“Disclaimer: I received free entry to Rock and Roll Raleigh Half Marathon race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro(ambassador), and check out BibRave.comto review find and write race reviews!”
Before I get into my review of the race, I wanted to share some thoughts about this race as it’s time has come to an end. Being a native North Carolinian, I was pumped when the Rock and Roll Marathon Series brought a race to Raleigh in 2014. I told myself I would run this race every year it was here, it is only right. You can imagine the heartbreak when I learned that after this year, Rock and Roll Series would not be returning to Raleigh. You may ask, why would a popular race pull out of a beautiful city after only 4 years.. A few different factors played a part in the decision.
1. Participation dropped. The inaugural year in 2014, I remember talking to a police officer at the expo and he told me there were over 15,000 runners expected, from every state and several countries.This year there were only about 6,000. The inaugural year they had both half and full marathon distances, but through the years the marathon became less possible and it was dropped completely off this year’s schedule. This year only had half marathon, 10k, and half marathon relay(latter two were added this year)
2. Businesses complained every year. Some local businesses, along with several churches in the downtown area would complain every year about the road closures. I guess it didn’t help that the races were on Sundays and always appear to happen around Easter time.
3. Runners Complained. If you have ever visited Raleigh, NC you know that it is not the flattest place. There are hills on top of hills on top of hills, but don’t runners enjoy a challenge? Apparently not. The first year there were unfortunately 2 runner deaths on the course and numerous complaints about the marathon route. The next couple years they changed the route but the participation never fully recovered. They later added a 5k on Saturday to start a remix challenge weekend
I, like many people of the local running community, are sad to see the race go. For a lot of them, this race was their first half or full marathon. Bittersweet indeed. Now for the final review of Rock and Roll Raleigh.
I decided to make my trip to the expo on my way home from work on the first day it opened. I got there around 5:30 and it was a pretty quick process to get my bibs and shirts. (part of it was probably because it was the first day and a lot of out of towners hadn’t arrived). I had already told myself that since this was the last year, I wanted to buy something to commemorate it’s final year. For the inaugural race, I bought a hat, that I still wear during runs so that was my first choice. They had hats, but sadly he hats did not have the year listed on them, only “Rock and Roll Raleigh Marathon & Half”. I got one anyway. I also purchased one of their 13.1 shirts that listed all the males or females that were running the half marathon. I thought that was cool idea, it who doesn’t like to see their name in print? As far as vendors, it was pretty light for an expo. The venue was huge but the vendors only took up about a quarter of the space. The vendors they did have were of quality, so you could still find some nice things.
It was a remix challenge weekend and an extra medal was up for grabs, so you know I had to accept the challenge. Up first was a 5k on Saturday morning. It was a little chilly and rainy for a spring morning but we can’t control the weather. The 5k took place on Dorothea Dix campus, so both spectators and runners had to catch shuttles to the location. Having ran on this campus numerous times, I knew we would be in for some hills. I fought through the hills to a 19th overall finish and 2nd in my age group. Local news station even got me crossing the finish line. I had several people tell me they saw me on the 6 o’clock news.
Finally it was time to toe the line for the RnR Raleigh half marathon for the last time. I wasn’t sure how I would feel at the start knowing that this would be the last opportunity for anyone to run the Rock and Roll series in NC. The weather was in the mid 30s, which in my opinion is perfect for a race. I was also eager to see this new course they had been advertising “supposedly” with less hills. Before I knew it, the horn sounded and we were off. Running through all the government buildings of downtown, running past the huge globe of the science museum and past numerous local establishments. After mile 2, I began to realize something…..THEY LIED ABOUT THE HILLS. There were just as many hills, if not more, than previous years. The whole race you felt like you were either going uphill or downhill, and I noticed the hills starting to get the best of some runners. I managed to keep a steady, I knew a PR on this course was not going to be in reach. Throughout the race, I noticed friends from my running family lined up and screaming their support. When I hit the mile 13 marker, I knew this journey was almost complete….BUT not before an uphill to the finish line. Smh. My finish time was 1:48:13 2 races, 3 medals and years of memories
If it was still an option, I would recommend everyone running it at least once. Yes, it is a challenging course but everyone should enjoy a little challenge. I will definitely miss this April race, and glad I was able to participate in it every year it was here. I can only hope, another race can step in and fill the void the Rock and Roll Series is leaving. Now I just have to wait for all my results to hit Athlinks. Join athlinks if you aren’t already a member, all race stats in one place. http://www.athlinks.com Rock On!