Hell's Hills 2014 Race Report
Heat has always been the enemy at Hell's Hills. Texas in April is generally somewhere between warm and unbearably hot and this course out in
Smithville only exacerbates the issue.
Racers do somewhere between one and 3 loops on a 17 mile course (depending on chosen distance) and the heat rises with each loop. 50 Milers are sent off in the darkness at 5AM to help combat the heat, but many don't finish till the afternoon or later regardless. This year was an exception to the rule however as racers woke up to overcast skies and a light breeze blowing. This continued throughout the morning and afternoon giving racers a break from the usual heat. The ladies especially responded well to the conditions, setting new course records in the 25K and 50M.
The men fared well with La Sportiva Ambassador Ryan Woods defending his course record from challengers and finishing within 30 seconds of his previous record. A fast crew in the men's 25K started the pace out fast, cruising through what race director Joe Prusatis calls the toughest part of the course significantly faster than the previous years. One by one racers fell off pace, with Ryan left out in the front. Callum Neff (Altra) came in second with La Sportiva Ambasssador Justin Ricks rounding out the top 3. 17 year old local Ford Smith put in an impressive performance and gave the elite racers a serious run for their money as well. Local lady Tracie Akerheilm took home the handmade rooster for the women and set a new course record in the process.
Overall, chilly conditions kept the racers happy and helped their performance. Family stayed around the finish line covered in blankets supporting racers in the longer distances as they came through on their laps. Racers in the longer distances loged completion percentages over 90%, proving how much of a difference the heat can make out in TX.
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