Bridge races have been successful around the world for years.
So it makes perfect sense that similar events would thrive in water-laden southeast Louisiana.
That’s only one reason, however, that the Louisiana Bridge Run Series has been a success since it debuted in 2013.
Now in its third year, local race directors say road runners enjoy the scenic views from atop area bridges. They also say the series itself presents runners and walkers of all abilities a chance to conquer a “mountain” in the flatland that makes up the New Orleans area.
This year’s Louisiana Bridge Run Series will begin on Saturday with the United Way of St. Charles Bridge Run, which crosses the Hale Boggs Bridge from Luling to Destrehan. The series will continue May 9 when the Great Huey P. Long Bridge Run is staged on the span of the same name in Jefferson Parish.
Then on June 6, the series concludes with the Allstate Sugar Bowl Crescent Connection Bridge Run over the Crescent City Connection from west to east banks in Orleans Parish.
Since the series began, there has been a tremendous annual increase in participation of all three individual races, not to mention the series itself. The Louisiana Bridge Run Series awards those who participate in all three races. Local racing stalwart Ian Carr won last year’s series by leading the field in all three of the bridge runs.
Last year, approximately 650 people entered each of the three races, and thus were awarded a participation medal for their efforts. This year, however, that number looks as if it could double.
“I’d say we’re going to have well over 1,000 people participating in the Bridge Run Series this year,” Crescent Connection Bridge Run Director Eric Stuart said. “Judging by all the phone calls we’ve received, and the general interest in these races, I think we’ll go well over last year’s number.”
Last year’s Crescent Connection Bridge Run, a 4-mile event, saw more than 3,000 registrations. Stuart said many are “everyday runners,” rather than local elites.
“There are mostly ‘average Joe’ kind of people entering the series,” he said. “Everyone seems to be pointing to those three bridges and saying ‘This is a test.’ We’ll have a few of the area’s best runners, sure. But this seems to be more of an event for everyone.”
Chuck George, who is director of the 19th annual bridge run in St. Charles Parish, said he’s experiencing similar growth. That event stages both a 5K and 10K.
“We had right at 2,500 people in our bridge run last year, and the numbers seem to keep going up,” George said. “The first year of the Bridge Run Series, we had a 40 to 50 percent increase in the number of people in our race alone.
That’s a huge increase in one year for an established race like this one. The series had everything to do with that.”
Mike Wattigny, who helps direct the 5K Great Huey P. Long Bridge Run, said his race registered 1,700 people last year. He expects that number to climb in 2015.
“The unique nature of each of the races is an attraction,” Wattigny said. “I think people are picking this race as their 5K of choice. And with the other races in the series, you have a really unique opportunity to be a part of something special….There’s a lot of bang for the buck.”
For more information on the 2015 Louisiana Bridge Run Series, go online to the individual sites of each race in the series: nolarunning.com (for the United Way St. Charles Run); hueyprun.com (for the H.P. Long Run), or ccc10k.com (for the Crescent Connection Run).