It is common to hear non-runners say they don’t run because running isn’t fun. The organizers of the Rock n Roll Marathon Series would beg to differ, however. To them, running and having fun are not mutually exclusive and in fact, go hand in hand. That’s the philosophy behind the popular series and organizers ensure that all the Rock n Roll races have plenty of fun to go around. As the name suggests, the races are running events combined with concerts and live music. Runners are treated to live music along the race course and to a big post-race concert.
This fun and partying philosophy might explain why the Rock n Roll Marathon Series have become some of the most popular races in the world, with many races seeing over 15,000 participants. Organized by Competitor Group, the Rock n Roll Marathon Series is the largest running series in the world. According to the organizers, in 2010, there were over 500,000 participants in the series and nearly 700,000 attendees at the Health and Fitness Expos.
The first Rock n Roll race was held in San Diego in 1998 combining elite running, recreational running, and entertainment into a weekend festival. These musically themed races proved to be a big hit and in the past decade and a half the Rock n Roll series has expanded into 23 US cities and several European locations. The Series includes many marathons, half marathons, and one 10 miler. The half marathon is the most popular race and is available at all US based Rock n Roll events and nearly all international locations. Below is an overview of the Rock n Roll half marathon races in the United States.
Transamerica Rock n Roll Half Marathon San Francisco
Next Race: April 6, 2014
More Info: San Francisco Rock n Roll
This is the second year of the San Francisco Rock n Roll Marathon. The course has been re-designed for 2014 and follows an attractive route mostly along the water with picturesque views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. The San Francisco Rock n Roll half offers a challenging course for runners with impressive hills. The array of entertainment is also impressive and along the running route there are jugglers, acrobats, unicyclists, and professional cheer teams. The headliner at the end of the San Francisco Rock n Roll Half Marathon this year is the Neighbourhood, an up-and-coming chart topping indie rock band.
Rock n Roll Half Marathon and Half Marathon Raleigh
Next race: April 13, 2014
More Info: Raleigh Rock n Roll
The inaugural 2014 Raleigh Rock n Roll Marathon and Half Marathon is sold out and will see 12,500 runners competing. The race course takes runners near the state capitol and through the scenic and pleasant Reedy Creek. There will be over 40 local and regional bands performing along the route. The finish line concert will see New Politics, a Danish band with dynamic live shows, performing as the headliner.
St. Jude Country Music Nashville Marathon and Half Marathon
Next Race: April 26, 2014
More info: Nashville Country Music Marathon
One of the nation’s biggest running events, thousands of runners will attempt the annual Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon through the streets of Music City. The course takes participants past famous landmarks including the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Tennessee state capitol, and Shelby Park. There will be 28 stages along the route with live bands in addition to cheer squads encouraging racers. Post-race runners are invited to the evening concert with headliners Charles Esten and Clare Bowen from ABC’s hit show, “Nashville”.
Rock n Roll Portland Half Marathon
Next Race: May 18, 2014
More Info: Portland Rock n Roll
The third annual Portland Rock n Roll half marathon will see thousands of runners tackle the 13.1 mile course listening to a number of bands from Portland’s diverse music scene. The course starts and finishes at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, a small park alongside the Willamette River south of downtown. This year’s post-race concert will be headlined by G. Love & Special Sauce, a hip-hop blues band.
Suja Rock n Roll San Diego Marathon and Half Marathon
Next Race: June 1, 2014
More info: San Diego Rock n Roll
This is the original Rock n Roll Marathon and accordingly, is one of the top ten most popular half marathons. A flat course and blue skies make the San Diego Rock n Roll race a great course with many personal records. There are 30 music stages along the route and all adult finishers receive a free beer at the finish line. In the past big names like Seal, Chris Isaak, and Pat Benatar have graced the final concert stage.
Rock n Roll Seattle Marathon and Half Marathon
Next Race: June 21, 2014
More Info: Seattle Rock n Roll
In recent years the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon and Half Marathon has become extremely popular, seeing more than 20,000 participants. The half marathon route takes runners through downtown Seattle and along the shore of Lake Washington. Like the other Rock n Roll races, there are bands performing at stages located at each mile marker. For the 2014 race, the Grammy nominated Presidents of the United States of America will be headlining the post-race concert.
