Friday, August 24, 2012

2012 Baylor Canyon Trail Run

This is my first time doing this event and I wanted to write a report for anyone that may be interested in doing the race next year. My understanding is it used to be in November but this year was moved to August 18th, for the 40th running of the event.  They offered a 6 mile and 12 mile distance and I participated in the 12 miler. The event takes place on the Baylor Pass trail of the Organ Mountains in Las Cruces, New Mexico. After going up to the pass we descend to Aguirre Springs Campground and return to the start point.

PRE Race
The race started at 0800 but I had agreed to carpool with a fellow trail runner and we met at 0545 AM for the 40 mile drive to the race location. We arrived pretty early and had chance to set up the gear and pick up race bibs. This year the sign up was via Ultra sign up but they also allowed race day registration for an additional fee.   Shortly before 0800, we were directed to the road off the trail where were to start 10 minutes ahead of the 6 mile runners.  The idea is to spread out the field before reaching the single track trail section.

The Race
6 mile Loop up to Baylor Pass and Back without going down to Aguirre Springs

I started at a fast but maintainable pace on the initial portion has a slight incline as we turn towards the hill. The 3 miles up to Baylor Pass were initially a little crowded but in short order the field gets spread out. As we start the run we were met by this sign.

 The trail is pretty technical with some large rocks, boulders, and even some stairs.

Credit for Photo: Greg L. 

There are some short flat sections but these are relatively rare. The views from the top are pretty spectacular as well. I was able to keep a good pace and as it was hot and humid paid attention to hydration.  I carried a 20 oz. hand carried bottle and a spare 20 oz. bottle in a belt carrier.

Credit for Photo: Greg L. 
As I arrived at the top of the pass, they had water and Gatorade at the 3 mile point. The downhill to Aguirre Springs is not as steep and provides a little more shade. I was able to go at a pretty fast clip as it was a more run-able section.    At the campground we ran in another paved section up hill to an aid station at the turnaround point. 

On the way back after the turn around, it was getting hotter and as it had rained the night before, very humid. The little bit of shade was nice on the way back up to the Baylor Pass. It was almost at the end of this section that I was alerted by a warning by the runner in front of me that a rattle snake was in the trail. I stopped and saw a large "rattler" cross the trail from a safe distance.  After it had passed, I ran along the single tract trail and the snake rattled at me which startled me and caused me to trip and fall. I landed on my hand held water bottle and my forearm.  I sustained a slight abrasion but recovered quickly as a snake was nearby. 
The descent from Baylor Pass was again technical, but I was relieved to be on my last descent for this event. I reached the finish line in 2:31:08 which placed me 17 out of 27 competitors and 2nd in my age group. (40-49). The total elevation gain was 2,446 feet and the maximum elevation was 6,388 feet.

Post Script
I highly recommend this race as it is well organized and has a nice course which is challenging and has great vistas.  The only thing I would change is the start time. I would recommend a 0700 start to avoid the heat of the day.