As a student, I remember learning that a good writer never let’s the truth stand in the way of a good story. Because of this, I always read race descriptions as though they are pieces of creative fiction. They are not. Pandora’s Box of Rox is full of rocks. Small rocks, big rocks, loose rocks, pointy rocks. Really, the only lie is that it isn’t a box which contains rocks. It is a box made of rocks. It is 99% rock, in varying degree and variety.
Originally, I was signed up for the full marathon, 26.2 miles, which is comprised of two 13.1 mile loops. My husband was running the 13.1, and since this was our anniversary trip, I decided to drop down to the 13.1 so that we could spend more time together. I have never been so glad to only be doing 13.1 as I was at about mile 4 of this monster.
Pandora’s Box of Rox is hosted by the Revielle Peak Ranch, in Burnet, Tx (Prounounced burn it, not burnette). It is beautiful. There are nice bathroom facilities, plenty of camping, and this really amazing lily pond, pool, and outdoor bar/pavillion that overlook a lake. It’s a great place to bring the family, as Tejas Trails, the race host, always has a race day camp for kids. Know what that race day camp costs? FREE! Yep, both parents can race, knowing their kids are cared for and being active, in a beautiful setting. I can’t say enough nice things about Tejas Trails, or Revielle Peak Ranch. Revielle Peak Ranch also has a Camp Gladiator obstacle course, and acts as a target range for police and military training. Their motto is “Serve Who Serve”, which I love. RPR is Aggie Owned and Operated, which makes it that much nicer for this College Station resident!
The course weaves over the second largest granite dome in Texas, and is marked with reflectors, tape, and confidence flags. It is well-marked, but the runner definitely has some responsibility to stay alert and on the lookout. The granite domes, hill country shrubs, varying cacti and pokey plants, mixed with woods and wildflowers, offer plenty for any runner to appreciate, and it’s easy to get distracted by photo ops at every mile. It’s also easy to miss all of this beauty as your eyes actively scan the ground before you, trying to ensure the natural beauty isn’t ruined by broken bones and blood, or by playing a game of “spot the copperhead” in all the leaf litter (I spotted zero, and I am unsure if that’s good or bad). The wooded areas were beautiful to run in. The trees offered much needed shade, the dirt was a soft relief to tired feet, the quiet of the woods always improves my running mood. The cool darkness of the woods were the perfect juxtaposition to the hot, sunny hardness of all that granite. The woods were so nice in fact, that I forgot to get photographic evidence of them.
The race offers 8, 13.1, 26.2, and 54.4 mile distances. The 52.4 kids started before the sun rose, and we were able to see a few come back through the starting line as the 13.1 and 26.2 group lined up for our 8am start. Aid stations were supplied with standard fair, including tailwind (caffeinated and not), pickles, animal cookies, PB&Js, and amazing voluteers. Everyone with Tejas Trails is super nice and helpful. In fact, we showed up to packet pickup late, I needed to switch from 26.2 to 13.1, and they were still all smiles and kindness. I even noticed that the guy in charge was a fellow LUNAtic!
This was a fairly small race, with most people opting for the lower miles. Most people seemed there to hike (or maybe I was just with the slow kids), but I did get passed by the same guy who passed me at Bandera. In both situations, he was doing double my miles… You go guy!
Right at the start finish line is this really cool tile pool, with sections just deep enough for your legs, and a deeper portion that might reach a tall man’s chest. It was a great place to recover your feet while watching people finish. You could then shower, grab a massage under a tent, followed by some grub from the ever-present food truck. It was a great, relaxed, after party that quietly lasted hours. Above this little piece of heaven is a large second story porch, which overlooks the lake, and finish line. It was a nice place to end the day.
Biggest lesson learned this weekend is to believe race descriptions. Also, I’m pretty sure “Box of Rox” is just the more Seussean way of saying “Pandora’s Granite Nether Regions”… because after coming out of it, I feel like crap. But I’m happy I did it, and because I never learn my lesson, I’m sure I’ll be back… probably for the 26.2 next time.