 a.m., photographer Dick Ross of SeeKCrun was having folks pose with a thermometer. Geez Louise! It was 16 degrees F, but no wind thank goodness! If it would have been any colder, this barefoot runner would have stayed home. I know my limitations!

Left - Yep, it really was 16 degrees F!     Right - Folks milling around before the start

I had agreed to meet Scott and Jocelyn Jacobson who work for the Kansas City Star along with photographer Jennifer Hack at the morning event. Scott and his wife, Jocelyn, are working on a barefoot running article for the paper which should be out in the next couple of months. I met the threesome a little before the 8 a.m. start. Scott (also called "Jake") determined to run with me. Did I mention that the 10 mile trail is one loop around the lake? Also, I failed to mention that other runners were looping TWICE and THREE times to make their run a 20 miler or a 50 Kilometer! Oy Vay! I couldn't imagine going any further than I did with the one loop.

The run started a bit after 8 a.m. My feet were a bit sensitive for the first half mile or so and then they warmed up nicely and I fell into my running groove. My favorite parts of the trail were when we would hit flat spots of snow cover that had not frozen with ice. I could easily run along these trail portions without any fear of falling. However, the climbs were tough and the descents were treacherous where the snow pack had melted and where ice had formed. We all grabbed for saplings along the path on the descents just for a steadying influence.

There were runners all around me falling from the slickness of the trail. I fell twice, both in the first 5 miles and on descents. Fortunately, they were "butt slides" which only gave me a good excuse to laugh at myself.

At the half way point, we were cruising down the road underneath the dam when those up a head said "Turn around!". We had missed the trail! Not a big deal ... it was only about a third of a mile detour. On this course, I was not looking for any particular time so it didn't matter too much.

The last 5 miles were the hilliest part. Literally, on some hills I would have to pump my thighs with my hands and arms in order to keep the inertia going uphill.

Jake and I stopped for a photo op!

Finally, we came full circle back to the parking lot where we had started. After stopping, I noticed that I had stubbed a couple of toes and the blood covered toes on both feet. After wiping them off, I noticed for such small wounds they were sure oozing demonstrably. No big deal as they were superficial. Like I told those at the finish line, there will be plenty of other "shod" runners dealing with injuries after this run, including black toenails from the dramatic down hills as their toes are jammed continually in the toe boxes of their shoes.

Finish Line Pics!

Jake kept up with me the whole way. Actually, he is a really fast runner and probably could have waxed me but he chose to bring up the rear. We were both tired afterward but I think we felt a real sense of accomplishment completing this course. I, personally, think this was more demanding than any running event I have done, including all my marathons and my 40 mile ultra. I really feel that I accomplished something that very few have ever contemplated -- 10 miles barefoot on a very tough rocky trail in sub-20 degree F with snow and ice covered conditions. I believe that God has given me a gift of endurance in this particular area of my life. The realization of this is driven home to my soul, more so everyday. By this, I feel humbled and blessed!

Postscript: Thanks to Race Director Ben Holmes who not only gave me a complimentary entry, but also created a BAREFOOT DIVISION of which I was the only one. Thanks Ben, for the nifty medal and shirt!

Click Here For Ben Holmes' Race Director Report

Barefoot Division - First (and Last!) Place
Age Group (51-55M) - 3rd Place
Distance - 10.35 Miles
Finish Time - 1:57:06
Pace - 11:13 (HAH!)
Accomplishment? - PRICELESS!

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