In the remote, rugged, and beautiful setting of Camp Eagle in Rocksprings, TX, the USATF 50 Mile Trail Championships took place March 3, 2012. The course was a rugged and rolling three loop route with plentiful amounts of rocks. The runners joked that the number of rocks on the course seems to multiply every year and speculate that race director Joe Prusaitis imports rocks to the camp and throws them onto the trails.
With a $3000 prize purse up for grabs, the runners cam ready to race. In the men’s race, the 2011 USATF 100 Mile Champion David James (Pheonix, AZ) took an early lead. He was followed by a chase pack of six talented runners. Twenty-four year-old Jordan McDougal from Gainesville, VA broke away from the pack around mile 10 and caught James near the end of the second lap of the race. From there, McDougal extended his lead over hi s competitors, finishing in a time of 6:30:47. James was second in 6:43:48 and perennial USATF Championship competitor Jason Bryant (Elkin, NC) rounded out the top three in a time of
6:47:53. Top masters runner was Dan Vega from Colorado Springs, in a time of 7:13:14. After the race, McDougal commented on how much he enjoyed the course and attested to its difficulty, especially as the sun warmed the air in the last lap. McDougal was seen cooling himself during the race in the low water crossings, even getting down and rolling in a small muddy stream at one point.
In the women’s race, Michelle Suzeck (Lone Tree, CO) and Melanie Fryar (Englewood, CO) ran together for the majority of the race before Suzeck, a member of the 2011 USA Mountain Running Team and competitor at the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials, broke away in the third lap to run 7:25:41, a new course record. Fryar finished 20 minutes back in a time of 7:45:28, happy with her silver medal finish only 5 weeks after having her gall bladder removed. Lorena Devlyn took third place in 9:54:50 and Rochelle Frazeur won the women’s masters title in a time of 10:44:43.
After the race, runners lounged around the finish line, enjoying some Texas sunshine. Others gingerly made their way down the steps to the river to chill their tired legs while enjoying their recovery beverages. Camp Eagle served as an excellent host for the weekend, with tasty meals, a zip line for kids and adults alike to ride, and opportunities for rock climbing. In the evening, kids threw sticks into the bonfire while the runners sat around telling war stories from the day and planning their next events. For many, this will include a trip back to Rocksprings, as Nueces will again host the USATF 50 Mile Trail Championships in 2013.