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Will Shaffer wins 10th annual Saints Kickoff 5K Run

Annual race kicked off the 2022 NFL season in New Orleans on Saturday


The 10th annual Saints Kickoff Run presented by Hancock Whitney took place in Champions Square on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022.

The 5K (3.1 miles) race started in Champions Square with the finish line reverting back to the 50-yard line in the Caesars Superdome. Following the 5K race, younger fans were able to participate in the Saints Kids Fun Run presented by Invisalign.

Will Shaffer, 28, of Knoxville, Tennessee won the men's division with a time of 16:24. Shaffer formerly competed for Marshall University as well as Virginia Tech.

"I'm down in New Orleans for my honeymoon and we were looking up events at the Superdome. My wife and I are runners and we saw that there was a 5K, so why not jump in it?"

Kristin Wenstrom, 42, of Covington won the women's division with a time of 18:22. A member of the Gallagher's Run Club, Wenstrom has been a lifelong Saints fan.

"This is my first time running it but the idea of finishing on the field at the start of the season sounded like a lot of fun."


Saints owner Gayle Benson was in attendance to welcome and support the runners as well as commence the race by sounding the air horn. The rest of the support team featured club mascots Gumbo and Sir Saint along with members of the Saints Cheer Krewe in addition to a live jazz band. Race participants were also treated to live pre- and post-race music in Champions Square.

"Hancock Whitney is proud to be the official bank of the New Orleans Saints and we are thrilled to be the presenting sponsor of this year's race," Hancock Whitney's Senior Regional President Gary Lorio said. "Thousands of excited fans joined us to celebrate the kickoff of this football season."

YAYA, a local nonprofit whose mission is to empower creative young people through arts and entrepreneurship, was the 2022 beneficiary of the run.

"We are so honored to be the charitable partner for the kickoff run this year. Much like the Saints, YAYA is a New Orleans institution," YAYA Executive Director Meg Miles said. "We have been here for 35 years, providing completely free after school and summer programs for young people."

New Orleans Saints fans and families participated in the 10th annual Saints Kickoff 5K Run presented by Hancock-Whitney as well as the Kids Fun Run presented by Invisalign on Saturday, September 10, 2022.

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