Rock n Roll Chicago Marathon and Half Marathon
Next Race: July 20, 2014
More Info: Chicago Rock n Roll
The half marathon course for the Chicago Rock n Roll starts and finishes in Grant Park located next to the downtown lakefront. The park is home to famous sites including the Buckingham Fountain and the Art Institute of Chicago and has been featured in many Hollywood movies. In addition to running through the park, runners will make their way through some of Chicago’s downtown streets and crossing over the Chicago River. The weather in Chicago in July is warm and temperature lows average 67 degrees and highs average 85 degrees. Bands will be playing at every mile of the course and will range from alternative to classic to blues.
Rock n Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon
Next Race: August 31, 2014
More Info: Virginia Beach Rock n Roll
One of the oldest Rock n Roll events, the Virginia Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon is held each year on Labor Day weekend. The course is fast and flat and features picturesque scenery along the city’s beachfront and boardwalk. The weather in Virginia Beach during Labor Day weekend is usually warm and temperatures average between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition to the bands lining the race course, Rock n Roll participants will get free entry into all concerts at the Verizon Wireless American Music Festival held during the holiday weekend.
Rock n Roll Philadelphia Marathon and Half Marathon
Next Race: September 21, 2014
More Info: Philadelphia Rock n Roll
With over 15,000 participants running the half marathon, the Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half Marathon is quickly becoming one of the more popular half marathons in the US. The course is a fast and flat out-and-back course starting and finishing near the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Runners make their way through Philadelphia’s downtown and see famous landmarks including City Hall and Washington Square. The race course then takes runners along the river with beautiful views of the city. Last year’s headliner was the Ontario-based band, Walk of the Earth, and it is expected that this year’s headliner will deliver just as good of a performance.
Rock n Roll San Jose Half Marathon
Next Race: October 5, 2014
More Info: San Jose Rock n Roll
This year will be the 9th annual Rock n Roll half marathon in San Jose and a crowd of approximately 12,000 runners is expected. The course is fairly flat and fast and attracts many Californians looking to set a personal record time. The race begins in downtown San Jose and goes through neighborhoods that include sites such as the San Jose Rose Gardens, various urban parks, and San Jose State University. Like the other races in the Rock n Roll Series, there are local and regional bands every mile as well as cheer squads encouraging racers to the finish. Last year’s headliner for the post-race concert was the Australian alternative rock band, Atlas Genius. This year’s headline band is still to be determined.
Rock n Roll Cleveland Half Marathon
Next Race: October 11, 2014
More Info: Cleveland Rock n Roll
Even though this is only the second year of the Cleveland Rock n Roll Half Marathon, this has become a race many people look forward to every year. The course takes participants through the city lakefront and notable landmarks, such as Progressive Field, the Cleveland Browns Stadium, and the Great Lakes Science Center. Last year’s headliner band at the post-race finish was pop and rock singer Gavin DeGraw. This year’s headline band is still to be determined.
Rock n Roll Denver Marathon and Half Marathon
Next Race: October 19, 2014
More Info: Denver Rock n Roll
The Denver Rock n Roll half marathon is an out-and-back loop that starts and ends at the Civic Center Park in downtown Denver. The race course starts by taking runners through the downtown area and past several of the Denver sports stadium. The course then goes through the Denver City Park and Cheesman Park where the path is bounded by grassy fields, trees, and lakes. The route is mostly flat with plenty of downhill stretches and on clear days it is possible to see the Rocky Mountains in the distance. Bands will be performing every mile and music will range from alternative rock to funk to blues. The headliner band for the post-race concert is still to be determined.
Rock n Roll St. Louis Half Marathon and Half Marathon
Next Race: October 19, 2014
More Info: St. Louis Rock n Roll
Runners in the half marathon take a course through downtown city streets and past several parks and green space areas. Participants pass a number of famous St. Louis landmarks including The St. Louis Cardinals baseball stadium, St. Louis University, and the Missouri Botanical Garden. Last year’s post-race concert was headlined by the Australian band, Atlas Genius. This year’s headliner performance is still to be decided.
Rock n Roll Los Angeles Halloween Half Marathon
Next Race: October 26, 2014
More Info: Los Angeles Rock n Roll
The Rock n Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon has an out-and-back course that starts and finishes at LA Live near the Staples Center. The course then takes runners to the LA Coliseum, featured in a number of movies and TV shows, towards downtown Los Angeles. Running in downtown Los Angeles, participants will pass tourist sites like the Shrine Auditorium, the Million Dollar Theater, and a view of the Hollywood sign. Live bands line the route and it is common to see both participants and spectators stop to dance to the music.
Rock n Roll Savannah Marathon and Half Marathon
Next Race: November 8, 2014
More Info: Savannah Rock n Roll
With more than 10,000 runners taking place in the Rock n Roll Savannah Half last year, this is one of the more popular Southern races. The 13.1 mile course starts in the city’s downtown historic district and then ventures into historic neighborhoods with a large crowd cheering runners on. This is a great race for runners looking for a personal record or new half marathon runners as the course is almost completely flat. The post-race concert last year was headlined by rock band Jackyl.
Rock n Roll Las Vegas Marathon and Half Marathon
More Info: Las Vegas Rock n Roll
The Las Vegas Rock n Roll marathon and half marathon is the biggest race in the Rock n Roll series and is among the top five most popular half marathons in the world with over 20,000 finishers. The course takes runners on a fast and mostly flat out-and-back run with the majority of the course along the iconic Las Vegas Strip. For a unique twist, the race usually starts in the evening just as the sun is about to set. Runners will be able to see the Strip lit up at night while passing famous hotels, such as the Bellagio, Venetian, Mirage, and Treasure Island. The Las Vegas Rock n Roll race has a weekend full of music with musical acts Friday through Sunday as well as access to the hippest Vegas night clubs.
Rock n Roll San Antonio Marathon and Half Marathon
Next Race: December 7, 2014
More Info: San Antonio Rock n Roll
The San Antonio Rock n Roll half marathon is usually in the top ten most popular half marathons with around 16,000 runners. The course is a fast and flat route that passes many of San Antonio’s most famous sights. Bands line the route at each mile and music genres range from country to rock to jazz. Last year’s post-race concert headliner was four time Grammy nominee and rising country star Joe Nichols. This year’s headliner is still to be determined.
PF Chang’s Rock n Roll Arizona Marathon and Half Marathon
Next Race: January 18, 2015
More Info: Arizona Rock n Roll
Another one of the more popular Rock n Roll races, the Arizona Rock n Roll half marathon has over 16,000 participants. The race course will start near the ASU campus and will take runners through Tempe and north into Scottsdale where they will cross the Salt River and head through several beautiful park spaces. The post-race concert last time saw New York rockers Ra Ra Riot as the headliners. The next race’s entertainment is still to be determined.
Rock n Roll New Orleans Marathon and Half Marathon
More Info: New Orleans Rock n Roll
Many people come out to New Orleans to race the Rock n Roll half marathon because of the culturally rich history of the city. Runners start the race in downtown New Orleans and make their way to the Garden District, home to many of the city’s architectural gems. Nearly all the race course is below sea level and the route is fast and flat with few hills or changes in elevation. As one of the most famous musical cities in the US, the New Orleans Rock n Roll marathon offers excellent bands lining the race route.
Rock n Roll USA Nation & Capital Marathon and Half Marathon
Next Race: March 14, 2015
More Info: Washington DC Rock n Roll
Many people like to race the Rock n Roll USA capital half marathon due to the interesting course that takes runners past some of the nation’s most historical sites. The course starts near the Washington monument and finishes near RFK Stadium near Anacostia Park. In between the start and finish runners pass by famous sites, including Lincoln Memorial and the Arlington Memorial Bridge. The last Rock n Roll USA race saw the chart climbing band, the Head and the Heart, perform at the post-race concert.
Rock n Roll Dallas Marathon and Half Marathon
Next Race: Mar 22, 2015
More Info: Dallas Rock n Roll
The Dallas Rock n Roll Half Marathon starts at the Dallas Convention center and finishes at the famous Cotton Bowl Football Stadium. In between the start and finish, runners go through the Highlands Park neighborhood and then past the Southern Methodist campus. Live music is located around the race course and musical acts range from soul to blues to alternative.
International Rock n Roll Races
Madrid, Spain Rock n Roll – April 27, 2014
Liverpool, UK Rock n Roll – May 25, 2014
Dublin, Ireland Rock n Roll – August 4, 2014
Montreal, Canada Rock n Roll – September 28, 2014
Lisbon, Portugal Rock n Roll – October 5, 2014
Vancouver, Canada Rock n Roll – October 26, 2014
Nice, France Carneval 10 miler – February 2015