Overall Rating
Overall Rating (82 Reviews)
4
(82 Ratings)  (82 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
3.3
SCENERY
3.4
PRODUCTION
4
SWAG
3.7
The Original Rock ‘n’ Roll Bringing the fun to the run since 1998, Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Starting at Balboa Park and finishing in Downtown San Diego, you’ll explore up to eight well-known neighborhoods and experience an insider tour that even … MORE
Local Historical Weather (Jun 01):
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H (°F)  63  66  66  68  74
L (°F)  60  59  61  62  62
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Recent reviews

    nhobbs1599 FIRST-TIMER '24

    First off, beautiful weather for race day of 60 degrees and overcast, I was able to beat my goal of sub 3 hours, and run with some very nice people. … MORE

    First off, beautiful weather for race day of 60 degrees and overcast, I was able to beat my goal of sub 3 hours, and run with some very nice people. These were all great positives from the race.

    On the flip side, there were three main pieces of San Diego RNR that I was not happy about:
    1) COURSE TERRAIN: specifically the highway to hill is a bank turning highway, where runners are effective running sideways while at a 5-10% grade. Not to mention that this incline/decline is at mile 22-25. I’m unsure how I didn’t get injured.

    2) RACE SETUP: Marathon runners race in tandem with the half-marathoners. There are 20k+ half marathoners and only 5k+ marathoners. These races begin at the same time and runners finish in the exact same area. Personally, I barely got across the finish line due to physically being extremely beat up and was swarmed by thousands of half-marathoners finishing at the exact same time. This was dangerous and even though I was very close to passing out I could not find much needed medical support.

    Suggestion: either do these races on different days so that runners who finish the marathon can receive needed medical attention or have the races finish in separate areas (two separate streets/locations)

    3) COURSE ROUTE: The back half of this marathon is completely desolate.

    The first half of the race is awesome. You go through the neighborhoods of North Park, Hillcrest, Mission Valley, and the crowd is great.

    On the flip side, I saw a total of a few hundred people (outside of volunteers) from miles 13 to 25. This course goes through empty areas, doesn’t have good scenery, and is just overall bland. Not happy with how uninspiring the end of this race is.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    2
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3

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    lancenull REPEAT RUNNER '24

    Rock 'n Roll San Diego is a fun gem on my race calendar. You spend a weekend in San Diego, you run a net downhill course, and if you like … MORE

    Rock ‘n Roll San Diego is a fun gem on my race calendar. You spend a weekend in San Diego, you run a net downhill course, and if you like a drink or 12, there is the mile 4-5.5 gauntlet of beverages available.
    San Diego is not flat. There are plenty of rolling hills throughout the race, but there are not many killer hills. (The downhill at mile 9 is a steep one.)
    Lodging can be a little pricey, so bring a friend and split the cost. Don’t need a car, so you can Uber or bus from the airport, and you can walk to most places around town, or take the trolley (light rail).
    Pre-race choose your porta potty lines well. The ones near the back have long lines, while the ones near the front (by the low corral numbers,) have a lot shorter lines.
    The half marathon course takes you from Balboa park, thru Hilcrest, North Park, back thru Balboa park and finishes downtown (near Little Italy).
    The expo (and post race) is at Waterfront park. Parking is scarce, so walk, trolley, or FRED your way to and from the area.
    Plenty of places to eat in the area, but you might want to get a reservation on race weekend. The Queenstown Public House is where we ate after the race this year.
    For the more casual runner who wouldn’t mind a drink or two, there is fireball, tequila, beer, mimosas, tequila sunrise, and a myriad of other drinks (including a few made to order stops) in mile 4-5.5. Enjoy. I ran better after a shot or two. And of course there are plenty of official water and electrolyte stations on the course. This year, the featured electrolyte was Mortal Hydration.
    This race offers something for the most serious runners, or the BOPers like me.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3
    My Media

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    MilesOStridin REPEAT RUNNER '24

    The San Diego Rock n Roll Half Marathon is all about the atmosphere, the big race energy, and the crowds—for better and worse. Expo / pick-up: -New this year! The … MORE

    The San Diego Rock n Roll Half Marathon is all about the atmosphere, the big race energy, and the crowds—for better and worse.

