Here’s my race report for the Mowdy Mustang Ranch Half Marathon, held Saturday, 11 June 2016 in Coalgate, OK. On the registration page, the first rule is the title of this post – ‘If you’re a wuss – just stay home! In all caps, of course. This is Mowdy’s second year hosting the run, and they have multiple races going on: 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon, and a 50K. Since moving to Oklahoma almost a year ago, I’ve been eager to check out all the trail races that are available to me, and this one placed well in my training schedule. I needed a 14 mile trail run, so this 13.1 seemed perfect.
At first, I thought I was going to run this race solo, but I talked my fellow runner and training partner, Tessa, into joining me. I’m so glad we did this run together. I think we both had a great experience, but it would have been tough to do this solo.
A little more about the Mowdy Ranch and pre-race:
This race is a fundraiser contributing to the BLM for the care of these wild mustangs. The ranch itself is an Eco-tourism spot about 10 miles outside Coalgate, OK. There are currently about 150 horses kept by the ranch. They offer cabins and bunkhouse lodging throughout the year. It actually looks like a cool little place to visit. They have a big kitchen and common room, and when I searched their location on instagram, there were a lot of fun photos from what I assume are people that stayed there.
Because I booked so late, the cabins and bunkhouses were filled up, but the Mowdys were also allowing runners to camp (for free) on their property ahead of the race. My plan was to sleep in the back of my GTI – I am pretty short. And Tessa brought along a sleep hammock. She also knew some other runners that would be at the event from the Oklahoma City No Meat Athlete Group. Not only do we camp for free, but Mowdy Ranch gave us a free pasta dinner the night before (also with salad and watermelon and tea). There were also bonfires set up on the property for us. I mean, I feel like I got a big welcome mat thrown out.
Tessa and I drove down Friday after work. We ate on the way, and then hit bib pick-up at about 8:30pm. There were still lots of people out, eating, showing up. We picked up our registrations – also, in our bag, we got: the race t-shirt, a bandana, a koozie, some sunglasses, chapstick, a first aid kit, some information about the Mustangs, and this was all on top of dinner, and a free place to crash (kind of). We drove over to the back part of the ranch, found the NMA runners, and set up camp. For me, that’s just folding down the backseat! We crashed probably around 9:30. The 50K and marathon started at 5:30 am, and the half would begin at 7.
Race day, I woke up just as the marathoners and 50kers were heading out. One of the runners we met up with was off in the marathon. We milled around a bit. It was nice to wake up and literally roll over to the start. There were ample port-o-potties and outhouses. Although, I used what I thought was hand sanitizer, and ended up being soap? and there was no running water. I had to use bottled water to rinse off my hands. At some point, Tessa and I were interviewed very briefly by a woman with a camera, she took a video of us asking how much we run, and why we were there running today. I’m still looking to figure out if that is posted anywhere.
Just before 7am, we corralled up. While corralling, there were wild mustangs running in the field just ahead of us. We got race instructions about white flags remaining to our right. The course is a figure eight – running the north half of the property, then coming back to the start before heading for the south half of the property. I had tried to figure this out ahead of time – studying the trail map (picture above), but it was one of those things, you just have to go with it.
We were off. I was approaching this as a training run, and took it easy out there. The majority of the course was in full sun, really just running through pastures. The first half did have a fair amount of climbing, and one section that reminded me of California, a single track trail, with a drop off on the side. I think that was around miles 4 to 6? It really was a spectacular section, and not what I’m used to seeing in Oklahoma, lots of big rocks that you had to run between. Then we were back in the open fields.
So, it’s June, in Oklahoma, and somewhat hot. There was a lot of direct sunlight! That started to take a toll on us as we came back to the start. We got a little boost from seeing Tessa’s dad, sister, and nephew, but the second half was a lot sunnier and a lot hotter. We walked a great deal more here, and we wished for more trees to give us shade. I felt for the runners in the marathon and the 50k – even with a hour and half head start on us, they were running in brutal temps. I think it got to the low 90s.
I’ve done a poor job of thinking back strategically, or chronologically on this race. I wish I could report back to you how the terrain changed, what to expect. Here’s a jumbling of thoughts that I have about the race:
- Everything was runnable! I walked, but I also wasn’t really racing. There was a bit of a climb at one point in the first half, and then I walked some flats that were just open fields and in the sun.
- I was worried about snakes, but didn’t see any. However, I did see a tarantula. (Tessa thinks it was dead).
- There were about 5 or 6 aid stations, and the volunteers were great. I think they were all runners too! They knew just what to offer (like ice in your hat). I’m also super glad that I wore my hydration vest, it was hot out there.
- I wore gaiters, but I didn’t really need them.
Post-race, Mowdy continued to deliver. There was barbecue, watermelon, Icees, and beer. Plus blankets to borrow to sit in the grass, and tables with shade. We hung around for a while and cheered in runners. Then broke down our ‘camp’ and packed out.
I loved this race. Mowdy Mustang Ranch pours on the hospitality. I think I paid around $70 (including eventbrite fees) for this half-marathon, and I got so much for it. All the things listed above, but additionally, the friendliness of every single person I interacted with. Camping out was a great addition to the weekend. I would definitely run this race again.
Editing to add one last thing:
Here’s a promotional video for the race. Tessa and I are the voices you hear starting at about 0:51 in: youtube video of Mowdy Ranch Run
This sounds like so much fun – except for the 90 degrees part.
…and the tarantula part. Otherwise, so much fun!