Runners! It’s time to dust off those shoes!
The seventh annual David’s Trail Endurance Run is officially kicking off in Mountain Home on Jan. 22. Running fans can compete in a 7k run, a 25k run, and a 50k run before finishing off the evening with pizza, beer, and live music by the Mellow Mountain Band.
The first race kicks off from the Rocking Chair Resort at 8 a.m.
“This is the seventh annual David’s Trail Endurance Run,” said Paul Gigliotti, race organizer, and owner of Pirate Perry Events. “The venue is at Rocking Chair Resort, so everything is out near Robinson Point. The whole David’s Trail itself follows the contours of the lake.”
David’s Trail was created in honor of David Floyd and his contributions to the Ozark areas. The trail, which follows the contour of Norfork Lake, is currently being expanded through the Trans Ozark Trail project, which seeks to connect trails from Fort Smith, Arkansas, to St. Louis, Missouri.
Once completed, the connected trails would cover nearly 700 miles worth of land. The project is being overseen by the Ozark Trail Association and Ozark Highlands Trail Association.
“The Trans Ozark Trail is basically a partnership with Arkansas and Missouri, and three different trail systems linking together to create one long trail,” said Jake Anderson, race organizer, and owner of Norfork Adventure Supply. “It goes from Lake Fort Smith in Western Arkansas to the Missouri line via the Ozark Highlands Trail. So, that’s one of your trail systems. David’s Trail is going to be the link, so that’s your second one that is going to take you to the Missouri state line, and then the Ozark Trail will go up to St. Louis.”
David’s Trail Endurance Run is broken down into seven phases. Phase 1 sees runners compete in a 7k race that starts at 8 a.m. at Rocking Chair Resort. All runners, including those participating in the 25k and 50k races, will finish the 7k loop before moving on to the next part of their race.
Phase 2 sees runners in the 25k and 50k races head to Panther Bay. Runners in the 25k will then head back to the finish line at Rocking Chair Resort. Those competing in the 50k will carry on past the bay to Phase 3, which will run across the 101 Bridge, before turning around again to complete Phase 4 by returning to Panther Bay.
Phase 5 will have the 50k runners return to Rocking Chair Resort. All runners must finish their race before 5 p.m.
“The 50k is one of the most challenging races in Arkansas,” Anderson said. “Mainly because the trail hugs the shore of Lake Norfork. It’s constantly going down to around lake level and then climbing to the ridges along the shore. We use the phrase ‘death by a thousand paper cuts.’ It’s no single big climb. It’s just climb after climb. It’s relentless.”
David’s Trail Endurance Run currently has slots left for those still wishing to join. Gigliotti and Anderson expect to have around 350 runners competing across all three races. The 25k race is the most popular because it provides a challenge without consuming much time out of a person’s life in training.
Gigliotti said Papa John’s would be providing pizza for runners and guests in attendance, and Norfork Brewing Company would provide drinks. The Mellow Mountain Band will play music as runners compete for the top spot throughout the day. Swag will also be available to runners attending the race.
Unlike previous years, there won’t be a payout to those that beat each race’s current record. Gigliotti said that money is being used to finish work on David’s Trail this year instead.
“People like it. They love hanging out,” Gigliotti said. “The years that the weather is nice, people will sit out all day long and watch runners come in. As a runner myself, it kind of means more or as much to have my fellow runners out there clapping for me when I cross the finish line. They know my pain. It’s cool. People like watching their friends come in. They like being watched come in and they’re sitting there with a beer and a pizza in their hands, and they get excited.”