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Race Report: Oktoberfest Trail Run Festival 2016

Finding the Chaparral Trail

What started out as a complete passion for us turned into managing a race and sharing our passion with over 100 trail runners on a new trail this past Saturday afternoon.

We had been in search of a trail system to run that wasn’t overly crowded in the Dallas area. Having been familiar with the “Rails to Trails” program, we happened upon the North East Texas Trail, starting in the beautiful, small and upcoming city of Farmersville, Texas.

The “Rails to Trails” system is a program where old converted railways are converted to trails for multi-purpose recreation. When we thought about places to run, we certainly agreed that the flat land and beautiful scenery along this corridor in TX would be worthy of some great training runs. We were also told that there were some great coffee shops, bakeries and restaurants along the trail in the small towns. Bonus!

After a beautiful Spring run along the trail, we were hooked and wanted to share the trail with others who knew nothing of its existence. This is when we found the North East Texas Trail Coalition (NETT) and learned that there is a whole group dedicated to growing this 131 mile trail to become the largest linear state park in the state of Texas and 4th largest in the USA! We then met with the Chamber of Commerce of Farmersville who were so excited about our idea to launch a trail race on the Chaparral Trail in their city and we agreed that combining this event with the long standing bike race, the Trick it Up Bike Ride, could make for a fantastic Fall day.

The planning began with a flurry of meetings with the city on how to bring two races together in a great way. The idea of an Oktoberfest was born complete with music, a biergarten and of course, bratwurst and sauerkraut for all registrants. No expense would be spared to ensure our racers had the best of everything; beautiful and well marked trails, well stocked aid stations dotted conveniently over 15.5 miles with exuberant volunteers all coached on offering support and encouragement, finish line love to include a gorgeous 3” custom designed medal by a local artist for ALL finishers and super soft, well designed race t-shirts.

Race Week and Day of the Race

Race week ensued with all the usual planning activities of signage, flagging, marking the trails, gathering the food, getting volunteers trained, ensuring sponsors had everything they needed, race packet stuffing, etc. Packet pick up was an exciting time to finally meet many of the runners who had been so vocal and passionate about this race.

Race morning started at 2 am for us, although by this point days and nights were completing crossing and we determined that yes, another sleepless night was necessary to make sure we completely lived up to the goal of making this a flawless race. So, off we set to get food out to all 7 of aid stations in time for our volunteer meeting and packet pick up at 6 am. Everything went well as our amazing volunteer team worked together to divide and conquer the responsibilities in time for kick off.

The Races Begin

Although our team was cold and tired, we were full of adrenaline (and no coffee…big mistake!) for what would be a thrilling day as our races started. The runners’ energy and enthusiasm for their ultra marathon 50K and marathons completely energized us and catapulted us into the day as the sun began rising and giving us an incredible show. Next up were the half marathon and 5Ks races which started with equal exuberance as members from the NETT introduced their trail and future plans to grow the trail in coming years! The bike race launched under the arm of a fire truck as the national anthem wrapped up. Shortly after, our first runners came through the finish line and the celebration began for all runners with medals that lasted throughout the afternoon complete with a volunteer party. The grill, the band, and the biergarten were all hopping and we enjoyed celebrating with many runners and cyclists from the day! Can’t imagine a city as ALIVE as Farmersville was at this moment!

What started as a vision born on a gorgeous Spring trail run ended with sharing with over 100 new friends, volunteers, and sponsors what we have so passionately come to love; the simple joy of running trails.

The Future of this Race

As for us, we were lights out in our local camp site in Farmersville by 8 pm that evening feeling exhausted but completely exhilarated to begin planning this race again for 2017. You can be sure the gorgeous sun rise we were met with again the next day was celebrated with feelings of accomplishment, gratitude and yes….coffee!

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