Post Race

Why You Should Run the San Felipe Shootout… (or any other trail race)

Guest Blogger: Team TROT Ambassador Jennifer Lee


There are 1000 excuses NOT to run this race……It’s only a week away. I’m not trained enough. Trail running is too hard. I’ll trip on a rock. Houston is far away. No one will come with me.

Last year at this time, I had all those thoughts. I had only done a 15K trail race a few months earlier, but I had an ultra in April and figured this race would be good race day practice for gear preferences, drop bags, hydration, nutrition, etc. So I bit the bullet and signed up for the Shoot Out – so this race has a 5k, 10K and half-marathon option, but for those of us endurance junkies, you can sign up for all the above and combine them for a 22.4 miler aka the Shoot Out.

I was super excited to get on a new trail and get race day ready. Then it rained – all damn week leading up to the race. My friend who I was crashing with in Houston told me conditions didn’t seem bad and that the TROT folk (aka Rob) were just being cautious in the email that said it was muddy and to bring a change of clothes. When I pulled into Stephen Austin park morning of I saw giant puddles EVERYWHERE.

As we crossed the start line into muddy terrain and sliding into one another, we had instant comradery. Something that happens often between runners, but way more on the trails. Maybe it’s being caked in mud struggling to stay on your feet, but falling into the persons butt in front of you. Then having them land on top of you when they try to help you up.

I fell in line with TROT ambassador Stephen Moore for the start and he regaled me with fun racing stories and urged me to try to qualify for Leadville (haha at my second ever trail race). He told me all about TROT and why he loves it and runs with them. Inspired me to pick up my pace – I was cruising, till I approached what looked like a river crossing. There was a leprechaun on a Finding Nemo float (aka John Stasulli) in the middle to direct us back to shore.

I trudged/ran/swam my way over and climbed up a tree to get out. Then I kept running. With each loop of the race water rose higher and higher. I thought about quitting, wondering why I was running through hell and high water (almost literally) when no one was making me. But honestly, I was having so much fun sliding around with everyone, talking laughing, chugging Oreos, gummy bears and pickles and other “fuel” at the aid stations. Also, there is my competitive side that wanted to prove I could do it and enjoys the challenge. I saw Stephen and the rest of my new friends at loops and we cheered each other on – how could I quit? And why would I?

When I climbed out of the water and across the finish line, the feeling was AMAZING. Got hugs from my new best friends including Rob, the director. Glanced down at my watch, which I hadn’t looked at all day because I didn’t give a damn about pace and just about staying afloat. I realized with all the jumping around mud I clocked in a good 26.5 miles. I was shocked to learn I finished in the top 25 because I hadn’t even considered this a “race.”

Getting on the trails with this group is more like a social event. One that inspired me to become a TROT ambassador thereafter. It gave me confidence for my ultra and for life. You learn to take changing tides in stride and keep going to the finish. You get comfortable with uncomfortable – heat rash, water, blisters, whatever.  And best of all, you have a cheering section around every bend and very muddy sweaty hugs at the finish that only a fellow trail runner can appreciate.

So for all those excuses….

It’s only a week away. SO WHAT STILL TIME.

I’m not trained enough. RUN THE 5K OR JUST TRY IT. WALK IF YOU NEED. JUST GO.

Trail running is too hard. YES. BUT ALSO VERY FUN AND ADDICTIVE.


Houston is far away. MAYBE. BUT WORTH IT.


Mess with the bulls (and rattle snakes)- you fall in holes?

Guest Blogger Team TROT Ambassador: John Stasulli

My head was throbbing and my world was blurry as I came across the finish line at the Crazy Desert Trail Race 50k with my son Anthony, who had been out shooting photos of the race.  I don't remember receiving my medal, which I found later in my Victory bag, nor do I recall conversations that I had along the course with good friends or even the congratulatory greeting by Rob Goyen.  In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have even crossed the finish line that day. 

