Howdy! Have a read through this stuff and if you still have questions just let us know.
1. Looks amazing but can I really do this?
Yes, of course you can…and no we’re not just saying that! Generally, 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 each day. Past results show we have more hikers than runners and only a few elites who want to run the whole thing as fast as they can but most everyone is in it to experience the remote back country of Big Bend with our safety net (aka course logistics and medical support). So…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.
2. Can you give more details on the Transportation Options?
Transportation costs are included in race registration fees. Pick-up from El Paso International Airport is at 10am on Saturday, October 2oth and return is on Sunday, October 28th at approximately 12pm. If you want to arrange another option like driving your own car, be sure to arrive in Alpine, Texas at the host hotel by 3pm on Saturday, October 20th; please note we cannot reduce or refund any fees for driving yourself; also you’ll have to leave your vehicle unattended at the hotel during the 7-day race portion of the event. Lastly, a unique option is the catch the Amtrak train, Sunset Limited, however timetables vary so check on their website. If you want to come early or stay late we can help sort out a hotel room as an add-on – just let us know.
3. Please describe food and cooking options during the event.
Before and after the race: We provide some awesome nosh before and after the race; this begins with dinner on Saturday, 20th October, then breakfast and lunch on Sunday before the race. After the race, we will have the finish line pizza/snacks/beer once the last participant arrives at the finish line. In addition, you will enjoy our Awards Banquet on Saturday, 27th, October, and breakfast before departure on Sunday, 28th, October. During these meals, we also do our best to accommodate for meal preferences: gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, if you let us know ahead of time!
During the race: During the race it’s all on you! Self-supported nutrition starts after lunch once we leave Alpine. This means you’ll need to plan your own nutrition starting on Sunday evening at Camp 1 until the race finish on Saturday at 2pm. Altogether this means you’ll need at least 7 full days worth of meals, which at 2,000 Calories per day, is AT LEAST 14,000 Calories. A few things on meal prep to remember during the race: Hot water will be available each morning and evening at camp as well at overnight checkpoints during Stage 5. Camp fires are not available for cooking nor do we allow you to bring any of your own cooking equipment. 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 but wrap this separately in case it melts! PS – don’t forget a light weight hot beverage drinking cup and eating utensils.
4. How should I pack?
Besides your personal race backpack (see below), participants are permitted to bring separate luggage items to keep your casual and dress clothing, non-race essentials, etc. This luggage will be left attended at the hotel while on the race course and you’ll get it back at post-race check hotel check in. Plan to dress in comfortable inclothes for pre-event activities, casual for dinners, and as fancy as you want (or not) for the awards banquet.
Race Backpack: 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 – in other words it WILL NOT be taken to camps 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!
5. Are there any items provided by the organization that I must carry?
During check-in, participants will receive general race information and numbered race bibs. You are only required to affix the numbered race bibs while on the race course – not at camp. Note: An official race booklet with maps is available at camp for inspection.
6. Please describe the sleeping arrangements during the event.
Hotels accommodations (double occupancy) are provided before (Saturday) 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 we highly recommend a 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?
In a nut-shell – no. But we do have water bottles to spray you down and depending on the summer we may have a surplus of rain water collected in stock tanks which creates an amazing ‘swimming pool’ in the desert. In generally, though, TPU takes place in a very remote and very rugged terrain within a high desert ecosystem. As such, water is scarce and use should be limited including; time penalties and disqualification may be incurred for using water to clean your clothes. 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 provide a hand shovel so that you can dig a cat-hole so just do like any other bear in the woods).
9. Are fires or fireworks allowed?
Contained fires will be provided for “entertainment” and heat at campsites but not for cooking. 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 may 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 for your own safety and for the safety of others. 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 race. Next year, this will be from October 21-28th, 2018 but you may want to other days if you are travelling. 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 use 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 1-3 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 other people 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. The interaction around the camp fire is something that hits these same deep psychological chords. With that being said, if you decide to leave the course that can be arranged but may take up to 36hrs. 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 at 432.294.5284.