Howdy! Have a read through this stuff and if you still have questions just let us know.
1. Can I really do this?
Yes, of course you can! Trans-Pecos Ultra is an an open invitation to novice and experienced outdoor enthusiasts who are passionate about adventure, travel, experiencing new cultures, and personal discovery on a much more substantial level than single day races. Participants have varied fitness levels and come from all walks of life. Some want to run the whole thing as fast as they can and some just want to experience Big Bend as a hike. Actually, some participants jump right into stage racing without even doing an ultra before, like marathon runners. And even more crazy is how some people who don’t even run much sign up and do just fine, like cross-fit athletes. The point is, the physical requirements are much lower than you’d think because of the generous 12hr cut offs and the fact that you’ll get some recovery in between days; recovery…that’s the name of the game!
2. What are the Arrival and Transportation Options?
Participants will be expected to join the race from October 21-29. A free transfer is included in your race registration which will depart from El Paso, Texas at 11am on October 21th and return on October 30th. If you arrange your own transportation, plan to to arrive in Alpine, Texas at the host hotel by 5pm on Friday, October 21th. A unique option is the catch the Amtrak train, Sunset Limited, however this arrives on the 20th October. We can help sort out a hotel room early – just let us know. Lastly, private/rented vehicles are permitted to the host hotel in Alpine, Texas but will be left unattended during the 7 day portion of the race.
3. How should I pack?
As described on the website, this race is “self-supported” meaning that “Participants are required to carry all of the necessary food, clothing, and mandatory equipment specified by race organizers.” There is no specific requirements of your pack but you will be carrying this as a backpack during the race – it will not be taken for you. Pack options: Most expensive (Best Specific Bag)–> WAA Ultra 20L System or RaidLight to Less Expensive (Good for Jogging/Walking)–> Salomon 20L Trail and Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20L or 30L pack. Other great brands are from Inov-8 and Montane – anything for “fastpacking”. We recommend having front pockets for water access using either traditional bottles or soft flasks. Another option is to have a front “fanny” pack or similar. Remember, your pack will get lighter each day as you EAT all the food!
Besides your personal race backpack, participants are permitted to bring a separate luggage (i.e. small roller bag) for “casual and dress clothing, etc” which may be left at the hotel while on the race course. A few things to remember: dress comfortable in street clothes for pre-event activities, casual for dinners, and as fancy as you want (or not) for the awards banquet.
4. What items will be provided to me and when?
During check-in, participants will receive a course booklet, checkpoint pass, a race patch, and a numbered race bib. You will not be required to bring your race booklet if you do not want as we will have a copy available each day at camp for inspection.
5. Please describe food and cooking during the event.
Meals are provided to participants before and after the race; this begins with dinner on Friday, 21th October, all meals on Saturday before the race, as well as a light lunch and dinner/banquet on Saturday, 29th October. During the race from Sunday morning to Saturday afternoon (23-29th Oct) participants are required to carry and prepare all meals – don’t forget a light weight hot beverage drinking cup and eating utensils. Hot water will be available each morning and evening at camp – fires are not available for cooking. Usually, participants bring freeze-dried meals, dehydrated food (i.e. Backpacker’s Pantry meals or similar or even crushed Ramen noodles to save weight), dried fruit and nuts, snack/energy bars, sports drink mixes, salt/electrolytes tablets, coffee or tea and of course your favorite chocolate/candy!
6. Please describe the sleeping arrangements during the event.
Hotels accommodations (double occupancy) are provided before (Friday) and after (Saturday) the race. for all other nights, participant will sleep in 10-person group tents – no electricity is provided. You must bring your own sleeping bag and sleeping pad at minimum. Sleep is definitely important so if you have any questions let us know!
7. Will there be showers during the race?
This is a remote race in very rugged terrain within a high desert ecosystem. As such, water is scarce and use should be limited – therefore showers are not available at camps unless a surplus of rain water exists in natural tanks. We recommend that you bring “cleansing wipes” – maybe even a scented one…it’ll make all the difference!
