The Synchrony Financial Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon and 1/2 Marathon kicks off this weekend in America’s Finest City. Twenty years ago, 20,000 runners from more than 30 countries and all 50 states took to the streets of San Diego for the first-ever Rock ‘n’ Roll race, an event that changed the face of running forever. This year, the series is celebrating its historic anniversary with fun, excitement and some of the fastest runners in the world.
The Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon course is one of the fastest in the United States. Bernard Koech clocked an absolutely blistering a 58 minute, 41 second time back in 2013. That course record time translates to a mind-blowing 4:28 minute per mile pace.
At this year’s half marathon, records might well fall with Juan Luis Barrios donning the top-seeded bib. The Mexican citizen has run 1:00.46 for the half marathon with 7th and 8th-place finishes in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Marathons. Gebrekiden Abadi of Ethiopia is expected to give Barrios a run for his money. Abadi lives and trains in Boulder, Colo., and won last year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver. He boasts a personal best within a mere 4 seconds of Barrios. The top-seeded American male is Austin-based Scott MacPherson who has run a half in 1:02.56.
The women’s half marathon promises an excellent showdown as well with Kenya’s Jane Kibii leading the charge. Just 5-feet, 3-inches and 85 pounds, the tiny powerhouse has a 1:10:23 personal best set at Rock ‘n Roll Philadelphia in 2011. Kenya’s typical rival on the roads is the neighboring of Ethiopia. It’s no surprise that Biruktayit Degefa (1:10:25 half-marathon PR) from that country is expected to go toe-to-toe with Kibili on Sunday. Americans Lauren Totten (1:12:01) and Allison Delancy (1:14:24) will also be in the mix and stand outside chances of winning the highly competitive race.
Of course, athletes competing in the full 26.2-distance will be gearing for fast times too. American Eric Noel, the defending champion, hopes to make his win a repeat. Twenty-eight-year-old Noel, who lives in San Luis Obispo, has run 2:21:05. But Noel’s hopes may be dashed. Multiple Rock ‘n’ Roll champion, Jeffery Eggleston, is lacing up his flats to better his 2:10:52 marathon PR. Eggleston won the Lima Marathon in Peru only two weeks ago with an impressive 2:15:02. Hopefully, he’s been recovering well!
Bonnie Keating will wear the cherished F1 bib in the women’s marathon. Keating, a California resident, set her personal best of 2:44:05 at the Carlsbad Marathon last year. Keating has been running competitively since age 14 and competed in last year’s Olympic Marathon Trials as well.
But elite times aside, the forthcoming Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego weekend will be all about celebrating the series’s incredible history. Long after the professionals have broken the tape and finished their cool-downs, runners will be rocking out along the beautiful course. The Rock ‘n’ Roll races have long served as a catalyst for attracting the new runners to the sport. It is one of the driving forces behind the sport’s boom, which has generated millions of new runners who have sought a fun, welcoming venue to celebrate their commitment to wellness.
The Rock ‘n’ Roll series is also a place where runners and spectators can give back by fostering selfless running in the form of charity funding raising partnerships such as Team In Training, which have been closely linked to events and the entire series.
The San Diego fun kicks off on Friday with the opening of the Health and Fitness Expo at the San Diego Convention Center. The Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K presented by Brooks takes place on Saturday and then the culminating events, the half and full marathons take place that next day with spectacular finishes expected in Waterfront Park.
The party won’t end with the race finish, however, when Michael Franti & Spearhead take to the stage at the Finish Line Festival and give all runners and their families something to celebrate.