For the last year, I had been working with my coach, Karen Kantor, to increase my running performance and to become a more competitive (local) runner.  Training had been very focused to make sure my body (and mind) were conditioned and ready for what these races would throw at me.   My first attempt at testing the results of the training ended with Achilles Tendonitis back in November 2016 which took me out of any hard training for a few months.   The Crazy Desert Trail Race 50k, being put on my Trail Racing Over Texas, was to be my comeback race.   


Up to this point I would dab in various races just to go out, have fun, and use my lack of race experience to just cross the finish.  These events for me were all about fun, which is another reason I am typically at these events in a costume!   I made the decision to change things up and to see what I was capable of and the morning of March 11th, I was going to find out!

The sun had just come up as I walked to the starting line of the 50k race with 63 other runners.  Unlike previous ultra-marathons where I started somewhere in the back of the pack, this race was different.  I started at the line with some amazing athletes that I look up to!  We began the countdown and with Rob yelling across the crowd, MY race was underway.  All of us took off down the trail and onto the amazing single-track course (very similar to what I train on daily).   This single track was absolutely glorious!  Running in and out of the cacti fields, the occasional tight turns, the abundance of wildlife, and the occasional desert rollers.  I was in love with these trails from the start!  At the start of the race I did come across randomly dug holes in the middle of the trail though that would mess with my mind later in the race!


The entire first 18mi loop was perfectly on target.  I carried my Orange Mud VP2 with two bottles of Tailwind and my plan was to be self-sufficient throughout this entire race.   If I stopped at an aid station for anything, that would add time to my race which I didn’t want.  Plus, for those who know me, stopping at the aid station would have resulted in my talking; I am quite the social butterfly at races!  I stuck to my plan perfectly and felt GREAT! I blazed through each aid station yelling thank you to the volunteers without stopping once.  This was it!  The first loop I was surrounded by two great athletes the entire time.  Daniel Bucci was directly in front of me and right behind me was Vivian Carrasco (who went on to finish 2d overall!).   Daniel was always within eye-sight of me and every time I glanced back Vivian was only about 15-20’ behind me!  She ran such an amazing race and she is only 19 years old!  Oddly enough the most memorable part of this race is when Vivian and I ran through the post-apocalyptic park pavilions (one of my favorite sections of this race) when I had to clear the trail over about 20-30 Long Horns!   Without us slowing down I began clapping and yelling as they cleared our path.  We never actually spoke during that first loop, but it was such a fun amazing time!

Photo: Katie Graff

I completed my first loop (which ended up being a little over 18mi) in 2:40:46 in 5th place overall.  Everything up to this point had gone according to plan.  Hydration and nutrition were on point and legs felt amazingly good.   This is the only planned stop I had but it was only long enough to swap out my two bottles (which were already pre-mixed and ready to go) and grab half a protein cookie.  I was in and out of my make-shift aid station just as planned without skipping a beat.  While my transition was quick, Vivian’s was even better.  In the short time, I had grabbed my two bottles of Tailwind and protein cookie she had already ran back out the chute and onto the course!   Once my cookie was down I was back on pace heading onto the single track for the final 18mi of the race. 

Mile 20.  No matter how hard you train or the preparations you make, it is ultimately the trail that determines your fate and in this case, it was a hole.  I have been told that the holes on the course were the result of prairie dogs, rabbits, ground hogs, or armadillos.  Whichever it was, one of those holes gave me the opportunity to spend a lot more time on the glorious single-track than I had planned.   When going around a turn my foot dropped into a hole and I couldn’t catch myself.  I ended up bouncing my forehead off the trail.  From that point, my race had changed.  The more I ran, the more my head pounded and focusing on the trail at times seemed challenging.  The shadows that were cast on the trail were making me dizzy and everything out of my right eye was blurry.  I would run (what I thought was fast) until my head began throbbing and then dialed it back to a walk until it went away.  Much of the 2d loop was a blur to me (in more ways than one).  I continued along as much as my head would allow.  Eventually I began approaching the end of the final loop as I crept into Flintstone.  This section became considerably slower as I was not only battling my head and blurred vision, but this is when I finally encountered rattle snakes.  On a short stretch (about .5mi long) I ran into 4 (yes FOUR) rattlesnakes.   All but 3 of them were kind enough to go about their way and get off the trail.  The final snake, which was about ~7-8 years old based on the rattles, decided that he was going to go DOWN the trail with me.   I patiently waited in the trail for him to go on his way.  While doing so Victoriano, who was working the Flintstone Aid Station and a fellow TROT ambassador, came along to see if I was ok.   Once the rattlesnake cleared the trail, I was off again making my final few mile push to the finish line.

