Skip to main content
New Orleans Saints

Saints News | New Orleans Saints |

New Orleans Saints fans sprint toward the season with Kickoff Run

5,000 participated in the 11th annual edition of the event

.New Orleans Saints fans kicked of the start of the 2023 NFL season at the team's annual kickoff 5K run presented by Hancock Whitney and Kids Fun Run on September 9.

As the New Orleans Saints get ready to kick off the season against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, fans got to take the field ahead of the team as they finished the 11th annual Saints Kickoff Run presented by Hancock Whitney.

About 5,000 people participated in the event Saturday, Sept. 9, which included the 5K (3.1 miles) and a half-mile Kids Fun Run as well as festivities in Champions Square.

The men's winner was William Ellender, 21 years old and from Mer Rouge, Louisiana, who ran a 15:57 and took a handoff of a football in the Caesars Superdome to cross the finish line in first. Ellender had come in second in the race in 2022.

"I was coming back, shooting for first," he said, "and I got the revenge."

The women's winner was Victoria Brignac, 37 years old and from New Orleans, Louisiana, who ran a 18:55.

"I love fun races like this, so to finish first in one is like icing on top," Brignac said.

Garrett Hartley, legendary Saints kicker and part of the 2009 Super Bowl XLIV championship team, was alongside Gumbo, Sir Saint and members of the Saints Cheer Crewe cheering on the finishers as they crossed the finish at the 50-yard line in the Caesars Superdome, an experience Ellender described as "glorious."

"You are like hurting because you can see you are about to go in but once you are on grass you just lose all feeling and it's just like chills all over your body," he said.

Brignac said the first thing she noticed upon entering the Caesars Superdome was the air conditioning but also said it was cool to see the Superdome from the field as opposed to the stands.

Saints owner Gayle Benson saw everyone off at the starting line as did city council member Lesli Harris.

All runners received an official "Saints 5K" participant shirt and finisher's medal as well as two free beers for those over 21.

Live entertainment was provided in Champions Square before and after the race.

There was complimentary Gatorade available for the runners as they crossed the finish line as well as more hydration and snacks available in Champions Square.

There was also a virtual 5k event for those unable to make it in person, but still wished to participate.

The full results of the race can be viewed at

The Saints Kickoff Run supported the Louisiana National Guard Foundation (LANG). The Louisiana National Guard Foundation's mission is to exclusively support the Louisiana National Guard's mission, its members, veterans and families as well as the educational programs and museums of the Louisiana National Guard.

Melanie Sheen, 39 years old and from New Orleans, Louisiana, finished the race in 26:22, but did so while pushing a stroller carrying a 4-year-old and a 5-year-old, finishing the unofficial winner among those pushing a stroller, she said.

Sheen said this was her second year participating and she is a Saints season ticket holder since 2006, and said she'll be in the stadium for the home opener against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, Sept. 10.

"I think it really pumps everyone up for tomorrow."

Related Content