    Expo / pick-up:

    -New this year! The expo was staged at San Diego’s Waterfront Park, the same location as the post-race celebration. Overall, it was fine but the expo is one-way foot traffic, so be sure to enter from the south entrance near Ash Street and exit from the north of the park. You cannot enter the fenced expo area from anywhere else. The organization of the expo area was interesting because you pick up your bib first, followed by a detour through merchandise sales and sponsors/vendors, and THEN they allow you to pick up your shirt. I’m guessing with the new outdoor setup, they were worried about people getting their bib and shirt, then bailing before hitting up the money-makers. Who could turn down the opportunity to buy overpriced Lululemon-branded Rock ‘n’ Roll clothing? *eyeroll* Seriously, the prices on official race merchandise have been egregious since Lululemon took over, I hate it. One other casualty of the outdoor expo setup: the mini-exhibit dedicated to the history of the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll races. Since San Diego is the first and original race in the series, they used to really highlight that history and showcase all the previous medal designs. If the exhibit was still around this year, I definitely missed it since it wasn’t as prominent.

    Parking:

    -Parking in San Diego is always tough, and the Waterfront Park is no exception. Bad news is that the parking is less centralized than at the previous Convention Center location, but the good news is that you have many more street parking options, and it often ends up being cheaper than before. For race day, I used the Spot Hero app, as recommended by the event website, and found a spot halfway between the start and finish areas. Don’t worry too much if it feels like you’re walking a long distance to the start line. On race-day morning, there are so many fellow runners making the same long trek in the same direction—it’s a fun bonding experience, haha.

    Pre-race:

    -The official start line is at 6th Ave and Quince St, but the energy, music, crowds, and port-a-potty lines start once you cross 6th Ave and Laurel St/the El Prado Bridge. Remember to bring your expo-issued plastic bags and gear check tags from your bib—it’s the only gear check bags they’ll accept at the gear check trucks on the east side of the grassy start area. Runners line up along 6th Ave, separated by numerous corrals marked by large guitar picks, matching the corral numbers on your race bib. You’re released in in waves, but I missed the turnstile/gate used in prior years to break the start waves into even smaller waves, which reduced congestion. Based on the race results, there were at least 1,700 more runners this year just for the Half Marathon, which led to congestion in the first 3-4 miles. Bring back the gates and the mini-waves!

    Course:

    -Miles 1-4 head north away from Balboa Park, then east through the Hillcrest, North Park, and University Heights neighborhoods. There’s some great entertainment, music, bands, and drag queens in these early areas. Some hills around Mile 2 in North Park normally start thinning the running field, but it felt like it barely made a dent in the larger number of racers this year. Overall, these first few miles are friendly and charged with early-morning race energy.

    -Miles 4-8 make a winding loop through residential neighborhoods in Normal Heights. The streets are narrow but flatter and cozier here, with plenty of local San Diegans out to cheer you on or offer home-made refreshments. I counted at 4-5 pop-up stands offering shots and beer around Mile 4.5!

    -Miles 8-13.1 set up an exciting finale to the race. The full Marathon course splits off from the Half Marathon at around Mile 8, and shortly after, the Half course enters the northeast corner of Balboa Park. Some of the toughest hills of the course kick in around Mile 9 and 10, up Jacaranda Place. They’re not the steepest hills in the world, but they’re a real challenge coming in so late in the race. Luckily, race sponsor Biofreeze has a pit-stop area here where they’ll blast your legs with pain-relief spray. Once you round the corner past the Morley Field Disk Golf Course, you’ll squeeze by road construction and narrow center dividers. And it’s all downhill from here, zooming down Pershing Drive through Balboa Park, through the disco-DJ tunnel under Curran Plaza at Mile 12, then into downtown San Diego for the raucous finish line. There’s some real downhill momentum in the final miles that make it so much fun!

    Scenery/Weather/Support:

    -The Rock n Roll race series’ claim to fame is the music and entertainment, and the half marathon course truly rocks. Every mile or so, you’ll encounter rock bands, DJs, a drag show, a Top Gun-era Tom Cruise impersonator, a mariachi band, Joe Dreamz, cheerleaders, stylish low rider cars, or a taiko drum group. It’s rarely quiet, and you’re never bored. Local residents join in on the fun too—at around Mile 9, someone placed an inflated unicorn on the street, spewing water from its horn! After taking a year off, the colorful lights in the Mile 12 tunnel are back, but they’re just vertical beams, not the swirling disco lights of years prior. There was a DJ at the tunnel entrance, but those colorful, dancing lights were a special touch, especially so close to the end. Bring back the DANCING disco lights! Water support and port-a-potties were plentiful. Weather was cool and completely overcast, with temperatures going from 59 F at the start to 60 F at the finish.

