Alex Bennett was born and raised in Seattle and has lived the better part of his 48 years in the Emerald City. He could serve as a tour guide/historian on Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, Kurt Cobain, the Seahawks and local coffee haunts.
But what he also knows is the Alaska Airlines Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon and Half Marathon. And as vice president of events for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, Bennett will tell you the operative word for this weekend’s event in his hometown is “new.”
- There’s a new stadium-to-stadium route, with both races beginning at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium and finishing at the Seahawks’ stomping grounds, CenturyLink Field.
- There’s a new date, with the half and marathon moving from Saturday to Sunday.
- And there’s a new race, a 5K that will start at 9 a.m., Saturday in neighboring Tukwila, Wash., meaning a chance for Rock ‘n’ Rollers to add more medal bling to their collection.
“With the addition of the second day of running and new stadium-to-stadium course, race weekend in Seattle will be bigger than ever before,” Bennett said.
Seattle is a growing city and growth means bulldozers taking away old streets and adding new ones, which helped create the new marathon and half marathon courses. Bennett had hoped the race would set foot on the University of Washington campus for some time and this year it finally does, with the start at Husky Stadium.
“It doesn’t hurt that Alaska Airlines is the title sponsor of Husky Stadium,” said Bennett. “There’s great synergy.”
“This is a spectacular event, and Alaska Airlines is excited for runners to experience our hometown along the beautiful race route. Runners should be on the lookout for our amazing employee volunteers, an on-course DJ booth and some mid-race motivation from Alaska,” said Kelley Winn, manager, brand sponsorships and partnership marketing for Alaska Airlines.
One thing that hasn’t changed about the event, though, is that the estimated 20,000 runners, walkers and wheelchair athletes will be treated to spectacular Northwest views.
From Husky Stadium, runners will cross Montlake Bridge, then head through the Washington Park Arboretum and its beautiful botanical gardens. From there, its onto neighborhood views of Lake Washington.
The casual runner and walkers no doubt will be stopping for selfies, while those with an eye on the clock must rely on their peripheral vision to soak up the scenery.
For those who appreciate the elites at the front of the pack, the half marathon offers the deepest fields. Jonathan Obando is a Rock ‘n’ Roll regular, including a win last year in San Francisco. Shaun Frandsen from Kirkland, Wash., boasts a 1:09:23 personal best.
On the women’s front, Portland’s Jennifer Bergman won the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas half two years ago. Seattle’s Heather Tanner is a three-time Olympic qualifier.
Moving the marathon and half marathon to Sunday figures to benefit both the Seattle region and runners.
“Seattle’s a destination market,” Bennett said. “(Sunday) allows people the freedom to fly in on a Friday and leave on a Sunday or Monday. It works better for the community and works better for runners coming to this race.”
Bennett added, “Seattle is kind of a secret we have in the Northwest. But we’re willing to share the secret with runners.”