With its beautiful year-round weather and gorgeous scenery, San Diego can always be relied on to host a venue. So it’s no surprise that this beautiful Southern California city was chosen by United States Track & Field to be the home of its Masters Half Marathon National Championships on May 31. This group of American runners over 40 years in age will be racing at the Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have Masters runners come to San Diego to compete at the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon,” says Tracy Sundlun, Senior Vice President for Competitor Group. “We know that the USATF is interested in putting their championships where their runners want to go, and San Diego fits that bill. It’s a great race with a fast course in a great city.”
Don Lein, the USATF Masters Long Distance Running Chair was instrumental in helping select San Diego for the championships. “San Diego is always a great venue for a race,” he says. “You don’t have to worry about the weather and the race itself is always professionally run. We don’t ever have to worry about our athletes not being treated properly.”
Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego, which dates back to 1998, has a long record of fast times and world-class fields. Sundlun says this rich history is another draw. “I think the USATF liked the opportunity to take their championships to the biggest stage possible,” he says. Sundlun contends that now is a great time for Masters running thanks to American Olympic medal holders like Deena Kastor, Jen Rhines, Meb Keflezighi, and Bernard Lagat, who have all just started to compete in this division this past year.
“We have seen some further attention on our Masters runners thanks to them,” he says. “We’ve got a chance to really shine the light on this important group that is great for the sport.”
At the Masters Championships, a total of $10,000 in prize money is up for grabs, and what sweetens the pot for these athletes is the concept of age grading whereby an older runner can clock a slower time yet still place ahead of a younger runner with a faster time. “Age grading allows us to compare performances appropriately,” Lein says. “It levels the playing field and incents the 60 or 70-year-old runner to keep at their peak. It keeps them interested in running longer. We are giving them the motivation to do that. I’m very optimistic about this event. We want to make this sport healthier than it is now.”
Thousands of runners will be taking to the streets at the Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon on May 31. The Masters championships takes place in conjunction with other exciting events lined up for Memorial Day weekend that include the 26.2-mile marathon on Sunday as well the Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K on Saturday.