    Post-race:

    -Cross the finish-line, celebrate with your finisher medal, and grab refreshments: bottled water, a banana, Kirkland granola bars, Goldfish crackers, Mott’s fruit snacks, and cups of electrolytes from Mortal Hydration. There are several official photo backdrops available (great!), but I wish they were set further down the finisher chute. Their location is too close to the finish line and creates some traffic jams. Runners are funneled several blocks eastward down Ash St towards the Waterfront Park finish festival. There, you can make your way to the alphabetized family reunion area, gear check trucks, food trucks, even more (better!) photo opportunities, official merch sales, Remix Challenge medal pick-up (if you also did the 5k), medal engraving, and wide-open green space to cool-down and stretch. Live music by from a No Doubt tribute band blared from the main stage, creating a festive mood along the waterfront.

    But as you make your post-race exit, prepare for some of the worst traffic ever! I understand the need to close streets and freeway on-ramps, but you can’t just close them and say “that’s that!”. Put up some signs to reroute the car traffic, let us know how to get back on the freeway! I’m not sure if this is more on the race organizers or local transportation agencies, but something needs to be fixed. It took me 20 minutes just to get from my parking garage to an open on-ramp…

    Swag:
    -The official Half Marathon shirt was a blue tech shirt, with a circular graphic centered in 2 shades of orange and 2 shades of blue, white silhouettes of palm trees and birds, and large, curvy golden text of “San Diego” in the middle. Smaller white text around the graphic spell out “EST. 1998”, “Half Marathon”, and “06.02.24”, while the Rock ‘n’ Roll guitar pick logo sits up top. It’s a nice colorful design, a major upgrade over last year’s black tech shirts.
    The Half Marathon medal is a big, round, dark silver disc, with “THE ORIGINAL” in orange/yellow/blue/white text on blue near the top, white “San Diego” on blue near the bottom, and sparkly white “13.1” in large text in the center, popping out over a cut-out of a California grizzly bear. The outer edges of the medal are striped in orange/blue/yellow, with the “06.02.24’ date at the bottom, and the orange Rock ‘n’ Roll guitar pick logo at the very top. It’s all looped in a golden-yellow ribbon white some white palm tree silhouettes. If you ran the 5k, your Remix Medal is a set of yellow/orange/blue over-ear headphones, surrounding a swiveling medallion that says “2024 Remix Challenge” in blue text on orange/yellow gradient on one side, and the orange Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego guitar pick logo on a yellow background on the other side. The Remix medal is looped in an orange/yellow gradient ribbon

    Bottom-line:

    -Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego is a fun, big-time race with lots of runner and lots of energy. For the first time, though, I could feel the downside of the race being too popular: a congested race course and paralyzing car traffic at the end.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    4

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    thehotamale FIRST-TIMER '24

    Get there early, preferably via Uber, parking is hard to find and there's traffic. If you use one of those guys on a bike with lights it can cost $60 … MORE

    Get there early, preferably via Uber, parking is hard to find and there’s traffic. If you use one of those guys on a bike with lights it can cost $60 PER PERSON. will definitely be running out again next year.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    juanrod.vepa REPEAT RUNNER '24

    Was not able to participate in this race due to the shitty "organization" for this event. From a bunch of roads closed that created a huge caos hours before the … MORE

    Was not able to participate in this race due to the shitty “organization” for this event.
    From a bunch of roads closed that created a huge caos hours before the event started to the overwhelming amount of people that did not allow a decent flow of all the vehicles to get the rest of the people get close to the start of the event.
    Never seen such a lack of interest by the organizers and local authorities to make this a fun event, which is what we all expect to experience.
    My wife and I ended up all frustrated and mad at each other for all the bad vibe that we opted to go back home for the sake our own health.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    1
    SCENERY
    1
    SWAG
    1

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    tiffwhit FIRST-TIMER '23

    I get why this is the original Rock N Roll race, and I loved. The course was decent, it had some great parts and some other not so great areas. … MORE

