Photos of fans and special guests at the eighth annual Saints Kickoff Run presented by Chevron on Sept. 7, 2019, a tradition that marks the return of Black and Gold football.
The eighth annual Saints Kickoff Run presented by Chevron took place Saturday, Sept. 7 with Aaron Albert and Michelle Parks winning the men's and women's divisions.
The 5k (3.1-mile) race swapped the start and finish lines this year as the race started at the 50-yard line in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and finished in Champions Square. The 5k race was followed by a Saints Kids Fun Run presented by Raising Cane's. The half-mile course also started at the 50-yard-line and finished at Champions Square. Proceeds from the event benefit both Young Leadership Council (YLC) and New Orleans Mission.
Following the race, participants enjoyed live entertainment, products provided by Coca-Cola, Community Coffee and Gatorade, a beer garden and Zatarain's jambalaya in Champions Square. All participants received an official race shirt presented by Entergy and a finisher's medal. Gumbo and Sir Saint, the club's mascots, were in attendance to cheer on participants.
"It was beautiful," said Albert, who is originally from Baton Rouge and recently moved to New Orleans after living in Arizona for a period of time. "I'm more than happy to bring a win back to the city, of course representing Louisiana. Running through the city was amazing. I've been gone for a while, and I'm so happy to be back."
Albert set a personal record of 14 minutes, 49 seconds.
"Today was supposed to be a rust-buster," Albert said. "Just kind of getting back into the rhythm of racing, but I ended up PR-ing (Personal Record). So, I guess you could call a PR a rust-buster."
Parks, a New Orleans native, won the women's division in 18:07.
"This is the first of my series of races that I have planned for the rest of the year, so it was a good way to start off the racing year," Parks said. "I was kind of super surprised at how many people actually came out, so next year I will probably come 30 minutes earlier. I guess it just goes to show you how much people love the Saints."
With the conclusion of its eighth year, the Saints Kickoff Run presented by Chevron has quickly evolved into a citywide tradition as fans welcome the start of the Saints' regular season. Runners take to the streets of New Orleans to celebrate football and engage in a healthy and positive charitable activity.
"Chevron is once again proud to partner with the Saints on the 'Back to Football' run," said Leah Brown of Chevron. "There are a lot of runs in this city, but this is the best 5k. It's about fun, it's about community, it's about partnership. It's a great way to support the community and kickoff football season."
This year's race had more than 7,000 participants. For race results, click here.