The Brazos Bend 100 (BB100) is a late-year annual event that qualifies for the prestigious the Western States 100 and in the past, the UTMB World Series as well. The sellout event offers 4-course options to 900 lucky registrants: 100-mile, 100k, 26.2-mile marathon, and 13.1-mile half-marathon. (New in 2023, the 50M distance has been replaced with a 100k event, and the marathon and half marathon have moved to Sunday.) What makes this event truly distinctive, however, isn’t just the terrain—it’s the wildlife. Sharing the trail with the park’s resident American Alligators adds a touch of exhilarating wilderness to the race. The event is produced by Trail Racing Over Texas and is considered one of the Best Trail Running Events in the South Central region.
Event & Course Info
The flat BB100 course through Brazos Bend State Park has a variety of terrain between hard crushed rock, soft trails under the canopy, and horse trails. Only one hill is 10 feet, so it moves fast, and the three longest races are UTMB qualifiers. This year, the course has been optimized with a new connection from Elm Lake to the Nature Center, minimizing two-way traffic and road crossings, enhancing safety, and ensuring a more accurate race distance. Given the time of year, participants are invited to wear holiday costumes, and the top 3 best costumes receive comped entry to any future solo race on the schedule.
As dawn breaks on Saturday, the Brazos Bend 100 mile contenders will toe the line at 6:00 AM, embarking on a journey of 6 loops, each spanning 16.7 miles, through varied landscapes. Runners of the 100-kilometer race, starting at 6:45 AM, will tackle a 5-mile loop followed by four 14.2-mile loops, bypassing the Hale Lake segment that the 100-milers face. Marathoners and half-marathoners, with their races kicking off on Sunday, will navigate a 13.1-mile loop that focuses on the picturesque settings of 40 Acre Lake and Sawmill without venturing into Horseshoe Lake or Hale Lake territory.
Support along the way is generous. Four fully stocked aid stations, strategically placed throughout the course, offer everything from hydration to energizing eats and medical supplies—self-sufficiency in hydration is a must, though, as there are no cups provided. The aid stations serve as oases of support, spaced roughly every 3 to 6 miles apart, depending on your chosen race distance. The Start/Finish Main Aid Station at Elm Lake Pavilion is particularly lively, serving as a hub for runners, crews, and spectators to gather, refuel, and share in the communal spirit of ultrarunning.
Pacers are allowed for the longest races and can begin after 50% of the course has been completedFor those aiming to complete the 100 miles, buckles await, while medals will be the reward for half marathon and marathon finishers. And for every runner at Brazos Bend 100, the race against the clock is paramount, with the final cutoff for all races on Sunday at 3:00 PM—33 hours for the 100-mile, 32 hours and 15 minutes for the 100k, 8 hours for the marathon, and 7 hours and 15 minutes for the half marathon.
Area Accommodations & Things to Do
The most convenient accommodations for Brazos Bend 100 runners would be to camp on site at Brazos Bend State Park or across the park at Brazos Bend RV & Mud Park which also offers an open field for primitive camping. Located under an hour outside of Houston, there are a few towns nearby such as Rosenberg that have hotels – Hampton Inn, Fairfield Inn, and the Home2Suites. For those that prefer a more home-like experience, there are many vacation rentals in the area that suit a variety of needs from ranch homes to cabins.
The culinary scene around Brazos Bend State Park is characterized by down-home Texas fare, featuring BBQ joints, Tex-Mex staples, and local diners serving hearty American comfort food, providing the perfect fuel for outdoor adventurers. Local favorites include Drini Pizza, the Open Range, and Bayou Boys.
As the Texan autumn paints the landscapes with cooler tones and milder temperatures, Brazos Bend State Park becomes a haven for outdoor athletes seeking adventure. Nestled just south of Houston, this park offers a diverse range of activities tailored to the tastes of nature enthusiasts and fitness aficionados alike. Paddling down the Brazos River or exploring the park’s numerous lakes offers a tranquil yet engaging activity. Kayaking here in November is particularly delightful due to the mild weather and the migratory birds that can be spotted along the banks. Whether you’re looking for a vigorous workout or a peaceful paddle amidst nature, kayaking at Brazos Bend provides a perfect counterbalance to the intensity of trail running.
For those who prefer two wheels, the Live Oak Trail presents an excellent mountain biking experience. This trail is a mixed-use path, offering a more challenging terrain with its twists and turns through the park’s wooded areas. November’s dry conditions ensure a fast ride over the compacted trails, and cyclists can enjoy the thrill of the ride while still being able to appreciate the natural beauty of the oak savannas and the quiet waters of the Brazos River.
Other Best in Class Trail running events that take place in Texas include the XTERRA ATX Trail Run which is part of the XTERRA Trail Run World Series, in addition to the Austin Rattler Run from Life Time Events a Leadville Race Series event and Leadville 100 qualifier.
For the multi-sport athletes out there, another top rated event held in Texas is the Gravel Locos Hico from the Gravel Locos Productions team, one of the Best Gravel Cycling Events in the South Central region, while one of the premier Road Cycling Events in the South Central region, L’Etape San Antonio which is part of the L’Etape Event Series, is also held in-state. The Austin Rattler MTB is one of the Best Mountain Bike Events in the South Central region.
The Western States 100 is the grandaddy of ultra-running events. It is an epic 100-mile trail run from Olympic Valley to Auburn, CA, in one day on the last weekend of June. It is the world’s oldest 100 trail race, starting in 1974 as one of the ultimate endurance tests. Over the course, runners will climb more than 18,000 feet and descend 23,000 feet. See the dedicated Western States Endurance Run website for details on the lottery process, training, support, and volunteer opportunities. Participants must qualify for the race within two years and enter the lottery. If you are selected as part of the lottery, you are officially sent details to register within two weeks. If not completed in time, the registration will be available to runners on the waitlist of 50-75 people.
UTMB World Series is the ultimate global trail running series uniting the sport’s biggest stars and amateur runners through a leading international event series in the most stunning locations. The UTMB World Series gives all trail runners a chance to experience UTMB events worldwide, with 37 events taking place across Asia, Oceania, Europe, and the Americas. It is the only place runners can begin their quest to UTMB Mont-Blanc, home of the prestigious UTMB World Series Finals. The UTMB World Series integrates three levels of events:
- UTMB World Series Finals
- UTMB World Series Majors
- UTMB World Series Events
To qualify to enter the lottery for Finals or Major events, you must collect a “Running Stone” by finishing qualifier events in the 20k, 50k, 100k, or 100M categories. Only 1 Running Stone acquired in the past two years is mandatory to enter the lottery. Running Stones are cumulative, have no expiration date, and each Running Stone gives you an additional chance to be drawn. Collecting Running Stones is the only way to access regular runners’ UTMB World Series Finals. Discover the 25 events that will allow you to collect Running Stones this year to enter the UTMB Mont-Blanc lottery from next year onwards here.