Eric Biedermann and his wife, Laura, have run marathons together since 2007, but they had never done so in Baton Rouge, Laura’s hometown, until Saturday.
Now living in New Mexico, the Biedermanns made the most of the trip as Eric won the men’s crown at the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon.
Laura was there to cheer on 36-year-old Eric as he completed his last mile to finish with a time of 2 hours, 50 minutes, 1 second at Milford Wampold Memorial Park.
“(Laura) grew up hearing about the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon, and we always talked about coming back and doing this one,” Eric Biedermann said.
He came in about 10 minutes short of the time he wanted, but it was still a personal record by 7 minutes. It’s also the biggest race Biedermann has won, he said.
“I had some problems with leg cramps about two-thirds of the way through but managed to stay at my PR pace,” he said. “I’ll take it. It was a good day.”
In the women’s marathon, Ponchatoula’s Ashlie Downey came in wanting to qualify for the Boston Marathon. She did that and more.
With a winning time of 3:24:18, Downey, 33, bettered her personal best from last year’s beach marathon by 30 minutes. It was well under her age group’s qualifying time for the Boston Marathon and also provided her first win.
Downey said she was inspired after learning she was in the lead halfway through the race.
“I felt like I’d already accomplished something because I’ve never had a bike follow me in a race,” Downey said of the race officials who keep track of the leaders.
Downey credited training partner Jim Batson, 52, who finished alongside her. Batson was the 10th male finisher and was first in his age division.
In the half marathon, 16-year-old John Paul Hardin, a sophomore at Zachary High School, took top honors with a time of 1:19:30. Hardin’s win was the closest of the day; he edged Baton Rouge’s Ryan Croswell (1:19:30).
Hardin is the youngest winner of the half marathon in the past 13 years. He watched Zachary’s football team win its Class 5A semifinal playoff game Friday night, then made an early Saturday morning pay off.
“I was hoping for a top-five, but I didn’t have any specific expectation since it was my first half marathon,” said Hardin, who had a top-16 finish at last year’s state cross country meet.
Hardin ran the second half of his race faster than the first.
“I went out pretty slow, which was the plan, and then negative splitted the last half,” he said. “It helped me close and finish strong.”
Becky Younger, 26, of Metairie won the women’s half in 1:28:22. It was the fastest winning time since Amy O. Paine ran 1:26:13 in 2003.
Younger ran in college for Division II school Slippery Rock and has been in Louisiana for about a year. Running the half marathon was part of her training schedule as she prepares for the Houston Marathon in January.
“I wanted to see where my fitness was today, to just test my pace strategy,” she said. “Then, toward the end of the race, I wanted to see what I had left. It went well.
“This was a great course to do it on. It was nice and flat, and the weather was beautiful. It was a perfect setting.”