Blog : General

Top Ten Reasons to Do TPU

Top Ten Reasons to Do TPU

TPU in Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas, is far from convenient to big cities and things like Walmart and REI; or cell phone towers, for that matter. It’s so remote, you probably don’t know many people who’ve been there. Bragging rights are limited, because so few people comprehend what sort of challenge it is to run in Big Bend Ranch. So why trade your holiday time for Trans-Pecos Ultra?

Here are the top 10 reasons to join us at TPU:

1. Big Bend is like nowhere else in the world, a unique set of ecosystems particular to the Chihuahuan Desert, declared an International Biosphere Reserve. It’s home to eleven endangered species of plants and animals, and ninety major archeological sites. There is so much to observe, from bats and feral burros, to tarantulas and javelina. Part of TPU includes a tour of the fascinating Museum of the Big Bend at Sul Ross State University.

Javelina (photo: Roy Mata)

2. Big Bend Ranch State Park has been designated the country’s newest “dark sky” park. Yep, 99% of Americans live in areas where the night sky is obscured. About 2/3 have never seen the Milky Way, our own galaxy, because city and industry lights conceal the heavenly bodies. But in west Texas, hundreds of miles from the nearest city, you will see what our ancestors for millennia saw at night: billions and billions of stars. It will blow you away.

Milky Way visible over tent (photo: Veronika Vaneckova)

3. You can see back many centuries to native cultures who called this spectacular desert “home”, and left traces of themselves in stone tools and petroglyphs. TPU passes by some of the best petroglyphs at Las Cuevas (The Caves) during Stage Five.

4. The stage-race format allows you to go deep into the interior of a park that is not accessible to passenger cars. Race organizers and park rangers use 4WD vehicles and horses to reach the camps and checkpoints. Chances are, you won’t see anyone during race week besides people associated with the race, and possibly some mountain bikers.  You definitely won’t see a paved road!

Photo: Cameron Cozak

5. You get to totally unplug from technology, and you don’t even have to exercise your will power to do it. You couldn’t plug back in if you wanted to; you’ll be too far from the nearest cell tower. The joy of digital cold turkey will amaze you. As Anne Lamott wrote, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

Photo: Aaron Bates

6. You get to experience the “magic” of the desert, an environment that has called to hermits and saints for centuries around the world. It exists in grand silence, right in our own backyard in Texas!

7. The trail is sheer heaven, whether you’re running or hiking. The TPU course covers old ranch roads, single track trails, and mostly dry creek beds.

8. The camaraderie is great, too. From volunteers to participants, everyone sleeps in group tents, travels in convoy, and most importantly, shares the highs and lows of each day. Before you know it, this group forms a cohesive tight-knit tribe. TPU is a totally unique experience – just ask anyone involved in the race…or come see for yourself!

9. You get to explore the unique culture of far west Texas, home to the mysterious Marfa lights, a funky art scene, the world-class MacDonald Observatory, the Rio Grande river with seasonal rapids, Big Bend brewery, and Fort Davis National Historic Site, with ties to the Buffalo Soldiers, the American Civil War and the Indian wars. You’ll see the Observatory and Brewery as part of your TPU package. If you have extra time, we can steer you to river guides and day trips in the area.

Officers Barracks at Fort Davis historical post

 

 

 

 10. It’s a great place to observe how nature works. This area was once covered by a prehistoric ocean, then uplifted when the Rocky Mountains were formed. Volcanoes erupted and lay ash, then the whole area was cut by a river, sculpting all the wondrous landscape formations of Big Bend Ranch. It’s a crossroads of major geological dramas.

 

Photo: Aaron Bates

So come on out to TPU this year!

We’re ready to help make your 2018 TPU dream come true, with free group coaching, blogs on equipment and nutrition, a webstore for specialized gear, payment plans, great volunteers, and a full heart to share the “Ultimate Big Bend Adventure” with you.

If you’re not quite ready to undertake the 163 miles on the trail, come be a volunteer; it’s loads of fun with lots of perks.

 

See all the many resources on our website at http://trans-pecosultra.com, email Race Director Chris Herrera at hello@trans-pecosultra.com or talk one-on-one to him at 432.294.5284

 

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Is This Your Time?

Is This Your Time?

Feature photo: Veronika Vaneckova (FilmingFamily.com)

2018.

Maybe it’s just time.

What makes someone adopt a totally unexpected, visionary, nearly consuming goal for the year, beyond the usual “eat better, lose weight, learn a foreign language” sort of exercise?

Maybe it’s been percolating for a long time, something you’ve always wanted to do, but it never seemed practical… and suddenly, it is.  Your kids have grown, you have the money, your work hours have settled down. Your circumstances have changed.

Or maybe a place with a highly magnetic pull has finally won out.  You’ve always wanted to see some spectacular, remote place; thought about it over the years, and finally, you can’t resist it any longer!  You have to see it before you die.

Or maybe you’re fed up.  You want to escape from emails, tweets, news feeds, voicemails, texts… all those electronic things that pull you away from who you really are: the deep down soul of yourself. You’ve realized that you’re drifting farther and farther away from the true heart of you.

