February 2, 2014
- · Former NFL offensive lineman Alan Faneca finished first marathon in under four hours
- · 2013 women’s marathon winner Karen Lockyer returned to win half marathon this year
- · Local Monique Koll returned to walk race after debilitating spinal cord injury in 2012
NEW ORLEANS – More than 15,000 participants took over the historic streets of the Big Easy at the 5th annual Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon & ½ Marathon, which took place on Super Bowl Sunday, February 2, 2014. Battling tough weather conditions, Ben Bruce of Flagstaff, Ariz., made his first go at 26.2 miles a memorable one, winning in 2:21:56. Former NFL lineman and LSU alum, Alan Faneca also completed his first marathon in 3:56:17, following a significant weight loss of more than 100 lbs after retiring from the NFL.
Bruce settled into his intended pace of 5:15 per mile through 5K. By 10K, the steeplechase specialist, was all alone, splitting 33:01. Eventual second-place finisher Ryan McGuire was 47 seconds behind at that point, while Bruce fed off the energy of the early crowds lining St. Charles Ave. Bruce continued pressing, before the humid, windy and sometimes wet conditions began to wear on the 6-foot-1, 150-pounder. A few miles in the 5:40s slowed Bruce’s overall pace, but he was still able to extend his lead all the way to the finish line at Roosevelt Mall in City Park.
“I was running with one guy early on and we were right in the 5:15 zone, which put us at 2:18 pace, which is kind of where I was looking to be today,” said Bruce, who was still feeling the aftermath of a half marathon two weeks ago. “Then we slowed to 5:20, which was fine, but then we ran closer to 5:30. At 10K I was already on my own, so that’s another thing — running almost 20 miles of the race all alone is pretty tough.”
“Well I definitely got some experience and I guess the good thing is that probably by my next marathon I won’t have weather conditions like this,” Bruce added of the less-than-ideal racing weather.
In the women’s marathon, Andrea Duke was the lone female under 3 hours, breaking the tape in 2:58:57. Livvu Jernigan was second in 3:02:54, while Cristine Wenzl was third in 3:07:27.
The men’s half marathon was won by Liam Burke in 1:11:35. He was followed Mark Burke (1:12:37) and Robert Wade (1:12:43) in second and third, respectively. Last year’s marathon winner, Karen Lockyer won the women’s half marathon in 1:20:30, nearly four minutes up on second-place finisher Beverly Antunes (1:24:15). Sarah Lannom rounded out the top-3 in 1:27:33.
“I was in New Orleans checking out Tulane University and my dad was racing in the marathon, so I decided to run,” said Burke. “I was with Ben Bruce until about 10K, then I was running by myself. On top of that, it was pretty humid which made it more difficult.”
In addition to Alan Faneca making his marathon debut, Monique Koll, returned to walk the 5th annual race after participating in last year’s race in a wheelchair only a few months after suffering a severe spinal cord injury. Last year, her boyfriend Nick Zaunbrecher pushed her in a wheelchair for 13.1-miles and then acted as her crutch as she took the final steps to the finish, resulting in a photo that inspired many after going viral on Reddit.
“It was great to make my marathon debut in New Orleans,” said Faneca, who had never previously run a long distance race before. “It got serious when everyone was peeling off for the half marathon split, but the spectators were tremendous. Training runs by yourself are mentally challenging, but the funny signs and cheering fans at the race give you energy to help get you though.”
The 6th Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon & ½ Marathon will take place on Sunday, January 25, 2015. For complete results, photos and more, visit RunRocknRoll.com/New-Orelans.