LAFAYETTE — The inaugural Zydeco Marathon on Sunday will feature a racing tour of Lafayette’s most venerable residential neighborhoods and business district in addition to qualifying runners for the Boston and New York marathons.
Racing director Michael Howard said plotting the race course through residential areas near the Louisiana-Lafayette campus will provide about 2,200 competitors with potential front-yard cheering sections as they cover the 26.2 mile course.
Those competing can choose to run a 13.1 mile half marathon or a full marathon.
The race begins at 7 a.m. adjacent to Cajun Field for both the complete and half marathon. The marathon runners will complete the entire course twice, while those running the half marathon will stop when they have completed the course once.
Howard said he and co-race planner Andrew Ward began constructing the concept of a Lafayette marathon about 11 months ago.
What they didn’t expect is the number of runners who have registered for the Zydeco race, said Howard.
“I guess we have doubled what we expected,” he said. “When the registration ended on Thursday, we had 1,700 for the half marathon and just under 500 for the full marathon.”
Howard said he anticipated that large a response initially.
The potential for Acadiana to host a marathon was something that he and Ward felt would be a success, Howard said.
“We knew Lafayette has a vibrant running community,” Howard said. “There is also a great love and enthusiasm for Lafayette’s culture and food. Put all those things together, and this is an event that is fun ready.”
Howard said he and Ward purposely set the race through the Saint Street area near the Cajundome and the university to give runners a potential support group and maybe motivate the runners.
“We think that it’s perfect, having people come out near the roadway and cheer on the competitors,” Howard said.
The course will also include Bendel Gardens, portions of the Oil Center business district and South College Drive.
In addition to encompassing the residential streets, the course will wind through West Congress, Jefferson Street , the downtown business area and Girard Park Drive near the UL-Lafayette campus.
The runners will celebrate after the race with a party at the intramural fields near Cajun Field where Zydeco and other forms of music will be provided.