Most people don’t like getting dirty, but for the hundreds of runners who found themselves out at the Spillway Classic on Sunday July 17th, being covered in mud is a prerequisite for participation. This three mile trail race snakes through the scenic nature trail of the Bonnet Carre Spillway. The start quickly bottlenecks into a narrow path with treacherous turns. It’s the kind of course that forces people to slow down and make careful maneuvers. However, all of that is nothing more than a build up to this course’s crowning jewel: the gauntlet. The gauntlet is a massive mud pit that serves as the keystone of the race. Situated somewhat early in the course, it forces runners to make some hard decisions and creates some exciting scenarios.
The men’s individual winner Will Kirkikis talked about how he weathered this unique storm. In preparation, he and some fellow runners came to check out the trails the day beforehand to get the lay of the land. “Trails are a completely different race,” Kirkikis said. “They can wear you out a lot faster than roads. Thankfully the course is flat and things were a bit drier this year so it made for some quick running.” Kirkikis finished the three miles in 16:51 and was the only runner to break the 17 minute barrier on the day. When talking about the race he said, “I felt great! I was running out there with a few friends and they got me out at a good pace.” Will is a member of the Power Milers, a group of dedicated runners in the New Orleans area who can be seen training and racing together frequently. The teamwork certainly paid off as Kirkikis and several of the other runners were able to get out quickly and carve out space for themselves on the trail. It’s no surprise that many of the fastest runners on the day emerged through the gauntlet almost completely mud-free.
On the women’s side of the race, the same trends could be seen although the finish was a close one. First through third place were separated at the very end by just fourteen seconds, although this gap was much smaller throughout most of the race. Individual women’s winner Amanda Snider was able to pull ahead significantly in the last half mile or so however, stretching her lead to a solid 11 seconds over the second place finisher.
While many of the fastest runners on the day tried and succeeded in dodging the gauntlet, many runners reveled in the novel experience and powered straight through. Competitors could be seen covered head to toe in mud, but these competitors tended to be the ones who were smiling the biggest as well. Of course, all the finishers were met with big cheers, but for anyone covered in mud those cheers got just a little bit louder. Thankfully the local fire department was also nearby to hose everyone down.
More photos at our facebook page here.
Full results here.