Saints fans take a big easy run to Superdome

Advocate staff photo by DANIEL ERATH -- The Saints Back to Football 5k run was held in New Orleans on Saturday, beginning in Champions Square and ending at the 50-yard line in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Many runners sported Saints-themed outfits during the run.
Advocate staff photo by DANIEL ERATH -- The Saints Back to Football 5k run was held in New Orleans on Saturday, beginning in Champions Square and ending at the 50-yard line in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Many runners sported Saints-themed outfits during the run.

The Dat Girls spent nearly as much time creating their wardrobe for Saturday morning’s Saints Back to Football Run as they did training.

Saints T-shirts. Check.

Black tights, black shirts and comfortable running shoes. No problem.

Oh, don’t forget the black fleur-de-lis capes and black masks, complete with gold eyelashes.

“We have to bling everything up,” said Wendy Whitfield, laughing after the 5K run ended inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The group of six joined about 5,000 participants on a hot, but easy run from Champions Square to the football field their Saints will attempt to utilize as a springboard back to greatness.

The Saints open the regular season next Sunday against NFC South rival Atlanta.

Season ticket holder B.J. Kruse said he is impressed by the offseason upgrades at receiver, thanks to rookie Kenny Stills and second-year pro Nick Toon.

If only the defense can do its job too.

“After looking at the preseason games, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens with the defense,” Kruse said. “And also, special teams and whether or not they can keep the mental mistakes to a minimum. This last game, although they had the third-team players in, they still had a lot of mental mistakes.”

Too many if the Saints, coming off last season’s disappointing 7-9 finish, have a chance to reach Janie Passaro’s prediction of 14-2. Passaro and four co-workers took part in the morning run. Their wardrobe included black and gold tutus.

“We’re going to win, we’re going all the way!” Teresa Dubreui said. “We got (coach) Sean (Payton) back.”

“Thank God,” added Passaro.

James Spears predicts 10-6, maybe 11-5. Depends what occurs on defense.

“If the defense is just average, we win the Super Bowl.” Spears said.

His running attire wasn’t the flashiest, but it had to be the bulkiest. Spears, a 12-year fireman, wore an air tank on his back, which weighs about 45 pounds. At least he had the fireman’s hat to block out the morning sun.

He finished the run in about 39 minutes.

His motivation? An aunt who is a two-time breast cancer survivor.

“Every time I want to quit,” Spears said, “I think of her and I keep going.”

Proceeds of the race went to Team Gleason, which is in search of a cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease, a terminal neuromuscular disease. Former Saints special teams standout Steve Gleason made an appearance at the race.

Proceeds also went to One Fund, a Boston Marathon organization, and the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation.