Friday, April 12, 2013

United Way of St. Charles Bridge Run 10K: The 2013 Recap

I usually start off race recap blogs with the negative aspects to get it out of the way, and then move on to gushing over the bright spots that made the event a race that I enjoyed. I’m not going to deviate from that layout for this recap of the United Way of St Charles Bridge Run; however, in this instance, the good won’t outweigh the bad.

The St Charles Bridge Run takes place just west of New Orleans with a course that starts in Destrehan, LA and finishes in Luling, LA after traversing the Mississippi River over the Luling Suspension Bridge. I registered for this race the week prior to the event, and was pleased that the price at such a late date for the 10K was still a very reasonable $25. My main reason to participate was that I wanted a second shot at the 10K distance quickly after the week prior’s Crescent City Classic that I ran sick. Little did I know at the time of registration that on race day I’d still be in the middle of an antibiotic prescription that caused stomach discomfort. Regardless, I woke up on race morning early and got out the door with plenty of time to park and get warmed up.

For this race, you actually park at the finish line and get bussed to the start across the river. Since there was a 10K and 5K option to this race, there were separate busses taking participants to the two separate starting lines. The number of participants in the 10K was drastically less than the 5K participants, and the line for 5K runners to board a bus was incredibly long. After taking a bus ride to
the small 10K start, the National Anthem played on time shortly after 8am and we waited for the 8:15am start time. And waited. And waited. Fortunately I saw a friend to talk with and pass the time, but at nearly 8:40am with little warning the starting gun fired. The 10K ran down the Mississippi River levee toward the bridge. Two miles in, 10K runners pass the 5K starting line. As I passed, I saw the mass of 1,500 runners in that wave surge forward when their gun fired. I realized that since I had a mile out-and-back to run before I even caught up to their starting line, I would have to pass all of their walkers and slower runners to get back to my race pace.

The halfway point for the 10K runners was on the bridge’s on-ramp, and after I hit that I was weaving around and dodging walkers on an uphill with an inward sloping gradient for the next two miles. The mile 5 marker was just past the bridge’s summit, allowing for the final mile to be all downhill (aside from a slight overpass right before the finish) and it was here that I made up some time.
For this year’s event, there were medals created for the first 1,000 finishers. I was lucky enough to come in within that limitation, but many 10K finishers did not get a medal thanks to 5K runners finishing before them (but probably at a slower pace).

I will say that the post-race festival was far superior to that of many local races I’ve participated in, with ample food and space for runners. It was fun to meet up with friends post-race to rehash our run and to talk about upcoming races. However, the issues with the late start and poor planning of merging the two races made for a frustrating morning. I’m aware that this was a highly increased attendance from previous years, with much of that probably being attributed to people wanting to participate in the newly formed Bridge Run Series (more on that to come), but an earlier start time for the 10K is almost mandatory for a safe and easy event for everyone. The 10K runners need more than 15 minutes to be able to get ahead of the 5K race. In order to see continued growth, adjustments need to be made.


  1. Sounds like they have some details to figure out for 2014. I'm really impressed with the medal, though. Great race for you, especially with the condition you were in that weekend!

    1. Its definitely growing pains. I think this bridge run series is a GREAT idea to help strengthen some hot Summer races in NOLA, though. I know I can't wait for the next two (CCC Bridge Run & the New Huey P Bridge Run) in June. They'll get it together for 2014, I'm sure. And I'm sure I'll be back like a bad relapse, and ready for Round 2. Don't be surprised when I try to drag you along with me.

      And thanks, I was pleased with my performance ... all things considered. If anyone knows how I felt that weekend, you do. I'm still trying to get back to normal, if that's even possible with this weather.