Thursday, June 5, 2014

Bridging The Gap

Since 1958, the Crescent City Connection has serviced vehicular traffic from the Westbank to the Eastbank of the Mississippi River in New Orleans. This weekend, there are two opportunities for athletes to take in the New Orleans skyline from the precipice of the bridge more than 300 feet up in the air.

Crossing the bridge on foot is something I think every New Orleanian should experience at least once. There's a certain appreciation for the view that is acquired when you're not passing by at 60 miles an hour. I'll be tackling both of these weekend events, one as a veteran participant and the other as a first-timer. Here's what's is in store for participants:

Allstate Sugar Bowl Crescent Connection Bridge Run
This Saturday, June 7th, runners will cross the bridge for a 4 mile trek that starts at 6:00 p.m. in the rear parking lot of Oakwood Mall on the west bank of the Mississippi River. The course exits the mall and flows on to the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane of the bridge. A steady incline covers about a mile and a half of the total race distance before giving way to amazing views of New Orleans set against a breathtaking sunset. It's a fast decent from the bridge, with the final half-mile winding around the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and on to the river front by Mardi Gras World for a triumphant finish. 

After you finish the race, pick up your race t-shirt & enjoy free food from Blue Runner, free Michelob Ultra beer, and live local music until 9:00 p.m. Participants who have completed the other two races in the Louisiana Bridge Run Series should stick around to receive their medal for conquering the Mighty Mississippi.

Free bus transportation will be available before and after the race for all race participants, picking up at Convention Center Blvd and Henderson St., from 4:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Early Number Pick Up will take place TODAY (Thursday) from 12:30-6:30 p.m. at Brisbi's Lakefront Restuarant & Bar, and again tomorrow (Friday) 12:00 - 7:00 p.m. inside the West Jeff Fitness Center on the Westbank. You can also pick up your number or register on race evening at the start.

Registration and more info for the Allstate Sugar Bowl Crescent Connection Bridge Run is still available HERE until Friday at noon!

Bridgeman104 Duathlon
In its third year, the Bridgeman104 covers both the running and biking disciplines during one race. Sunday morning, runners tackle a 2 mile sprint in downtown Gretna before transitioning to a 10 mile round-trip bike ride over the Crescent City Connection. The final leg of the race is another 2 mile run, this time along the top of the Mississippi River levee. Views of downtown New Orleans, the bridge, and scenic residential areas of the Westbank are highlighted throughout the course.

This will be my first time participating in a race that requires a bike ride, so I'm slightly apprehensive but very excited about the opportunity. The bike course brings riders across the main span of the bridge on the HOV lane, which is shut down for the event. There is a full vehicle lane in use for each direction on the out and back course. Plenty of space and smooth terrain, but that incline on a bike is daunting.

After the race, participants will enjoy food, drink and music at the riverfront in Gretna, where the Gretna Heritage Festival has agreed to provide a concert stage for live music. There will be an awards ceremony followed by more music, with the after-party lasting until noon.

All participants receive a great schwag-bag pre-race, a cool medal at the finish, and great awards for top finishers in various divisions. For more photos of these perks, visit the Bridgeman104 Duathlon Facebook page HERE.

Packet pick up will occur the day before the race this Saturday, June 7th from 10:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m. at Smoothie King in Westside North Shopping Center, 91 Westbank Expressway in Gretna. All athletes are required to show a photo ID. Athletes may only pick up their own packets. For more packet pick-up info, click HERE.

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