Fawn V. Hernandez On February 4, 2017 the inaugural Red Dirt Ultra will take place on the 31-mile Sandstone Trail in Kisatchie National Forest, just 2.5 hours north of Lafayette. Runners can sign up to run the following ultra marathon distances (any race over the 26.2-mile marathon distance):
50k 31 miles (One Sandstone loop)
100k 62 miles (2 Sandstone loops)
Walk in the park, right?! (3 Sandstone loops plus a 7-mile out and back) Edie Riedel, the Race Director and founder of Paix Running, explains that the Red Dirt Ultra is the perfect race for first time ultra-marathoners and seasoned runners alike. Along the 31mile loop there will be four aid stations in addition to the start/finish line area 20
to support runners throughout the race. Each aid station offers proper hydration and nutrition and is lead by volunteer veteran ultra marathoners, who understand the unique needs of conquering these longer distances. Jeff Shipley, head honcho of the last aid station on the loop, said he has a few fun things planned for his aid station to keep runners excited and motivated to see him on each loop. Runners for all three distances begin their journey at 6 am and have 34 hours to complete the race. The terrain features areas of surprising ruggedness, occasional loose sand and even a natural spring “spa” at mile 21 of the 31-mile trail. To power through this topography, runners are allowed trekking poles, ear buds, pacers (for the 100k and 100-mile distance) and personal crews. Having recently run the entire Sandstone trail loop in preparation for my first 100k at Red Dirt Ultra, I can attest to the trail being challenging but fun to run. My own personal strategy for running the race is to incorporate power hiking the hilly sections as I look forward to the flat runnable land that make up much of the second half of the trail. More than likely many runners and hikers have never heard of the Sandstone Trail. This is because for most of the year the trail is populated
with off-road vehicles, but during January 1- April 30 off-road vehicles are not allowed, providing a quieter trail running experience. During this time campsites clear out leaving plenty of camping room available. I recommend camping at Lotus Camp as it is near the start/finish area. Accommodations for camping include running water, flushing toilets, picnic tables and fire rings. There are no showers or RV hook ups so plan accordingly! If you’d prefer creature comforts consider staying nearby in Natchitoches, La at a hotel or bed and breakfast. It’s a quaint town that you can enjoy shuffle walking through after the race! As an avid runner Riedel understands the training commitment and effort required to get to the starting line. A mother of two with a full time job, she has finished 24 ultra marathons including four 100-mile races, eight 50-mile races and an array of other distances. Her pledge to each race participants is, “If you put in the work we will make sure you cross the finish line.” Registration closes the day before the race (the t-shirt cutoff was January 6). To sign up or learn more visit: paixrunning.com or facebook.com/RedDirtUltra/ Have questions? Please contact me at email@example.com
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