Race: New Orleans Rock n Roll Half Marathon

Runner: Ping S

Race Date: 02/10/2019

Location: New Orleans, LA

Results: 1:28:24

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

  1. FLAT – surprisingly, “flat” can mean pretty different things to different people, but when people call this course “flat”, they truly mean pancake, ruler edge flat. When you look at the elevation chart, it looks like there is elevation change…and then you realize the scale on the chart is 0-10 feet.
  2. Fast – in addition to being flat, there were about ~8 turns total on the course, so it was a great course to just get in a rhythm and run.
  3. Location – Lots of hotels right by the start so it was super nice to be able to just step outside, warm up, then go back to my room to grab a gear check bag with some warm clothes (was going to be waiting at the finish for a buddy), then head outside to the gear check just a few blocks away. Versus races with starts way out in the middle of nowhere (hi, CIM), this is a real luxury.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

This was the race coach Matt and I were looking for – well paced hard effort as prep for Lake Sammamish in a couple weeks.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

This goes for any race and is probably not NOLA specific, but always trust your own sense of pace and/or your own watch against the “pace team” you’re running with. The 1:30 group on this day, that I ran with for a number of middle miles, was running pretty hot – the leader ended up finishing just under 1:29, which is, to me, a pretty significant difference from the assigned time. Hopefully nobody blew up because of it, but good to keep in mind that these pace runners are human too and not just perfect metronomes cranking out even miles all the way to 1:30:00.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Running to the East on St Charles (roughly miles 4.5 through 9), the street appears mostly straight but is actually a slow long curve to the left, so stick to the inside of that turn as much as you can. Outside of that, it is pretty easy to run a fairly good race in terms of tangents (my GPS had me at 13.17 total).

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

More or less, but I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the scenery. St Charles, having run on this street on past visits to NOLA, is nice for running, with the street cars and nice houses.
The finish in city park is also quite nice, with drooping spanish moss-lined trees arched over the final hundred meters – definitely New Orleans. Also, coming up on the final half mile, you’re running a straightaway towards a very grand looking New Orleans Museum of Art, which is a nice touch as you are tiring.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Easy, fast course. Noted in many reviews, but do watch for potholes and train/trolley tracks.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

I was surprised to find more than one aid station almost totally unmanned – the gel station just had huge buckets of gels sitting there but nobody handing them out, so runners had to go pick them out themselves. Same at one water station that I grabbed a couple of cups from (one for me and one for a dude I was chatting with). This was surprising to me for a RnR event.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Dathan Ritzenhein showed up and won this one in just over 61 minutes, so on this day it was a pretty strong field. Not sure about other years (believe K Goucher ran one year) but in general, there was a good grouping of faster runners. My 1:28 was good for 75th out of ~7500 or so, and I had at least a few people around me for most of the first 10 or 11 miles.

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

NOLA is a huge city so there’s plenty of hotel head room even for a relatively sizable event like this one (13,000 people across 4 distances).

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

I think they were “handing out” SiS gels (I didn’t take one but looked like those). “Quotes” used per my above comment on unmanned stations.

Weather and typical race conditions

Low 50s at the start, 60 or just above by the time I finished. 10mph wind though good portions of the course were out of the wind more or less.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?

Coming from Seattle and the snow (this year), this was obviously just a shorts and singlet race for me. But you could tell some southern locals thought this was pretty cold as there were a lot of folks in two long sleeve layers (and not throwaway layers, either), long tights, hats, some in gloves, etc.

How’s the Swag?

Standard RnR gear – off brand shirts now that they’ve gone cheap and stopped using Brooks.

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

I think the weather here can be pretty variable (two days before the race highs were in the upper 70s to low 80s) so if you absolutely need 45-55 degree weather (or a really good chance of that), this probably is not the greatest bet for that.

Course wise, as noted, it is a very fast course.