Over 22,000 take part in Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon & Half Marathon.
NEW ORLEANS – Among the more than 22,000 runners in the 3rd annual Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon & ½ Marathon benefiting the American Cancer Society, it was former University of Oregon standout Shadrack Biwott who stood out amongst the crowd.
Running solo along historic St. Charles Avenue, the 27-year-old Biwott was losing steam in the men’s half marathon. He had maintained a dominant lead since the start, but had no one to push him for much of the race.
As he reversed direction on St. Charles Avenue, the other side of the street was lined with thousands of runners who spotted Biwott and began to cheer loudly for him–cheering that would continue for well over a mile.
“That was amazing,” Biwott said of the support he received from other runners on the course. “I want to thank those guys so much and Rock ‘n’ Roll for bringing me. It was just a great event. Those guys made a big difference. Hearing people cheering gave me some fire.”
Biwott would win the half marathon handily in 1 hour, 4 minutes and 23 seconds, ahead of Costa Rican Jose Chaves, who crossed the finish line in 1:08:03. The Kenyan-born Biwott, who placed third here in 2010 behind fellow Kenyans Martin Lel and the late Sammy Wanjiru, will next run the New York City Half Marathon on March 18. Today’s win was exactly what he was hoping for in preparation for that race.
“I just tried to have fun and run a decent time,” he said. “Nothing crazy, just tried to control it which was my goal and I think that’s what I did today.”
Costa Rican native Gabriela Trana won the women’s half marathon in 1:16:32, beating out local Sarah Skotty, who finished in 1:17:25. Trana’s time was a PR and beat her own Costa Rican national record.
“I am so happy because this is my best time,” she said. “The race was so, so amazing. People give a lot of support during the race and it gives you energy. It ‘s so flat and the weather today was so wonderful really.”
In the full marathon, Louisiana native Meyer Friedman won in 2:27:02 after placing in the top-three each of the past two years. Now living in San Diego, Friedman is recovering from a herniated disc and said the win came with a slower time than he’d hoped. Nonetheless, he was excited to win in his hometown.
“It definitely adds to the excitement of coming back here. I’m familiar with the roads and recognized a number of people on the course, so it great to be back,” Friedman said. “The Uptown area, obviously, is quite familiar to me and I’ve run thousands of miles on St. Charles and the adjoining roads.”
Mississippi’s Meggan Franks struggled in the latter half of the women’s marathon when stomach issues slowed her down. Despite the discomfort, however, her third marathon ever turned into her second win, as she crossed the finish line with a time of 2:49:06.
“There are lulls in marathons, like peaks and valleys, and if you can overcome a lull, you start to feel better,” she said. “I think I overtrained, so I slowed the second half. The bands really helped and the crowds really help when your mind is starting to play games on you. At miles 21 to 26 I was looking for support anywhere I could find it.”