Spring Race Calendar: How Far Will You Run?

Tomorrow I’m running from Baton Rouge to New Orleans.

That’s an exaggeration. Actually, it’s a boastful perversion of the truth. I’m part of a six-person relay team running from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. Five-sixths of the time, I’ll be reclining in the relative comfort of a 15-passenger van, thinking about what a horrible mistake we’ve made and wondering why anybody would do anything so foolish.

So far our team, Hot Tag-Team Action, has dealt with shin splints and sprains. Two team members are coming in from Memphis. Only one of us has run a relay before, although we have between us two ultra-runners, another marathoner, two triathletes and two 10K enthusiasts.

And no, you’re not counting wrong—that adds up to seven team members. One of the injuries proved insurmountable, and while someone is running in her place, the teammate who sustained it is still coming to town.

“But Gecan, why would you do something this ridiculous? You’re spending money to run overnight.”

I’m glad you asked, voice in my head. The reason I’m spending most of a night in a van down by the river and the rest of the night darting around nutria and cows is because I think running is fun. I think making my body do stupid shit no reasonable person would enjoy is fun. I’m weird. I know.

And anyway, that’s just my reasoning. An old classmate began running relays and endurance races to raise money for a charitable foundation he organized. My roommate runs with her sociopathic weimaraner to keep him from eating too much of our furniture. My father, who ran with Frank Shorter in their college days, is a perpetual motion machine who can’t stop running. Forrest Gump ran because it was better than brooding. You get the idea.

The point is (now that I’m finally getting to it) is that there are road (and off-road) races of any distance you’d like to try. Rouge-Orleans, which we’re running this weekend, can also be tackled in teams of two or three or by solo runners psychotic enough to attempt the entire 126.2-mile course alone. (After the first 100 miles, all you have to do is run a marathon!) Registration for 2013 isn’t open yet, but that gives you a full year to psych yourself up.

There are two more races this weekend: the Run on the Bayou in Westwego, for which registration is closed; and The Wall, a 10K and 30K race organized by the New Orleans Track Club, for which you can register through race morning (start time is 8 a.m.). NOTC puts on several races throughout the year, including a Father’s Day 2-miler in June, so be sure to check out their website for race and membership information.

New Orleans Running Systems organizes several races—mostly 5Ks and fun runs—throughout April and May, and most of are in the $25 range, so if you’re looking to test your legs without testing your wallet, you might want to consider checking out their series.

Two perennial favorites for Big Easy road runners are the Crescent City Classic on April 7 and Crescent Connection (“Bridge Run”) Road Race on June 2. The Classic is a standard 10K from Decatur Street to Roosevelt Mall on a flat, fast course (to be fair, most of New Orleans is a flat, fast course), but the Connection is a 4-mile dash up and down the self-same bridge. Early registration for the Classic and Connection is $25 and $15 respectively, getting more expensive towards race day.

If you’re up for a longer course, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half-Marathon is March 4. Registration is $120 until Feb. 26 ($115 for the half), at which point it jumps to $150 (for both distances).

There’s also the Jazz Half-Marathon in the fall, but we’ll deal with that cow patty when we step in it.

Which brings me back to this weekend. This is the second year that Rouge-Orleans has been held, and it’s the only race of its kind in the area. There are 50- and 100-milers throughout the Southeast and Texas, but nothing as pants-pissingly insane as 126.2. Jeff Beck and the folks at Forge Racing have been uncommonly accommodating and detailed, with regular updates on the course, requirements and everything else besides. Hopefully, we’ll all stay coherent enough to remember.

For live updates from the race course, follow New Orleans Magazine on Facebook and  Twitter. We promise to bring you only the best in wild costumes and animal encounters.

Note: Weeks ago I reported on developments with IronMan New Orleans 70.3 and 5150 New Orleans. Premier Event Management has finalized the swim and run courses for the 70.3, and is offering discounted entry to triathletes who wish to compete in both races.

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