The Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Controversy

So, last year, when Competitor Group announced that Raleigh would be getting a Rock ‘n’ Roll Half, and Full Marathon, the reaction was surprisingly mixed.

I, an avid runner and an employee at the local Fleet Feet was elated because the majority of my fulls and half marathons required me to travel out of town in order to find a race with an expo, support along the course, well-marked pace groups and all the trappings that some of the races in the larger cities had.  I’d run the Run Raleigh Half, relayed the City of Oaks, paced the Umstead 100-Miler, and shuffled through the Greensboro Marathon, and all though all of those races had been pleasant, there were a few things that stuck out about those experiences that I didn’t love.

  1. There was not really a full expo for any of the local races.  The expos consisted of a gracious local running store, oftentimes us or Capital RunWalk opening their doors, you picking up your packet, and promptly leaving.  There was no fanfare, no booths for you to explore and discover new products, or places for you to snag some cool samples before the race.
  2. There was definitely medical support along the course, but not as dense as it was at some of the bigger races I have been to.  The Greensboro Marathon, for example, was awesome, but when I got sick, my option was to lay down and die, or finish the race.   At least at a bigger race, there might have been an option for me to rest a little bit, and then continue on.
  3. Further into fulls out here, it seems like everyone disappears.  You’re in, 17 miles into a race, and you’re alone.  That can’t be safe, right?  And it’s certainly no good for your mental status at that point in the race, to be running alone.

And then, the local newspaper, the News & Observer, and a local running retail store, that I will not name, has seemed to make it their personal mission to trash-talk this race, topped with this article, describing some level of shock that none of the races fees went to charity.  (And to keep it 100, the racers raised 250k for the V foundation, that’s not too shabby right?)

So, far all you RnR haters, a few points on the race that will have me running again and again.

  • The race was incredibly well-organized.  There was no confusion about where to go, where to park, or where we were running.  Everything, and I mean everything was clearly marked, right down to the split around mile 9 between the half the the full, and I have never been to a race where it was so clearly marked.
  • Following the race, we were given cold towels, pizza, bananas, fresh bottles of water, and a free beer, as well as a big fat chunk of a medal.  There’s a good chance some of our fees went to these perks.  And I didn’t hear anyone complaining about our beers, our medals, or our food there at the end.
  • Runners raised a TON for the V-Foundation, a local charity for cancer research.  
  • These smiles.



  • The fact that there were a ton of people in Raleigh making a good decision for their health and well-being. 
  • Just because I ran this big monster of a race, doesn’t mean I won’t run local, which is what a lot of the arguments against this race have implied.  The races do not have to be mutually exclusive.
  • “The city cut them a huge check that they didn’t normally cut to the other local races!”  Well in addition to the 12,500 runners, there were their families.  The hotels were sold out.  ESPN Run was in town.  People ate our food.  People drank our beer.  Folks shopped at our runnings stores.  People shopped at the expo.  People filled the bars and the brunch spots after.  And Raleigh was put on the map.  Do you think, for a second, that it’s a coincidence that Raleigh is starting to make all these lists, and we just brought HUGE amounts of national attention to the city?

A few examples of our spot on some of Forbes’ lists?

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 2.50.23 PM Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 2.50.48 PM Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 2.51.13 PM Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 2.51.34 PM


Can we just stop complaining and embrace the fact that as a growing city, that things like this, cool, awesome things like this, are gonna happen?  You CAN run big AND run local.  And that’s exactly what I plan to do.

2 thoughts on “The Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Controversy

  1. Great commentary and outlook. I think its great for a city to have these bigger races, and it can still have smaller races too, but this brings more attention, more money, and more options for people who want to be active.

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