The 2nd Annual Ozark Hillbilly 10 Mile Backroad National Championship
On an unusually pleasant January day, the town of Oark, Arkansas grew ten fold as city folk from all over the country started to appear. Sporting attire unlike the local fashion of advantage camo, these folks were wearing colors that could be seen from miles away. These were hardbodies ready for the Arkansas death march. This was the 2nd Annual Ozark Hillbilly 10 Mile Backroad National Championship! The championship is an invitational in which only the most exemplary physical specimen are chosen to compete. You think you can compete, you wanna try running against these guys?
What Is The OHB10?
A gathering of friends from all over, getting to shed their winter blues and come together to punish their bodies. From their legs to livers, these folks arrive to compete for the coveted trophies of antlers nailed to barn wood. With more prestige than the Stanley or Vince Lombardi, these trophies unlock bragging rights for an entire year.
OHB10 Race Day
As the sun crested the top of the Ozark hills delivering a golden hue of warmth, runners began to congregate. Since this is Arkansas, runners were outnumbered by dogs 3 to 1 and, half were pregnant. As some runners took the 10 Mile Backroad National Championship more seriously, others were already guzzling Arkansas sulfur water (Busch Light) in order to prepare their bodies and minds for the day’s challenges.
Wielding a pump-action shotgun like any proper native, the grand poobah of the event, Scott Swearingen rallied all the runners together for the start. Scott, being a distance runner himself would sit this race out after a tragic accident of turning one’s ankle in the days prior. As the start sequence neared, the tension grew so much that it could be cut with a knife, instead, it was blasted by a 12ga batch of bird shot.
Are They Gonna Run The Entire Way Like That?
The runners took off in what looked like a sprint, this writer being severely unfit happened to realize that these people were simply pacing themselves. The course was 10 miles of steep elevation gain as the runners were climbing to the ridge crest. The top three runners Jason, Scotty, and Kelly were so fast that it took all my semi-sober skills on a quad to simply catch them without running over other racers.
So Much Nectar!
Running 10 miles is hard enough, running 10 miles uphill the entire way is for the tough. Running 10 miles uphill while pregnant, is the stuff of legends. Some of the Coloradans were enjoying the lower elevation lung nectar as some of the sea level Californians and flat-landers were gulping like goldfish. It was a proper race and people took it seriously. From wearing a Boy Scout uniform to a slew of All-American attire, this including stark white jorts and an American bandana that would make Bruce Springsteen jelly. Several Busch Light (Arkansas Sulfur Water) t-shirts were on display and although Busch Light was the beer of choice for the run, it was the Ozark hill gods nectar waiting for us after the race thanks to Ozark Beer Co.
Race Day Conditions
The racers had spread out causing havoc for the film crew but everyone was still chugging along like warriors. That January day had turned out to be an amazing treat for the racers as it was warm and with no wind. The course was still damp from rain days prior and so the dust was minimal. The road was relatively smooth or simply pavement by Ozark standards. The day was turning out to be spectacular.
Them Boys And Gals “r” Quick
As I made my way to the finish line to set up my cameras, the leader Jason had already finished! I, fortunately, had a camera around my neck in order to capture the moment. Soon after Scotty and Kelly had finished for the podiums. The fastest time – Jason – 61:59. That is 10 dirt road miles up hill both ways in two feet of snow. In the minutes following all the racers started making their way in. Laughing and conversating while cracking open a few, it was shaping up for this race to become a monster in a few year’s time.
Now We Feast!
As we made our way back to the Swearingen Compound, everyone was ready to get the food going. Hunter had delivered half a Jon boat full of crawfish and pork butt, while Levi had delivered a full tenderloin with a side of small explosives and rally firewood. As my brother and I drank our well-aged box-wine, we were then treated to a lopsided array of games. From KanJam to Basketball, we forgot that we were playing with people that did this kind of thing on a regular basis. We got destroyed (in more ways than one).
Storm’s A Comin
After we had the award ceremony and the winners took their place on the ankle breaking podium, we got buzzed by an unidentified flying craft (Sorry FAA) that waved their wings as they passed. As the fire in the pit grew to a size that would make Smokey the Bear anxious, the fireworks also came out. As we looked out over the rolling Ozark hills, the mass of dark clouds crept in with a great display of lightning and thunder. For the rain, I was ready with my Chillba hat and rain gear, for the party I came unprepared because all-day drinking wine and Ozark APA is not the best idea. Fortunately, the semi-sober brothers had set up our tent prior, to endure such an event and therefore were able to pass out (after some wrangling) in our dry accommodations of my Marmot Colfax. As the day was one for the books, so was the 2nd Annual Ozark Hillbilly 10 Mile Backroad National Championship. This is a small (for now) race that will only grow into an all out hoorah, or is that a hoot’nanny?