Trans-Pecos Ultra features a challenging 165-mile (265 km) course. Each stage offers spectacular views by day and unparalleled starlit skies at night. Be prepared for endless hills and plenty of rocky single-track. This portion of Texas is not flat – the average elevation is about 4200ft (1280 m). You can run, walk, or even crawl, just don’t give up. Trans-Pecos Ultramarathon is sanctioned by USA Track & Field which evidences a commitment to follow national and international rules and regulations of endurance sports and to provide a safe environment for the participants and spectators.
Stage 1: 10KM (start at 5 PM/cut-off at 8PM)
Designed to work the kinks out after the journey to Big Bend, the prologue will prepare you for the miles ahead over the next week. So, strap on your gear and go for a little stroll. The prologue course showcases much of what is to come this week and is on varied terrain; single track, loose rock screes, dry river beds, two short hills, and a gravel road to your first remote camp where our team of volunteers will officially welcome you home at the tepee race village! P.S. Tonight is the first night you’ll be using one of your meals too!
STAGE 2: 42.8KM (start at 8AM/cut-off at 8PM)
Stage 2 travels to the easternmost area of Big Bend Ranch and showcases ‘El Solitario’ – a geologic impact crater consisting of hardened lava and rock. After a section of single track and gravel road, the course opens up with several vistas in all directions until reaching Los Alamos and turning south on the hilly dirt road through Paso al Solitario (4600ft) towards McGuirks’s Tanks. Continuing through undulating hills, the course travels on a remote, and rugged single-track trail on the outer loop of the laccolith passing old windmills and ranch pens for livestock. Once you reach the gravel river bed and old ranch road, you’ll continue northeast until reaching camp at Tres Papalotes where an old residence still remains. Camp here is inside the remnants of an old volcano and complete with a livestock tank – aka desert swimming pool!
STAGE 3: 42KM (start at 8AM/cut-off at 8PM)
Stage 3 starts in the inner Solitario loop trail which is mostly eroded flatlands and hills with some rocky sections. Continue until reaching McGuirks Tank’s and onto the rugged road towards Jacksons’ Pens where cowboys still hang their hats when travelling through. Next, the course continues on both single track and rugged ranch road before entering the technical descent into Fresno Canyon, which of course you have to climb out of too! Once up and out of the canyon on the ranch road, the last section is comprised of mostly undulating single track and main dirt road until reaching a flat section of land near the Big Bend Ranch State Park airstrip with vistas all around, then into Ojo Escondido camp.
STAGE 4: 42KM (start at 8AM/cut-off 8PM)
4-Stage Awards Ceremony: 8:15PM
Stage 4 highlights the varied and often very technical terrain in Big Bend straight away. From soft sand and jagged rocks to gravel river beds, loose cliff-side rocks, and packed gravel roads, you’ll pass through the Llano down towards what used to be two large waterfalls. As you begin entering the canyon towards the Fresno Cascades there may be some water still flowing. Stage 4 has a challenging, 1500ft descent and climb between miles 10-16 and then slowly gains in elevation to the finish at Ojo Escondido campsite. Sunrise here should provide an amazing burning red and orange hue on the horizon.
STAGE 5: 43.5KM (start at 8AM/cut-off at 8PM)
Stage 5 is one of the best – tough and spectacular! Although the course hovers between 4000 and 4500ft there are some steep sections with old, jagged volcanic rock. Starting towards the Sauceda Ranger Station, the course continues onto Los Ojitos single track south towards Papalote Llano and further on the rugged road until reaching Javelina Pens towards Rancherias. From this point, the course continues briefly through a dry river bed and then the challenging traverse along the mountainside trail with a steep climb onto the Upper Guale Mesa. Following north-northwest along the rugged road the course gains elevation steadily and travels past Panther Mountains to the east and Oso Mountain to the west which is the highest peak in the park. Camp at Agua Adentro Pens features many corrals and a beautiful mountain lookout.
STAGE 6: 90KM (starts Friday, 8AM (group) & 10AM (leaders) cut-off Saturday 2PM)
Stage 6 is the long stage and is named Solitario, meaning “alone” in Spanish for good reason. Remember, this is your adventure, so revel in the natural wonders around you and get ‘er done! Overall, the stage is on varied terrain as to be expected through rugged road, gravel river bed, rocky single track, and grassy flatland with a 1000ft decent at mile 35 and continuous down-graded hills to the finish. The start travels on an overgrown single-track section so be careful of the cactus! Heading westward towards the Bofecillos Canyons big mountain vistas can be seen. Once the Botella Private Residence is reached, the course traverses a long section of Terneros Creek which may have wet gravel and multiple wet boulder crossings. Once at Leyva Dome a hilly and step section follows to reach Yedra and Papalote Colorado vistas and onto the main road again. The course now travels east past the Sauceda Ranger station where we started before turning southeast in The Llano section towards Papalote Chilicote and then onto Rincon mountain, just before the steep descent down into Fresno Canyon. Be sure to look in front of you to see “The Solitario” range with The Flatirons right in front. From here – sleeping at designated checkpoints is allowed. Travelling through the Fresno canyon is over a gravel river bed, passing by the oldest homestead, Crawford Smith House, and then through the flowing water at Fresno Cascade. The river bed descent continues until reaching the Whit Roy and Buena Suerte Mines checkpoints, and the final stretch into Lajitas is on old ranch roads until reaching “civilization”. Think you’re ready for this adventure?
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