    I get why this is the original Rock N Roll race, and I loved. The course was decent, it had some great parts and some other not so great areas. RnR after party has really changed, not the same as it used to be. The expos are also much smaller and have less offerings. Overall, this was a nice race and the weather was great.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    runchass FIRST-TIMER '23

    Typical Rock and Roll event..large crowds..buy entry early!! Expo was filled with LuluLemon apparel which had a lot to choose from...lots of cool gear to buy. The weather was fantastic … MORE

    Typical Rock and Roll event..large crowds..buy entry early!! Expo was filled with LuluLemon apparel which had a lot to choose from…lots of cool gear to buy. The weather was fantastic for running that day..overcast and cool.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4
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    MilesOStridin REPEAT RUNNER '23

    Rock n Roll San Diego’s Half Marathon is fantastic. The energy and atmosphere is exactly what you want from a big race, and it makes each and every mile so … MORE

    Rock n Roll San Diego’s Half Marathon is fantastic. The energy and atmosphere is exactly what you want from a big race, and it makes each and every mile so much fun.

    Expo / pick-up:
    -The expo, staged at the San Diego Convention Center, was efficient and well-organized: spacious areas for bib pickup, followed by race shirts, official merch, photo-ops, exhibits, then sponsors and vendors. I appreciated the clear pick-up bags we got. They’re great for carrying all your expo goodies, and necessary for race-day gear drop. My favorite merch items were the 5k/Half/Marathon shirts with all racers’ names printed in alphabetical order—provided that you registered in time! San Diego is home to the first Rock ‘n’ Roll running events, so there’s a nice exhibit showing the event’s history and all the medal designs over the years.

    Parking:
    -Convention center parking is tough because you really don’t have many options other than the $20 spots in the underground garage. For race day, I used the Spot Hero app, as recommended by the event website, and found $20 parking about halfway between the start and finish areas. Don’t worry too much if it feels like you’re parking far from the start line. On race-day morning, you’ll find so many other runners making the same long march in the same general direction.

    Pre-race:
    -The official start line is at 6th Ave and Quince St, but the energy, music, crowds, and port-a-potty lines start once you cross 6th Ave and Laurel St/the El Prado Bridge. Remember to bring your expo-issued clear plastic bags if you opt for gear-check, located in trucks on the east side of the grassy start area. Runners line up along 6th Ave, separated by numerous corrals marked by large guitar picks, and are released in waves upon the race’s start. In prior years, the start line also used a turnstile/gate to break the wave starts into even smaller waves, which reduced congestion. However, removing that this year led to some slow-downs in the first half mile or so. Bring back the mini-waves!

    Course:
    -Miles 1-4 head north away from Balboa Park, then east through the Hillcrest and University Heights neighborhoods. There are some hills around Mile 2 that start to thin the crowds, but the course here is otherwise friendly and charged with early-morning race energy.
    -Miles 4-8 make a winding loop through some residential neighborhoods in Normal Heights. The streets are narrower and cozier here, with plenty of local San Diegans out to cheer you on or offer home-made refreshments. I counted at least two little stands offering shots and beer!
    -Miles 8-13.1 make for an eventful finale to the race. The full Marathon splits off from the Half Marathon at around Mile 8, and shortly after, the Half course enters the northeast corner of Balboa Park. What feels like the toughest hills of the course kick in around Mile 9 and 10. They’re not the worst hills in the world, but their placement so late in the race are a real challenge. Luckily, race sponsor Biofreeze has a little pit-stop area here where they’ll blast you down with a pain-relief spray if you need. It’s all pretty much downhill (literally, elevation-wise) from here, zooming through Balboa Park, under the 5-Freeway tunnel at Mile 12, then into downtown San Diego for the raucous finish line. There’s some real momentum in the final miles that make it so much fun!

    Scenery/Weather/Support:
    -The Rock n Roll race series’ claim to fame is the music and entertainment, and the San Diego Half truly rocks. Every mile or so, you’ll encounter rock bands, DJs, a drag show, a Ron Burgundy impersonator (“Stay classy, San Diego!”), a mariachi band, a Top Gun-era Tom Cruise impersonator, cheerleaders, or a taiko drum group. It’s rarely quiet, and you’re never bored. Compared to prior years, my one disappointment is the missing disco-lights in the Mile 12 tunnel. There was a DJ at the tunnel entrance instead, which was ok, but those colorful, dancing lights were a really special touch, especially so close to the end. Bring back the disco lights! Water support and port-a-potties were plentiful. Weather was cool and completely overcast, with temperatures going from 60F at the start to 63F at the finish.

