Editor’s note: Each Sunday, the New Orleans Advocate is following three local runners during the course of their training for the Allstate Sugar Bowl Crescent City Classic. Today marks the final story on Richard Bouckaert.

Richard Bouckaert doesn’t run conservatively.

He’d much rather start races quickly to gain seconds on competitors. That aggressive style has helped him become one of the best road runners in the New Orleans area in recent memory.

He plans on employing the same strategy when he competes in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Crescent City Classic on April 4. The 10-kilometer race attracts elite runners from around the world, and Bouckaert’s goal is to run with them long enough so he can post the fastest time of any local person in the 37th annual race.

Everything has been going right for Bouckaert in recent months. The 30-year-old attorney, who lives in Lakeview, won the Crescent City Fall Classic 5K in November and the New Orleans Track Club’s Jackson Day 9K in January. He capped January by finishing sixth against a national field in the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon.

Bouckaert is happy, he’s healthy, and he’s ready for more — so much so that he plans to compete in two additional races before the CCC. His upcoming schedule includes the Shamrockin’ Run 8K (March 15 in New Orleans) and the Azalea Trail 10K (on March 28 in Mobile, Alabama). Both feature outstanding fields, as does the CCC.

“Last year I did both before the Classic, and I was sort of on the fence this year,” Bouckaert said. “But the NOTC has a team going and I wanted to be out there. Plus, I like the idea of having two bites at the apple at 10K. I’m not worried about being fatigued. I feel great. …You never know when the injury bug can happen, so why not make the most of it when you can?”

Bouckaert, who ran collegiately for Loyola, has been running approximately 70 to 75 miles each week. And even then, he’s training with some of the other top runners in the area. (Drew Haro, Sean Allerton, Brandon Wingate, Andy Martin and Casey Keiser, to name a few.) Bouckaert said regular training sessions with that group push him as much as any race.

“I get competition from all those guys,” he said. “Training with them, and the work I’ve done, has raised my floor, if anything. I don’t expect to be off my (personal record,) even if I have a really bad day (on April 4.)”

Bouckaert’s PR in the CCC came last year in 32 minutes, 55 seconds. That was good enough for 16th place overall (with only five Americans running faster.)

His goal this year, all along, has been loftier.

“I want to dip under 32 (minutes),” he said. “It’s a pretty significant drop from my PR at 10K, but it’s realistic. I think Jackson Day pointed to that. I wish that race had been a 10K because I felt great…and the time extrapolated over the 10K distance would have been under (32 minutes).

“So I hope I feel as good at the Classic as I did that day. I would just have to keep it up for another half mile or so.”

For more information on the CCC or to register, go online to www.ccc10k.com.