Can you imagine running 100 miles in an endurance race? Devoted runners complete 26 mile marathons and some people easily do five miles up on the Mississippi levee. Some, like me, can’t even imagine running ‘round the block! But, 100 miles, awesome!
Gretna resident Brandon Ferrari was recognized at the April Gretna City Council Meeting for completing the HOKA Rocky Raccoon 100 mile endurance run in Huntsville, Texas in February 2022. He ran it in thirty hours, forty minutes and twenty-three seconds. The course consists of five twenty mile loops.
The runner was presented with a certificate from the city by Mayor Belinda Constant. Councilman Rudy Smith has known Brandon and his mother for a decade. A successful competitive marathon runner himself, Smith and Brandon have competed in the same races, but in different divisions. In fact, they ran together last fall in the Stained Glass 5K Race in historic Gretna. Their friendship began as members of the Best Bank Track Club, an active local running group that can be reached through Facebook.
“Brandon Ferrari’s run exhibits the extremes an individual can endure through grit and determination. We as individuals should ask ourselves, “What do I want to accomplish?” and go for it regardless of pain,” Councilman Smith said.
“The first race I ever ran was the Gretna Fest Race in 1999 when I was 11 years old,” 33 year-old Brandon Ferrari said. “I started school at St. Anthony’s and finished at DeLaSalle. I was a coach for running, track and cross-country for six seasons at DeLaSalle.
“Running has been fun with good experiences. I competed in the Dopey Challenge that includes running the 5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon races in a four-day span, a part of the Disney World Marathon in Orlando, Florida, as well as the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.
“And, a big one, I actually went to France and competed in the Q-50 Marathon in Normandy, which was different because we ran some of the race on the beach. The beach wasn’t sandy, but more like gravel,” he said.
The HOKA Rocky Raccoon 100 is a trail running course for veteran runners wanting a 100 mile P.R. (personal record,) as well as the perfect race for rookie ultra-runners wanting a good setup to accomplish their goal. It’s known to be a fun atmosphere with loops around the lake, over wooden bridges, and through the tall pines.
“I had tried a 100 mile race in Baton Rouge a while back, but did not finish it. The Huntsville course, from what I had heard from friends was a good course for a 100 mile first timer.
“I am a moderately competitive athlete who stays in condition,” Brandon said. “When I sign up for a race, it’s usually within a four month period. Training is between weights, I like to mix it up, and running outdoors to prep for the weather.
“Before the 100 mile race, my mom had been checking the weather and said I could be running in snow. No snow, but (it was) serious cold and very icy. The race started at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning and I finished on Sunday around 12:30 p.m. This race was very humbling, not fun until I completed it, but I did finish it. I did.
“I could not have completed this run without the support of my friend, Heather Fitzhenry, a Harvey resident who is a member of the U.S. Air Force. She was my support and also my pacer. She trained with me. During the race, she would give me really good companionship along the way, including filling the water bottle, giving me food along the running route. The snacks, like trail mix, lifesavers, and energy drinks refueled me. Her support was amazing.”
He met another goal of his when he purchased his own home in Gretna. He has been working in the restaurant business for a dozen years, employed at The Vintage, a chic eatery on Magazine Street for over six years where he is a bartender and assistant manager.
Now that Brandon Ferrari has accomplished his 100 mile goal, what’s next for him? “I will continue to run and stay in condition. The ultimate run for me, one of my really big goals is to qualify for the Boston Marathon, any year, even 10 or 20 years from now!” he said.