What an incredible weekend for running in Louisiana?
On Sunday, March 4, about 22,000 runners hustled to their starting corals on Poydras St. to begin mentally preparing to hear the starting gun for the 2012 Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon and Half Marathon.
Many participants were dressed in costumes; I counted several tutus, a few Mardi Gras masks and even one Drew Brees in full pads.
After an opening speech by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the runners set off for the finish line. Starting at 7 a.m., the participants made their way down St. Charles Ave., through the Central Business District and famous French Quarter, down Esplanade Ave. and finally to City Park, with the marathoners making an extra loop once reaching City Park.
Many runners complained about the uneven roads and potholes, but also sang praises for the new course, mentioning that they preferred the addition of the Central Business District this year opposed to running on the outskirts of the Warehouse District last year.
Luckily, the weather was perfect, with temperatures hovering in the 50s to 60s during the race; I think we can all count this as a blessing, considering how fickle the weather can be in Louisiana.
The combined efforts of the supportive crowds and enthusiastic bands along the course seemed to give even the elite runners the extra push they needed to cross the finish line.
The over-all male winner for the half marathon was Shadrock Biwott with a time of 1:04:23 and the over-all female winner was Gabriela Traña with a time of 1:16:31. The over-all male winner for the marathon was Meyer Friedman with a time of 2:27:08 and the over-all female winner was Meggan Franks with a time of 2:49:08.
Several other Louisiana natives placed in the top 10 for the male and female groups in this years race, which we can all agree is a great win for our state.
The after party was what to be expected when you combine New Orleans and the Rock ‘n’ Roll group. There were participants dancing all over the grassy finish to music by the Creole String Beans, Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. & the Zydeco Twisters and Flow Tribe; throw in some excellent local cuisine and drinks and the party was definitely rockin’.
In my opinion, the atmosphere at the expo and the race was exhilarating. To be surrounded by thousands of people who share a passion for running is inspirational enough, but to hear how far some of them traveled to Louisiana in an effort to continue on their personal running journey was enough to make me proud to be a part of such a wonderful community of people.
For more information on the race or to see official race results, visit the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series Web site.
By Rivers Hughey
Photos by Claim Your Journey | More photos available on our Facebook page.