New Orleans – January 25, 2015 – New Orleans’ famous French Quarter was rockin’ Sunday morning at the sixth edition of the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon & 1/2 Marathon benefiting Feed the Children. One of the most colorful and festive cities in North America came out to celebrate the achievements of thousands of runners in true New Orleans style with a good dose of its famous Dixeland Jazz. And with sunny skies and 60-degree temperatures, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect.
Mike Popejoy from Somerville, Massachusetts. broke the tape first in the half marathon. The 29-year-old who is studying to get his PhD in Philosophy at Harvard blazed the speedy course in one hour, 5 minutes, and 18 seconds. Popejoy lead the race after the first half mile. It was his first time coming to New Orleans and he had selected the event because of its historical fast times and ideal running weather.
“I live up in Boston so it’s nice to come down here where it’s warm,” he said. Popejoy is hoping to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials and missed the mark by 18 seconds. But Popejoy wasn’t fazed about that. “I’ve got over a year to get it,” he admitted.
Coming in 30 seconds behind Popejoy was the pre-race favorite, Ben Bruce of Flagstaff, Arizona, while third place was awarded to Zachary Meineke from Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1:06:27).
The women’s half marathon was entirely a solo affair with Janet Cherobon Bawcom, an eight-time collegiate All-American and 2012 Olympian setting a blistering early pace that gapped the field. She went on to cross the line in 1:12:22.
“I’m pleased with my time,” said the former Kenyan citizen who now wears the Team USA singlet said afterwards. “The crowd was amazing. The weather was awesome; it was really comfortable—not too cold or not too hot.”
A full three minutes behind Bawcom came Eduador’s Maria Elena Calla (1:15:31). Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania resident Jennifer Bingham was third in 1:15:59.
Over an hour after the half-marathon winners crossed the line came the marathon champion, John Brigham who celebrated his achievement in 2:28:46. The 29-year-old high school teacher lives not too far away from New Orleans in Mobile, Alabama. “I tried to hang back early on because of the half marathoners who started with us,” said Brigham who then began to reel them in. “After the half, I was pretty much all by myself from there to the finish.” Brigham, who has won marathons in Alabama, set a personal best in New Orleans today.
Second and third place in the men’s marathon was awarded to Ashley Liew (Spartanburg, South Carolina, 2:32:12) and Matt Peharda (Boulder, Colorado, 2:42:06) respectively.
The women’s marathon champion also turned out to be from Alabama. Twenty-nine-year-old Samantha Gardner from Daphne clocked 3:04:24 for the win. It was her first marathon victory. “It’s like a dream come true,” Gardner said afterwards. “It is so awesome to have the whole crowd cheering for you. It was awesome.” Gardner has come to New Orleans to run the half marathon, but today was her first time running a full marathon in the Crescent City. “The crowd support was great and the bands were fun,” she said.
Gardner’s first marathon win was a commanding one. Livvy Jernigan of Pensacola, Florida finished second 3 minutes behind Gardner (3:07:53) and Christina Perry of Salt Lake City, Utah (3:08:04)
But everything on Sunday wasn’t about personal achievement and breaking the tape. New Orleans Saints punter Thomas Morstead ran the 10K with his wife to support the race’s benefiting charity, Feed the Children, which seeks to end childhood hunger by providing over 350,000 meals a day around the world to kids. Through Team Feed the Children, runners dedicated their event training and race participation to make a lasting change in the lives of children in the New Orleans community.
“It was great, slow and steady,” Morstead said of the race. “I got a couple high-fives. This is the first time I’ve ever participated in something like this, and I had a lot of fun. I didn’t know what to expect, but I really enjoyed. It was even better participating on behalf of a great cause like Feed the Children.”
“It’s been an incredible experience for Feed the Children to participate in our first ever Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon,” said Kevin Hagan, Feed the Children president and CEO. “It was an amazing start and a rocking finish. We believe the time we spent here this weekend will help bring all of those who participated – runners, walkers, volunteers – together in the fight against childhood hunger.”
There to keep spirits high at the finish-line concert in New Orleans’ City Park was KONGOS, a multi-cultural, multi-faceted, multi-instrumentalist duo as well as New Orleans native, Trombone Shorty and his funk/jazz/rock/hip-hop band, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue.
The 2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon & 1/2 Marathon benefiting Feed the Children will take place on February 28, 2016. Special pre-sale registration prices for the marathon ($50), half marathon ($50) and 10K ($25) are available online this week only: https://runrocknroll-register.competitor.com/register/?event=31393.
|1||Janet Cherobon Bawcom||01:12:22|
|2||Maria Elena Calle||01:15:30|
|4||Silvia Del Fava||01:16:45|