Marathon Nats moved to a new venue this year, Arkadelphia, AR, just up the road from Texarkana. One thing is for sure, you don’t hear those names everyday, at least not outside of Arkansas. It’s always great going new places and getting to see other trails and events through out the country.
Myron and I flew out on Thursday and on the approach to Little Rock every river and lake looked like it was either at or above capacity. With all the rain they had in the South leading up to the race I didn’t know what to expect. We picked up the car, it was 50 degrees and raining but by the time we arrived in Arkadelphia 60 or so miles south the sun had come out and it was warming up.
The course was just how I imagined it having raced not too far away in Augusta the past few years. It was lots of twisty single track, small climbs and descents and complete tree cover. I didn’t expect it to be quite so rocky. There were tons of sharp embedded rocks on the 25 mile loop, impossible to remember where they all are. By the time Sunday rolled around the course was getting faster so those rocks were coming up even faster and were tougher to avoid. This is what it looked like when we arrived on Thursday night.
It was Cinco de Mayo on Friday, but I wasn’t sure this would be the best place to celebrate, though it is a great play on Molly.
We ended up spending a lot of time eating at this coffee shop. I forget it’s name but they have some amazing cappuccino chip muffins.
So we lined up for 2 laps of the nearly 25 mile loop at 8am Sunday morning. It was a board of tourism day with clear blue sky, temps in the upper 60s to low 70s and hardly any humidity. We started with a roll out on the road and then jumped onto the course about 5 minutes later and race really started from there. Howie and JB took turns riding on the front and after 25 miles we were a group of 5, JB, Howie, Payson, Lindine and me. I knew I wasn’t having a great day but was hoping to fake it up the climbs and catch back up on the twisty rolling sections.
The strategy worked fine in the beginning but when the real race started on the main climb(probably 2 minutes) early on the 2nd lap I had nothing. First Howie and JB hit it, then Payson jumped across to them and finally Lindine came around me. I tried to keep him in sight but I had to pull a stick out of my derailleur for a few seconds and he was gone too. For the last 22 miles I tried to stay focused and hoped I would see someone else but it didn’t happen. JB ended up flatting out of the lead group of 3 inside the last 5k I believe, I wasn’t there. Payson out sprinted Howie for the jersey then it was JB and Lindine, I crossed the line 5th, quite a ways down.
Even though it wasn’t the result I hoped for the event was great. I love the trails in the south, you always feel like you’re going fast because there are so many trees and turns. You never have to climb for too long and a full suspension bike is always my weapon of choice. It’s less about light tires and more about shredding single track. On top of that they even had good prize money. Normally you get like $300 for winning a national title from USAC, I think it was $2k just from the promoter to win the race, kudos. I made more for getting 5th then I did the past few years winning. It was disappointing to lose the jersey but always good to see a fresh face wearing it, congrats to Payson.
Bike Setup: Scott Spark, 135 psi rear, SID 100 mm 90 psi, 36 tooth Eagle chainring, Maxxis Aspen EXO/TR rear 28 psi, Maxxis Pace TR front 27 psi.
6 Citrus Clif shots and 4 bottles Clif shot drink.
Oh, and I got a question about what I carry for a marathon race in the way of tools/spares. There were two tech zones about 12 miles apart on course. I carried a Maxlite tube, 1 Maxxis tire lever, 2 Topeak CO2 and head, 1 Topeak multi tool. Everything is a tiny Topeak saddle bag except for one CO2 I carried on my person.
After the race we went to Little Rock and hit the Mylo coffee shop, the cookies and latte art were on point.
We got to check out some of the Civil War Heritage trail.
Postcards from Little Rock
I was supposed to head straight to Italy for a Marathon World Series race on the island of Elba. The past few weeks haven’t been the best lead up so I figured it was better to take a little break and do some training before the Grand Junction Off Road. My goal with the Italy race was to get some points for Marathon World Champs call up but I don’t think the form is in the right place for that right now so hitting the reset instead.
I wonder if it’s gonna snow for the Iron Horse this year………