Beach to Bayou

In my last post I talked about the Mississippi Gulf Coast Half Marathon. That race was part of the Beach to Bayou challenge. The final race in this challenge was the Louisiana Half Marathon which brought me to the Louisiana capitol, Baton Rouge. I unfortunately was dealing with a pretty bad case of hip bursitis so I wasn’t sure how I’d manage running the race, but I was excited to check out a new city, so I was off to Baton Rouge.

Baton Rouge has a beautiful downtown area along the Mississippi River. One of the highlights is the Old State Capitol Building pictured here. The architecture of the building is beautiful, it looks so much like a castle and each angle offers a different perspective. Inside the building is a museum dedicated to Louisiana’s history and it is absolutely free.

Along the Mississippi River there is a beautiful riverfront area complete with walking path and places to sit and take in the view. Also nearby are the USS Kidd war ship and also the Louisiana Art and Science Museum. There is definitely no shortage on things to do for the whole family.

The new capitol building is equally as impressive as the old one. It’s actually the tallest capitol building in the U.S. It was also the sight of the start and finish lines of the marathon and half marathon that Sunday. It was such a gorgeous area, I’m glad I went over there on Saturday to check out the area while it was empty. On Saturday the high was in the 70s and after leaving the 20 degrees in Boston, it felt beautiful. But all good things come to an end. Saturday night a cold front came through with some heavy rain and it was in the 40s/50s and very windy Sunday morning. The races started in front of the capitol and then headed through downtown.

From downtown it headed over to Louisiana State University, LSU, This was a pretty exciting year to be running through LSU. Earlier that week, their football team won the National Championship. On Saturday they had a big championship parade and celebration. The campus was full of National Champions Banners and their stadium looked very impressive, I’d actually really love to see a game there some day. The highlight of the campus is their mascot Mike the Tiger who unfortunately must have been napping or hiding somewhere trying to keep warm when I ran by. I would have loved to have seen him, not many colleges have a live animal as their mascot.

From the LSU campus, we then ran around University Lake which was just gorgeous. What a great path for the locals to enjoy running and walking. Not only the lake was beautiful, but the homes along the lake were beautiful as well. After running around the lake for a few miles, the race went back through the LSU campus on it’s way back to downtown.

My favorite thing about this race and the Mississippi gulf coast race was that the medals were the shape of the state, what a great way to celebrate finishing those states. The Beach to Bayou medal was huge, a good three to four times the size of the half marathon medal. This race also had one of the best finish line festivals of all the races I’ve done, which helped me somewhat forget that my hip was screaming at me and that I was freezing cold. They had vendors giving out free coffee, which I helped myself to two of those just to warm up. We each also got 6 tickets with our bib for food and beer. The food choices were amazing! Louisiana classics like Gumbo and Jambalaya. I just can’t say enough about how good the food was and my pictures definitely don’t do it justice

I would definitely recommend this race. Very well run, beautiful course, great finish line festival and such a great city to visit! I stayed at the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center which was within walking distance to the start. They also offered a 3pm check out for runners which is key if checking out on race day. And they have an airport shuttle which was convenient and a money saver for people that don’t want to rent a car. And they were either still celebrating Christmas or gearing up for Mardi Gras with this Mardi Gras themed tree. Great hotel, great race, great food and great city!

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