After settling for second place in a photo finish during the first Shamrockin’ 8-Kilometer Run two years ago, Kenya’s Julius Kogo ran with extra passion on Sunday during the third annual race.
Kogo’s latest effort allowed him to surge from behind late in the action and win the third Shamrockin’ Run with an 8K time of 22 minutes, 30 seconds.
The race, which attracted approximately 3,000 people (including 13 elite men and 11 elite women from around the world,) was held in New Orleans on Sunday morning. The elites raced on a 4.97-mile loop course contained within Audubon Park. The rest of the crowd ran the same distance from the Warehouse District, and then primarily down Prytania St. to the park, earlier in the morning.
The most anticipated feature of the day, however, was the knot of elite runners who came to town with the hope of setting a world record at the 8K distance. Kogo was 28 seconds off the record pace but still collected a hefty portion of the $70,000 prize purse split among the races’ top men and women.
Anyone setting a world standard at the Shamrockin’ Run would have won an additional $25,000 for running the time in New Orleans.
Kogo, 29, thought he had a chance to do that on Sunday, but an early push by younger legs hindered his effort. He led for large segments of the 8K but fell behind several competitors in the last mile. His surge to the end of the course came in front of several thousand spectators, and it punctuated his outstanding rally.
“This is a fast time for me,” Kogo said. “The course was a friend to me today. I was able to run ahead at the end.”
Kenya’s Dominic Ondoro finished second in the men’s field in 22:34. Ethiopia’s Haile Tegegn placed third in 22:40.
Isiah Koech, last year’s men’s winner, was a late scratch and didn’t participate in this year’s Shamrockin’ Run.
On the women’s side, 21-year old Buze Diriba of Ethiopia won in 24:59. The Kenyan duo of Betsy Saina (25:02,) and Risper Gesabwa (25:45) finished second and third, respectively.
“It helps that the course is pretty flat and fits the type of course she likes,” Diriba said through an interpreter. “The weather was a little humid for her today (high 60s early, with temperatures climbing well into the 70s by the start). But I’m still happy with my time today.”
In just its third year, the Shamrockin’ Run has become one of the top road races in Louisiana and in the Gulf South in general. Following a flat and fast course, elites from numerous countries descended upon the city on Sunday for a crack at a PR and possibly a world record.