The Rock and Roll Half & Full Marathon is one of the largest races in the Seattle area. I’ve run this race twice in the past (2011 and 2012) and ran it this year with my wife.
What’s the point of doing a race if you’re not going to get a ton of free shit beforehand? That’s mostly a joke but to some people the expo is actually a big deal. I usually use large expos to eat some new snacks, get some free protein bars, and get my back rolled out by someone trying to sell a stick with wheels. The expo this year seemed a bit smaller than the years before. There were less vendors and lots of the vendors were packing up early. I arrived Friday at 4pm which you would think would be prime time with people getting off work. Instead I found lots of booths already packing up or just leaving their swag out on the table for anyone to take while the workers did who knows what. I do need to give a shout out to the Franz Bread for killing it again. At the end of my last triathlon they gave me a free loaf of bread and at this expo they gave my wife a free loaf of gluten-free bread. That alone made it worth going.
Corrals are always a mess at races… and having 48 of them doesn’t help anything. The start was right next to the Seattle Center which can be tricky because there isn’t much room to move outside of the road. That meant getting to your corral was pretty damn difficult so I’m glad we got to the race a bit early. I was also a little nervous at the beginning that the last corral wouldn’t even be out the gate by the time the half-marathon winner was running up the hill to the finish! It was 35 minutes into the race and they were just getting to corral 25 of 48.
I ran the half-marathon course with my wife. My mom ran the full-marathon and said that my thoughts on the half-marathon course matched with hers of the full-marathon. The one thing you can count on when running a race in Seattle is running on their rock hard streets. These streets are meant to handle hundreds (if not thousands) of semi-trucks per day on top of the thousands and thousands of cars. To do this they need to be hard and stiff so that they’ll last. This is not conducive to running an injury-free race as it will be hell on your joints and bones. The road aside, the course was pretty nice with a decent number of hills and not too much out and back running. It’s always nice to see the flags and memorials for fallen soldiers around mile 7 or 8.
The race support was very interesting. In terms of water and gatorade there was tons like previous years. Pretty much every mile there were more volunteers than you could count handing out drinks to the runners. All of that is one of the better parts of running in such a large race. It’s fun seeing everyone dressed up and even the SeaFair pirates made it out to hand out drinks! They told me rum was in the cup but sadly that wasn’t the case.
The medical support was a little lacking in my opinion. There was a medical tent around mile 3 (how many people get injured that early I’ll never know) and there was a medical tent at mile 12 or so. That 9 miles in the middle was pretty rough for some people featuring multiple miles of highway running. I did not get injured however I passed numerous people who seemed to be dragging a leg or limping along asking where the next medical tent was. Apparently the answer to that was mile 12 which was 4+ miles away for most of them. I felt really bad for these people because I’m sure if they could just get their knees wrapped they’d be good to go for the last few miles.
This is a hard section to provide a review on because everyone likes different music. I’ll shy away from the genres and stick with what I saw while out there. We finished the race somewhere in the middle and I would say that we missed around one third to half of the bands because they were packing up. It just felt weird to me that they would be leaving so soon and not playing for the majority of the people. I’m not sure how the playing times were decided (probably Rock and Roll’s decision) but they should get adjusted for next year.
The post-race was great but chaotic. There was tons of food (bananas, protein bars, and bagels) and lots to drink (water, Gatorade, and chocolate milk.) There was one small medical tent with a line 30 people long which did not look fun to stand in. Thankfully the main medical tent had no one waiting and Katie was able to get her knees iced. It would have been nice if that first medical tent had told people that there was a main tent their could get fixed up at. We figured after talking to them (and being told it would take awhile) that we would just get ice at home but stumbled upon the main medical tent. My one complaint of the post-race festivities is that there where absolutely no signs. I could not find the beer graden for the life of me and we ended up giving our beer tickets to other racers to enjoy… granted they could find it. It was fine though because I just drank celebratory beer like a fish when I got home.
I’m torn about the race this year. In previous years I’ve been super gung-ho sign up for next year but I just wasn’t feeling it this time around. I discussed it with my wife and for the cost of us both entering this race we could get away and stay at Whidbey Island for two nights and run the Whidbey Island Half-Marathon there. We’ll have to decide if it’s financially worth it but my guess is the because of the cost combined with the awful roads the course uses that this will be our last year running the Rock and Roll Seattle race.