My son, who was at the race taking pictures, met me and ran me in the last 1/4mi. I crossed the finish line and new I made a mistake.  As I looked back on the loop, I couldn’t recall passing through some of the aid stations.  I was having trouble thinking, and my head was throbbing.   I made my way to the truck to sit down and call my wife Elizabeth.  One of my amazing friends Tammy and my son Anthony were worried about me and found a medic to come check me out.  After a short evaluation, it was determined that I had a mild-concussion and I spent the remainder of the day sitting under the TROT merchandise tent resting in the shade and answering random questions from the patrons.   As the day went on my vision began improving and the throbbing subsided.  Another friend, who is a Physician’s Assistant, also checked on me and gave me some advice and pointers as well.  I truly am blessed to have such an amazing family and friends in my life.


Photo by Trail Racing Over Texas (Anthony Stasulli)

Photo by Trail Racing Over Texas (Anthony Stasulli)

I don’t recall much from the second loop, nor do I recall being given medal and that is the biggest mistake I made that day.  After hitting my head like that, I really should not have continued.

I went into this race with huge goals for myself, all of which I believed were very attainable and realistic.  I knew this field had some amazing athletes so I wasn’t chasing a person or a place (although in the back of my head I was aiming for a top 5 finish), I was racing against the clock, and that magic number was to finish a 50k in 4:29. 

While the prairie dogs had a different outcome in store for me, I am proud of what transpired during this race.  While I didn’t finish in the time that I wanted, this was still by best finish at an Ultra Marathon!  I placed 9th overall (my first top-10 finish at an ultra) and 2d in my age-group.  Strava even informed me later that I set PRs on the 20k, Half Marathon, 30k, Marathon, and 50k distances!   I think what I am most excited about is my legs.  They never once felt tired and even today, there is no DOMS present! 

I learned what I was capable of at this race and this year, I WILL stand on those boxes this year! 

Race Gear:

Orange Mud VP2

Tailwind Nutrition

Goodr Glasses

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 2

John “The Grinch” Stasulli

Twitter: @JohnStasulli

Instagram: @JohnStasulli

Wildflower Half Post Race Review

Wildflower Half Race Review

It was an amazing day of clear skies, sunshine at the Beautiful Bastrop State Park. The trails at the park are a great mix of sandy, rocky, up, down and some great creek crossings as well. The park camping was filled up months leading up and we sold the race out after only 8 weeks of open registration. As the runners poured into the park it was evident that there was so many new TROT faces to mix into the regular TROT family. 

As the countdown hit 7am the 13.1 half marathon took off up the single track. Team TROT runner Dan Bucci set out of the gate to lead the race and won it wire to wire. The young mens pack held tight to Daniel through the 2 loops leading into the final lap. Benjamin Meyer was 2nd, Jacob Torkelson was 3rd and barely 4th was Alex Wright. Alexis Didler was just seconds behind and Amy Kelly charged hard for 3rd place to round it out. 

Team TROT runner Lauren Ross led the womens field out and set the pace quickly. She hammered down each lap and ended up with the female win and 8th overall. 2nd was Kaylnn Champagne and 3rd was Anna Casto just 20 seconds behind. 

In the 10k newly converted trail runner Jenna Jurica took 1st overall for the men and women. Taylor Mcdonald from El Paso was the 2nd female and Jennifer Foulds took 3rd. Cody Wollard took home the top spot for the men with a 1st place finish. Ed williams coming back from a long injury was welcomed back with a 2nd place finish with Werner Hartman in 3rd. 

It the 5k 10 year old Christian Lewis dropped the hammer on the field with a 1st place finish. Glenn Mullen was 2nd place for the men and Ryan Mays was 3rd. For the ladies Irma Arellano was 1st female and 2nd overall. 

