Coming to Baton Rouge in January for a marathon, you expect two things: a flat, scenic course, and lots of great food. The Louisiana Marathon over-delivered on both of these. But the thing that stands out most isn’t just the course or the post-race festival; it’s what founder and marketing director Danny Bourgeois promised: a home-town, community atmosphere that made a big race feel like a small-town event.
Race weekend began with packet pick-up at the River Center, nearby to the race start. For those who, like myself, opted to experience the “Deja Vu” event, we picked up numbers for two races – the marathon on Sunday, and also a 5K shake-out race beforehand on Saturday. Runners who completed both events would receive a race-branded crawfish platter for their efforts.
On race morning I awoke to discover an email form the race director wishing me good luck. Nice touch! Earlier emails had kept me apprised of the expected warm weather, so I was prepared for hot and humid conditions when I toed the starting line. After completing the short out-and-back course, I received a beautiful finishers medal (unusual for a 5k, at least for old-timers like me) and enjoyed a full post race festival, complete with plenty of beer options and stands offering standard Louisiana fare, including gumbo, jambalaya, shrimp etouffe. As previews go, this was very encouraging.
Marathon morning brought fog, but it couldn’t hide the highlights of the course, which included views of the towering state capitol, the Governor’s mansion, a tour through the Louisiana State University campus and its enormous Tiger Stadium, and a waterfront run on Lakeshore Drive. As promised, it was a flat, fast course. Aid stations offered a variety of Stinger gels starting at 8 miles, and on crossing the finish line, I knew what to expect from the post race festival. Several servers at the food stands actually remembered me from the day before, and asked how my race had gone. I felt like I was among friends.
So how was my race? Not my fastest time, but surely one of my most enjoyable ones. I give this event a big thumbs up.