On January 14, 2007 the 3rd annual marathon is planned in Big Bend
National Park. This is one area of the country where cell phones don't work
at all, so all communications is via ham radio. It takes about 24 amateur
operators to support this event. I have co-ordinated the ham operators for
the last two years, and we usually have about equal support form the locals
there and from San Antonio and Austin.
If you would like to join this event (or consider it), please let me
know and I'll put you on my email list for further news. For the present,
you can see the info on the race at bigbend50.com.
Those who like the Big Bend area have a great time at this event.
We usually leave SA and arrive in Big Bend on Friday. We have a comm. check
Saturday afternoon, and the race is Sunday. Race HQ is in Rio Grande
Village, a camp ground on the East side of the park. There is only camping
there (no motel rooms). There are rooms at the Lodge in the Chisos - about
20 miles away, and they are nice and a little pricey (about $100 a nite) and
there are rooms in Terlingua/Study Butte, which is about 50 miles away.
Most of us return to SA on Monday, but some stay a few extra days out there.
We usually have group meals Friday nite, Saturday morning and evening, and
there is a victory party Sunday that volunteers are invited to. Rio Grande
Village is at about 1700 feet ASL, so the weather isn't as bitter as it is
in the Chisos (which are about 5000 feet ASL). The average is around
freezing at night, and in the 60s during the day - but this is desert
country - not that many average days.
It is a gorgeous area - usually the weather is nice, but it can be
anything that time of year. A photographer's paradise - bring cameras!!
The organizers and runners are great people to work with and are all out
there to have a good time. Usually, those who want to camp in the group
camping area with the HQ staff can do so for free.
Ordinarily, I wouldn't bother anyone with notice this far in
advance, but a trip of this magnitude does require some planning. So think
about it and let me know. In past years, we have used 2M, and the Big Bend
ARC crew has brought in a couple of portable, linked repeaters which give us
excellent coverage out there. We have attempted hf or simplex backup, but
haven't done much with it. The run is capped at 200 runners. Last year
there were about 120. So we'll probably reach the cap this year. Much of
the race is on roads that are accessible by 4 wd or high clearance 2wd
vehicles. Small parts of it are 4 wd only. These trails are not maintained
this time of year, so if there are heavy rains in the late fall, some of the
roads may be impassable - or at least a challenge to the 4wd crews.