Brazos Bend 50 Race Review

BB50 Race Review 

The Brazos Bend 2016 will always be remembered as the year we didnt get crazy weather and we had more than 880 registered runners. 

The 50 miler was a pack of 4 for the first 2 loops with Daniel Lawton, Melanie Rabb, John Yoder and Mark Lawton roaming the course together. In the end Daniel Lawton was 1st, Melanie Rabb was 2nd overall/1st female and John Yoder was 3rd for the males. 

Team TROT runner and World Record Holder Cal Neff came out to BB50k with a fast, hard run in his sights. He tore up the course with a new CR of 3:10. Edenn Perez followed in 2nd with a 3:45 and Team TROT runner Dan Bucci goes 3:53 while completing his 50th marathon. In the ladies Victoria Webster was 1st female/4th overall, Team TROT runner Katie Graff was 2nd in 4:18 and Heidi Anderson was 3rd in 4:30.

Team TROT runner Jeff Ball cruised to the 25k lead with a 1:31, Randy Becker was close behind with a 1:43 for 2nd and Dustin Sanquist was 3nd in 1:54. Team TROT runner Lauren Ross defending her 2015 title with a 1:59 for the womens women. 2nd was Ashley Gallagher with a 2:07 and in 2:09 was Lisa Korsten.

In the 10k Tracie Akerhielm broke the CR with a 39:29 on her way to winning the Overall title in the race. Crystal Oden was 2nd with a 50:48 and 3rd was Juliana Ronderos in 53:12. For the men Kenny York was 1st male/2nd overall 43:29 with a close 2nd from John Cuellar in 44:32 and 3rd Ethan Cooper in 44:39.

It was a great day for the park, all of the runners and the amazing volunteers. This is one of the biggest races in the history of Texas Trail Running so it was very special. 

For the rest of our race schedule click here

Full Results via Ultrasignup

San Felipe Shootout Post Race Review

San Felipe Shootout Post Race Review

The San Felipe Shootout 2016 was most remembered for the chest deep water crossings, the active wildlife and adults acting like children.

The week of the race the Stephen F Austin State Park which borders by the Brazos River took in over 12 inches of rain and the upstream countries water poured into the park. The course was marked on Thursday with only shin deep water but by Friday that had moved to waist deep. The park received additional rain Friday night and so the course was again changed Saturday morning right before the start. 

The San Felipe Shootout consists of a 5k, 10k and 13.1 mile races all run individually. There is a shootout option which allows you to run all 3 and then we combine the times for them. 

Team TROT runner Jeff Ball who last year's runner-up stayed out in front of all the 3 races capturing wins in the 5k, 10k and 13.1 marathon. Steven Moore never let Jeff out of sights and finished just behind him in all of the races as well. Andre Fuqua who was 2nd at Horseshoe Trail Run recently ran a strong 3rd to finish 3rd in the shootout as well. 

Team TROT runner Tracie Akerhielm was 2nd last year in the shootout and was determined to take the win. She won the 5k, 10k and 13.1 thus capturing the Shootout Crown. Jenna Jurica stayed strong all day through the 3 events and captured the 2nd place Shootout title. Only 10 minuted separated the 3rd-4th females between all the 3 races but Jennifer Heghinian hung strong to get the 3rd place spot. 

The Shootout 5k,10k and 13.1 Combined Results HERE

Results on Ultrasignup

Photos from Event: Facebook

2016 Horseshoe Trail Run Race Recap

2016 Horseshoe Trail Run Race Recap

This year's edition of the Horseshoe Trail Run was moved from the rainy season in May to the coldness of January. With the change of the year, we were excited to have over 420 runners participate in the event on January 23rd. 

Last years 50k winner Team TROT runner Jeff Ball was back to defend his title and hope to crack the CR on the 2nd installment of the race. Team TROT runner Julie Koepke who was 2nd last year stepped back in the 50k again looking to enjoy the course although it was quite a bit drier than the mud fest of 2015. 

