Local women gather to run 150 miles
Outback in the Ozarks runs through north Arkansas
Outback in the Ozarks is an overnight endurance relay that challenges participants in the spirit of teamwork and fun — and endurance.
The race begins in Eureka Springs, Ark., and winds through 205 miles of the scenic “Ozark Outback,” finishing up near Fayetteville, Ark.
Outback in the Ozarks’ mission is to bring people together to accomplish something great that they could never do alone. They provide a race experience that prioritizes secondary roads, single track trails and scenic rural routes. The course that winds through the Ozark Outback and 5 State Parks.
Tressame Holtzman, of Cassville, Fresh Legs Run Club team captain, said it is an ultra running relay race that goes over 200 miles.
“There are three different races that you can do in the one race,” Holtzman said. “The 200-mile relay, one day 65-mile relay or the out and back challenge, which is what we decided to do. It was 150 miles that was broken into four legs for six runners, which means there are six runners and they each ran four times.”
Holtzman said by doing that challenge, they actually ran more miles than those participating in the 200-mile challenge.
“In the 200-mile challenge, you have 12 people running on your team,” Holtzman said. “With the 150-mile challenge you just have the six team members.”
Holtzman said the Fresh Legs Run Club team consisted of herself, Amanda Winfrey, Carmen Stehlik, Kelsey Fields, Tina Mills and Kayla Ragsdale.
Fresh Legs Run Club was sponsored by Superior Metal, Freedom Bank, JH Rocker Cattle, KJA Cattle Co., TH Rogers, Gary Fields, Law offices of Blake B. Fields, Brice’s Towing and Hutchens Construction.
“Sponsors generously donated monies to help with race registration, shirts, overnight lodging, as well as reflective vests, cases of water and an auto hitch rack,” Holtzman said. “We didn’t do this for a charity or a business.”
According to Holtzman, what she is trying to create is a group for women who can come together in any athletic ability, run together and just be themselves.
“We started this group of seven people, and we will progress from there,” Holtzman said. “I always wanted to run this race but didn’t think I would have the ability to actually do it.”
Holtzman said one day she put a post on Facebook asking, “Does anyone want to run with me?” By the end of the evening, she had four team members.
“That is how the Fresh Legs Run Club was started. We were doing it, but the fun was just beginning,” she said. “This was our first one together. It is basically about getting together women, mothers, educators and just running. We had the opportunity to push our limits by running this challenge.”
Holtzman and her team ran the Out and Back challenge that was approximately 150 miles. The team started at 7 a.m at Lake Leatherwood in Eureka Springs and ran to Withrow Springs State Park, which was 76.35 miles, on Oct. 26.
They then traveled via car between Withrow Springs State Park to Lake Fort Smith Friday night to start again Saturday morning at 7 a.m at Lake Fort Smith, going to Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park, which is 68 miles. Each runner ran two different times. The race consisted of single track trail, dirt, gravel and some asphalt roads.
“The challenge had a lot of camaraderie,” Holtzman said. “Everybody had to work together to stay safe. We had runners on country roads in the dark.
“I am so intrigued about these things, so I just search events. The next thing I want to do is run a 100-mile ultra.”
Holtzman said the Out and Back Challenge is a run-relax-run relay format for runners who want to get in some serious miles without running during the night.
“Each runner would run between 6-9 miles to a exchange point,
where the next runner would be waiting for the baton to be passed to them,” Holtzman said. “The race official at each exchange would log the runner’s time, and obtain their initials for verification.
“There were times when I was afraid for our active runners, due to running on highway-like conditions in the dark.”
According to Holtzman, runners were required to wear reflective vests an hour before dusk and an hour after dawn, as well as on
any single track legs due to youth deer season in northwest Arkansas.
“I had been dreaming about doing this or other relay races like the Outback in the Ozarks, but never thought I could manage to score a team or to find time to prepare,” Holtzman said. “My son is a little over two years old, and being away from him even overnight is heart breaking at times.”
According to Holtzman, six mothers, several months of training and planning, one new run club, 39 hours, four legs each and not nearly enough cheeseburgers equals 150 glorious mountain miles.
“We had a blast,” she said. “Who’s ready for 2019? There is so much more to our achievement. I can’t express how grateful I am to this group of amazing ladies. It is so unbelievably difficult to juggle, children, jobs and husbands, then, to add friendship and exercise on top of that.”
Holtzman said the encouragement each of the team members shared with each other can move mountains.
“I hope that Fresh Legs Run Club can develop into an organization,” Holtzman said. “And I hope we can share that kind of encouragement that we all experienced with other women.”