I drove over 8 hours on Friday to get to Chicot State Park in Ville Platte, LA. Jen had to stay behind because of work obligations. I would be running the Loup Garou 100 miler on Saturday morning. The trail around Lake Chicot is special to me. It's where I've run many miles in training. I've hiked it and camped with family. I've run with my awesome friends many times. It’s where I ran my first ultra back in 2013 (Cajun Coyote). The Loup Garou was on my “maybe” list for 2018, because it’s been a busy year. With all of the racing I’ve done, I’m glad I came through healthy and able to finish off 2018 on my old home trail.
I arrived at the park and had some time to visit with my trail buds for a bit before the meet and greet with Ann Trason. It was great hearing from a legend in the sport. She’s a wealth of Ultra running knowledge! When she was finished, I met up with my friend Brandon who is also from Louisiana, but now living in another state. We both came back to run Loup Garou 100m. Brandon had gotten a cabin and invited me to stay with him and a few other friends. We would put our stuff in the cabin, then head out to eat supper. After supper, we were all going through our gear and checking it twice. Then, we all got to bed to try and get a few hours of sleep before the big race.
The race started at 7AM Saturday morning. We all went through our morning pre-race routines and headed to the start/finish. After some visiting, and last minute checks, we were off! The trail is a 20 mile loop around Lake Chicot. The 100 milers would loop it 5 times! This start was for all of the ultra distances. The Loup Garou has ultra distances of 100M, 60M, 40M. The 20M race would start an hour later. It had rained quite a bit on Thursday and Friday so the trails were pretty wet and muddy. On top of that, there were leaves covering much of the trail. The trail at Chicot is also VERY rooty. Muddy roots covered with leaves is a tough combination! The first 3.5 miles of the trail is tough. Lots of quick, muddy climbs. We commented how bad these climbs would be once the hundred something 20 milers came through an hour later.
I felt really good on most of the first loop. Brandon and I ran together and we just cruised along, slipping, sliding, falling, and splashing through the water and mud. I think it was a little before the mile 19 marker where I turned my ankle on a hidden root. It was bad. I felt a pop. Normally, when I turn my ankle, I can just limp a few steps while running and it smooths out. Well, this time, it did not “smooth out”. I had to stop and try to walk it out. It was tight and felt like it was starting to swell almost immediately. My mind immediately went to having to drop. You see, I had to drop on this race before due to a torn calf muscle. This year’s race was to be my redemption on this trail. I told Brandon to go on while I figured it out. I started power hiking for about 20 yards, then started running again with minor adjustments to keep some of my weight off of that side. I was doing pretty well until I hit another root and twisted again. This would happen about 5 more times throughout the race.
At each loop, I would refill my bottles with my electrolyte/nutrition mix, grab some food, then get back on the trail. Loop 2 was more of the same. Mud, hurt ankle, etc. The aid stations were so good at helping us get in and out quickly. I think it was around mile 30 or so that Brandon stopped to put some eye drops in his eyes and said he’d catch up. He deals with vision issues in these races and was trying a protocol to help him. Sadly, after his third loop (60 miles) Brandon would have to drop because he couldn’t see well enough to navigate the trail. Towards the end of the 3rd loop, my right foot was getting a hot spot on the bottom. My adjustments for my ankle, combined with trudging through the water and mud were causing some minor issues. I rarely change my shoes or socks in a race, but decided at the end of 60 miles to go ahead and clean my feet, lube them up, and put some dry socks on. I was afraid to look at my ankle. It was swollen and discolored already. I had run over 40 miles since turning it. My friends Justin and Bobby were there to see if I needed help with anything. They agreed that my ankle looked nasty bad. Justin had some ibuprofen that I took with me in case I needed it. I’ve never taken it during a race. This time, a few miles in, I took 2 and it helped take the edge off of the ankle pain.
Luckily, even though it stayed cloudy and we never saw the sun, the mud on the trails was starting to thicken a bit. It was still pretty muddy, but wasn’t nearly as slick on the up and downhills. I had been hanging on to 3rd place most of the day in my modified race plan. After the third loop and 60 miles, I was going to try to keep it. My original race plan was to try for 18-19 hour race. I wasn’t too far off, but with my ankle adjustments and just plain old tired legs, I went to the next plan - Just get it done! I continued running alone through the night. I would catch up with other hundred milers who were one loop behind me. I’d encourage them and keep moving. My mindset was “get to the next aid station.” At each aid station, I'd drink soup and coke, and refill my bottles. I was super excited to start the last 20 mile loop. I was still in 3rd place, but ran much of this loop concerned about being passed after keeping that position for so long. Realistically, 1st and 2nd were too far ahead for me to catch at this point unless they had a major blow up. I kept my aid station times to a minimum and just kept moving forward, not knowing how far 4th place was behind me. I’d power hike the uphills and run where I could. I was ready to be done!
There’s a road crossing then a small bridge you cross a little before the end of the trail. That little wooden bridge is a beautiful site at the end of 100 miles. I left the trail and headed down the asphalt for the last time. As I neared the finish, I yelled, “Number 20, David Theriot, coming in for his finish! My good buddy, Edie, the most excellent race director, handed me my buckle and 3rd place award. I was glad to be done! I finished another Chicot 100 miler. I redeemed myself from calf injury DNFing!
I visited at the Start/finish for a bit, then headed to the cabin for a long hot shower. I tried to sleep, but maybe got 2.5 hours of rest. As many of you know, it can be hard to sleep after a 100 miler. Every little move makes something hurt…..or the muscle twitches…..ouch. I decided to slowly get up and put my stuff together, go eat breakfast at the start/finish, cheer on finishers, and visit with my trail buds before leaving. After spending about an hour and a half there, I started the 8+ hour trek back to Oklahoma. I was sore and sleepy, but my heart was full. I spent the weekend doing what I love with people I love in a place I love.
- PETZL - REACTIK+ Headlamp - Faithful and long battery life.
- Kogalla Light - Super bright and amazing on trails full of roots, but short battery life
- Shoes - Altra Lone Peak 4 - Great in these muddy conditions! Comfortable and gripped amazingly well!
- Altra Shorts- No chafing!
- Ultra Spire Momentum vest - First "all bottle" vest I've tried. Very comfortable. I loved it!
- Socks - Injinji Trail