Monday, June 9, 2014

Crescent Connection Bridge Run: The 2014 Recap

Race organizers from the Crescent Connection Bridge Run offered me a free race entry for this year's event, and all they asked was that I write a blog recap. As always, my thoughts on the race are not biased in any way. Let's keep it between us that I would have written a recap regardless; but with all the races I've been doing lately, a free entry is always appreciated!

The 2014 edition of the Crescent Connection Bridge Run is my third consecutive time going over the span, with each year being as memorable as the last. The event is one of the very few evening races in New Orleans, and gives a unique perspective to local runners.

Knowing how to handle pre-race activities for this bridge run is key to success. My carpool of friends arrived in downtown New Orleans near the finish to park and catch a shuttle to the start. Soon after disembarking, we grabbed icy water from volunteers, found a patch of shade, and didn't stop hydrating until shortly before beginning the run. With the race always falling in early June, muggy and warm conditions are persistent. Proper hydration is the best way to combat the heat.

The Main Event
The route for the Crescent Connection Bridge Run starts in the rear of the Oakwood Center mall at the West Jeff Fitness Center. It then circles the mall on to Terry Parkway, and enter's the bridge's HOV lane for the first ascent. The climb to the peak of the bridge is two-fold, with an initial rise followed by a brief flat segment that gives way to a climb of more than 300 feet. Views from above the Mississippi River are breathtaking, with great scenes of the city skyline being the highlight. In every other direction, suburban NOLA communities butt up against the refineries and boats that dot the river's many turns.

The descent is steeper than the climb. Runners have to open their gait to accommodate the twisted ramp that brings them back to ground level. The final half mile of the race is flat terrain on surface streets that service the convention center and Mardi Gras World. After crossing the eastbank finish line, runners were handed commemorative hand towels to dry off as they entered a festive atmosphere on the shores of the river.

The post-race party takes place in the shade of the bridge, with ferries and barges passing by in the backdrop. Plenty of Blue Runner Red Beans were being dished up, Louisiana Bridge Run Series medals were handed out, and Michelob Ultra replenished carbs for participants. Live music was only interrupted for awards to be presented to top athletes in both the Crescent Connection Bridge Run and overall in the Bridge Run Series.

Room for Improvement
Much like I talked about in the Crescent City Classic 10K recap, the finish line for this race needs some attention. It's a simple fix, but one that would improve the overall experience immensely. Barricades need to be in place for 25-30 yards past the finish to keep spectators out of the way of participants, and volunteers need to keep runners moving through the chute toward the finish festival. This would allow water to be placed much closer to the finish line for overheated runners, and distribution of post-race amenities could flow much smoother.

I wasn't aware of it until today, but there were also some issues with the timing system used to record finish times. According to a Facebook post from the race director, they had implemented a new internal system that had hiccups on race day, and efforts are currently being made to correct the results.

Also, the heat is a major factor for this race, and the same statement mentioned above also addressed a possible later start time in future years. I think that's a great idea, with a lower setting sun allowing for cooler temps and a better view of the skyline. Read the entire statement on the subject HERE.

Final Thoughts
At four miles, the Crescent Connection Bridge Run is totally manageable for participants of every skill level, even in the summer heat. Race organizers provide water in two locations, with the promise of adding a third in 2015. I have several friends who participated in this year's race as a walker, and they had a great time.

Seeing the immediate response like the one mentioned above shows a dedication to the overall experience runners receive. The Crescent City Classic family of events has drastically improved over the past several years, with the growth of the races being a testament to their quality. Having personally run races across the country, I can attest to the fact that we're lucky to have an organization like the Crescent City Fitness Foundation putting on races in New Orleans. I once again enjoyed my experience with the Crescent Connection Bridge Run, and know I'll be back in 2015.

For complete race results, click HERE.

Check out photos from the the Crescent Connection Bridge Run in the gallery below. If you can't see the gallery, LIKE the NOLArunner Facebook page HERE!

No comments:

Post a Comment