When the anticipated 25,000 people registered in the 37th annual Allstate Sugar Bowl Crescent City Classic take to the streets of New Orleans, they eventually will focus on the finish line.
But for event coordinators Eric Stuart and Ricky Thomas, they are focused on not only the finish line, but also the starting line, a pre-race expo, a post-race festival, and all points in between.
It’s been three years since Stuart and Thomas manned the reins at the CCC, and they constantly are looking to tweak the system for the benefit of all who enter Louisiana’s biggest road race.
This year’s Crescent City Classic will be held April 4 beginning at 8 a.m. near the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Runners, joggers, and walkers from almost every state in the nation (as well as several dozen foreign countries,) will maneuver through the CBD, the French Quarter, and along the Esplanade Ridge, before ending their 6.2-mile trek in New Orleans City Park.
No major changes have taken place for the 2015 race, but there have been slight adjustments.
For instance, all participants will have to be in a chute to begin the race. After trying several “soft” barricades in the past two years, there will be “hard fencing” along Poydras St. at the start — requiring participants to queue according to their seeding time.
“The entire length of Poydras to Claiborne is going to be hard-fenced,” Stuart said. “You will have to get in a corral. There’s no way out of that now. It’s our way of making sure that the course doesn’t get too crowded; that the start begins smoothly. Everyone, no matter their ability, really will get their own official start this year. There will be seven of them.”
The elite racers will begin the race, along with the A and B groups of runners. They will be followed by those participating for charity groups, then followed by slower groups, and eventually race walkers, and the usual wave of those pushing shopping carts, strollers, buggies, and the like (an element that makes the CCC nearly as much a parade as a road race.)
“The race starts at 8, but we’re asking all people to be in their corrals by 7:30 a.m.,” Stuart said. “We want people getting there early, getting loose, hydrating.”
The finish line also will be hard-fenced this year, requiring all persons entered in the CCC to work their way through a hydration station and a medal station before being directed to the post-race festival.
“It’s going to be a much easier thing to navigate than in the past,” Stuart said. “There will be plenty of signs pointing the way.”
Shuttle bus services will be provided from City Park to the CBD beginning at 5:30 a.m. The return schedule to the CBD will begin at 10:30 a.m., Stuart said. Additional buses have been added to this year’s transportation service.
The post-race festival, held inside New Orleans City Park, is an event of its own merit. This year, Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes will open at 9 a.m. The Dana Abbott Band will headline at 11 a.m. The race fest offers ample food, beer, water, informational booths, kids’ attractions, and more. The fest opens to race participants and the public at 8:30 a.m., and will end at 1 p.m. Tickets to the festival for members of the general public cost $10 each.
Online registration for the CCC ends March 30 and costs $45 per person. Anyone wanting to register for the race after that date can do so at the 2015 Health & Fitness Expo at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans on Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Cost to register at the expo, which will include dozens of vendors, health experts, info booths and the like, also will be $45.
The expo is free to participants and the public, as well.