    Post-race:
    -Cross the finish-line, celebrate with your finisher medal, and grab refreshments: water, a banana, granola bars, Goldfish crackers, Mott’s fruit snacks, and Gatorade. There are several official photo backdrops available (great!), but I wish they were set further down the finisher chute. Their location so close to the finish line creates some traffic jams. Runners are funneled several blocks eastward down Ash St towards the waterfront finish festival, and it’s a nice set-up. There’s an alphabetized family reunion area, gear check pick-up, food trucks, photo opportunities, merchandise sales, Remix Challenge medal pick-up (if you also did the 5k), medal engraving, and wide-open green space to cool-down and stretch. Live music by bands and DJs plays from the main stage, creating a really festive mood along the waterfront. As you make your post-race exit, remember that many roads are closed, so make your transportation arrangements accordingly.

    Swag:
    -The Half Marathon was a black tech shirt, with some palm tree graphics and blue/orange gradient lines, and a large “1998” in multi-line font style, celebrating Rock n Roll San Diego’s 25th Anniversary. The colorful design is nice, but I’m not a fan of black race shirts since they blend in with so much running gear that already comes in black. The Half Marathon medal is a big, round, dark silver disc, “13.1” text centered in a white multi-line font, with blue/yellow/orange gradient lines in the background, and palm trees on the side, looped with a light orange ribbon. If you ran the 5k, you’ll also score a Remix Challenge medal: a black metal DJ turntable, where the record can swivel between “Remix Challenge” on one side, and the orange “Rock n Roll San Diego” logo on the other side. I wish the Remix medal more clearly showed the year.

    Bottom-line:
    -Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego is such a fun, well-produced event. The energy, music, and atmosphere really set it apart from other races, and I highly recommend it!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    4

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    chrisjordan1979 FIRST-TIMER '23

    The race is a first class production. The course has two challenging hills once you break away from the half marathoners. Lots of aid and medical stations that are well … MORE

    The race is a first class production. The course has two challenging hills once you break away from the half marathoners. Lots of aid and medical stations that are well stocked. The post race party and its location is probably the best out of the Rock-n-Rolls I have done.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    kerrymittleman FIRST-TIMER '23

    Nothing like getting up at 4:30 am to get ready to run with 25,000 other runners and walkers in both events. Weather was perfect for the event, the course had … MORE

    Nothing like getting up at 4:30 am to get ready to run with 25,000 other runners and walkers in both events. Weather was perfect for the event, the course had great aid stations. The course had rolling hills, downhill near the end. The crowds of spectators were everywhere. It really helped , music was always and added bonus.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    4
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    dee4224 FIRST-TIMER '23

    This course was the hilliest course I’ve ever ran, just because the handful of hills you ran were very steep. I was a little disappointed because the corral’s were not … MORE

    This course was the hilliest course I’ve ever ran, just because the handful of hills you ran were very steep. I was a little disappointed because the corral’s were not announced so I ended up just running with the last group, not that I’m super fast but it was just confusing. I was also pretty disappointed with the race packets but maybe this is usual for bigger races.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    2
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    Vendsweet FIRST-TIMER '23

    The weather was great, the production of the race was very good, and overall the race was better than I expected. The hill that we had to climb at mile … MORE

    The weather was great, the production of the race was very good, and overall the race was better than I expected. The hill that we had to climb at mile 22 was super tough. I was on track to have a PR until I hit that. The crowds throughout the race were very encouraging.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3

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    Huge race in downtown San Diego with a ton of people so give yourself a lot of time because those port e potty lines are serious! Decent scenery spanning through … MORE

    Huge race in downtown San Diego with a ton of people so give yourself a lot of time because those port e potty lines are serious! Decent scenery spanning through some of San Diego’s historic neighborhoods with big crowds and a lot of spirit.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    runnincarrie FIRST-TIMER '22

    This was my first Rock n roll race and it was so much fun! The course did beat me up a bit, there are definitely some hills in San Diego! … MORE

    This was my first Rock n roll race and it was so much fun! The course did beat me up a bit, there are definitely some hills in San Diego! But so much crowd support and fun keeps you going. The post race festivities and beautiful weather topped off a great race day.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
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    uijikuat REPEAT RUNNER '22

    This is my second time running the San Diego half and it was a little overwhelming for me. The route wasn't very scenic, and it was uphill most of the … MORE

    This is my second time running the San Diego half and it was a little overwhelming for me.