Maybe it’s the fragile quality of nature, and how distant it often seems.  You live in a paved-over metroplex where nature is tamed, and contained in parks or green spaces.  It’s all very safe because if nature ever came out unexpectedly, the lawyers would sue someone or other. You wonder if, out there somewhere, nature is still wild.

Or maybe you crave silence… silence, where dreaming and contemplation happens, and a soul can inhabit an entirely new sphere, someplace unknowable and beyond your control.

Photo credit: Veronika Vaneckova (FilmingFamily.com)

Or maybe you’ve always wanted to visit Big Bend… one of the least known, least visited, most remote places in the whole USA.  Most people have at least heard of it, but few have ever seen it.  It sits perched on the edge of the country, looking down into a green river, with Mexico on the other side.  There are no Hampton Inns or Motel 6’s, no Burger Kings or Taco Bells.   It’s a big, beautiful, wild empty.

Photo: Veronika Vaneckova (FilmingFamily.com)

And that is precisely its appeal, and why, THIS YEAR, you might want to finally give in, and come to TPU… for the magnetic nature of Big Bend Ranch, the peace and silence, the total absence of technology, the dark sky, the vast wide openness, and the tribe of people bound together by a common love of wilderness.

Photo credit: Veronika Vaneckova (FilmingFamily.com)

Is this an ad for Trans-Pecos Ultra, the self-supported stage race that traverses Big Bend Ranch in late October every year?  Yes, it is, and I have no shame about it, because TPU is a little taste of heaven on earth for those who are up for it.

This year, TPU will run from October 20 -28, 2018. When you register for TPU, you become eligible for free coaching, from past veterans and winners of the event.  Since self-supported stage racing is new to most of us, this coaching can be invaluable, in terms of training, equipment, nutrition and strategy.  In 2017, most of our participants took advantage of our free coaching.

Is this your year to take on this unique experience?

TPU is BIG… four days of 26 miles each, with an expedition stage of 56 miles. It will challenge you, whether you’re an experienced ultra runner or a weekend hiker.

It’s BEAUTIFUL… a week in a “dark sky park” where stars, constellations and galaxies are visible at night. At TPU, you are hundreds of miles away from any light pollution, and you will see things at night that you never even imagined in the city. The daytimes are filled with the wonder of unaltered natural landscapes.

Photo credit: Veronika Vaneckova (FilmingFamily.com)

It’s BOLD… many people report that TPU changes them.  That’s the outcome of undertaking a steep challenge in which you are responsible for YOU, for your training, your equipment, your experience and what you take home with you to last forever.

Photo credit: Aaron Bates

Take a walk around our website; check out the stage descriptions, the schedule, the coaches and the experiences of others who’ve joined the TPU tribe.  Watch our videos; window-shop our online store, Like our Facebook page. Read some of our press. When you’re ready to sign up for this once-in-a-lifetime “race-cation”, let us know.

Trans-Pecos Ultra is waiting for you.

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Ethos of the TPU Tribe

Ethos of the TPU Tribe

TPU2017 Finisher Rachael Kadell celebrating at Disney Land.

We’ve all got enough race shirts to supply Goodwill for a decade, so what makes this particular shirt from Trans-Pecos Ultra so special?

It’s not the shirt…it’s the “Tribe”.

Of course, the TPU Tribe exists with or without the shirt, but the shirt is a great reminder of our shared experience.

Once you’ve spent a week in Big Bend, living simple, and unplugged from the outside world, you become connected in many ways to the land and those across the campfire from you. But why?

For ten days, those of us who volunteer and race in TPU experience life with a shared purpose. We sleep side by side in tepee tents, we wake up together at 6am, eat, pack our bags and perform our assigned volunteer duties – or “follow the pink tape” as a racer. The highs and lows of each day are shared with those around us at checkpoints, campsites, and on long bumpy drives.

 

Leslie Townsend (mom) and Elizabeth Henderson (sister) to RD Chris Herrera (middle).

 

Those who participate and volunteer year after year at TPU become a tight-knit group who have seen each other’s flaws, forgiven them, and have continued to have faith in each other and TPU, knowing it’s something much larger than just themselves. In so many ways, the TPU Tribe represents family, beginning with the Race Director, Chris Herrera, whose family help him put on the first race, and who come back to volunteer each year.

And pictured in the feature/top image are April, event coordinator, and her husband, “utility player,” Jake McAnally, who’ve been involved since the beginning. These two open their home to so many – from Alpine Cowboys baseball players each summer, to RD Chris who lived with them upon first arrival in Alpine. And for those who don’t know, TPUHQ is actually the McAnally’s house; just go down to the basement and you’ll find blue water containers, tepee tents, and everything in between, like portable toilets (by the way, we don’t use those anymore since we’ve got awesome camp sites with actual toilets and even a pool!)

 

Alpine local sisters – Elise (racer) and Sarah (volunteer ) Sibley at Tres Papalotes campsite.

