Alabama residents made it a clean sweep in the men’s and women’s fields at the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon, held Sunday morning on the fast and flat streets of the Crescent City.
John Brigham, a 29-year-old teacher and coach from Mobile, won the marathon in 2 hours, 28 minutes, 45 seconds. Samantha Gardner, a 29-year-old accountant from Daphne, led the women’s full field in 3:03:41.
More than 13,000 registered for the race that began near the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and winded its way through the CBD, the French Quarter, along the Esplanade and Bayou St. John ridges and to the lakefront before ending at City Park.
Approximately 3,500 took part in the marathon, with more than 8,500 entering the half marathon. The half marathon followed the same course to the park but ended there.
Runners were greeted by near-perfect racing conditions, with temperatures in the mid-50s, slight winds and no fog or precipitation.
Brigham works at St. Paul’s School in Mobile and ran at Mississippi State and Belmont. He said he wanted to hang back in the pack until the full and half fields split, so he would have an easier job of maneuvering to the front.
“The weather was so perfect the first 10 miles, it was hard to be conservative,” he said. “I got warmed up after that. The last 12 miles were really an effort, but I was able to hang on. Between 14 and 20 miles, I was really struggling.”
Still, the effort was enough to ditch his nearest competitors near Lake Pontchartrain. Ashley Liew of South Carolina was second in 2:32:12, and Matt Peharda of Colorado was third in 2:42:05.
“It’s not my first marathon win, but this was a best time for me,” Brigham said. “I’m really happy with today.”
Gardner posted her first marathon win after running the half marathon a few times in New Orleans before. She said the weather was conducive to faster times, but she was OK with her effort. She took the lead just past the first-half mark at City Park and pushed to a greater lead after that point.
“Being a CPA, this is a good time for me, right before tax season, to get a win,” she said. “Now I can take off a couple months before getting really busy with work. ”
In the half marathon, Mike Popejoy edged last year’s full marathon champion, Ben Bruce, for top honors. Popejoy, a 29-year-old graduate student who lives in Massachusetts, finished in 1:05:18. Bruce, a world-class steeplechaser from Arizona, was on his heels in 1:05:48.
“I’ve never been in New Orleans before, but I targeted this race because it’s such a fast, flat course,” Popejoy said. “I live near Boston, so it wasn’t cool at all, temperature-wise. It was almost warm for me. … I shadowed Ben for a while in the first mile or so. I haven’t qualified for the Olympic Trials yet, so that was on my mind. I still have a year to do that. The pace began to slack after the first mile. We are roommates at the hotel, so we’re excited for one another.”
Janet Cherobon-Bawcom, 36, led the women’s half field in 1:12:22. The Kenyan-born Arizona resident easily outpaced Ecuador’s Maria Elena Calle, who crossed in 1:15:30.
“Today was great,” Cherobon-Bawcom said. “We ran into some wind for a couple miles in the beginning, but then it was at our back, so it was OK. I got to the lead in the first mile and stayed with it. I didn’t see too many (female racers) today.”
Runners from each of the 50 states and from approximately 25 countries participated in the marathon, half marathon, a relay and a previous 10K.
1. John Brigham, Mobile, Ala., 2:28:45
2. Ashley Liew, Spartanburg, S.C., 2:32:12
3. Matt Peharda, Boulder, Colo., 2:42:05
4. Justin Gates, Pensacola, Fla., 2:45:57
5. Benjamin Saunders, Darien, Conn., 2:48:28
6. J.P. Botti, New Orleans, 2:50:59
7. Nick Accardo, New Orleans, 2:51:01
8. Bryson Smith, Arlington, Va., 2:51:53
9. John Hitter, Lafayette, 2:54:02
10. Jonathan McCall, New Orleans, 2:54:37
1. Samantha Gardner, Daphne, Ala., 3:03:41
2. Livvy Jernigan, Pensacola, Fla., 3:07:46
3. Christina Perry, Salt Lake City, 3:08:01
4. Marguerite Marschner, Salt Lake City, 3:10:24
5. Yvonne Leeb, Atlanta, 3:10:41
6. Siobhan Dwyer, New York, 3:12:37
7. Elaina Mertens, Dubuque, Iowa, 3:15:15
8. Katie Kramer, Broken Arrow, Okla., 3:15:47
9. Jen Bakula, San Francisco, 3:16:17
10. Camren Kane, Pensacola, Fla. 3:17:46
Men’s half marathon
1. Mike Popejoy, Somerville, Mass., 1:05:18
2. Ben Bruce, Flagstaff, Ariz., 1:05:48
3. Zachary Meineke, Milwaukee, 1:06:26
4. Paolo Natali, Italy, 1:08:01
5. Tyler Sewald, Greeley, Colo., 1:10:22
6. Richard Bouckaert, New Orleans, 1:11:21
7. Josephat Keino, Midland, Texas, 1:13:24
8. Mark Greene, San Antonio, 1:13:46
9. Jonathan Autrey, Memphis, Tenn., 1:14:00
10. Derek Morgan, Memphis, Tenn., 1:15:18
Women’s half marathon
1. Janet Cherobon-Bawcom, Flagstaff, Ariz., 1:12:22
2. Maria Elena Calle, Ecuador, 1:15:30
3. Jennifer Bigham, Pittsburgh, 1:15:59
4. Silvia Del Fava, Houston, 1:16:45
5. Leah Watters, Gulfport, Miss., 1:24:26
6. Tara Klick, Havertown, Pa., 1:24:31
7. Becky Sondag, Casper, Wyo., 1:25:48
8. Nicole Solana, Pensacola, Fla., 1:25:52
9. Lauren Blankenship, Marietta, Ga., 1:25:59
10. Kylie Kastes, New Orleans, 1:26:05