Mardi Gras Marathon, Feb. 5, 2006 (late race report)
last is my race report for the Merms Rule! Mardi Gras
The Mardi Gras Marathon and Half Marathon, run last weekend, was the first major
organized sports event in
of credit to the New Orleans Track Club for putting this on - we had the NYCM 2 months
after 9/11, but that disaster didn't destroy the marathon course. Three of us (Louise,
me) flew into
a car. We had reservations for 7 PM at Emeril's, which should have been plenty of time
except for a tremendous traffic jam approaching the city. We got to the Intercontinental
with just half an hour to spare, so I sent Louise and Cindy up to check in and change,
while I did the Superman thing in our car so that I could stay parked at the front door.
Then we headed out to Emeril's for a wonderful dinner. Emeril was actually there that
evening, and was kind enough to let us have our picture
taken with him.
The packet pick-up and expo were conveniently in our hotel, and we went there Saturday
morning. I found my Penguin friend Dudley and his wife Mary manning the New
Orleans Track Club table, although I think he actually saw me first (wearing my Pink Hat).,
and we exchanged flipper hugs. I had done the Mardi
Gras Half with
Cajun from Bayou la Franche) in 2001. This year I was waffling between doing
the full (which I signed up for) or the half, as my training was totally inadequate, but was
assured that I could simply finish with the half marathoners who had a separate finish
mat. The shirts were long-sleeved, yellow for the marathon and a really nice purple for
the half, with a multicolor Mardi Gras design. They are much nicer than the white short-
sleeved T that I got for the half in 2001. The goody bags included, among other things,
a small packet of Boudreau's Butt Paste.
For lunch, we found a local hangout called Mother's, where we had to wait outside for
a bit. The manager, who fancied himself to be something of an Elvis impersonator, came
out and sang to Cindy. We were joined by a friend of Louise, who drove in from
somewhere out towards
married, she told her husband that if she ever caught him fooling around, she would have
his house, his car, and a face-lift. "And that's
why I don't look like I'm 75!"
In the afternoon, I joined Cindy as she visited her grandson, a freshman at Tulane. He
gave us a tour of the campus, which suffered mild flooding during Katrina. We then
drove portions of the course, but although we saw some of the flooded areas, the damage
would be much more evident when we ran through the city on Sunday. I also noted that
the road surface was quite rough on the street on which most of the second half (an out
and back) would be run.
The races began at 7 AM on Sunday, which really was 8 AM for us New Yorkers, so it
wasn't that bad. The temperature was perfect, starting in the 40's and rising to probably
around 60, sunny and calm. The organizers had received permission just a week earlier
to use the outside of the Superdome (and its garage) for the start, finish and post-race
party. We drove to the Superdome and stayed in the car to keep warm until we had to
head for the start. Full and half runners started together, about 3600 altogether with most
doing the half (pre-Katrina races drew around 6000). I started at the very end, planning
to run 3 minutes out of 10, and found myself with a friendly bunch of mostly locals,
many wearing Mardi Gras beads and decorations with a few wearing full costumes.
I wore a
purple and silver boa that I had bought on
One group of walkers was dressed as Willy Wonka, an Oompa Loompa, and a Hershey
I thought they were just awfully cute, but
of that since Mayor Nagin's
comment [about the
The course went first through the French Quarter, which was not flooded, and then turned
years ago, but the trees have been significantly stripped and wind-damaged. Many of the
houses were being repaired.
effort to tidy up the park a couple of weeks ago. Lampposts along the median that had
been knocked over were still lying on the ground. There was a half-mile out-and-back
into a neighboring residential area that had been under 7 feet of water, and here the
damage was much more evident. Many houses looked abandoned with broken windows
and gaping doors, marked with red coded "X's". A few houses had FEMA trailers in their
yards. The run back to the Superdome again passed residential and commercial areas that
had been flooded but were being repaired, and many businesses had signs that said
I was having a great time with my running/walking companions, as we stayed just ahead
of the 16 mpm police car with its flashing lights (marking the pace for the 7 hour
marathon limit - the half actually had a 4 hour limit).. I decided to have a fun half
marathon and finish happy, rather than try to do the full. I actually ran more in the last
three miles, reaching the finish at around 3:20 and getting my medal and a hug from
beans and rice, King cake, beer (free) and music. I was even able to get a purple half
marathon shirt. I did miss the Chee-Wees (a local version of Cheese Doodles, but better)
from 2001, as the Chee-Wees
factory was destroyed by Katrina.
I had finished in the gap between Louise and Ilene, who also did the Half, and Shirley
and Cindy, so I wasn't able to get back in time to cheer in our marathon champions.
After well-deserved "freshening-up", we walked a couple of blocks into the French
Quarter where we celebrated with dinner at the Red Fish Grill in
the French Quarter.
Five months after the hurricane,
slowly rebuilding. Everyone was warm and welcoming, thanking us for coming to the
city. The race was well-organized and supported, at least on the half-marathon part, and
the shirts and medals are really nice. I would be happy to go back again, although I'd
have to be more careful about eating (I gained three pounds in three days).