It’s scary how grueling the Children of the Cane ultra-marathon race will be.
With a name inspired by a classic 1980s horror movie, Saturday’s race was created to test runners’ stamina by pushing them through 31 to 100 miles of south Louisiana terrain.
Starting at Margaret Plantation in Port Allen, the race will wind through seven sugarcane fields, on levee tops and along railroad tracks.
“It’s going to be an ugly race,” said Ed Melancon, 44, a Baton Rouge runner taking on the 100-mile race.
A veteran of six 100-mile races, Melancon said the Children of the Cane’s landscape — continuous views of sugarcane fields — will add to the difficulty.
“It’s going to be a mental challenge,” he said.
Race creator Walker Higgins planned the course to push competitors who may be used to racing on hillier terrain in more scenic locales.
“People kind of think, ‘It will be flat, it will be an easy ultra.’ But there’s nothing easy about some of the paths you run through with all of the ruts and tire marks,” Higgins said.
So far, more than 65 competitors have signed up for the inaugural race. Most chose the 50-kilometer (31-mile) option, but 11 endurance specialists like Melancon will attempt the 100-mile ultra-marathon.
After running ultra-marathons and adventure races for years, Higgins wanted to create a run that would test other hardcore runners like himself.
“I’ve always wanted to push my body to the limit, and since I’ve been putting on races, I’ve wanted to push other people,” he said. “This is kind of the evolution in that.”
Since 2010 Higgins’ other trail run, the Cane Field Classic, which is held later in October, has developed a cult following. The Classic consists of three shorter runs — one, two, or four miles — that competitors can attempt singularly or together for a seven-mile run through cane patches and head roads bisecting the fields.
Higgins wanted runners to experience the iconic landscape of south Louisiana on property his family owned. The cane rises head-high for most runners.
“It might be five-feet high, and it might cut you up a little bit,” Higgins said. “That’s kind of the story you get to tell after.”