As the 6am clock counted the 2016 Horseshoe Trail Run 50k was underway. Jeff Ball took the early lead along with Joshua Jones and Andre Fuqua for the males. Julie Koepke, Shawna Meyers and Amy Kerrigan lead the females in the 1st loop as well. 

Jeff Ball would win the 50k in a Course Record of 3:59 and Julie Koepke won the 50k as well in a course record 5:32. 

The other distances started with a staggered start with the  25k  at 7am, the 10k at 7:30 and the 5k at 8:00. 

At the end of the race all finishers received a custom bottle opening medal, a pint glass and post race beer provided by Karbach Brewery.

All results for all races can be found HERE

For a list of all of our races click HERE

Our Next Race is the San Felipe Shootout on March 12th

Brazos Bend 100 Race Recap

Brazos Bend 100 Recap

The Brazos Bend 100 is set up on the beautiful 5000 acre Brazos Bend State Park just south of Houston in Needville. The park had recieved over 12 inches of rain in the past weeks leading up to the race but the weather leading up to the race was decent. 

When the race started Saturday Morning at 6am the humidity was high, the temps were mild and the clouds were overheard. Within 12 hours the storms started to roll in to the park with the windy and drizzle starting to come down. In the overnight hours the park was under a tornado warning and many of the tents were being manned by human anchors as well. The final Brazos Bend 100 runners who deserved the relief of the weather were in for a Texas treat. The final 6 hours of the race the rain started to come down fast and sideways as the final cutoff on starting another loop was met. Around 9am on sunday morning with 3 hours left on the race clock the front came through with a swift winter chill. The temperature dropped over 20 degress within minutes turning the park into a horrid mix of wet, windy and raining. 

Soon after the front swept through race staff began the race preperations to treat hyperthermia and get runners off the trail as soon as they finished. As each runner came through the finish we hurried them into a waiting heated van, stripped them of their wet clothes and got them into warm clothes. 

As most Texans will tell you if you don't like the weather well wait it will change. The normally high finisher rate of the 100 miler (over 70% in 2014) began to be a sufferfest that few were able to tame. Those who were able to endure the tests where welcomed with a Brazos Bend 100 buckle and one of the 30% of the finishers of the race. 

For complete results visit HERE

For more pictures please visit our facebook albums HERE

Habanero Hundred Recap

Habanero Hundred Recap 

The Habanero Hundred started on August 22nd at Noon in Smithville, Texas. With the heat at 99 degrees and the index at 108 sweating was the least of the runners worries. The Texas heat and humidity never left the runners side from start till finish. Combine the heat, the humidity and loosely technical course what you get is a the toughest race in Texas Trail History. 

The 50k race just after 10 miles started to find its first DNFs along with the 100k race as well. The 100 miler race would only have one person who was able to navigate the courses demands to cross the line under the 30-hour cutoff. As the 100 mile and 100k relay teams flew around the course the sun rose on the 23rd of August. As the sun came up the hopes of many 100k buckles came to fruition as they battled the heat one more time. The last few 100k finishers came through with a few hours to spare and our lone 100 miler was still on course. 

Julie Koepke came around the final stretch and finished in  28:43 as the ONLY 100 mile finisher of the course. 

For full results of the Habanero Hundred including photos, videos and more please visit

The Habanero Hundred is just its first year turned out to be exactly what the race was intended to do. Challenge runners to battle the elements, manage their race and try to tame the toughest Trail Race in Texas. 

With only 100 spots open in the 100 mile race, 100k and 50k we will see who is ready to tame the Beast! 

Horseshoe Trail Run Final Results

2015 Horseshoe Trail Run Results

The days leading up to the race started off well on Monday morning but by 4pm on Monday the weather had changed dramatically. Over the next 24 hour Houston received over 6 inches of water and the Horseshoe Trail Run become one of the hardest courses seemingly overnight.

As we marked the course on Thursday we sent an email out to the runners letting them know that the water was ankle deep, bring the flippers and get ready for one heck of a day of trail running. 

