Big crowds and loud music are as much a part of many road races as sweaty runners pounding the pavement.
But that’s not the Grasslands Run through the LBJ National Grasslands outside Decatur.
“This is completely different from a road run,” said Kevin Boudreaux, who shares responsibility as race director of the Grasslands Run with his wife, Stacie. “It’s not all the hype and hoopla. It’s just more about being out on the trail.”
The 2010 race featuring a 50-mile, marathon (26.2 miles) and half-marathon will be held Saturday, March 20.
The event is more than a decade old. The Boudreauxes have directed the past two. Kevin has completed the 50-mile event, which make loops on the cloverleaf Texas Arabian Distance Riders Association trails through a portion of the 20,250 acres of prairie in the Grasslands, multiple times.
Last year was the largest event, drawing 380 runners. Kevin is anticipating as many as 500 for this year’s run. Many of the runners will be coming back from last year, but he said there will also be many first-time trail runners.
“We use it as an introduction to trail running,” Boudreaux said. “It’s more laid back than road races. It’s less about time and more about the trail.”
Most of the first-time trail runners will participate in the half-marathon. The race is actually 13.5 miles through the winding, sandy trails of the park.
First-time trail runners quickly find out there is no concrete with painted arrows pointing the way. The trail is marked by painted horseshoes, ribbons and paint marks on trees. Runners are urged to bring a map to make sure they stay on course.
They also need to bring their own water.
“The aid stations are five to six miles apart,” Boudreaux said.
Weather will play a major role. A little rain will turn the sandy trails into mud.
Many of the veteran trail runners will take on the marathon and the grueling 50-mile race, which will take nearly the entire day to complete.
“The winner will do it in under eight hours,” Boudreaux said. “The average will be 11 hours.”
The participants in the 50-mile event do face a cutoff to complete the race. They will have 10 hours, until 5 p.m., to complete the first three of the four loops on the course.
Registration for the event closes Saturday. For information, check Web site nttr.org/grasslands.