NEW ORLEANS, La. – When the WWII Museum reopened with a limited capacity in May, organizers of the Crescent City Classic presented the museum with an idea.
A virtual race to honor the 76th anniversary of D-Day and the museum’s 20th anniversary.
“It’s one of the most iconic places that we have in New Orleans especially for history and we just thought it would be a great partnership,” says Crescent City Classic Operations Director Kristen Stuart.
From that idea, the Liberty Road Challenge was born.
A race that commemorates the 712-mile route, from Sainte-Mere-Eglise in France to Bastogne in Belgium, Allied Forces took to liberate France during WWII.
“The history of the route really brings it all together for us and there is no shortage of stories that we are able to tell. We set up a Facebook group for all of the participants and every day they are starting to find out something new about World War II,” says Museum Director of Educational Travel, Nathan Huegen.
Take this marker for example.
It sits in the lobby of the WWII Museum and serves as a replica of Kilometer O in Sainte-Mere-Eglise.
The first of more than 1,000 markers runners will encounter on the virtual road to liberty.
“Kilometer zero, that is the first town liberated by Americans on D-Day. Paratroopers from the 82nd airborne division dropped into the town while it was ablaze, a barn had caught fire. There were paratroopers stuck on the roof in the steeple of the church. Louisiana lost one of its native ones that morning, John Ray. It was the start of a day that was very monumental in American history,” added Huegen.
The starting point for the inaugural virtual race.
The 2020 Liberty Road Challenge has a 100-mile course option for individuals and a 712-mile course for teams.
Participants like Kaya Koban have opted to tackle the 712-mile option alone.
Koban says, “While I’m not doing for any one person in particular, it’s so fine and interesting to learn about other people’s and their family histories and to learn more about other parts of World War II that we don’t often hear about. We know about the big events. This is a way to still learn and to continue telling the story.”
A platform not only to learn, but to preserve the history of WWII here in New Orleans.
“A large part of the registration proceeds go to the museum, and we also are at a $30,000 goal right now for donation dollars. We really think it’s important to make sure that the World War II Museum remains open so the stories of the World War II generation remain being told,” says Kristen Stuart.
Registration is still open and runners have from now until September 10th to complete their portion of the race.
To register, click here.
Here are some of the race registration perks: