New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu expects Rock 'n' Roll Mardi Gras Marathon to continue to grow

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu expects Rock 'n' Roll Mardi Gras Marathon to continue to grow
February 14, 2011
By David Helman

Although he didn't pose a threat to the winners, one prominent local joined in the fun Sunday in the half marathon portion of the Rock 'n' Roll Mardi Gras Marathon for the second consecutive year.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu completes Rock 'n' Roll Mardi Gras Half-Marathon: video
Watch Mayor Mitch Landrieu cross the finish line and talk to Times-Picayune reporter David Helman after completing the half-marathon portion of the Rock 'n' Roll Mardi Gras Marathon on Sunday.
Watch video
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, decked out in neon orange running gear, finished in 2 hours, 17 minutes and 42 seconds.
"I was a little bit slower this year because my training wasn't as good, but the race was great," he said. "We had more people here than last year. ... Any time you can just finish ... you feel good about it."
Landrieu said he hopes the half marathon and marathon races in the event can become a big annual event for the city, similar to the Crescent City Classic.
"It's spectacular -- 16,600 folks ran the race, and 85 percent of them were from out of the city," he said. "The city's a wonderfully hospitable place. I expect it to grow every year. The JazzFest started off small, the Essence Festival did and the Crescent City Classic did. It's always going to get better."
Landrieu said his time was slightly behind his 2010 time of 2:15. He said the key to training for a race on top of his responsibilities as mayor is to wake up very early in the morning, something he said hasn't been a problem as the father of five children.
HELP IN A HURRY: A 54-year-old man collapsed along the marathon route on Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans Emergency Medical Services spokesman Jeb Tate said.
Tate said EMS paramedics arrived to find bystanders preforming CPR, and the runner regained a pulse and started breathing on his own through the efforts of the bystanders and paramedics.
The runner was transported to a local hospital. Tate said he wasn't sure of the cause of the runner's collapse.
"There's no better place to have an emergency medical situation than during a marathon because of the amount of medical personnel positioned along the run," said Dan Cruz, the marathon's spokesman.
GOING THE DISTANCE: Joasia Zakrzewski knew something funny was going on.
Early Sunday morning, the Scotland resident heard a bystander say, "You're leading the half marathon."
The problem was, she was entered in the marathon.
Spectators knew Zakrzewski's standing by the end, though. She won the women's competition in 2:47:25.
Her thoughts on the course?
"Lots of potholes," she said, smiling
But a few bumps in the road didn't derail her performance.
"I will remember how friendly it was and how other people cheered you when they were running in the other direction," she said of her experience.
FLAT AND FAST: Half-marathon winner Josphat Boit had only raced in one other half marathon before Sunday, and his effort in New Orleans was his first half marathon in the United States.
Boit attended the University of Arkansas, where he was a four time All-American.
His focuses in college were the 5,000- and 10,000-meter races, and he won the 2005 SEC Athlete of the Year award in cross country.
Many of the half marathon's top finishers said the flat course in the Crescent City is one of its top features.
Women's half-marathon winner Kim Smith said New Orleans is a stark contrast to the hilly geography of Boston, where she plans to run the Boston Marathon on April 18.
"It's a completely different kind of course," she said. "This is mostly just to test my fitness. ... Any half marathon is good training for a full marathon. For this spring, the big goal is to win Boston."
Said men's half marathon second-place finisher Luke Humphrey: "You couldn't ask for a better course -- flat, hardly any turns, and the weather was great."
Matthew Manning was a race leader and a cheerleader in this year's event. He was the top local finisher in the men's half marathon in 1:08:40, giving him plenty of time to check in on his wife, Melissa, who finished the marathon in 3:59:39.
PURSE BREAKDOWN: The top three finishers in the men's and women's marathon and half marathon earned monetary awards.
First-place finishers received $1,000, second place $500 and third place $250.
NICE WEATHER: After a week of overcast skies, the sun shone from beginning to end Sunday in the Crescent City.
It was 39 degrees less than 10 minutes before the 7 a.m. start, but temperatures warmed to 57 degrees by mid-afternoon.
On Thursday, the weather was a topic of concern for Landrieu.
"I hope it warms up just a tad," Landrieu said then.
GETTING IN ON THE ACTION: Adults weren't the only ones who ran this weekend.
New Orleans was chosen one of seven KiDS ROCK sites in a partnership between ING and Competitor Group.
An estimated 17,000 kids in Kindergarten through seventh grade will participate in the national training program that allows those involved to become marathon runners by completing 25.2 miles at their own pace before doing the final mile in conjunction with Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series events.
Kids run their first 25.2 miles at home, during recess and wherever else they can. The program is capped with a non-competitive, non-timed, 1-mile fun run, which took place in New Orleans on Saturday morning as the series kickoff. Other sites are Dallas, San Diego, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Antonio and Nashville, Tenn.
Participants earn awards for staying active, and they also can track their progress along with other kids.
"It's the first time in New Orleans that we've done a race like this," said Pam Congemi, local school coordinator for the KiDS ROCK program. "This gives them the opportunity to do a big-time race."
Comments: 0