Natural Bridge Caverns Trail Run 2023

The Natural Bridge Caverns Trail Run Half Marathon, presented by Personal Best Events, is suuuuch a cool race! 😎 It’s got a little bit of everything as far as terrain, there’s road, trail, loose gravel, hills, beautiful scenery… and it all starts in the belly of a cave! 💓

The half marathon start time is 7:am but there’s also a mandatory pre-race briefing so we arrived in plenty of time because if you miss the briefing, you are disqualified and must step down to either the 10k or 5K event.

Natural Bridge Caverns has very strict rules to protect the natural environment within the cavern so once everyone has been informed and all questions have been answered, runners line up by pace and make their way to the entrance of the cave.

The “Natural Bridge” is just above the entrance as we make our way single file down into the narrow pathways of the cavern.

The Start Line of the race is in Pluto’s Anteroom. GPS doesn’t work inside the cave so Personal Best Events must manually start each runner one by one about 8-10 seconds apart.

A quick start line selfie 🤳🏻 with Eric as we wait our turn to be released.

I’m next! Waiting for the “green light” to start!

We start out running through Chapel Hall and past Emerald Lake as we make our way through the cavern.

The largest room in the cavern, and one of the largest cavern chambers in Texas, is the Hall of the Mountain King. The path through this room is very steep. The humidity inside the cave along with several switchbacks makes for a very challenging climb! 🥵 But the views from both top and bottom are amazing! 💖

We had temps in the upper 30’s on race morning but the temperature inside the cavern is 70 degrees (and humid) so as we made our way out of the cavern there was a drastic and shocking drop in temperature!

After exiting the cave we begin the “road portion” of the race. (We can also start our Garmin now! ⌚️)

This year’s course had a few small changes. One of those is that we run around the front of the Natural Bridge Caverns Visitor Center (we used to run behind it) as we make our way through the parking lot and towards the road.

With such an early morning start, one of my absolute favorite sights outside of the caverns is the incredible sunrise as we make our way along the road and towards the trails. 🌅

Another slight change to this years half marathon course was just after crossing this cattle-guard we used to go right onto the trails but this time we continued on the road a bit longer.

Eric’s been training for the Bataan Memorial Death March so once outside of the caverns he added a 35 pound rucksack to ruck the trails. 🎒 I snapped a quick pic of him and wished him luck as I continued on the course. 🍀

The “roads” past that first cattle guard were dirt and gravel. They were winding and hilly but also peaceful and scenic.

There were signs, cones, flags in the trees and volunteers all along the VERY WELL MARKED course so getting lost was not an issue! 😊

This race was held just 3 days after extreme weather in our area. We had a hard freeze that left downed trees and lots of mud and puddles from melting ice. We had to tread carefully.

If there’s not loose rocks, cow poop and mud… is it even a trail run? 🤔

Being a part of the Texas Hill Country there are several hills on this course. But what goes up, must come down. As I attempted the steepest descent on the course, the soft dirt and the loose rocks suddenly shifted under my feet and I fell. HARD. 😖 Thankfully I was able to get up, dust myself off and continue. This was around the halfway point and there was an aid station with helpful volunteers at the bottom of the hill.

The hills and trails continued and so did I!

I loved running past these old abandoned structures on the course. They were nestled in these wide open grassy fields in what seemed like a canyon after running down several steep hills.

The mile 10 hill is THE BIG ONE. Of all of the hills on this course, this is by far the most challenging. It’s got the loose gravel and the soft dirt and by the time you climb your way to what seems like the top, it also has an auto-cam that takes a photo of your misery. 😧 But wait… there’s more. The trail then curves to the right and CONTINUES to climb. 😩

There’s loose cattle roaming the course as well. They seem unbothered but it’s still a bit intimidating to run past these large animals.

We completed this very challenging race and now it’s time to celebrate! 🥳

Natural Bridge Caverns has been busy expanding so the finish line has moved to the area just behind Discovery Village and they’ve added a new bridge/walkway connecting the two. They’re also working on another addition to the property that’s not yet completed. It ended up being a gorgeous day for the finisher festival and everyone got to enjoy delicious rice bowls from Thai Casa on Broadway. 🌞

My friend Lizzie was MC of the event and she did such an awesome job! 🎤

This race is also known for its beautiful sliced geode medals. They made great award medals for the Masters and age group winners. 🏆

I have now completed 5 Natural Bridge Cavern Trail Runs, three with Eric! It’s such a unique race and I hope to run many more!

All race participants received this finisher medal.🏅 …and bragging rights for completing this tough but beautiful trail adventure! 😎

#naturalbridgecaverns #halfmarathon #trailrun #personalbestevents #bibboards #halfcrazymamakris #runningblog #myjourney


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