hansonsstart Wow. What a weekend. The second Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon and Half Marathon was a lot of fun for me from start to finish. The new, improved Expo was sensational, including the fantastic Brooks Run Happy® Cavalcade of Curiosities. It’s WAY too much fun to try to describe, but trust me, you’ll want to see it when it comes to a city or event near you. The whole expo felt bigger, better, and more fun than at any event I can remember. The joy of it all was unmistakable.

The folks at the expo – participants and staff alike – just seemed to be feeling good. Maybe it’s a Northwest thing, I don’t know. I do know that the entire weekend had a warmth and friendliness that isn’t ALWAYS there. Or, maybe it’s fairer to say that is was MORE there this weekend than others.

A couple of real highlights for me. I got to have “one-on-one” conversations with untra-running great Scott Jurek and Olympian Brian Sell. We did a sort of actors studio format where we sit on stage together and for the first 30 minutes or so I ask questions and then we open it up to the audience for questions. They were both excellent ambassadors for the sport and activity of running.

I gave Brian a pretty hard time about retiring at such a young age. I reminded him that I hadn’t even taken my first running step at his age. In fact, it wouldn28256_1474886465321_1028486291_1331154_1507501_s‘t be for another 10 years from his age that I started running. My very amateur assessment is that Brian is caught between the demands of his life and his destiny. We talked about what life will be like without the crowds, without the competition, without the intensity of training and racing. I have a hard time believing that such a bright, talented, and articulate person will be allowed to leave the running community.

The other REALLY fun hour at the expo was my interview with four members of the Brooks-Hansen Running Project. Chad Johnson, Luke Humphrey, Sage Canady, and Drew Polley [the four guys in the yellow and red singlets in the start photo] and I sat around and talked about running, training, and life at the front of the pack. If anyone still believes that there’s a shortage of quality American runners, they need to get out and meet these kids.

36668_403749266831_752126831_4191625_3983299_sRace day dawned and the morning was perfect. Of course, at 3:30 AM it’s a little hard to predict but I had a good feeling. I guess you have to stand where I stand and see wave after wave of excited runners and walkers to truly appreciate what this running generation is all about. Nearly 30,000 people – men, women, old people, young people, tall people, short people, thin people, NOT so thin people – stood ready to take on the challenge of 13.1 or 26.2 miles. No one complained. No one whined. No one expected someone else to solve their problems that day. 30,000 people all joined together with shared values and a common goal. It’s impressive and it’s happening every weekend in races large and small all over the country.

RnR Seattle Finish
RnR Seattle Finish

Eventually, though, all good things come to an end. For nearly 8 hours we watched the same smiling faces that we’d seen at the start line make their way to the finish. One by one, two by two, in groups, they crossed the line. Some finished with their arms raised in clear victory. Others finished staring straight ahead with their chins set in complete determination. Some laughed. Some cried. All seemed relieved when they crossed under the banner. And when the final finisher came across and was greeted by the staff and coaches of Team in Training we all knew that it was a day that none of us would ever forget.

Next stop on the Rock ‘n Roll series is in my hometown of Chicago. The race sold out months ago. But there are other races, other events, other cities. All of them are special. I can’t wait.


John “the Penguin” Bingham, Competitor Magazine columnist
Author, The Courage to Start, No Need for Speed, Marathoning for Mortals and Running for Mortals.


Have a question for John? E-mail it to thepenguin@johnbingham.com.