    The route wasn’t very scenic, and it was uphill most of the time. The finish line was hectic probably since it was in downtown, it was tough for spectators or for finished runners to get pictures and enjoyed the race after.

    I am a big fan of RnR so i am only making a comparisons to the other cities I have run in.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    1
    SWAG
    4

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    venu.vegesana FIRST-TIMER '22

    Completed Full Marathon. It's very good half marathon for the crowd and excitement around Full marathon course is bored after 14th mile as it takes to some lonely trail. The … MORE

    Completed Full Marathon. It’s very good half marathon for the crowd and excitement around
    Full marathon course is bored after 14th mile as it takes to some lonely trail. The hwy 163 is another stretch that js not exciting with long hwy till we reach downtown again.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    4

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    kellrox FIRST-TIMER '21

    This was my first rock n roll race and thought it was well coordinated. The expo was held at the convention center and had plentiful supplies of supplements and clothes … MORE

    This was my first rock n roll race and thought it was well coordinated. The expo was held at the convention center and had plentiful supplies of supplements and clothes given it was just post pandemic. I ran this race in October due to its cancellation in June, and the weather was cool. The race had steady inclines, the one to be aware of is the one around mile 23 which is an uphill freeway leading downtown. After this race I developed pirifornis syndrome that I still deal with today in part due to that hill. The post race only supplied pretzels, bananas and water. There wasnt enough port a potties at the finish line. The race included a lot of water stations, live bands and a lot of crowd support to motivate

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    hyakusho FIRST-TIMER '21

    Outstanding race production and outside of that BRUTAL hill (on an empty freeway) in miles 22-24, a great race. Fun vibe with all of the bands and the course itself … MORE

    Outstanding race production and outside of that BRUTAL hill (on an empty freeway) in miles 22-24, a great race. Fun vibe with all of the bands and the course itself looping through neighborhoods and other San Diego sites. Just make sure you conserve your energy for that last hill. If the sun is out, it’ll be a killer.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    4

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    RickSawThat FIRST-TIMER '21

    My pace was great for the first half even though there were a lot of hills. About 20 miles in you run on highway 163. That section is a very … MORE

    My pace was great for the first half even though there were a lot of hills. About 20 miles in you run on highway 163. That section is a very long grinding hill. Be more ready than I was. The time I gained in the first half was lost there. Overall a great event. Wish I was more aware of the hills during my training.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    4

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    MilesOStridin FIRST-TIMER '21

    The Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon is a fun, high-energy race done right. Outside of Disney events, it’s hard to find many other races with this level of … MORE

    The Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon is a fun, high-energy race done right. Outside of Disney events, it’s hard to find many other races with this level of atmosphere and support.

    Expo / pick-up:
    -The expo at the San Diego Convention Center was well-organized with plentiful, designated bib and shirt pick-up stations, as well as a start-corral adjustment table. I appreciated the vaccine/negative test check at the entrance. So many of us race because of health, and it’s nice that they took this seriously. I also loved the clear pick-up bags we got. They’re so handy for carrying all your race and expo goodies, and necessary for gear drop at the longer races. I don’t understand why some races try to cheap out by not giving these bags. Like most big expos, there’s a spacious area for race weekend merch and the primary shoe sponsor (Brooks this year). My favorite pieces of merch were the 5k/Half/Marathon shirts with all the racers’ names printed on them in alphabetical order—the catch being that you had to have registered for the races at least 60 days early. I wish I’d registered earlier, and this neat little perk is something the Rock ‘n’ Roll organizers should advertise more! The San Diego version of the Rock ‘n’ Roll running events is apparently the original, and the expo set up a neat display of all the medal designs throughout the years, as well as all the bonus medals you can earn for completing multiple Rock ‘n’ Roll races. They’re so bling-tastic and do a good job of appealing to all the medal-collecting completionists out there 🙂

    Parking:
    -Convention center parking for the expo was unfortunately $20. I tried finding cheaper alternatives, but couldn’t find anything more reasonable. For race day, I went with the race-recommended Spot Hero app, and found $20 parking that was a few blocks from the finish line, but a bit farther from the start line. It wasn’t a big deal because so many other runners were also making the same trek to the start line, so every few blocks this long parade of runners would grow.

