Archive for September, 2009

Passport to Race: Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon 2009

My bib from this year's race

My bib from this year's race

Your Name: Kelly Fenton

Name of Race: Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

Place: VA Beach

Tourist or Local? Tourist

Distance: Half Marathon – 13.1 miles

Date you raced: Sunday, Sept. 6, 2009

Number of times you’ve run this race: 9 – every year since this race started!

Number of runners in race: 15792 finishers

Describe/rate the:

–       Start

I should start off saying that I love this race and have been running it every year since its inception in 2001.  Each year the running field has grown and this year in particular I was extremely frustrated with the start.  Unlike years past, there were no volunteers monitoring the entrances to the corrals (at least not when I entered which was a good 10 or 15 minutes after the official start thanks to a long port-a-potty line).  Because of the lack of monitors, people who should have been in the back corrals were mixed in with my corral.  Now, I’m not a super fast runner by any means- I was put into the 18th corral, but I did intend to run this race competitively (with my myself of course!) and was extremely frustrated by the MOBS of walkers that cluttered the road for a good 3 miles.  Other than that, the start is well intentioned by staggering the start of each corral by 2 minutes.  There is also a good vibe and a large space to wonder around before the starting gun with food, drink, and the ubiquitous port-a-potty lines.

–       Food/drink on course

This year the course served Cytomax which I wasn’t too excited about as I prefer good ol’ Gatorade, but it actually wasn’t too bad.  There were plenty of stops and some of them even had ice in the water!  This year they gave out GU which I declined in favor of my beloved Powerbar Gel.

–       Port-a-potties

There’s plenty of port-a-potties at the start, but the lines are, as always, super long so jump in early!

–       Course (Hilly? Flat?)

The course, which changed last year, is not bad- very flat with 2 slight inclines to accommodate a bridge you cross twice.  The road goes down to a 2-laner when it enters Camp Pendleton and it gets quite crowded!  But my main complaint would be the lack of shade.  When the sky is clear, as it was this year, the sun beats right down on you zapping every ounce of energy you have! I definitely run this race slower thanks to the hot, direct sunlight.  Other than that though, there are lots of fun spectators and the promised rock bands and cheerleaders.  My favorite spot this year was right before the return into town where Jamaican themed spectators cheered, gave out water, and had 2 hoses cooling us down.

–       Finish

The last mile is on the board walk and while it seems to take for-EVER to spot that magical “13” sign, the breeze off the ocean is great and the excitement of the impending finish is unavoidable!  Even better is after crossing the finish.  This is one of the best and well organized finishes.  Immediately after crossing the line, volunteers hand you an opened cold water (can’t tell you how nice it is to have that top off the bottle!).  Next comes a cold, wet towel, which feels AMAZING.  Now that we no longer have chips that need removing, we are free to keep walking as volunteers are staggered handing out Cytomax, bananas, popsicles, a bag of more food, and of course the finisher’s medal.  What I love about this finish is that there is no back-up of lingering finishers as the runners are forced to continue to walk in order to get through and out to meet their friends.  There is no confusion or line to get the food, and a bag is included so you don’t have to juggle everything.  Eventually you make your way out of the finish line where you can head to the beach, the beer tent, and the family reunion site identifiable by large letter signs.  Very clear, very easy, which is very appreciated after 13.1 miles of exhaustion!

–       Staff

Very friendly and lots of them!

Recommended pre/post-race restaurant:

I have actually never been to a VA Beach restaurant for this race weekend as I always stay at a good friend’s house where she prepares the most amazing dinner and lunch for all the runners.  However, I’m sure there are lots of great places to dine- if you know of one, leave it in the comments! 🙂

Local tourist attractions (running or non-running related):

If you’re gonna make a weekend out of this race, the beach and Atlantic Ave. are the obvious places to hang out!  I might also recommend the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center as well as Mount Trashmore, a landfill that was remade into a park!

Personal anecdotes:

There are too many anecdotes to mention in a single race report!  But I can say the reason I love this race is because it is the one guaranteed time a year that I know I will see my best friend, college roommate, and Races in Places co-founder JuliaHart.  We have been running this race since its debut in 2001 and have vowed to run it every year until the race closes, which hopefully will never happen!

Your Name:

Name of Race:


Tourist or Local?


Date you raced:

Number of times you’ve run this race:

Number of runners in race:

Describe/rate the:


Food/drink on course


Course (Hilly? Flat?)



Other aspects?

Recommended pre-race restaurant:

Recommended post-race restaurant:

Local tourist attractions (running or non-running related):

Personal anecdotes:

Other things to know about this race:



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