This year’s Tour des Atakapas will mark the third year of the partnership between TRAIL and Festival Acadiens to put on a race celebrating the festival, but this year a new twist has been added.
In addition to the usual three and five mile street run and the seven mile combined street and trail run, this year’s event will also feature a duathlon event with a running and paddling segment.
The duathlon event requires racers to run a mile and a half from the start line, to Café 20.3, where they will get in their boat, canoe, kayak or onto paddleboard to paddle upriver for a mile before paddling back for a mile to the café and running the mile and a half back to the finish line to complete the race.
Racers can complete the paddle portion of the race using a variety of modalities, in categories including, solo, tandem, canoe, kayak or paddleboard.
According to TRAIL Marketing and Events Coordinator, Matt Holland, the duathlon is the perfect way to pay homage to Lafayette’s culture while adding something fresh to the race.
“In this city, we have a rich history associated with rivers and bayous, and we wanted to tie that in with the festival, which celebrates Cajun music,” said Holland. “That music sprung up from the people who lived along the bayou, so to take that step back in time helps to tie the race in with the cultural aspects of Festivals Acadiens.”
Paddling down the bayou is an experience likely to make both locals and visitors fall even more in love with Lafayette’s culture.
“Most of us are so used to traveling the city by car that you don’t realize that there is a whole different side and face to it that you don’t see until you get on the river,” said Holland. “It’s a really great way to experience the kind of nature that is a lot closer to us than we think it is.”
The TRAIL team intentionally designed the events of the day to accommodate for people who may want to make their race more social.
For instance, the tandem, canoe and kayak categories of the duathlon allow friends to complete the paddle portion of the race together.
Friends who want to compete in the running event together, but are at different fitness levels can sign up for the distance level they can manage and run the first portion of the race before their more athletic friend continues on with the race and they turn around.
A little over 300 runners came out to last year’s race and Holland and the rest of the TRAIL board are hoping this year’s event will draw an even bigger crowd.
“This is probably the best after party you will have for any race because we’re going to be right there in the middle of a music festival,” said Holland. “It’s a great excuse to get there early and make a day of it.”
In keeping with the festival’s theme of Cajun music, finishers will receive medals will be bottle openers shaped like mini washboards.
Check in will begin on race day, Oct. 14, at 6:30 a.m. in Girard Park, and all races will begin at 8:30 a.m.
For more information about Tour des Atakapas or to register, visit latrail.org or call 337-781-9416.