I recently took a trip to Baton Rouge, LA to run a half marathon and left very impressed with the city. I spent about 72 hours in the City, arriving Friday afternoon and leaving Monday morning. I had a blast running in the marathon and even a better time enjoying portions of the town.
So if you are looking for a great winter marathon or half-marathon to run, consider coming down to Louisiana. It will be worth the trip.
I am currently living and working about 3 hours north and west of Baton Rouge, so when my mom decided that she was going to come down and run the Louisiana Marathon it just made sense for me to drive over and run the half marathon. The drive down was pretty uneventfully until I hit the Atchafalaya Basin and Henderson Swamp. The basin and swamp are something else to behold. I would love to take a tour sometime with my camera. But on my drive down I still got pretty lucky with the sights as I got to see one of the rarest birds in North America, the Whooping Crane.
And that was basically the highlight of my drive to Baton Rouge as the Henderson Bridge goes on and on forever and then the traffic got really bad on I-10 right outside of the city. I had to get off the interstate and navigate the streets by my self. (Ok, I had my phone to help get me to the hotel. And the Expo). I stayed at the Marriott in the university district which was about 5 miles from the start/finish line. No worries, there was a shuttle to and from the hotel on race day, plus there is a lot of parking near the start/finish area if you want to drive (we did).
The expo was good for how small the race was, but what really surprised me was how well the race was run and how well the course was laid out. The course starts out in downtown along the Mississippi River and works its way over to the LSU campus. After the campus, it works its way around the rest of University Lake that you don’t see getting to campus and then finally back to downtown where they throw an awesome party at the end.
This is one of my all time favorite courses I have ran and it is probably just because I wasn’t running between building the whole time. It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I started running around the lake when the sun started coming up, possibly making for the best morning I have had running in a long time.
Being on the lake at sunrise really just made the race seem like a run instead. The thought that kept going through my mind was this is a route I would run for a training run not a race. I was by no means in this race to win it, I was just out to have a good time and that is what I found.
After the race, I had an even better time. The food was great, the music was great, hell even the (light) beer was great. All I can say is that this state knows how to party and after a marathon is no exception to the rule. Even the awards were one of a kind. They were chunks of slate that if you put around your neck you would probably end up hurting your self.
After getting back to the hotel and showering, we attempted to go to the Audubon Plantation, but it was closed to visitors for the day. We then ventured into the university district to find some food and beer and close out the night and were not disappointed. If this says anything, I plan on going back next year.