In June I participated in my first ever trail race, a hot, intense, and extremely hilly 10K in the forests of Lincoln Parish Park. As I ran (and walked) this extremely tough course (considering there are no hills in south Louisiana whatsoever), I thought, “I am NEVER doing this again.” Then, when I got to the finish line, I realized I was the 2nd female overall. The thrill immediately replaced the torture of the race and I started looking into the next time I could do a trail race with the race organizers, Forge Racing.
A trail race close to home was scheduled for this past Saturday, so I decided to sign up about a month ago. The race was to be held on the grounds of a ziplining/tubing company along the Amite River, and the race’s preview stated, “Gonna be so awesome. Gonna run you through sand, water, over trees, through shallow lakes. Yeah baby!”
It rained heavily on Friday so I knew it was going to be extra muddy and wet; I prepared by bringing a towel, some yoga pants and T-shirt to change into, flip flops to change into, and I wore an old pair of running shoes. I wish I had trail running shoes but oh well!
Packet pick-up was Friday at The Backpacker.
On Saturday morning it was dreary but rain-free, and I drove 30 minutes to the race location, arriving shortly before start time. Trail races are so interesting (and kind of scary) because you’re running through a trail but a lot of times it’s not obvious where your next turn is and it’s easy to get confused. In fact, the reason I got 2nd place instead of 3rd at the June race was because a girl who had been ahead of me almost the whole race got mixed up on the course. Of course, to make this easier, there were orange flags and ties to direct your path. I ended up being alone a lot of the time in the June race, but that experience helped me to not be so afraid this time around (of getting lost).
The organizer summarized the course to us, which was a double loop. He said that there had been one part where we were supposed to run through water, but it had risen to be chest-high, so he’d worked the course around it instead.
They counted down to 1 and yelled “Go!” Everyone started off and almost immediately there was a traffic jam as people had to slowly traverse down a slope that was already muddy and quite steep. I was in the back of the group so I had to wait awhile, and pretty soon after we had to climb back up that slope so there was another traffic jam.
Not more than .6 miles in we had to run through calf-high water, and my shoes were soaked. It surprisingly wasn’t as heavy as I thought it would be. So we were mostly running on dirt/mud but there were sandy areas along the water that we had to run along, which was very hard in wet shoes! We had to climb over a downed tree branch at a couple of points and there was lots of brush. I am surprised I wasn’t more worried about critters but I guess I just didn’t think about it.
I was running along with several other people about 2-2.5 miles in when we came across almost waist-high water. The flags indicated we had to go through there, and there was no other way around it, so we all slowly went down into the water and crossed the area.
Not 2 minutes later, we came across another water bed we had to cross, and it was CHEST HIGH. I immediately began freaking out, which would be the main reason I didn’t take a picture. Others assured each other that our Garmins could handle the water, but I had my cell phone in my Spi Belt, and I knew it was definitely not going to be able to survive it. There was no way around this though, unless I wanted to turn around and go back and essentially quit.
I am short so a couple of steps brought the water up to my neck. I was holding my Spi Belt above my head, and using my other arm to doggy paddle and get me along. It was pretty scary there for a minute – I could see my phone dipping below the water and dying forever. Mercifully, I made it across without getting it wet.
Thankfully, we had to pass by the race organizers’ set-up to complete the 2nd loop (and we were going to have to go through that chest-high water again!) so I was able to drop off my phone there and enjoy the 2nd loop. The organizer was really apologetic, saying he hadn’t known that part had gotten so high. Honestly I would have thoroughly enjoyed it if not for the worry of my phone.
We did the 2nd loop, and I was by myself for some but there were several parts where you really just had to walk because it was SO muddy and slippery that you really couldn’t get your footing to run. So I’d catch up with people in front of me, and people behind would catch up with me. I had to use branches and other things to help me climb some slopes but I didn’t fall once! Which was surprising, considering I fell three times in the first trail race!
I crossed the finish line in 1:30:03, and the total distance ended up being around 6.85. I was certain that was not a good enough time to have placed. Also, I didn’t really know anyone except one person there, and my mom was coming into town, so I didn’t stick around for the post-race festivities. I ate some jambalaya, grabbed a Powerade, and headed home.
It was really fun, and just like the first race, during the run I hated it, but as soon as I finished I was excited about it and want to do another one. I wish there were more trail races (and trails!) around here.
I didn’t bother changing into my dry clothes, and on the way home, I was freezing! I had Hunter take a picture of me, cold and wet.
I got some pretty sweet scratches on my lower legs thanks to some of the brush we ran through.
Today the results were posted online and I found out that I actually came in 2nd place in my age group! Definitely did not expect that at all. So I missed out on getting my plaque by leaving so soon after finishing. I don’t know if I’ll be able to pick that up or what.
But all in all, it was a fun race! I’m planning on doing the trail race in North LA in June again, and maybe by then I’ll have some trail shoes. Fun fun!