NEW YORK, December 20, 2013 — The Rock ’n’ Marathon Series announced Thursday a suite of changes to its Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon and Carefirst Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, March 15, 2014. Organizers hope the modifications will improve the race day experience for runners.
“We consider every aspect of a runner’s experience when making adjustments and our goal is always to make it a smooth and enjoyable day for them,” said Adam Zocks, Vice President and Race Director. “Washington, D.C. is a remarkable backdrop for a race and we look forward to combining the memorable sights along the way with a well-organized event from start to finish.”
Runners praised some aspects of the 2013 event: the course, expo, race shirts, medals and post-race food. But they also took to Facebook, Twitter and other sites to complain of long waits at bag check, unmanned and disorganized water stations, and a chaotic finish, among other grievances.
Andrew Chak at iRun.ca chronicled the race’s highs and lows.
“This is a race that has lots of potential,” Chak wrote. “30,000 runners makes this a significant race, but without adequate numbers of volunteers and crowds, the race can feel a little unsupported.”
Now the race’s website reads in bold letters: “We listened. We learned.”
“No question we had some challenges in 2013, no more visible than extended delays at gear check,” said Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series spokesperson Dan Cruz. “We’ve spent the past year identifying opportunities for improvement.”
To address the gear check and bag retrieval issues, Rock ‘n’ Roll has hired UPS trucks in place of the school buses used in 2013. UPS will move runners’ bags from the start to the finish, as they do at other Rock ‘n’ Roll races in San Diego, Las Vegas and Philadelphia.
While school buses can hold 500 bags per truck with workers maneuvering around seats to retrieve them, UPS trucks can hold 1,000 bags in an open space.
“The school buses are not efficient for bag retrieval,” Cruz said. “UPS trucks are. And we’ve proven that over the years at other events. Getting UPS to sign on for D.C. was a big win.”
Rock ‘n’ Roll has also moved the finish line and concert festival area to RFK stadium, where the event will have twice the space than at its previous venue at the D.C. Amory. The concert area will fill lots 6 and 7 at the stadium.
Organizers have also promised to hire trained staff to supervise fluid stops, as well as to recruit more volunteers to man them.
Getting to the race will also be easier in 2014. The city’s METRO will start running at 5:00 a.m. on race day, two hours earlier than normal. The start can be accessed via six stations serving the Blue, Orange, Green, Yellow and Red lines. The Blue and Orange lines serve the finish.
The 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon and Carefirst Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon will be the third running of the event. It’s the only marathon that takes place entirely within Washington, D.C.
The marathon and half-marathon courses take runners on a tour of the nation’s capital, starting on Constitution Avenue and traveling past the White House, Washington Monument, National Mall and Lincoln Memorial among other museums and landmarks. Runners get a view of the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Capitol, and travel scenic miles along West Potomac Park, Arlington Memorial Bridge, and the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway. Marathoners continue through the city to Anacostia Park before the finish at RFK Stadium.
As the name promises, music figures prominently at every Rock ‘n’ Roll event. Live, local bands and cheerleaders dot the course at every mile, and the event finishes with a post-race concert outside RFK Stadium.
A Health & Fitness Expo with 80 exhibitors at the D.C. Armory is free and open to the public on Thursday, March 13 and Friday, March 14. Both the marathon and half marathon will start at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 15.
Karla Bruning is host of On The Run, New York Road Runners’ show about running. Her work has been seen in Newsweek, RunnersWorld.com, Active.com, ABC-TV in New York and over two dozen other outlets. She has finished seven marathons and four triathlons. Follow Karla at RunKarlaRun.com.
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