 

Sure enough, every year, we have families in the lineup – brothers, sisters, and several married couples. So It not only feels like family; in many cases, it is family.

And all this happens in one of the most remote and rarely visited locations in the country. Big Bend Ranch State Park is the largest state park in Texas, and offers outdoor recreation for the truly adventurous. The interior roads of the park are not even passable without four-wheel drive.  It’s a great big rugged expanse, and when TPU comes in October, we have the place mostly to ourselves.  That isolation draws us all closer, racers and volunteers alike. As RD Chris Herrera observes…

“Being outdoors can be one of the most powerful environments for personal discovery”.

TPU2017 racers, best friends, Rachael Kadell & Shelli Sexton from California.

 

So who is the TPU Tribe?

We are people just like you… hikers, runners, and everything in between – 4×4 enthusiasts, medics, Ironman triathletes, academics, accountants, etc. The life experience among the TPU Tribe is widely varied, almost random, but it makes this event what it is.

Our tribe truly values Big Bend, a place like no other. We love camping under the bright stars, we love how campfires bring out the inner storyteller in us, we love sleeping overnight in Fresno canyon. We love the way the outdoors provides solace from everyday life and how a week in Big Bend gives us time for reflection, to recharge, and how we leave the place a bit more purposeful, more intentional about our lives.  It’s an experience we want to share with others, both within the Tribe and in our personal communities outside TPU.

TPU2017 finish with Clay Henry III (goat), Mayor of Lajitas, TX.

 

Simplicity, humility, and compassion….that’s what TPU and the Tribe represent. And, that’s why this is a shirt so much worth earning.

 

To join the Tribe, learn about Volunteer spots, see our Course Info & Rules to become a racer, or call the RD, Chris Herrera at 432.294.5284.SaveSave

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TPU2017 Summary Report

TPU2017 Summary Report

TPU2017 Had It All!

Live GPS Tracking…

New Course Record Set…

Temps from the 90s to 30s…

More International Players…

Trans-Pecos Ultra has struck the tents for another year!  The third annual race, according to racers and volunteers alike, was the best ever, all the details smoothly dialed in. From live, daily updates on social media to the full 10-day schedule of events with regional tours and chef-produced gourmet meals, TPU2017 lived up to its name – The Ultimate Big Bend Adventure. Also this year, race director Chris Herrera, brought another first to the US self-supported stage race community…Live GPS tracking – see archive link!

 

Among the runners, Adam Harmon, of Boulder, Colorado, ran out front from Day 1 and ended up shattering the course record by 4-1/2 hours, a huge chunk out of the record set last year.  Adam had lately completed the Leadville 100, one of trail racing’s most challenging events.

The female champion, Sereena Trottier of Ottawa, Canada, also led from the beginning.  Sereena is a veteran of many Canadian ultra races, and directs a few races of her own as a principal of 3badgers Racing. 

TPU2017 international cast of characters included racers and volunteers from Great Britain, Canada, France, and Czech Republic, as well as the USA.

The terrain of Big Bend Ranch State Park, coined the “Other side of nowhere”, is extremely rugged and always challenging, but the temperatures this year added a few degrees of difficulty.  Several days had registered temps in the low 90s, but there was also a morning when racers woke up to temps in the low 30s.  The extreme changes in temperature can wreak havoc in muscle function.

The racers included many hikers who continued to persevere through blisters, joint pain, and sheer fatigue. TPU is unique it that it brings experienced ultra runners together with thru-hikers in one event. See the Results Page for accumulated timings.

This year were a cheerful bunch, full of enthusiasm for the rugged beauty of Big Bend.  There was a race-ending slip and fall on the first day for one runner, and a lot of foot-taping for blisters as the week drew on, but no major injuries.  Our fully-credentialed team of medics gave expert advice and care, staffing every checkpoint on the course, and sweeping behind the last runner  – something we learned was a unique offering among other ultra events and “much appreciated”, said Shelli, an experienced ultra runner from California.

The staff and volunteers of TPU were elated for the runners who enjoyed the race so much and accomplished their audacious goals in Big Bend Ranch State Park.  We look forward to showcasing the rugged beauty of Big Bend Ranch State Park to a whole new crew of runners, hikers, and volunteers in 2018. Join us next year for The Ultimate Big Bend Adventure!

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE FINISHERS. And a special shout out to our TPU2017 partners: Trackleaders.comTrail Toes Anti-Friction Foot and Body ProductsCity of AlpineAlpine Chamber of CommerceAlpine AvalancheVisit Big BendCome and Take It BBQMuseum of the Big BendMcDonald ObservatoryThe Holland HotelQuarter Circle 7 Hotel – AlpineBig Bend Brewing CompanyBig Bend Ranch State Park-Texas Parks and WildlifeTexas Parks and WildlifeUNM Wilderness, Austere, and International Emergency Medicine FellowshipPrintcoSaddle Club AlpineAlpine Auto Rental & all the volunteers, medics, and family who supported us.

 

TPU2018 Race Registration Opens Dec 15th!

-SAVE 20% – SIGN UP – EARLY BIRD LIST.

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