The New Orleans Track Club’s Spillway Classic is quite possibly the wildest race in south Louisiana. So it’s fitting that the 30th anniversary of the popular trail run had a few extra surprises when it was held Sunday.
Heavy rains in recent days made the 3-mile course through the Bonnet Carre Spillway especially sloppy. But a broken pipe near the finish put water and mud on the final 800 meters of trails leading out of the swamp, as well, which made for an extra-slippery finish.
Richard Bouckaert navigated the course best and finished in 16 minutes, 58 seconds. Morgan Evans, also of New Orleans, led the women’s field in 21:55.
Bouckaert, 32, was in second place during the first portion of the race which is held atop a spillway levee. It was when the leaders entered the spillway and the spot known as “The Gauntlet” that Bouckaert made his move. He swung to the far side of the mud pit, which had waist-deep water on Sunday. The move allowed him to run through much more shallow water, though dodging dozens of cypress knees provided its own challenges.
His chief challengers stuck to the higher water, and Bouckaert took the lead and pulled away for the victory.
“You have to hit that spot with a lot of speed and just really work through it,” Bouckaert said. “Nothing about it is easy. I was able to get into the lead at that point, but I had to be really careful on the last bit of the race. Those trails were really wet and slippery too, but things like that make the race so much fun.”
Pat Aucoin finished second in the men’s field in 17:15. Casey Keiser was third in 18:16.
Evans, 24, paced the women on Sunday. She ran a 7:19 per-mile pace through the muck and mire. Lauren Ybarzabal finished second in 22:26 and Callie Smithson was third with a time of 23:10.
Approximately 1,100 people participated in the 30th edition of the NOTC race.