Elite runners have come close to setting a world record during the first three races of the Shamrockin’ Run 8K.
Race director Bill Burke said the fourth time may be the charm.
Two dozen of the world’s finest long distance runners will descend upon New Orleans for the 2016 Shamrockin’ Run Elite Cup, which is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Sunday in Audubon Park.
The athletes will race along the loop course in the park, and a $25,000 prize awaits the man or woman who can set a world record at the 8-kilometer (4.97-mile) distance.
Kenya’s Julius Kogo, 30, the defending champion at the Shamrockin’ Run, is coming off a win in a 15K race in Tyler, Texas a week ago. His time of 44 minutes, 13 seconds in Texas is the fastest in the world at 15K this year, Burke said. Last year at the Shamrockin’ Run, Kogo flirted briefly with the 8K world record time of 22:02, before finishing in 22:30.
“He was close last year,” Burke said. “And two years ago, the winner was only six seconds off the record. The weather is supposed to beautiful on Sunday. It’s on the same loop course, so it could very well happen that we see a world record that day. I’d love to see it happen.”
Fourteen additional elite men are entered in the race.
On the women’s side, defending champion Buze Diriba of Ethiopia,who ran a 24:59 last year, returns to race in 2016. Eight other elite women from around the world are in the field and are expected to challenge the 22-year old Diriba.
The Shamrockin’ Run is different in that elites race separately from other participants. Burke said between 2,500 and 3,000 others will take part in an 8K race which will begin at 9 a.m. near the National World War II D Day Museum in the Warehouse District. Entrants running or walking that course will travel down stretches of Prytania Street and St. Charles Avenue, with jogs onto Louisiana Avenue, as well as Camp, Upperline and Henry Clay streets, before turning toward the finish in Audubon Park.
A postrace party with food, drink, live music by Cowboy Mouth, vendors, informational booths, and more will follow from 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Everyone also can watch as the elites race on the Audubon loop at 11 a.m. Shuttle service will be provided throughout the morning and early afternoon to ferry participants from Audubon Park to the Warehouse District.
About $40,000 in prize money will be awarded to top finishers in the elite race, as well as top age group runners, top Louisiana finishers, and winners in the Guinness Challenge (which requires participants to drink beer at designated stops on the course.) There also will be a costume contest, and the 610 Stompers will greet everyone as they cross the finish line.
An expo will be held from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday at Shelter 10 in Audubon Park complete with packet pickup, onsite registration and vendors. Race-day registration at the starting line will be held from 6-7:30 a.m. and costs $60. The fee includes race T-shirt, a commemorative beer mug and more.
Burke said a $10,000 donation to the Audubon Institute will be made with race proceeds.
“St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal here,” he said. “The race is slowly catching on. There are so many events here, you have to be unique and different. And we are. With the bands playing throughout the course, to Cowboy Mouth at the postrace party, to the elite race afterward that everyone can watch; you get a lot when you register. It’s a solid race for the community.”