If you can’t decide between taking a camping trip or running a race this weekend, the Brazos Bend 50 can solve the dilemma. The race, which offers six distances ranging from 5 kilometers to 100 kilometers, takes place at one of the area’s premier camping venues, Brazos Bend State Park. The race is scheduled for Saturday, April 6.

The Brazos Bend 50 is part of the Trail Running Across Texas series, and takes place on some of the park’s hiking and horse trails. The trails are almost entirely flat (total elevation on the course is ten feet) and well maintained. The majority of the 15.8-mile loop used for the longer races is crushed granite.

Brazos Bend State Park, less than an hour south of Houston in Needville, is perhaps best known for its robust population of alligators, many of which hang out near the park’s trails. They typically don’t pose a threat to park visitors, as long as they’re given some space, and humans can outrun alligators. The gators have a burst of speed that makes them a threat on land for the first 20 or 30 yards, but slow down after that. They’re much faster in the water, so don’t expect to ever see a triathlon at Brazos Bend.

The shorter-distance races offer similar opportunities for alligator viewing, with both the 5K and 10K looping around Elm Lake, the park’s largest lake, and the 10K adding a loop around the nearby 40-Acre Lake. The races have a staggered start, with the longest distance, 100K, starting at 5:30 a.m., followed by the 50-mile race at 6:00 a.m., 50K at 7:00 a.m., 25K at 7:45 a.m., 10K at 8:30 a.m. and 5K at 9 a.m.

While the park and race site open at 4 a.m. on Saturday, due to limited parking participants and spectators are encouraged to camp out at the park, which has tent sites, cabins and shelters. Information on camping at Brazos Bend State Park is available at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks. Registration for the Brazos Bend 50 is open at trailracingacrosstexas.com.

Bernice Torregrossa: bernice92@aol.com.

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