The original musical marathon, Rock ‘N’ Roll San Diego has become a springtime insitution in its colorful 12-year history.
The inaugural Rock ‘N’ Roll San Diego Marathon, way back in 1998, was not the first running event to feature live musical performances on course, but it was the first running event to go all the way with this feature. A band every mile-that was unheard of! As anyone could have predicted, the concept was a hit, and more than a decade later the Rock ‘N’ Roll San Diego Marathon is bigger and better than ever. Here’s a brief history.
The inaugural Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon, under title sponsor Suzuki, sets a new record as the largest debut marathon in history, with nearly 20,000 participants. The Leukemia Society Team in Training has a major presence and is responsible for $15 million in fundraising associated with the event.
Rock ‘N’ Roll returns with a new, more scenic course. Kenya’s Philip Taurus wins the elite men’s race with a blistering time of 2:08:33, the fastest marathon ever run west of the Mississippi.
Registration climbed to nearly 21,000 for year three, and that wasn’t the only way the race grew. Even more bands and cheerleading teams were added along the course. The musical marathon series expanded with the inauguration of the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee.
The 2001 Rock ‘N’ Roll San Diego Marathon required only one subtle modification from the previous year’s format: the finish line was moved from the Naval Training Center in Point Loma to the Marine Recruit Depot (MCRD) down the street. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon was joined by a sister event: the Rock ‘N’ Roll Half-Marathon in Virginia Beach.
The fifth anniversary of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon was celebrated with another sellout. Kenya’s Philip Taurus won with a superb time of 2:09:01 and his countrywoman took the women’s race in 2:29:56.
A record 21,493 runners and walkers registered for the sixth Rock ‘N’ Roll San Diego Marathon. Kenyan men claimed nine of the top 10 finishing spots.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team in Training surpassed the $100 mark of funds raised in connection with the Rock ‘N’ Roll San Diego Marathon over six year. 2004 also witnessed the debut of a new race in the musical marathon series: P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Arizona Marathon.
Kenyans Christopher Cheboibich and Geta Wami claimed the top prize money at San Diego in 2005. The band Pinback headlined the post-race concert at Qualcomm Stadium.
The Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon got another new sibling in 2006 as the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half-Marathon joined the growing family. The latin-flavored rock band Ozomatli, from Los Angeles, was the headline act at that year’s post-race concert.
The Rock ‘N’ Roll San Diego Marathon celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2007. The total number of starters of the event topped the 175,000 mark. By this time the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon was widely imitated, with most major marathons devoted a portion of their budget to on-course entertainment.
The Rock ‘N’ Roll San Diego Marathon returned for its 11th edition under new management. A private equity firm had purchased the event’s owner Elite Racing, and created a new parent company called Competitor Group Inc. Another race is added to the Rock ‘N’ Roll franchise, this time bringing the series to the Lone Star State with the introduction of Rock ‘N’ Roll San Antonio.