Saturday, deep in the Hill Country northwest of San Antonio, several hundred skilled runners will compete in one of the more extreme variations of the sport, the Bandera 100K Endurance Trail Run.
That’s 62.14 miles. Off-road. In the Hill Country State Natural Area southwest of Bandera.
Description of the race course: A Trail Run of Rugged and Brutal Beauty where Everything Cuts, Stings, or Bites.
This is an event that costs more than $100 to enter and sets a time limit on finishing: 24 hours. And it is expected to attract some of the most talented ultra-runners in the nation.
“In 2003, we had 179 runners start. We have been growing at 15 to 20 percent a year and expect to top out at over 700 this year,” race director Joe Prusaitis said last week.
Geoff Roes of Nederland, Colo., and Meghan Arbogast of Corvallis, Ore., have entered. They are considered the two top ultra-runners in the country.
Now in its ninth year, the Bandera event also includes a 50K and 25K race over a hilly and rocky course that is rugged and challenging enough to be chosen as the 2011 and 2012 USA Track and Field 100K Trail National Championship event.
As Prusaitis explains, USA Track and Field has a division under long-distance events called Mountain/Ultra/Trail (MUT). At the USA Track and Field national convention each year, different race organizations bid for the MUT national championship titles and race director Prusaitis captured two: Bandera, and the Nueces Endurance Trail Run, which will serve as the 50-Mile Trail National Championship on March 5 at Camp Eagle near Rocksprings, Texas.
The honor of a national championship race helped bring in elite competitors. In addition to Roes, top entrants in the Bandera men’s field include Jason Bryant of Elkin, N.C.; Chikara Omine of San Francisco; Dave Mackey of Boulder, Colo.; Mark Godale of Aurora, Ohio; and Steven Moore from Austin.
“Geoff Roes is the defending Western States 100 Mile champ, and I’d say he’s the guy to beat,” says Moore. “He’s won just about every ultra he’s entered.”