Sunday, September 8, 2013

Running in Austin, Texas: Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail

A quick post as I'm not even supposed to run this weekend... Yes, I admit it, I struggle with the tapering part of ultra running. 2 weeks without running while watching Wasatch and the amazing friendly battle between Nick Clark and Quicksilver teammate Ian Sharman, I can't, well, stand the idea, I need to move too! ;-) After not running for 4 days, I went for an easy 9-mile run on Saturday.

This Sunday, I flew to Austin in the morning, met an ex-colleague then hopped on the Greenbelt, so close to downtown Austin. Most of the runners actually stay along the Colorado River, running around Town Lake. Trail runners though have the option to leave the city and get on an 8-mile trail along the Barton Creek, or let's say the rocky bed of the creek as it is completely dry, at least at the end of a hot summer.
The trail head is located just South of the cool Barton Springs Pool. Yes, a cool, and crowded, place for two reasons: first, this is a natural and open air pool open all year. Second, the temperature of the water varies from 68F in the winter (20C) to 72F in the summer (22C) making it a great place to cool down when temperatures are approaching 100F as it was the case this afternoon.

There is a water fountain and restrooms at the entrance of the pool near the trail head. After that, you need to rely on your bottles or backpack bladder for water. And, yes, Austin can get hot in the summer!

The greenbelt trail is rather technical in a few sections and I enjoyed racing mountain bikers, while still making sure I didn't make a stupid fall one week before my upcoming 100-mile race (I kept thinking of my fall in Chamonix one week before Tahoe Rim Trail 100...). The creek is also bordered by cliffs which rock climbers enjoy. The trail has markers every 0.25 mile. I was coming from the Johnson Creek Trail and had already ran 3 miles before getting to the trail head, so I turned back at the 5-mile mark, to make it a 16-mile run. And a good sweat! Not sure I will need this ultimate heat training in the Marin Headlands next Saturday, but it felt good to get moving and discover a new trail before another week of (running) abstinence... ;-)

Congrats to our 4 Quicksilver teammates who started and finished Wasatch this weekend (Ian, Toshi, Karen, David). With a very special mention to Ian who placed second to Nick, but won the 2013 Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (tm!), smashing the Fastest Known Time by almost 5 hours!!

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