New Orleans Saints “Back to Football” 5K

I knew the second I heard about this race that I had to do it. My two loves, the Saints and running, combined?!?! Sign me up!

The Back to Football series, which also included races hosted by the San Diego Charges, Tennessee Titans, and St. Louis Rams throughout the summer, was organized by Competitor, the same guys who do the Rock ‘n Roll races.

The registration was pricey, $40 per person for early sign-up. It increased to $50 in August and then was $60 the week before the race.

While normally I’d never pay this much for a 5K, I was sold by a couple of things – the promise of a technical Saints T-shirt, and the chance to run on the turf in the Superdome, via the 50-yard-line finish.

The race proceeds went mainly to support the New Orleans Super Bowl Committee, as NOLA is hosting the big game this season.

We slept at my parents’ house outside New Orleans the night before, and my alarm went off at 545 – ugh. Even though my husband hates waking up early and is normally sullen on race mornings, he was in a pretty good mood – I think this was the one race that he was actually excited about!!Smile

Getting to the Superdome was no problem – traffic wasn’t an issue and there was plenty of parking in the parking garages at the stadium. We got our bibs, I took some photo ops, and we got into the 9:30/pace corral right before the race started.

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I was planning to have my Garmin on for the race just for documentation purposes, not to meet any kind of goal, but it died at the race start.

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The race began in Champions Square outside the Dome, and headed toward Poydras Street. It was nice to have those tall buildings blocking the sun for a lot of the course! There was one water stop about halfway, and I am pretty sure it was water only.

We just ran a comfortable pace, as my husband is still not completely back in the running shape he once was. The majority of runners were wearing Saints-related attire and it just was fun, knowing that the Saints’ first game was the next day and you were surrounded by a lot of other fans.

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As the course ended, it led to an entrance inside the Superdome. People were hollering/cheering as that blast of A/C hit us. We got to run through the tunnel that the players run through each Sunday at the beginning of the game, and then the finish line was in the middle of the field.

I tried to get some decent pictures as we ran through the tunnel and the finish line, but my camera wasn’t having it. The lights were very low inside the Dome, so my camera didn’t want to take good pictures there.

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My chip time was 29:46 for a 9:35 pace.

I did see one guy laying on the ground being attended to by medics, so I pray he was OK. The heat down here has just been so bad. Hoping it chills out soon.

We picked up our shirts and sweatband after the race, then headed out.

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We decided to grab breakfast and headed to a storied New Orleans restaurant, Camellia Grill, in uptown.

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The restaurant is kind of like a diner, you go sit at the counter and give the cooks your order. We both had omelets, very good!

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Then we made the long drive back to Baton Rouge, and after charging my Garmin, I got in 6 more miles to complete my long-run distance of 9 miles. I know it’s not quite the same thing as running all 9 at once, but I’d rather do it this way than miss out on the 5K, or not get the full distance in at all.

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