Q50 Races have been around since 2012, and they have the tag line of “Amazing Races in Amazing Places.” Most of their races take place on the trails in the state of Louisiana, although they do hold races occasionally in more remote places like the beaches of Normandy in France. They hold races of all distances from 5k to 50k.
The Q50 Races Sunset Gulf Half Marathon and 6.5 mile race takes place in Grand Isle, Louisiana. Grand Isle is a small beach town in southern Louisiana on the Gulf of Mexico. The race starts at the Observation Tower at Grand Isle State Park and for the half marathon the participants run 6.5 miles down the beach to a turn around point and then return the way they came. The 6.5 mile participants of the same thing, except they turn around at the 3.25 mile point.
The 2018 edition of the race featured amazing weather. It was a comfortable 73 degrees with a light breeze in the face on the way to the turnaround point. There were 38 participants in the 6.5 mile race and 16 participants in the half marathon. It is very much an old school race. We gathered on the deck of the observation tower overlooking the beach, where instructions were given, then at 4:30 pm we were off.
The course is a pretty simple beach run. We took off shortly after high tide so there was some hard packed sand to run on for most of the race. There were a few detours into the softer sand, but for the most part the course was very runnable. There were plenty of local residents out enjoying the nice day and they waved energetically at the us as we went by.
I am recovering from Achilles tendonitis, so I have not been running, or really doing anything physical. I ran my typical ultra pace – where I ran for 4 minutes and then walked for a minute. This worked pretty well, and I tried hold back the first half of the race. I did pretty well, but my lack of conditioning showed in the second half where I was dragging. Luckily I had a friend who I had run with at the Great Mississippi River Levee run to keep me company for the second half of the race. I finished in 2:46 – not too bad considering I had no training.
Nutrition was pretty simple – Tailwind and Carbo Pro. I ran with my Cotopaxi Veloz hydration pack, and it did great with no chaffing, and held my phone, whistle, 2 liters of water and headlamp. I used my trusty Ultimate Direction hand bottle, but shortly after making the turn at the halfway point, the bite valve broke off the bottle. It was old to be fair, but I was definitely in a pickle. Fortunately, Jenny had an extra bottle in her Salomon vest that I could pour my Carbo Pro into. Saved by a friend.
Every finisher received a medal – a clay painted fish, and was treated to food provided by the New Orleans Mission – who is the charity of choice for many of the Q50 Races. As usual, with trail races, participants hung around after the race cheering on other finishers and discussing future plans.
Grand Isle is a neat town too. It is a small beach town with just a few restaurants and tons of rental houses. I camped at Grand Isle State Park while I was there for the race. They have a bunch of sites with electric, water, picnic table, and fire ring. They also have around 12 beach sites that have a picnic table and fire ring. The campground was nice and quiet. The bathrooms feature heated showers which was nice after the race. I will be staying at the State Park again.
I highly recommend the Q50 Races Sunset Gulf Half Marathon. It is a small family type of run, where fellowship between the runners is just as important as the finishing time. The race usually occurs in late March. More information is available on the Q50 Races website.