PR – 2015 Cactus Rose 100

The 2015 communications team, for the running of the Cactus Rose 100, was supported on-air for 31 hours by five members of Hill Country REACT and one member of the Chaparral Amateur Radio Club.

CR100 has been a event on the public event schedule for 5 years now, with Hill Country REACT as the lead with participation from numerous individuals and organizations.  Our involvement with Tejas Trails is going on about 11 years, between the Bandera 100K and Cactus Rose 100.

Both events are held on the Hill Country State Natural Area in Bandera County Texas. Continued support and dedication from members of Hill Country REACT, Highland Lakes ARC, Chaparral ARC, Hill Country ARC and numerous individuals of various affiliations continue to make these events a communications success which bring awareness and appreciation to the Amateur Radio community.

 Hill Country State Natural Area is a 5,400 acre facility with over 34 miles of equestrian, hiking, biking and running trails from flat and smooth to 45 degree rocky climbs.

The environment and terrain at HCSNA creates numerous challenges for communications. Cell phone coverage is nearly non-existent with the average smart phone, the nearest permanent ham repeater is over 20 miles away and behind a range, and simplex vhf/uhf communications can be finicky.

At most events we deploy a portable repeater onsite, but due to the impending weather forecast the decision was made to work strictly simplex and not attempt this to expedite demobilization. At the remote aid stations, HT’s were supported by mobile units positioned nearby.

Net Control utilizes the old cook shack at the Group Lodge which has commercial power and emergency backup power is on standby. We have successfully experimented and deployed a cell booster system that allows us internet access to keep up with weather in real time and provides outside communications should emergency services be needed.

Also in the tool box is RMS Packet system, but again due to weather threats, was not deployed. All relays for tracking and health and welfare were done by voice, which is great training for possible emergency/disaster deployments. If you want to test your equipment and procedures, events at HCSNA or any other Ultra-Marathon are a good place to do it.

CR100 is completed in 4 25 mile loops, 2 clockwise, 2 counter-clockwise and uses the roughest trails and climbs in the park, and almost none of the flats. Billed as a event for experienced ultra-marathon runners, the web page quotes: “No Whiners, Wimps, or Wusses : A nasty rugged trail run Bonus Points for Blood, Cuts, Scrapes, & Puke “!

In a sense, the first part applies to our radio operators that volunteer also. Our communications team members are a different bunch for sure and have endured everything the runners have over the years. On top of having some of the roughest terrain in Ultra-Marathon events in the country, in 2015, the communications team, management, runners and crews were presented with a combination of rain and thunderstorms courtesy of a northern front, heavy influx of gulf moisture, and the remnants of Pacific Hurricane Patricia, which was the strongest Pacific Hurricane ever to make landfall.

This so-called perfect storm which effected all of south and central Texas with severe flooding, tornadoes and other damage, added to the difficult terrain with high winds, extreme rain (3.75 inches worth), lightning and MUD. Lot’s of Mud! We constantly monitored rainfall, creeks and such for possible flash flooding at numerous trail crossings on the course. Luckily we were spared the flooding.

Despite the extreme conditions, 26 of the 58 100-mile participants finished, with the winner coming in at 20 hours 18 minutes and 7 seconds. The last of the 100-milers came in just under cut-off at 35 hours 46 minutes and 17 seconds.

In the 50 mile event 74 started with 56 finishers, the winner coming in at 9 hours 47 minutes and 3 seconds. 11 relay teams started with 9 finishing.

Top relay team came in at 16 hours 53 minutes and 31 seconds.

Injuries were minor in nature, a few cases of dehydration, chemical imbalances and poor planning. I believe two individuals treated for hypothermia due to the wet and temperature drop in the early morning.

Circumstances did warrant a quick search by the communications / safety team of the non-manned aid stations and log books for a directionally challenged individual and questioning of other runners and crew members. The individual was verified to still be on course and in the hands of some fellow runners that knew where they were going. He showed up with his new friends about 3 hours later.

 Our next event at this facility will be on the 9 of January 2016 – the Bandera 100K is the largest in the area with up to 1000 runners in the various 25, 50 and 100k events.

The Bandera 100K requires a minimum of 25 radio volunteers to cover 5 aid stations, net control and various rover positions.

This is a 24 hour event with at least 22 hours covered under our communications. As stated, we need Amateur Radio Operators and do have positions for non-licensed individuals to assist with recording tracking and such. We are also responsible for parking and security patrols at the beginning of the event. If you are a equestrian and a ham, we surely can use you. Membership of any affiliated club/organization is not required. Also if you have a youth organization that needs community service hours, this is a great place to do it. If interested, contact Louis – K5STX at his Gmail account – k5stx10.

Thank You to our volunteers whose dedication to these events make it look easy.

Louis – K5STX
k5stx10 – Gmail


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