At the St. Jude Marathon Expo I was offered half off registration to the Louisiana Marathon. Knowing this was the weekend after Goofy I opted to sign up for the Half. Saturday morning, following a 15 mile run with the Fleet Feet pace groups, I made the 3.5 hour drive to Baton Rouge and headed straight to the race expo. The expo was located in the Belle of Baton Rouge Casino Atrium, this was the same place as the Mardi Gras Mambo 10k post race party. It was small, but jam packed with vendors. There were several local vendors, restaurants, running clubs, and races. I really enjoyed talking to the people set up in the booth for 50 States Marathon Club, it is no secret that this is one of my ultimate running goals. Another great thing set up was a booth for free finish line photos. There was even a local brewery giving sample drinks of a few of their drinks, I really like what Tin Roof Brewery has to offer. Saturday night I met with a friend from college and had dinner and caught up a little, then went to the apartment of a fraternity brother for some much needed rest after the day.
I woke up Sunday morning at 4:15 and was out of the apartment by 5:15, I planned on the early side to avoid any road closures since I don’t know my way around the town very well. I was parked just a few hundred feet from the start line by 5:45. It was a chilly morning waiting for the sun to come out, just below 50 degrees, but the race organizers thought ahead and put out heating posts. The state capital building was lit up with the Louisiana Marathon as we lined up in the starting chute to get set for the 7 o’clock start.
The race started and we went straight to the river front. I was stuck further back in the start than I wanted to be so I quickly began to pass runners and various pace groups. The first mile was the hardest because of the condition of the road. I found myself jumping and dodging large pot holes and cracks in the road, this had me worried about the rest of the race but by the start of Mile 2 this was no longer an issue. We went over an interstate overpass and then onto a long straight road from Mile Marker 2 – 4. This was a great flat stretch to really pick up some time I lost in the clutter of people that were at the start. From here we wrapped around the campus of LSU for a couple of miles and around Tiger Stadium (Roll Tide).
This brought the race around past mile 6 and the 10k split timing mat, 51:55. The course continued on wrapping around the lake until Mile marker 10 where it realigned with the first 3 miles of the race heading in the other direction. Just before Mile 11 was the split for the full marathon, this was also where I saw Matt Haines! Matt was one of my teachers from Capital Regiment in the summer of 2006, I stopped for a quick hug and then had to be on my way. The last 3 miles ticked by quickly as I noticed that my clock was looking promising so I tried to push through the last 5k with a little gusto. The worst part of this was coming back across the overpass from the beginning, I was thankful I wasn’t running the full marathon and hitting this hill at mile 25! Coming around the last few turns to the finish line the crowd was great and fired up for the runners coming through the chutes. I crossed the finish line and was immediately approached by volunteers offering water, mylar wraps, and the finisher’s medal. This medal is pretty awesome. It has a great design on the front and back, detachable Velcro ribbon, and the top is a fully operational bottle opener!
Following the finish I went to my car to change into jeans, a dry shirt, and a jacket. I made my way out to what I soon discovered to be the true gem of this race, the finish festival! There were several local restaurants with booths set up serving up a variety of Cajun cuisines and a couple of beer trailers giving out brews to runners. As fantastic as this was here is my biggest criticism, in the future there needs to be some way to ration out one (or two) plates per runner per booth. This could be done maybe with a punch card? When I made it to the finish festival most lines were thin and there was plenty of food. By the time for 4:15 marathoners made it there several booths were out of food and had packed up and left already and those that did have food left also had very long lines of runners waiting to be served. The Half will really increase and out shine the marathon if those runners don’t have the opportunity to enjoy this festival.
A great thing that I have not seen at races elsewhere was the QR code on the bib. I assumed that it was just a link to the race website, but it turns out that a quick scan brings me to Joe Raymond’s Race Results. Every bib had individual QR codes for each runner to display their results. This is brilliant! I really hope this idea catches on and spreads to other races. Overall the course was laid out very well with many water stops along the way. Crowd support was great along the road. I am very glad I had the opportunity to run this race.
Half Marathon Results:
Finish time: 1:43:21