8. Will there be toilets during the race?
Yes (and no). There will be permanent “eloo” style toilets at camp; these are basically outhouses with a plastic toilet and holding tank. Other than that, all participants (staff, and volunteers) should be prepared to use “primitive toilets” (i.e. checkpoints will create a cat-hole and small plastic toilet, or just do like any other bear in the woods).
9. Are fires or fireworks allowed?
Contained fires will be provided for “entertainment” and some heat per se but not for cooking. Fires will be closely monitored and ashes collected each day by the camp volunteer team. No fireworks are permitted – please don’t bring any commercial laser pointers either.
10. Will there be a generator? Will there be any lights?
Big Bend has spectacular star-lit night skies so to ensure the most spectacular experience, no electrical power or substantial camp light will be made available to participants. A gas-power generator will be used by staff and volunteers for logistical purposes but Power/Lights out for all is from 10pm to 6am, nightly.
11. Please describe the amount of water allotted per day.
All participants will have ample drinking water, hot water for cooking, and extra for emergency/medical purposes. Water is closely monitored and collected daily by volunteers and camp for conservation and protection of the environment. Note, water should not be used for squirting over the head/face or body, showering, cleaning clothes, and only minimally when cleaning dishes or brushing teeth.
12. What about alcohol?
Trans-Pecos Ultra takes place within Big Bend Ranch State Park which means all participants and volunteers must sign and abide by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department rules and regulations which state the following: “It is an offense for any person to: 1. consume or display an alcoholic beverage in a public place; or 2. sell alcoholic beverages within a state park.” Big Bend Ranch is a public place. However, before and after the race alcohol will be available at the hotel and restaurant as well as some special tastings from our sponsors.
13. Do I need travel insurance? Where do I get it?
Yes – you absolutely must have travel insurance. All volunteers, participants, media and staff must purchase and submit a proof of a travel health insurance policy of at least $500,000 for the duration of the 10 day event. In 2016, this will be from the 21th to 30th October but you may want to add the days you are travelling too. The policy must cover adventure sports as well as medical evacuation by helicopter.
Check with TravelGuard – be sure to add the “Adventure Sports Upgrade and Hospital of Choice Evacuation Upgrade.
14. Will there be cell phone coverage, internet, or other communications?
Before and after the race…yes. During the race…no.
Big Bend Ranch State Park is still in Texas but it sure as heck ain’t close to much of anything. This place is remote…no its VERY remote. There won’t be any cell coverage which means internet is also not available. And to protect the natural ambiance and to be equitable to all participants and volunteers, we do not allow the use of personal satellite phones.
But, we will provide limited access to a computer/tablet to write & receive emails during the race which you can usse to update friends and family, who can then update social media etc. NOTE: Due to logistical constraints, email access is not everyday but is usually 2-3 times during the week.
Finally, with regard to emergency at home, family/spouse/partner can call the race director via sat phone. This number will only be given out a day or two before the race. Keep in mind, the word ’emergency’ can be quite subjective, so please be strict to whom you give this number to and please greatly discourage nightly phone calls.
15. What happens if I fail to meet a cut-off or decide not to continue?
It’s true that life has a way of throwing unexpected curve balls. When a participant is unable to meet a cut-off or decides not to continue, we typically absorb them into the group as a volunteer. We consider everyone – participants and volunteers – a part of the tribe from day one – and can’t say enough how supportive the environment truly is out there. Plus, for most of us it’s the only time we are without cell phones and all these damn electronics 24/7 so it’s nice to take advantage of that, plus the fireside chats and star gazing. There’s something unique about fire that is archaic and almost innate. We won’t be cooking as such but it’s the interaction around the fire that hits these same deep psychological chords. With that being said, if you decide to leave the course that can be arranged; usually within 24hrs. NOTE: If you decide to leave you’ll be responsible for your own room and board and transportation unless you wait until the group meets after the race.
What else is there to know?
You’ll never know what’s on the other side of that fear until you face it straight on. Trans-Pecos Ultra may seem daunting but it’s nothing short of life-changing. Registration is open and limited each year so don’t wait.
Still have questions? Contact the RD, Chris Herrera using the form below.