The Sunmart Texas Trail Endurance
Run has been held at the Huntsville State Park each December for
the last 14 years. There are two events, a 50-mile run and a 50K
(31 miles), both trail runs. With about 1,000 runners participating,
it is the largest race in the U. S. over a marathon in distance.
Sunmart attracts the best long distance trail runners from almost
every state and from around the world. It all starts with a
first class buffet dinner in
Houston the night before the race. Before dinner, you pick up your race packet.
You are first issued a duffel bag and then go down a line to fill the bag
with all sorts of stuff, enough to save half your Christmas
shopping. On the morning
of the race, breakfast is served at the State Park. The 50-mile race starts
at 7 a.m. and the 50K at 7:30 a.m. Both courses are multiple
loops, so the runners
get to see their friends and the world class runners in action. I have completed
the 50K run for eight years now and I am always amazed to see runners flying
past me when I think I am doing so well.
Trail racing seems to be more of a social event. Especially at
this race, you meet so many people from all over and you visit
while you run or walk up the
hills. There are aid stations every three or four miles and they all contain
of variety of food and drinks, not to mention Vaseline and band-aids.
While time flies when you are having fun, everyone hits a wall
at the end of their training distance. For myself, I seem to
hit a wall at about 26 miles.
However, with only five more to go, you muster the strength, endure the pain
and you finish. It is amazing, though, how the fatigue and pain go away when
you make the last turn and head for the finish line. Thank goodness, it’s
over! The crowd cheers you on and you are given a finishers medal, choice of
an embroidered afghan or tyvec jacket and a dinner at the Park.
The 2003 Sunmart culminated a training season for several Seven
Hills Running Club members, who started running twice a week
at the Huntsville State Park
last August 1st. We started at 5 miles, quickly moved to 7 miles every Wednesday
and then progressively longer runs on Sunday afternoon, up to over 20 miles.
Of course, not everyone in the group intended to run Sunmart. There were days
when we had 20-25 runners in the group. Some were not club members, but some
have since joined the club. Along the way, we had several who dropped out due
to injuries. Cecil Farrell and Ree Slovin and then Lindsey Tlustos. Lindsey
had signed up for Sunmart and suffered a knee injury, which kept her out of
Mark Nelson also suffered a knee injury two weeks before Sunmart, but was determined
and courageously ran and finished the race in 7:32:13. Jason Sessions had the
best time of 4:45:33. J.C. Guzman was second with a time of 5:33:51. Kyle Yanowski
had a kidney stone problem during the race and was taken to the hospital. He
will be okay. Jan Parks finished her first Sunmart 50K in 6:39:32 and didn’t
even look tired. Congratulations, Jan. Hans Jaeger had been ill the week before
the race, but still ran 6:48:28. Ray Alexander was right behind him with a time
of 6:51:13. I knocked a few minutes off last year’s time and finished
with a 7:16:46.
As you meet runners on the course during Sunmart, they remark
about how lucky you are to live in Huntsville and are able
to run at Huntsville State Park
whenever you want. While trail running presents challenges that you do not
find on the
road, the serenity and the closeness with nature makes it all worthwhile.