In 2013, on a whim, I registered for and ran the Louisiana Half Marathon in Baton Rouge and had one of my best race experiences to date. So when the Half Fanatics were looking to fill a pace group for the 2015 race I threw my name in to the application pool. I was excited for the chance to pace the 2 hour finish group and wedged between The Dopey Challenge and the Rock n Roll New Orleans Marathon it looked to be the perfect run. I know that a 2 hour finish is a big deal for a lot of people and that my group would be full of people looking for those new PRs.
I left my house early Saturday morning and made the 3.5 hour drive to Baton Rouge arriving just before 10am to work the Maniac/Fanatic booth at the expo. As the day went on I met the other pace team leaders and spoke to countless runners coming by to talk to us about their goals for the run and our strategies for helping them reach the finish. It was late in the day before I got to make my way through the expo and see what was being offered. I stopped by the booth for the Crescent City Classic and registered for the race, after having qualified for a seeded corral last week in WDW. After the expo a group of Maniacs and I made our way to the Belle of Baton Rouge hotel across the street for the night.
We awoke Sunday morning and got ready for the race before leaving the hotel room right around 6:15. We thought the start line was much closer than it was and wandered around for a bit before we figured out exactly where to go. One of the unfortunate side effects of wearing Pacer shirts and carrying a signs is that people followed us assuming we were heading the right way. We only led them a little astray before finding the start area. We staged ourselves throughout the starting corrals and awaited the race start.
The first mile or two of the course was very crowded, single lane, and construction covered. It was unfortunate for the race, but I think that it will be better in future years.
Once we got out downtown area things started to space out a little and those that were on board to run in the 2 hour group with me. I started to to meet those runners and learn about them and their goals. I had a few first time half marathon runners and over 10 others looking to break 2 for the first time.
The course is really great and showcases Baton Rouge nicely. It runs through LSU’s campus and past Tiger Stadium before looping a giant lake with beautiful houses all around. The marathon and half marathon split at mile 11 and the half comes back into the downtown area. As we came across mile 12 I kept my pace group updated on how close we were to hitting 2 hours, knowing everyone was really hoping to cross in 1:59 or less I thanked everyone for a great run and told them all to run ahead and take in the finish once we were about 600 meters from the finish. I pushed runners along the final stretch and came across the finish line at 1:59:11.
After finishing there were several people that came up and thanked me for the run, I saw more people over the next few days posting thanks on the Louisiana Marathon Facebook page. I can not thank the organizers for both the Louisiana Marathon and the Half Fanatics for the opportunity to take part in an incredibly rewarding race experience.