“We are thrilled and proud to celebrate 20 years running in San Diego, a truly seminal event drawing 20,000 entrants in 1998, the largest debut marathon United States history,” said Josh Furlow, President of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. “From our founder Tim Murphy to Meb Keflezighi, NFL legend Roger Craig and 94-year-old Harriette Thompson, we are celebrating the biggest milestones in our history this weekend.”
The only runner history to win the Boston Marathon, New York Marathon and an Olympic Marathon Medal, Meb Keflezighi will be hosting a weekend of events in his hometown. Meb will be appearing at the Health & Fitness Expo, running in the Rock ‘n’ Roll 5k with his family Saturday morning and pacing the 90-minute half-marathon group on Sunday. Former 49ers running back Roger Craig finished his first marathon at Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego in 2004 and will be running in the half-marathon on Sunday. Also returning to the start line in 2017, will be 94-year-old Harriette Thompson of Charlotte, North Carolina. Two years ago she became the oldest woman to ever finish a marathon at the age of 92 and if she finishes Thompson will become the oldest woman to ever finish a half-marathon.
Besides all the celebratory sights and sounds, this annual road race is preparing for an incredible showdown between some of the best runners in the world. It’s no secret that the San Diego half course is the fastest in the United States with Bernard Koech blazing a 58 minute, 41 second performance for 13.1 miles back in 2013. That course record time translates into a mind-blowing 4 minutes and 28 seconds per mile average pace!
At this year’s half marathon, that pace could very well be maintained with Juan Luis Barrios donning the top-seeded bib. The Mexican citizen has run 1:00:46 for the half marathon and has garnered 7th and 8th place finishes at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Marathons. Gebrekiden Abadi of Ethiopia, a traditional running powerhouse, is expected to give Barrios a run for his money. Abadi lives and trains in Boulder, Colorado, and won last year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver. He boasts a personal best within 4 seconds of Barrios and stands a good chance of breaking the tape in San Diego. The top-seeded American male is Austin, Texas-based Scott MacPherson who has run a half in 1:02:56.
The women’s half marathon race promises to be equally fast with Kenya’s Jane Kibii leading the charge with a 1:10:23 personal best that she set at the 2011 Rock ‘n Roll Philadelphia half marathon. Kenya’s rival on the roads is neighboring Ethiopia and so it’s no surprise that Biruktayit Degefa, with a 1:10:25 half-marathon PR, from that country is expected to go toe-to-toe with Kibii on Sunday morning. Americans Lauren Totten (1:12:01) and Allison Delancy (1:14:24) should also be in the mix and stand outside chances of winning the highly competitive race.
At last year’s event, American and 2008 Olympic silver medalist Shalane Flanagan recorded the fastest women’s half marathon on California soil, clocking 1:07:51.
The full marathon in San Diego will be equally competitive with an American, Eric Noel, the defending champion, hoping to repeat. Noel, who lives in San Luis Obispo, has run 2:21:05 for the 26.2-mile distance. But Noel’s hopes may be dashed thanks to the likes of multiple Rock ‘n’ Roll champion, Jeffery Eggleston, who is lacing up his flats to better his 2:10:52 marathon PR. Eggleston is enjoying a phenomenal season thus far. He won the Lima Marathon in Peru two weeks ago with an impressive 2:15:02. 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.
Elites aside, the upcoming Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego weekend will be all about celebrating the incredible history and impact of this long-standing event and worldwide series. The Rock ‘n’ Roll series events have served as a major catalyst for attracting the new runners to the sport—both in terms of completion, health & fitness, and simply emphasizing fun over competition—particularly among women who have been leading the charge of the “Second Running Boom”. Without a doubt, this series has been one of the driving forces behind the sport’s second boom, which has attracted millions of new runners who have sought a fun, welcoming destination to celebrate their commitment to wellness.
In addition, since inception in 1998, the Rock ‘n’ Roll series has also been a place where runners and spectators can give back by fostering selfless in the form of charity funding raising partnerships such as Team In Training and St Jude Children's Research Hospital, which have been closely linked to events and the entire series and raised hundreds of millions of dollars.
The 20th anniversary fun kicks off on Friday, June 2 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 morning, June 3, and then the culminating events, the half and full marathons take place that next day with spectacular finishes expected at downtown San Diego’s Waterfront Park.
The party won’t end with the race finish, however, because at the Finish Line Festival, Michael Franti & Spearhead will take to the stage to give all runners and their families something to celebrate.
For more information about Synchrony Financial Rock 'n' Roll San Diego or to view a complete schedule of weekend events, visit RunRocknRoll.com/San-Diego