The Louisiana Marathon weekend shifts into high gear today with two races highlighting its theme of Run Louisiana Day.
The day gets started with The Advocate 5K run at 8 a.m. and follows an out-and-back course starting south on North fourth Street near the state capitol before heading east on North Boulevard.
The Kids Marathon will follow at approximately 9:30 a.m. and has two options. Younger runners can opt for a half-mile run while a 1.2-mile route sends runners past Arsenal Park near the state capitol.
“Its all part of our motto — run, eat, dance, laugh,” said race marketing director Dan Bourgeois of Run Louisiana Day. “If you can bring people in and they start to run, then their lifestyle changes.”
The three-hour Family Fest will also begin at 9:30 a.m. and features performances by Music Studios and the Baton Rouge Symphony Youth Orchestra. Food will be provided by The Big Squeezy, Quarters and Zoes Kitchen.
Last year, course 5K records were set in both the male and female divisions. Former Catholic High runner Cole Stafford took top male honors with a time of 16 minutes, 23 seconds.
In the female race, Courtney Stockett of Madison, Miss., edged Baton Rouge’s Annie Peek by a second with a winning mark of 17:14.
“Its important to manage time for the kids well so you want to have the (Kids Marathon) on a separate day,” Bourgeois said. “You also bring in festivals for the families.”
For many participants, the Kids Marathon will be the culmination of either a nine- or four-week training program available online at the Louisiana Marathon website among others.
Kids Marathon participants are rewarded with a handful of race items including an activity book, a shirt, and a finisher medal.
“It really is for everyone,” Bourgeois said. “For us, the definition of a runner isn’t someone who’s fast or goes far. Its someone who shows up, and they run or they walk. Its also someone who’s been to a running club or volunteers for the race.”
Following Family Fest, the day’s focus will shift to the marathon’s Speaker Series at the River Center. Featured speakers from the world of sports medicine and sports nutrition will be on hand.
The day concludes with a pastalaya dinner at the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center beginning at 6 p.m. Renowned marathoner Bill Rodgers and Matt Long will speak at the dinner.