If you’re going to do a marathon or even a “measly” half marathon, you can’t go wrong with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. Rock ‘n’ Roll has been in the marathon biz for 20 years now. Though they started out putting on only marathons, they have long since added shorter events such as the half marathon, 10k or 5k. This is meant to make their events more accessible to runners and walkers of all ages and abilities. Teyva Sammet, the race spokesperson for Rock ‘n’ Roll, said, “Our races are so special because runners of any level and any age are welcome and encouraged to join. We have Olympians running our races and setting records, and we also have the 80-year-old grandmas coming out with the goal to just cross the finish line.” The half marathon is always the most popular distance, often accounting for as many as nearly two thirds of the total participants. Rock ‘n’ Roll currently holds races in 30 different cities worldwide, and they are always hoping to add on to this list.
Putting on a race of this magnitude is no small feat, either. Among many other moving parts, it involves the planning and logistics of mapping and closing off the route, organizing bands, taking care of the participants, timing, medical care, transportation to and from the finish area, food service, port-a-potties, recruiting volunteers, passing out medals, and serving all that beer. “Probably our main obstacle is the pure logistics of putting on 30 events every year,” Sammet said. “Our operations team pulls off something close to magic getting all our equipment to each event and setting it up usually in one day and taking it down again that same day. It’s almost like a traveling circus.”
So, not only do the marathon-savvy folks at Rock ‘n’ Roll really know what they’re doing, they also really try to make it fun. At least, as much fun as you can have while suffering through 26.2 miles of joint-jarring, lung-bursting, muscle-straining, grueling pain. And the Rock ‘n’ Roll guys get that. “The idea behind the Rock ‘n’ Roll races is simple: let’s make running fun,” explained Sammet. “When you’re out there on mile 20 and your whole body hurts, it can get pretty weary. So we added live music and entertainment along the course and we also wanted to do something at the end to celebrate every runner who has completed this incredible challenge.”
Considering what an emotional and physical undertaking doing a marathon is, you’ve got enough to worry about with exercise, pasta and playlists. It’s nice to know that you’re in good hands; these race organizers will take care of the rest of the stuff.
On February 5, 2017, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon returns to New Orleans. This will be the eighth year running for this event, which is always scheduled to coincide with the Mardi Gras season. Approximately 18,000 people are expected to come out and pound the pavement of St. Charles Avenue, Esplanade Avenue, City Park and beyond, in search of king cake, beer and glory. (In 2016, close to 23,000 people took part in the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans event). Dirty Dozen Brass Band will be the headliner for the “Toyota Rock ‘n’ Roll Concert Series” after-party. Not for nothing, the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans marathon has made Runner’s World magazine’s list of the Top 10 Party Races in the U.S. “We like to call our events a 26.2 or 13.1 mile block party,” added Sammet. “You’ve got live music, DJs, light shows, cheerleaders, and entertainment stations all along the course encouraging you on your way to the finish line.”
If it sounds like fun, but you’re just not ready to run 26.2 miles or even 13.1, Rock ‘n’ Roll has just announced that they’re adding a 5k this year, for the first time in New Orleans. The 5k will be held on Saturday, February 4, while the 10k, half and full marathons will take place the next day. If you’re just getting into running, start with a short distance and then, in the long run, you can work your way up to the long runs. And Rock ‘n’ Roll is a great way to do it. Sammet agrees: “We promote a healthy lifestyle and running as a way to take care of your mind and body. But why not do that alongside your friends, in a fun city, with a celebratory party at the end?”