Rock ‘n’ Roll Series Revamps Elite Program

American Olympian Shalane Flanagan went head to head with Kenya's Mary Ngugi and Ethiopia's Meseret Defar, a two-time Olympic champion, at the Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Half Marathon in 2013. Photo:

Plus, there is a $50,000 prize purse for the age-group Grand Prix. 

SAN DIEGO—Reaffirming its historical commitment to elite runners, Competitor Group Inc., (CGI), owner of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, has announced plans for an elite athlete program that supports top-tier and developing international and American athletes in 2014.

Key elements of the program include:

* Guaranteed prize money for top finishers at every Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series event in North America, including featured world-class events at Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego, Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia, Rock ’n’ Roll Oasis Montreal Marathon and the Carlsbad 5000.

* The Half Marathon Grand Prix, including the return of a U.S. Open Division that will feature a $50,000 prize purse in conjunction with the yearlong age-group competition at each of CGI’s 29 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathons and the EDP Lisbon Marathon.

* A “Chasing the Dream” program, with travel assistance and performance=based prize money focused on achieving the U.S. Olympic Trials Qualifying Standard at 4 events (2 each for men & women) ideally suited based upon course, weather and timing.

Paul Walsh, CGI’s chairman and interim CEO, and Tracy Sundlun, the company’s senior vice president of events, sent an open letter to runners announcing the program. The company said it listened to elite athlete and running industry concerns after it decided in late 2013 to reinvest the U.S. travel and appearance fee budgets into other RNR programs.

“We are proud to announce a comprehensive elite athlete program across our 2014 Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon Series, designed to support the world’s best runners,” said Sundlun, the co-founder of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. “Fast running has always been a part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon since its inception in 1998. We believe our participants and general fans of the sport will like the features of the program, which include a special emphasis to create opportunities for America’s best men and women as they strive to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.”

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series began in San Diego in 1998, combining road racing, recreational running, entertainment and fundraising into a weekend festival. The series of musically themed marathons and half-marathons has expanded from five events in 2008 to 31 destination events around the world in 2014. 

In 2012, 89 of the 348 men and women (25.6 percent) who qualified for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon ran qualifying marks at Rock ‘n’ Roll events, and 69 of them (19.8 percent) for the first time. Each of the six runners who made the 2012 U.S. Olympic marathon team was a past RNR participant and at least 39 alumni represented their country in the 2012 Olympic track & field and marathon competitions, as well as a number of triathletes and paralympians. Seven RNR alumni athletes won 10 Olympic medals (five gold, two silver, three bronze) in London taking the series’ historical totals to over 40 medals, the company said in a release.

Organized by Competitor Group, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series is the ‘World’s Largest Running Series’ with more than 500,000 runners taking part in events around the world every year. Started in 1998, the simple idea of making running fun has transformed the U.S. running landscape by infusing the course with live bands, cheer teams and entertaining water stations, creating a block-party atmosphere for participants and spectators alike. Today, the series of marathons and half-marathons has spread to more than 30 destination cities, drawing visitors from around the world. 

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