Two women set course records for the Louisiana Marathon and Half Marathon on Sunday.
Rachel Booth, the previous half marathon record holder at 1:17:19, now holds the course record in the full marathon at 2:43:57 and qualified for the 2020 Marathon Olympic Trials in the process.
Booth currently lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, but she used to help out with the event when she lived in Mandeville, Louisiana. It was her second time running a Louisiana Marathon event and only her first time running the full marathon here.
Booth was the only female participant to break the three-hour mark. It was not a personal record, but she will be competing at the Olympic trials for the first time since the 2012 London Olympic trials.
“I was pretty excited,” Booth said. “I really came down here because I love the people, I love the course with (founder) Craig Sweeney and (race director) Jonathan Dziuba, they’re all so fantastic. It was special for me to come back down here and try to qualify. I’m getting kind of old, so I figure I should try one more time (for the Olympic trials). I didn’t want any pressure, just a good run.”
Meanwhile, Booth’s course record at the half marathon was broken by Des Linden — a two-time Olympian who became the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years last April.
Linden’s 1:14:18 time was nearly 12 minutes quicker than the next runner.
“It was fun,” Linden said. “It’s an eight-year-old event, so the records are going to be changing and growing all the time. It was fun to get my name on the board. It was a great course and a great morning. It’s an all-around good event.”
Linden, who placed sixth at the New York Marathon on Nov. 4, plans to head home to Michigan for a few days before heading to Phoenix for warm-weather training before the Boston Marathon on April 15.
“It was good to sort of check mark my fitness, see where I’m at and try to build from here,” Linden said. “Hopefully in a couple of months, I’ll be able to go quite a bit quicker.”
It was a self-redemption for Keith Kotar, who came in second at the Louisiana Half Marathon in 2018 after holding a 200-meter lead through nine miles before the lead vehicle took a wrong turn.
The Benbrook, Texas native got off to a hot start in the first few miles of the half marathon and never let up, winning with a time of 1:11:22.
“It was really special,” Kotar said. “I’ve had 53 weeks just to think about that.”
Kotar used to race triathlons professionally, but decided to take a break after his last trial in October 2018. Running had always been his strength, so he just wanted to “see how fast he could get” after training for 11 weeks.
Taylor Simoneaux’s entire family was waiting at the finish line for him as he won his first marathon and beat his personal record by 15 minutes with a time of 2:38:18.
Simoneaux called it a “dream come true,” and said it was easy because he had a great group of people to train with. He credited his coach Brock Moreau at the Power Milers track Club in New Orleans for helping him prepare.
“It’s hard to comprehend coming down that last 10k because your brain kind of shuts down, but hitting the finish line, you just lose it all,” Simoneaux said. “Coming down that stretch is incredible. Coming down that straightaway (on Fourth Street) with everyone screaming, it’s awesome. I love this race. I’m from Louisiana and the hometown race means everything. Represent.”