Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Louisiana Trails 50k

The Louisiana Trails 50k was located in Shreveport, Louisiana in Eddie Jones Park. It is listed as 98% single track trails that winds around a Chimpanzee Haven, a facility where Chimpanzees have been rescued, and are living out the remainder of their lives.

The event also hosted a full marathon and half marathon. The course was a loop of 13.1 miles, so the 50k'ers ran two loops and a special loop at the end to complete the 50k distance.

I attended the event with David McCaghren and Gary Garson. We stayed in Bossier City the night before, and ate in a great place called Notini's. If you are ever in that area, this is a restaurant that is highly recommended. I stuffed myself with Spaghetti and meat sauce...if I had it all to do over again, I would order the smaller plate, because the meal they brought out to me would have fed an entire African village.

The park was about 30 miles away from our hotel, so we left about six to get to the race. When we arrived, the energy was already in the air. We jogged around, got loose, received our instructions and I love the way the race started. There was no firing of a gun, just the race directer shouting out: Go! Off we went.

David and I stayed together for the first 13.1 mile loop. We were passing people along the route, and I was really enjoying the nice pace, and the rollercoaster hills. There were a lot of roots on this trail, especially since the recent rains washed away a lot of the topsoil, exposing even more roots than normal. At one point, while struggling with my water bottle, and trying to open a Hammer Gel pack, I hit a low lying tree branch, missed the beginning of a small downhill, and tumbled head over heels. I did a nice roll, though, and was back up on my feet quickly enough.

We aproached the end of the first loop in 2:30, and I was quite pleased with my effort at this point. I had to make a pitstop at a restroom before I started the second loop, while David continued on. As I began my second loop, I turned the wrong way and spent about 20 minutes trying to find my way...not to mention trying to negotiate a hill that was pretty steep while I was trying to figure out where I was supposed to go. That's when I met an ER doctor, who had turned the wrong way, as well. Three or four other runners came down the hill and we all were lost for awhile, until we retraced our steps and found the original trail again.

The second 13.1 mile loop was not as kind as the first, as I decided to run much more conservatively. The roots seemed to be more evident, and I tripped and fell at least three times, each time I hit the ground, my calves would cramp up a bit more than the time before. The doctor I was running with was ready to quit, but I talked him into staying with it. We began to walk the uphill sections and run the downhills and the more runnable areas. This was a pretty hilly course, with a lot of rollercoaster hills, and some sizeable ups and downs.

As I finished the second loop, I realized I was not going to break 7 hours because of the 20 minutes I lost while trying to find my way at the beginning of the second loop. But, I ate a bag of jellybeans, drank some more Cytomax and finished the last 5 miles pretty strong, despite running the last 11 miles with major cramps in my feet and calves. I finished in 7:18.

All in all, I loved this event. It was a hard course, but I love a good challenge, and I'm hoping it was a good workout for Bandera in January, as I am running the 50k there, next.

My friend Gary came in somewhere around 7:42, and David had a great run on that course, for a finishing time of 6:30, which was pretty good for such a tough course. I highly recommend this trail race...it was well organized, and the money went to finance missions work in Central America. Good times!

Jerry Hollingsworth

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