In the Deep South, Down in the Heart of Texas, over yonder……well actually the location was south of Houston, Texas at a Texas State Park called Brazos Bend State Park. A local outfit called Pilates Powerhouse staged their second annual Brazos Bend Keep on Truckin’ trail races on January 8th, 2012. At 7:15 AM trail runners lined up for their turn at either 13.1 miles, 26.2 miles or 31.5 miles. As the runners surveyed the trail ahead of them their view was obscured by thick fog. And given that the trail race winds between two lakes teeming with alligators the runners probably were a bit nervous. However, in the history of Brazos Bend State Park there has never been an incident with the alligators involving the park visitors. As the race director awaited just ahead of the runners on his bike to lead the racers out, a beatiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner was sung by a young singer named Amanda Ney. At the sounding of the air horn the runners took off to enjoy the beautiful scenery, easy on the legs terrain and stocked water stops. Rounding past the west side of Elm Lake the leaders headed down Spillway trail towards 40 Acre lake. At mile 2 bathrooms and hydration kindly assured those who needed either or both. Continuing on around 40 Acre Lake the alligators kept a low but noticable profile. Rest assured, there is nothing like running past a 10 foot long alligator who is watching but floating slowing by you as you run by him. Back down spillway trail the trees cover the entire trail keeping the fog close to the ground. Soft footsteps on the crushed gravel trail lets all the senses of the runners focus on the terrain and scenery around them. Continuing onto the other side of Elm lake, one immediateley sees the small islands just about 50 yards from the trail. With a lifting of the fog runners begin to see the hundreds of alligators scattered all over the islands. This part of the race is where you can really enjoy the trails and everything else Brazos Bend State Park and the Keep on Truckin’ races have to offer. At the four and one-half mile point another water station greets the runners as well as the spectators who came to cheer on their favorite runner. Moving now at their normal pace the runners continue on out to the second half of the roughly figure eight shaped loop. At the six and one-half mile point another hydration station designated the windmill station, the runners are greeted with a warm and friendly welcome from the station volunteers and two young boys. After a brief chat, a few jokes, some encouragement and drink, the runners settle in for an out and back tract that also includes another hydration station manned by a group of volunteers from Brazos Bend State Park. After the out and back distance and back at the windmill hydration station again the course splits.The 31.5 milers take a beautiful but challenging loop while the 13.1 milers and 26.2 miles head back to finish their race, or finish the first of two loops. Meanwhile, as the fog slowly lifted the runners then faced a continuous changing of the weather. For the next few hours the runners experienced sun, wind, warmth, stillness, some rain and then combinations of such. As the race progressed the pace slowed, the converstions extended at the hydrations stations and the alligators continued to observe the runners and park visitors. With a race limit of eight hours for those in the 31.5 mile category only one small problem occured. The race director made a decision on one runner that determined she could not continue to finish the race on the designated course. This runner was not happy, a few cuss words flew but she continued on back to the finish area able to run around Elm Lake and finish her distance. As the race results and group age awards were being handed out the volunteer race crew cooked up burgers and dogs which went well with the fruit, bagels and drinks made available to runners and spectators. All in all the racers were happy and they were able to tell their friends that they survived the distance and the alligators at the Brazos Bend Keep on Truckin’ trail races.