As the day started the 50k runners took off right at 6am out to the course followed by the 25k, 10k and 5kers. Jeff Ball came in to the 1st of his 5 loops and it was apparent that it was going to be a mud field day. Quickly runners started to come in finish the 5k/10k laughing, smiling and covered in the effects of the trail. By 10am many runners had come in and Karbach Brewery showed up with beer in tow. They setup with free beer and all finishers received a pint glass as well for the brew. Rukus Ritas got cranking on the margaritas and Breakfast Burritos Anonymous started grilling as well. 

The 50k runners came in each loop with multiple layers of mud, water and big smiles. With 68 registered there would only 27 runners that defeated the course. Many of the runners DNF from the 25k and the 50k as the course took its toll on some of the best runners on the course. With over 433 runners this was an amazing day with great runners, sponsors and support from the Galveston Country Parks Department. 

The official results for the Horseshoe Trail Run can be found HERE

You can find some race photos

Race Report from Jeff Ball and Julie Koepke

The  Horseshoe Trail Run 50k Top 3 Male and Female Runners are below.

1 Jeff Ball 5:58:56

2 Zachary Szablewski 6:32:27

3 Gabe Leatherwood 7:07:38


1 Sherry Scott 8:40:14

2JulieKoepkeSan AntonioTX32F28:47:3283.35

3YokaJanssenLake JacksonTX17F39:26:4191.8

Check out all of our races for the 2015 Trail Racing Over Texas Schedule HERE

San Felipe Shootout Final Results

San Felipe Shootout Results

Trail Racing Over Texas had an amazing time this past weekend on March 28th as Stephen F Austin played host to the San Felipe Shootout. With its unique format of 3 races in one day the races started at 7:00, 8:00 and 10:30 on the dot. 

The 5k started right at 7am and before you could blink an eye the runners where head back in the finish. The Winner Cal Neff came in at 18:55 followed by Jeff Ball, 1st Female Tracie Akerhielm, 3rd male Jeff Miller, 2nd female Kate Papenberg as well. 

The 10k started at 8am and again Cal Neff a 2:22 marathoner sprinted in with the win at 38:07 followed by the familiar gang of Jeff Ball, Tracie Akerhielm, Jeff Miller, Daniel Bucci and Kate Papenberg.

The 13.1 half marathon kicked off at 10:30 and the sun started to shine on the runners. The ice buckets, the sponges came out to make sure the runners stayed cool as they ran around the park. Cal Neff set out to fly on the half marathon and win the overall male shootout as well. Cal came in at 1:11:15 followed by the usual suspects with Jeff Ball, Kate Papenberg, Daniel Bucci, Tracie Akerhielm and Jeff Miller. 

The trails stayed in amazing shape all day long and our use of a cupless racing system kept the trails in phenomenal shape as well. Many local running groups like Galloway Running, Houston Area Trail Runners, Team RWB, Runners High, USA FIT Cypress, Golden Triangle Strutters and many other teams came out to support the event. With over 315 registered runners for this 1st year race we had an amazing day on the trails of Stephen F Austin State Park. 

The final results for the top 5 men and women in the Shootout (5k, 10k and 13.1 Combined) are all below. 

Male Overall Winners

  1. Cal Neff (Team TROT) 2:08:19
  2. Jeff Ball ( Team TROT) 2:18:14
  3. Daniel Bucci 2:31:10
  4. Jeff Miller (Team TROT) 2:31:45
  5. Kenneth Latterle 2:37:23

Female Overall Winners

  1. Kate Papenberg 2:23:05
  2. Tracie Akerhielm (Team TROT) 2:26:05
  3. Melinda Coen (Team TROT) 2:52:26
  4. Becky Nesbitt 2:56:55
  5. Leslie Cislo 2:57:53

Thank you again to all of our amazing sponsors who support our events and provide great products for our runners. Altra Running, Bearded Brothers, Hammer Nutrition, Epic Bar, Rhythm Superfoods, Mark Kenney and Associates, Trail Toes, Victory Sportsdesign, Team RWB, Luke's Locker, Trail Runner, Road ID and Spring Action Photos for taking pictures.

Here is a link to the pictures taken with Spring Action Photos 

Here are the free photos we took on facebook or dropbox

We look forwarding to seeing you all at our next race the Brazos Bend 50 on April 25th