Rouge-Orleans - Page 2
The route is also bordered by the two-lane Great River Road, one of the oldest scenic byways in North America, which supplemented waterborne traffic along the Mississippi's length towards New Orleans during the early 1900s. In the races' early miles, runners pass the site of what used to be the only leper colony in the continental U.S., housed in the abandoned slave quarters and plantation home of Indian Camp Plantation, a location now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Later, the route showcases the state's most famous plantation homes, massive antebellum mansions that provide a peek into the area's legacy of cotton and sugar agriculture. And the 100-mile marker highlights the Bonnet Carre Spillway, which plays a major role in protecting New Orleans from flooding.
Grueling Gravel and the Mighty Mississippi
Even though the course is pancake flat, the physical demands of 126 miles on the levee take a toll. "Because of the gravel, it was one of the most brutal races I have ever run," says finisher Kathy Hoover, of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Beck recommends a trail-running shoe with a rock plate, and warns, "There is no shade out there."
Though in jest, according to the race website: "If you are unable to finish the race you'll be fed to the alligators." It rained for the first 30 hours at this year's inaugural race.
"We couldn't have asked for worse weather," says Beck. "It was horrifying—thunderstorms, lightning, wind and tornado warnings. Aid stations even blew away. But the funny thing is that everyone just said it made the adventure more epic."
Around 100 runners from 40 states participated in 2010, and Beck says many repeat racers are scheduled to take on the next Rouge-Orleans to be held on February 10.
Hellenthal will be on the starting line. "I want to be a part of it every year," he says. "I'm going to keep running this race until I can't run anymore."
For more information and to register for the 2012 event, visit www.forgeracing.net.
Mardi Gras Cool Down
Pack your costume. After the race, the real endurance test begins. Race directors timed the Rouge-Orleans to coincide with Mardi Gras season, giving racers a chance to unwind NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) style.
Says Beck, "We have a saying: come to run, stay to party." In true carnival spirit, the race kicks off with a pre-race party on the levee and ends with a post-race party at the finish. And then the celebration continues.