April 2014 Rock and Roll Raleigh
Raleigh has arrived: First Ironman and now Rock & Roll Marathon
When Rock and Roll Raleigh was announced it was received with much controversy among local runners. Unfortunately, the inaugural date chosen by Competitor Group and the City of Raleigh was terrible and highlighted their disconnect with the local running community. It was wedged between a couple of big local races, took the date of one race and fell on Palm Sunday causing considerable issues for downtown churches.
It split the community in two; I landed on the supportive side. While sympathetic to the local race directors and questioning some of Competitor Group’s practices, above all, I love Raleigh and I didn’t want to see a national race series fail here. Once WRAL and Jimmy V Foundation decided to sponsor, I knew it would be a success.
All in all, it was a win for the city and the running community. For runners, it raised registration fee awareness of which charities are supported and how much money actually goes to them. It forced the city to examine it’s schedule of races and the impact on downtown residents and businesses. And finally, it launched a whole new marketing theme with running stores and races: Run Local.
You know you’re going to have a good day when you get to the start line without much traffic trouble, you buck your assigned coral and are able to find River Run Club friends in coral 2. I had no agenda for this race except to have fun. My friend Jill, however, had a PR plan of breaking 2 hours.
The route (it’s hilly, get over it) and crowd support were fantastic. Most memorable was the Wear Blue Memory Mile designed to honor fallen war heroes. The mile was lined with American flags and personal signs with their spouses cheering on the runners. Placed at mile 12, this was especially emotional for us because we had just passed one of the 2 men who collapsed on the route. Jill and I were choking back the tears knowing we were so close to her PR, we had to mentally focus on the finish line.