Richard Bouckaert won the second annual 504K, managing the Sunday morning run through the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods in 15 minutes, 38 seconds.
Meanwhile, hundreds of locals — most less experienced than Bouckaert, a former long distance runner at Loyola — filled the course, part of an effort to attract newbies to sports and fitness.
About 1,000 runners, joggers and walkers of different sizes and speeds participated in the 3.1-mile race, including about 200 youth entrants, ushered by coaches assigned based on expected pace. It gave the race a feel-good ending as the rookie runners crossed the finish line, proud mentor nearby.
“It’s great seeing people get active,” said Bouckaert, 30. “I know these kids need an outlet, and it’s great that these people take the time to help these groups, more than anything, get kids active.”
Lander Denali, executive director of Youth Run NOLA, which hosted the race, said the event had 78 running coaches, each escorting one or two youngsters.
“We know that, personally, we run better when you’re with a team and you have somebody encouraging you,” Denali said. “A lot of families have started to walk the route with us but couldn’t necessarily keep up with their kids, so we’re trying to make sure that, if anybody comes out, we have someone that can match their pace and push them, get them through.”
Approximately 250 school-aged students are involved with Youth Run NOLA throughout 19 area schools.
Hughes Benjamin (18:25) and Fiona Collins (24:24) won the boys and girls under-18 division.
Finishing behind Bouckaert in the men’s division were Sean Allerton (16:14) and Nick Accardo (16:21), followed by Brandon Wingate (17:11), who pushed his daughter, Gianna, 2, in a stroller. Race announcer Chuck George joked that Gianna, not Megan Ghores (18:56), should have been declared the top female finisher.
“Brandon, I think your daughter is going to beat you again,” George cracked.
Sunday was the Wingates’ longest stroller race.
“She was yelling, ‘Faster, faster, Daddy!’ ” said Wingate, 40, a product of Metairie’s Lutheran High. “She was trying to get me to catch the other (two) guys. They were a little bit too fast for us today.”
Alicia Woodside (19:57) was second in the women’s division, followed by Emily Mase (20:02).
Other winners were top male (Byron Adams in 18:15) and female masters (Wendy Capo, 20:15) and male (Hawkins Lloyd, 22:23) and female grand masters (Kathleen Welch, 23:01).