Friday, October 26, 2012

Fall Family Fun at Dogwood Canyon

This would be my fifth trip to Dogwood Canyon 50K/25K.  Each year I've ran it, I've gone alone and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful drive from Poteau, OK to Dogwood Canyon near Lampe, MO.  The drive goes along the Pig Trail and the fall foilage is usually near peak in Northern Arkansas and Southern Missouri.  Every year I also camp out at Dogwood Canyon either in our van or in a tent and often have a nice fire going.  But it never fails that I always wish that my family could have come along to enjoy such beauty.  The Dogwood Canyon resort is also perfect for the kids to ride their bikes.

So this year I finally convinced Suzanne to come along with the kids for a family camping trip.  The kids were excited although the drive though beautiful did seem to go on far too long with the winding road beginning to make the kids car sick.

At last we arrived around 4 in the afternoon Saturday.  Just enough time to let the kids ride bikes around the beautiful park.  The nice paved drive goes for miles along a crystal clear creek that cuts through the canyon.  A lot of people were trout fishing.  The bridges are beautiful as well.

We set up our tent and then got the campfire going.  The kids were so excited that they were going nonstop and just wearing us out.  Hot dogs and smores for dinner and finally after a couple of hours we called it a night.

It was a cold and restless night of sleep.  Of course the kids don't mind but for Suzanne and I, air mattresses and the cold air just wakes you up every thirty minutes.

I awoke just before the family and headed off to start the 50K.  They always have plenty of breakfast food and bananas and even hot coffee next to a big fire in the pavillion.  That makes it nice while waiting for the start.

Once we were under way, it appeared that there would not be any super fast people there.  I settled into third place and noticed that the two guys ahead of me were only doing the 25K and 15K and so I felt pretty good about my chances for a win.

The course is pretty darn tough.  It is rugged with lots of short and ridiculously steep climbs followed by dozens of creek crossings interspersed between the big climbs.  Makes it pretty tough.  The only fast part of the course is when it empties you back into the canyon and you run on pavement for two or three miles but then you go back into the woods.

After 8 miles, I had company as Doug A, who is a great runner from NW Arkansas came within sight of me.  So I picked up the pace as I was feeling pretty good.  As we reached about the 25K mark, the course takes you up to a beautiful meadow and then runs up and down open fields.  Very pretty.  I also noticed that no one was close to me and once again felt pretty comfortable about winning.

I also was beginning to get pretty hot.  The high was to be in the low 80s and after a cool start, the day was warming up and I was beginning to feel it.  None the less, I tried to keep fresh legs and just maintain a steady pace.  I did so until about mile 23 when at an aid station, a young kid comes up behind me and introduces himself!  Darn it!  I definitely lost now because my legs were dead.  Mainly because the heat had just taken it's toll and I was in absolute misery.

So I just shuffled along and walked a great deal.  I had bonked pretty hard from the heat and my body was just not going to go.  Finally I shuffled to the finish and was shocked that nobody else had caught me because I seemed to be struggling so much but I suppose every one else was too.

Once finish, we all enjoyed a big cookout that is so well put together by the Bass Pro Shop people.  The kids rode their bikes some more and I soaked in the crystal clear water and tried to recover.

The fleece finisher jacket is very nice and the awards are unbelievable!

I would recommend to everyone to sign up and run this race.  If you sign up the first two days of February, it is only $40!  You get that back and more.  And I got $250 for second place!

I will definitely be back next year but I hope to have a pop-up camper again to make the camping a bit more comfortable.

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