Hidden Hills Ultra
Race organized by Ultra Expeditions
Location: Strawn, TX
Distances held: 5K / 10k / Half / Marathon / 50Mile
The location of the race is about 2 hours from DFW west towards Abilene. There is limited lodging close to the park, Richard (NTTR member) stayed in the closest location and said he wouldn’t do it again so best advice is to camp or drive out in the morning. The State Park is not official been funded yet so there is no running water, electricity, or restrooms so it is primitive camping unless you have a trailer. UE did have 4 restrooms brought in and placed by the starting line
The weather outlook called for 60% chance of rain and unfortunately it rained around 4am and then again for about 1-1.5 hours around 9:00am. The storms turned the sky dark while temps dropped a few degrees before it starting to lightening, raining, and producing some small hail for a brief second. The way this course is set up the rain affected about 50% of the trail and made some of the areas tough to run while others had enough rock to make the trail still manageable.
The 50 miler started at 6am with the other races starting between 7-8:30. The course was like a big lollipop loop of just under 8.5 miles and the 50M / Marathon runners ran the entire loop while the other races did an out and back which meant there was a lot of foot traffic on the out and back portion. I would project the out and back portion of the trail was about 6.2 miles of the 8.5 mile loop. Because this park is not fully functional the trail was mainly a jeep type trail that the Rangers use to patrol the park and then the circle portion of the lollipop was a mowed trail with a slight climb. At the 0.5 mile mark of the loop there was a creek crossing with water about 8-12 inches high so you just had to run through the creek which meant your feet were going to get wet even before the rain, there was two other creek crossings but they had minimal water flow. The terrain was actually runnable as there is only one hill/climb within the first 2 miles while the rest was just some up and downs with gradually increases and decreases. Once it rained the trails seemed like little rivers as the water flowed down the small hills which made it like running in a stream for an hour or so. Even after the rain there was still some areas that were runnable because of the rocky terrain but because of all the foot traffic the muddy spots were good places to slow down and walk. Overall the course was good and the views were nice so it made for an enjoyable race. If there would have been more actual trails (hopefully in the future) this race could have some potential and be much harder but for now if you are looking for a runnable trail race this is a good option.
Aid Stations where located about 2 / 3.5 miles from the start which meant you went by them twice, both were maned with great volunteers. I would say the aid station at the start/finish line could have had some more options for the longer distance runners but there was only about 20-25 between the 50M & Marathon.
-Fruit (Bananas and Oranges)
-Cookies and M&Ms
Overall this race was well run and I would like to run again, hopefully without the weather.