Snoozer! That’s my one word review of the Rock n Roll New Orleans Marathon course. It’s flat and pretty fast but as a means to highlight Crescent City, well, it falls far short. Basically, it met my expectations of a Rock n Roll series event. Yes, it’s a marathon distance. Yes, there are some bands along the way. And yes it feels like they charge you extra for every little thing. To minimize disruptions to host cities, the RnR team has a tendency to take runners on long out and back stretches on highways or off the beaten path roads. That can be fun if they embrace the theme and make it more than just a lonely stretch of road. Unfortunately they once again opted to go cheap, or at least I had the impression they went cheap. Perhaps that’s befitting the Mardi Gras theme–let’s be honest, the beads and “throws” from the Fat Tuesday floats are disposable junk that define unnecessary, dust collecting knickknack bric-à-brac.
On the plus side, the event is a great excuse to visit this city and I’ve tried to convey the food experiences Mom and I have enjoyed and perhaps occasionally overdone here in the Big Easy.
As to the race itself, this morning my phone said it was a fairly brisk 47 degrees at the start. Not wanting Mom to trudge back and forth to the start in the cold, we planned for her to just meet me at the finish in a few hours. Strolling to the start, I was struck by the aftermath of a Saturday night on Bourbon Street — the Sunday morning street hangover was worse than any post-marathon aid station.
Amidst the 26 corrals (!!), seeded by the honor system and your self-submitted unsubstantiated expected finish time, there were runners who may or may not have been best served to be in the starting corrals. I don’t want to say there were honor code violations but there were certainly more than a few, um, aspirational wish finish times submitted.
I did bump into some folks I’ve met at other races. Here’s me and David Zajic. I met him and his wife previously, first in Ennis, MT, and then again in Rehobeth Beach, DE,. They’re from Huntsville, AL, and help prove that the runners’ world is a small, friendly one to be sure.
During the race, where temperatures quickly warmed up but was still a beautiful day to run, I was spotted by Clyde Shank and Chris “Team Pizza Racers” Regan. I’m bad at spotting people on the run but what a treat to get recognized by fellow runners along the course. And while I didn’t know him, I did pass Gumby, dammit!
As for highlights on the ho-hum routes, my favorite was either:
1) the Rock n Roll bagpipers near the WWII museum (ranked third best museum in the USA! I need to google what the top two are–mom bet Smithsonian and MOMA; I’m somewhat facetiously picking Precious Moments and World’s Biggest Ball of Paint)
Or 2) the martini stop. It was actually party of the Woodstock aid station which also seemed to be handing out marijuana joints (though they may have been salt tablets… Sure *seemed* like joints though)
I will say I was kinda creeped out at running under the crotch of the inflatable rock n roll metal God guy.
Heading into the home stretch, I heard my mom’s cowbell and shouts of encouragement. I couldn’t find her in the crowd as I crossed the finish line but she quickly found me–like I said, I’m bad at finding people on the course!
We grabbed a few finish line photos, including a few bedazzled Mardi Gras performers or local Indian tribe members.
And then how could we not grab a giant record photo to commemorate this rock n roll race.
But perhaps one of the best post run pics was courtesy of my need to snap a photo for Team Pizza Racers thus a detour to Big Easy Daiquiris on Bourbon Street for an overpriced slice of buffalo cheese pizza (that surprisingly tasted pretty good).
That though was quickly surpassed by this hot dog pic. I think I Harpo Marx mirrored him pretty well.
And as we returned to the hotel for me to shower and change for tonight’s last supper in New Orleans, I view this marathon for what it really was – a chance to show my Mom this city. For that, it’s a best time, no matter what the clock might say.
Albeit the clock time wasn’t too shabby either. Not a PR but a solid sub 3:30.
Toot-toot. That’s me tooting my own horn.