Fitness Friday

Happy Trails: The Off-Road Running Events You Don’t Want to Miss This Summer

It's tempting to ditch your running shoes in favor of a swimsuit, but trail running can keep your mileage exciting all summer long.

By Andrea Park April 8, 2016

12898179 1774686952765930 1100306688272272652 o vdkinx

Runners at Brazos Bend State Park.

"Marathon season is over, it's hotter than Hades, and frankly, I'm just bored of my routine." Ah, these are the classic symptoms of runner’s blues, a seasonal condition that many runners fall victim to as temperatures begin to climb. While it may be tempting to ditch your running shoes in favor of your swimsuit (and a cold beer), we think that trail running might just be the antidote to keep your mileage exciting all summer long (and make that beer guilt-free). Luckily, the Houston area has a killer lineup of trail races in almost every distance. Trust us; you won’t miss the sizzling asphalt.

Brazos Bend 50

April 16 at Brazos Bend State Park
Distances: 10k, 25k, 50k and 50 miles
Trail technicality: beginner

Brazos Bend is a great introduction to trails for those who traditionally run on roads. The course is flat and non-technical with a distance for every level of mileage junkie. Plus, the park’s abundance of wildlife (including alligators) provides plenty of scenery to help you take your mind off the miles. Camping is available for those who prefer to make a weekend out of it.


May 7 at Pace Bend Park
Distances: 5k, half-marathon and marathon
Trail technicality: moderate

This is a race where you won’t have to choose between your swimsuit and your running shoes. Just a few hours outside Houston, you’ll be surrounded by Lake Travis as you traverse the technical Hill Country trails. Cool off afterwards by taking a dip at one of the park’s swimming beaches.

El Chupacabra de Houston

June 4 at Lake Houston Wilderness Park
Distances: 5k and 10k fun run
Trail technicality: beginner

Bite-sized distances and one of the best post-race parties make this event perfect for the casual but adventurous trail runner. The twist? The race takes place at night, making headlamps or flashlights a must in order to ensure good footing on the trails. Runners are treated to a barbecue dinner and local Karbach beer at the finish line.

XTERRA Magnolia Hills

July 10 at Magnolia Hill Ranch
Distances: 6k, 11.5k and 21k
Trail technicality: beginner

Though it’s a relatively short drive (by Houston standards) from the city, Magnolia Hills is still far enough away to make you forget you’re near the fourth largest metropolis in the U.S. Experience the beautiful Piney Woods on a fast course that’s suitable for beginner trail runners. After you make your way around the private lake to the finish line, stick around for lunch and a cold brew.

Capt’n Karl’s Night Time Series

June 25 at Pedernales Falls; July 16 at Muleshoe Bend; Aug. 6 at Colorado Bend and Aug. 27 at Reveille Peak Ranch
Distances: 10k, 30k and 60k
Trail technicality: moderate to difficult

A summer favorite among trail runners, the Capt’n Karl series offers up a challenging quadruple threat that takes place on rugged terrain after sunset (headlamps required). All within a 3.5 hour driving radius of Houston, the races offer a variety of distances including an ultra-marathon option. Those who dare to run all four 60k races can earn the elusive yet highly-coveted belt buckle prize. Camping is available and recommended, due to the late finishing times of the events.

Show Comments