Annual Carnival season race returns to the Big Easy this weekend; Reigning female half marathon champion, Neely Spence Gracey, returns to defend her title
More than 20,000 runners from all 50 states and 37 countries will hit the pavement for the 2017 Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon & ½ Marathon. Returning this weekend (February 4-5), the 8th annual race has added a new sold-out 5K inside City Park on Saturday, February 4. For the first time, race weekend now offers two days of running with the marathon, half marathon, and 10K taking place on Sunday, February 5. Participants who run the 5K on Saturday and any distance on Sunday will complete the Remix Challenge and earn an exclusive third medal in addition to each race’s finisher medal.
“New Orleans is a natural destination for the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon,” said Alex Bennett, Vice-President of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. “It’s a fast and flat course which is perfect for athletes trying to qualify for Boston. And in a city that’s known as the birthplace of jazz, you can’t beat the music.”
One of the United States’ up and coming distance runners, Neely Spence Gracey returns this weekend to defend her title as the reigning women’s half marathon champion. Since her victory in 2016, she has won the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon and was the top American in the 2016 Boston Marathon.
“My goal next is the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon, which is the one I opened up my season with last year,” Spence Gracey recently told The Slate. “It will be a nice gauge of fitness, comparing to where I was last year to this year.”
Sunday’s races will start near Lafayette Square, taking runners up the mansion-lined St. Charles Avenue, through the French Quarter, and then down Esplanade Avenue before finishing in City Park.
Participants will be greeted by the sounds of live entertainment, along with spectators and cheerleading teams lining the route to motivate them to the finish line. Upon finishing, runners are invited to relax and celebrate with family and friends at the post race Toyota Rock ‘n’ Roll Concert Series headlined by local favorites Big Freedia and Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The concert is free and open to the public.
Race weekend kicks off with a free Health & Fitness Expo on Friday, February 3 from 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Saturday, February 4 from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The expo will have numerous vendors featuring the latest in running gear, nutrition and training.
For more information, visit www.RunRocknRoll.com/New-Orleans.