For the second of my back-to-back races last weekend, I ran the Rock ‘n Roll San Diego half marathon. If you would like a more in-depth look at the self-titled #Fontana2SD challenge, search #fontana2SD on social media. This year was my fourth consecutive participating in the event – three times at the half marathon distance, once at the marathon distance – making it the most repeated race I have done.
All of the Rock ‘n Roll marathon expos have the same feel to them and I am sure that is not by accident. With the San Diego edition being one of the largest in the marathon series, it makes sense that the expo would be large as well. And it was. Lots of vendors are spaced out over lots of space in the convention center making packet pick up and any additional shopping a breeze. You will have to navigate the expo vendors even if you are just picking up your bib though because of the “one-way” traffic flow.
Another point-to-point race but this time if you want to utilize the shuttle service it will cost you an additional $5 per person. With so many races offering free shuttle service, it is hard not expect the same here especially given the fact that there are not many hotels near the starting line but too many to count near the finish line. This race makes every attempt to seed runners in corrals based on time and while it is done on the honor system, I find most people play by the rules.
The finisher’s chute was very long and even more crowded than in previous years. The race finished at a new location with better access to the ocean but getting out was a daunting task. While in the chute, runners are offered multiple options of beverages and snacks – so much so that I feel they are one of the best in this area. Once free from the chaos, there was a very large party in full swing. Rock ‘n Roll does a good job of getting acts to play at their after-race concerts and this was no exception.
The Course: A
The only thing which keeps this course from getting the top score is the lack of a run along the ocean. Being in San Diego, one would expect to spend some time along the waterfront but it is not there for the half marathon. (When I ran the full marathon in 2014, there was a segment along the ocean.) The course takes runners through historic commercial districts as well as neighborhoods with charm. The residents of the city come out for the event with unofficial aide stations – offing everything from Red Vines, to Gummy Bears, to tequila shots – adding to the vast amount of water stops along the way. There are several smaller climbs and downhill segments to keep runners focused on the task at hand but nothing overly challenging.
The Medal: B
The medal is on the smaller side for races of this size and price point. Other than the size, the design is nice and a good representation of the course and the city.
There is a reason I have participated in this event each of the past four years. From the expo, to the route, to the medal, to the post-race festivities, this event is positioned well for newer and highly experienced runners alike. If you sign up early, or catch one of the many discounts during the year, it is one of the better bang-for-your-buck races out there. A bit of warning for those who find themselves waiting until the last minute to sign up, the entry fee can get pricey as race day nears.
*Full disclosure: I am a member of the 2016 Rock ‘n Roll Rock ‘n Blog team. As a part of my involvement, I am gifted free entry into all Marathon Series races. However, no additional compensation was provided and the views expressed in this review are my own.