Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series Goes Global

Iconic race series adds Madrid to its expanding portfolio.

By David Monti
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission. 

What started as a single race in San Diego, Calif., on June 21, 1998, and grew to include 19 American cities this year, the Rock ‘n’ Roll series of marathons and half marathons will expand to Europe next year for the first time.  The first Maratón de Rock ‘n’ Roll Madrid will be held in April, 2012, Competitor Group Inc., announced yesterday.

“We believe there is a significant opportunity to extend the reach of the Rock ‘n’ Roll brand beyond North America and are thrilled to take that first step in the iconic European capital city of Madrid,” said Scott Dickey, President of Competitor Group, a for-profit event management and media company based in San Diego, Calif.

The first Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon was the brainchild of Tim Murphy, the founder of Elite Racing, Competitor Group’s predecessor company.  Murphy was amongst the first in the running industry to see the potential of running races as grand entertainment events, combining elite competition, recreational running, charity fund raising, and musical entertainment into a single package.  Murphy convinced Suzuki to sponsor the first race which attracted 18,000 entrants and was won by Kenyan Philip Tarus (2:10:42) and Russian Nadhezda Ilyina (2:34:17).  

In 2000, the series expanded to include the Country Music Marathon in Nashvile, Tenn., and the following year the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach was added.  The P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon & Half-Marathon was added next in Tempe, Ariz., in 2004.  That year, according to records kept by Race Results Weekly, the four musically-themed race festivals recorded 65,972 finishers, and Competitor Group soon became the largest commercial race organizer in the United States (the New York Road Runners is the largest not-for-profit organizer).

In Madrid, Competitor Group will retain the location operations team, Elipse Iniciativas, but will add their formidable marketing muscle to promote the event.  The previous owner was Asociación Deportiva Maratón Popular de Madrid, and the 2010 edition of the race, the 33rd, had 8281 finishers plus 3139 in the companion 10-K.

“Adding the Madrid Marathon to our event portfolio at this time presented us with an ideal situation, allowing the current operations team to remain involved,” Dickey continued.  ”The deal represents an enormous opportunity for global expansion and we are excited to introduce our Rock ‘n’ Roll brand to the international running community.”

The 2011 Maratón Popular de Madrid, the last edition of the race to be held under that name, will take place on Sunday, April 17.

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