Many of you have asked questions about my adventure. I’ll try to answer those all here as well as give some (hopefully) useful information. There may be some changes in the future based on feedback from this year’s runners.
Before I get into what I thought of this series, here are my final results:
- Dalhart, TX: 2:35:53
- Guymon, OK: 2:35:56
- Ulysses, KS: 2:28:08
- Lamar, CO: 2:30:09
- Clayton, NM: 2:25:57
Yes, my last one was almost 10 minutes faster than my first two. My goal was for my last to be my fastest, but if you’d told me that I was going to get stronger and feel better each and every day, I would have told you that you were insane. Yet, that’s exactly what happened.
So, let’s talk about this series. The Dust Bowl Series was put on by Mainly Marathons. It was the first organized series of its type, but it sounds like it will not be the last.
Some things you need to know about me because they color my opinions:
- I’m an asphalt runner. I never run on dirt.
- I’m an urban girl used to living close in to an expensive city.
- Thanks to injury, I was slightly undertrained.
- I’ve had issues with the ball of my right foot for quite a while.
- I run a lot of my runs in my small neighborhood. In other words, I do a lot of circling.
Pros of the Dust Bowl Series
- Clint (the race director) and his family and the volunteers did an amazing job organizing all of this.
- The courses offered a lot of variety.
- Prices on hotels and at restaurants were really low.
- It’s a part of the country that many people wouldn’t otherwise visit.
- The food/drink options during and after the race were varied and yummy.
- Several of the small towns were excited to have us there.
- The race drew a whole lot of 50 Staters/Marathon Maniacs/Half Fanatics and I’ve never met a nicer group of people.
- The medals were AWESOME!
Cons of the Dust Bowl Series
- Weather there in the spring can be scary (we were lucky for the running, but a lot of people had difficulty getting home due to snow).
- The terrains were varied, so you were pretty much guaranteed to not like at least one course (but the one you hate might have been my favorite and vice versa).
- All of these are railroad towns. You may come to hate trains by the end.
- Shopping options are limited.
- It’s a hell of a lot of running.
Would I do this again? If I were all about numbers, hell yes! Since I’m all about states, I won’t be doing this particular series again. If I were local to the area, I’d do it every year.
1. Dalhart, TX (Click here for race report)
- Hotel: We stayed at the recommended Best Western and it was great – except for the train every hour all night long. Since I likely wasn’t going to sleep that night anyways, this wasn’t a real problem for me.
- Restaurants: We just hit Subway and a burrito place. Both were good, but not anything to be excited about.
- Course: I’ll admit it: I hated this course. Hated.it. It was a dirt course of 6.5 miles that you ran twice. It was beautiful, but I was alone pretty much the whole time. And while the surface was GREAT for my foot, my hip flexors were unhappy from having to keep my balance. My legs felt like energy was sucked from me with every step. (Remember,I’m an urban, pavement runner.) I was so happy this was our first race and out of the way.
2. Guymon, OK (Click here for race report)
- Hotel: We stayed at the recommended Best Western and it was great. I’d totally stay there again.
- Restaurants: We had dinner at Margaritas with all the other runners. Not only was the company amazing, but the food was good and the wait staff did a good job of handling all of us. Lunch was Subway.
- Course: I liked this course. It was a 1 mile loop on concrete that we ran 13 times for the half marathon + a short out/back. The concrete was hard on my “bad” foot, but I found that I could run on the packed dirt beside the concrete for much of the race. It had just enough ups and downs to keep any one muscle from getting sore. I loved being constantly able to chat with other runners/walkers and spent most of the race talking and joking.
3. Ulysses, KS (Click here for race report)
- Hotel: We stayed at the Corporate East. The only negative at all was the lack of tub in our bathroom. The hotel was actually nice enough to set aside a room so the marathoners could shower after their race.
- Restaurants: The Ulysses Chamber of Commerce treated us to a free pasta dinner at the local Adobe Museum. The food was good and the museum was really cool. We truly appreciated the meal and enjoyed talking with other runners. Lunch was Subway. (Yes, I ate a lot of Subway.)
- Course: This was my favorite course. It was 1.14 miles on an asphalt path around a golf course, with a small out and back for the half marathoners (and one marathoner who ended up running an ultra LOL). From a psychological standpoint, finishing more than a mile with each lap was great. I found the surface perfect for running. There was one hill, but you went up and down, so I liked it. Once again, I loved being surrounded by other runners.
4. Lamar, CO (Click here for race report)
- Hotel: For various reasons, we ended up staying at the 3rd Street Nest Bed and Breakfast. It was wonderful! The bed was so comfy, there was a hot tub, there was a clawfoot tub in our bathroom, and the proprietor set out a continental breakfast for us so I could eat before the race. I kind of wish we’d looked for other B&Bs for the trip.
- Restaurants: We ate at a local Thai restaurant, at the recommendation of the B&B owner. It was really good and super fast. We ended up eating the leftovers for lunch the next day before we left town.
- Course: This was a good course. It was 1.6ish? miles out and then back on varied surfaces. We ran on asphalt, grass, and dirt. I loved that we only had to do 4 laps, but still got to have a lot of interaction with other runners as you passed them going in both directions. There were two scary spots: one really steep downhill and one street crossing that had a deep trough between the curb and the street. Overall, though, a really pleasant course.
5. Clayton, NM (Click here for race report)
- Hotel: We stayed at the Kokopelli Best Western. It was a nice hotel and they were kind enough to open breakfast a half hour early so people could eat before the race. I opted to eat a PB&J before that, but Beer Geek had a nice breakfast.
- Restaurants: We went to the group dinner at the Rabbit Ear Cafe. I hadn’t had New Mexican food since I lived in New Mexico in my early teens. It was soooo good and our waitress was phenomenal. She handled a huge group with ease. (And the Chamber of Commerce gave us a souvenir from the town.) Lunch was Subway. (I know.)
- Course: I had a love/hate experience with this course. It was a weird figure 8 with dirt and rocks and quite a few hills that the half marathoners had to run 4 times. I really really hated the rocks on one part (still not sure how I didn’t fall on my face.) I wasn’t fond of the unprotected part up on the dam. But, I loved the ups and downs once my legs were warmed up and the runners were spread out. There’s nothing better than letting loose on a steep downhill. I also enjoyed running past the food/water station twice on each lap. Clint says the rocks will be removed for next year, so if that’s the case, then this would be a great course. Unlike some others, I liked having this course as my last race, but I live in a hilly area, so hills are just a part of life for me.
Here are a couple of other bloggers who did the event: David on the Run and Positive Influences (David is about as different from me as you can get – he did all the marathons and he did them fast! And Cathy was one of the amazing volunteers who kept us all going.)
Edited to add the medals! Clint says next time will be even better (although I happen to think these are pretty awesome!)
Would I recommend doing this? Absolutely, completely without hesitation. That’s not to say it was easy or totally without hiccups. But it was, without a doubt, the most amazing running experience I’ve ever had.