Racers to start, finish in Superdome to benefit three charities
“It gives you a lot of momentum because the Saints fans are among the best in the NFL. ” Jamie Monroe, event director
Saturday morning there will be a crowd inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. But it won’t be because Drew Brees and the boys are trying to sneak in an extra preseason game.
Rather, throngs of runners will gather on the Dome’s floor for the Saints Back to Football Run presented by Chevron — a charity event that is expected to attract approximately 5,000 participants to the Central Business District.
The Dome’s 50-yard line will serve as the race’s finishing point, which event organizers say surely doesn’t hurt registration. If the projected number of runners show up, the race would rank among the largest in the Gulf South.
Not only will the event, now in its second year, benefit three non-profits — Team Gleason, the One Fund Boston and the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation — it is meant to celebrate the fast-approaching season opener and to bring a greater health consciousness to the city.
“You’re exposing a demographic to running that might not exercise regularly,” said event director Jamie Monroe. “They see they can do this.”
Mike Giacona of River Ridge isn’t one of those who might need the extra conditioning, however. He’s a member of the New Orleans Track Club and at 35, participates in races nearly every week.
For Giacona, the idea of ending the race at midfield in the Dome provided too good an opportunity to miss.
Of course, he’s a Saints fan. He’s also a member of a group that is calling itself the “Big Easy Brees-Y,” which he estimated is about 30 members strong. Members are having special T-shirts made for the event to show off their own unique sense of style.
“This is the best of both worlds,” Giacona said. “A lot of us race together and we ‘Theme to Extreme.’ This should be one of the crazier races with all the Saints fans out there. It’s perfect for us. And after all, tis the (football) season.”
Monroe is expecting a lively crowd. He called the first Saints Back to Football Run his company’s “marquee event” of the year.
“Sure, we reach the runners in a community, but there is a sense that if you’re not participating, you are not supporting the team,” he said. “Because of that, the fans also come out. It gives you a lot of momentum because the Saints fans are among the best in the NFL. They showed up.”
The run will begin at 7:30 a.m. The course will begin at the Dome and cover stretches of Poydras, South Peters, Decatur and Tchopitoulas streets before circling around the Dome and ending indoors. The Saintsations, as well as team mascots Gumbo and Sir Saint, will greet people at the finish line. A beer garden will be set up in Champions Square and live music will be played. Participants also will receive an event T-shirt, a medal and an NFL-approved bag.
An NFL Play 60 one-mile fun run will be held for children as well.