Diverse group runs Huey P. Long race

While Ian Carr and Charlotte Werhan were taking top honors in Sunday’s Great Huey P. Long Bridge Run, there was plenty of action back in the pack as well.

Here’s a sampling:

On his first Father’s Day as a dad, Carlos Paiz and his fiancée, Lyndsay Cleary, of Metairie, took their eight-month old Addison, out in her stroller.

Up and over the Huey.

“We wanted to her to have a healthy lifestyle and to promote it for others,” Paiz said. “And we thought, ‘What better way than to take her out for a run?’ ”

And run Paiz did. There were several others with babies in strollers in the race, some with two passengers. But they mostly walked.

Paiz, who recently returned from Afghanistan, where he did analytical work for the military, ran well enough to finish 110th with Cleary at his side.

“It was pretty tough early because the incline was so steep,” he said. “Counting the baby, I was probably pushing 50 pounds.

“It definitely was a good cardio workout. If you want to feel the burn, I highly recommend it.”

Plus, Addison had a good time.

“She was laughing the whole way,” Paiz said. “People were coming by and talking to her and high-fiving us.

“There never was a point where I regretted it.”

Standing tall

Even in a group of more than 2,000 Brian Olivard of New Orleans stands out.

At 7-foot-1 he’s used to it.

It was the former Brother Martin basketball player’s first competitive race, and he found it unexpectedly exhilarating.

“I wasn’t sure how it would be,” said Olivard, who finished in 34:40. “But I just put my music in my ear and kept going until I was done.

“I felt pretty certain I would make it over. I just didn’t know how long it would take.”

Actually, Olivard’s biggest fear didn’t develop.

“I was afraid I would hit my head on the trestle,” he said. “But I ducked, and it was OK.”

A different commute

For 40 years, Richard O’Neill drove across the Huey to get to his job at the Avondale shipyard.

Sunday, for the first time, he ran across it.

“This was a lot safer,” said O’Neill, 75, who won his age group in 39:34. “People just run around instead of running over you.”

The latter, O’Neill said, was the case when he was making the commute from Metairie to the West Bank. Although he had only two accidents, both times running into the bridge railing to avoid 18-wheelers encroaching from the other lanes, every day was an adventure.

“It looks beautiful now,” O’Neill said. “I would have loved it if had been this way all along.”

“I guess I finally got used to it.”

O’Neill, the lone competitor left from a group of cancer survivors who began running together several years ago, did not sign up for the race until Saturday

But he definitely intends to be back in 2014.

“This was pretty strenuous today,” he said. “I was gasping for air going up but just kept on pushing.

“But when you’re coming down, it feels marvelous.”

Major accomplishment

Pat Shackelford and his friend Julie Bullo walked the course, taking more than an hour to finish.

But for someone who only recently dropped below 400 pounds, that was a major accomplishment.

“I think I lost 10 more pounds just going up,” Shackelford said. “But we got a breeze that welcomed us at the top, and I knew we could make it the rest of the way.”

Shackelford said he had walked in 10Ks before, but always over flat courses.

The climb up the Huey was more of a challenge.

“I had to prove to myself that I could make it,” he said. “I was getting a lot of encouragement, too.

“It doesn’t matter how fast you do this as long as you never give up. I’m just trying to get myself healthy.