    Pre-race:
    -The start line begins at 6th Ave and Quince St, but once you get close to 6th Ave and Laurel St/the El Prado Bridge, the music starts kicking in and the port-a-potty lines emerge (hallelujah!). Gear check was a breeze—remember to bring the clear bags and zip ties from the expo. Just like the 5k from the previous day, runners were divided into multiple corrals—at least 25 corrals, marked by giant guitar picks (get it? Rock and roll?). One implementation I really admired was the staggered corral starts. Most races will release entire corrals are released at once. Then you’re expected to cross the start line on your own timing, and end up navigating a congested, slow-mo stampede from the start? The Rock ‘n’ Roll organizers solved this issue by releasing runners in each corral in 5-sec mini-waves, signaled by countdown lights and horns. This way, you can launch out of the start line into a more wide-open road! I hope this practice becomes more commonplace.

    Course:
    -The Half Marathon course primarily winds around Balboa Park, through North Park, Normal Heights, and East San Diego, then back to Balboa and Downtown. I think the elevation change can be best described as gentle rolling hills, with a few bigger hills sprinkled throughout—nothing too extreme. The first “big” hill was around mile 3. It thinned the crowds a bit, but I think it came early enough in the course that I felt fresh enough to speed through. The hills before and after mile 10, right as you re-enter the northeast corner of Balboa Park, caught me a bit off guard. They weren’t huge by any means, but tired legs at that point made them a chore! The good news? It’s all pretty much downhill (literally) from that point on! You zoom south through Balboa towards downtown—and with the downhill slope combined with the mental momentum of knowing you’re in the final stretch, it makes for an exciting finish.

    Scenery/Weather/Support:
    -With a name like “Rock ‘n’ Roll” in the event name, you’d think that music would be important to the race. And you’d be right! There’s plenty of on-course entertainment, including multiple bands and DJs, a drag show, a Johnny Cash tribute, cheer squads, a Ron Burgundy impersonator (I almost slowed down to hear more jokes), and a pretty nifty disco tunnel around mile 12! Water support was strong throughout the course. I think there were port-a-potties, but I was too locked-in to notice. Weather-wise, it was a cool and cloudy day, but not as overcast as it was for the previous day’s 5k, and not cloudy enough to dampen the overall energy of the race.

    Post-race:
    -Once you cross the finish-line, grab your finisher medal and a great selection of refreshments: water, banana, multiple brands of granola bars, a fresh cookie, chips (salt is an underrated part of recovery!), Gatorade, fruit snacks, and more. You definitely won’t go hungry. Runners are funneled several blocks down Ash St towards the waterfront finish festival. I have to say the finish festival is one of the more impressive ones I’ve seen. There’s an alphabetized family reunion area, gear pick-up, food trucks, photo opportunities, merchandising, Remix Challenge medal pick-up (if you did the 5k), medal engraving, and pick-up plenty of space to cool-down and stretch. All this while music blasts to keep you on your feet if you need. It’s a really festive mood, and the sights are great too because you’re just along the water with several ships sitting in the harbor.

    Swag:
    -The Half Marathon was a dark blue tech shirt, with multiple San Diego neighborhood signs highlighted in yellow and orange. It’s not as eye-catching as the 5k shirt, but it’s still very nice. The Half Marathon medal is a round replica of the North Park sign in light-blue, with a bright orange ribbon attached. It’s only slightly larger than the 5k medal, which is something I hope they change in the future. If you run the 5k as well, then you’ll get your hands on a Remix Challenge medal: the medal features a record that actually slides in and out of its sleeve! Way cool. Both medals have an outlined area on the back for engraving if you want to record your time or celebrate a PR.

    Bottom-line:
    -This was my first Rock ‘n’ Roll running weekend, and I had a really great time. The race was well-produced, and full of little details (guitar pick corral signs, corral mini-waves, on-course entertainment, a disco tunnel, an expansive finish line festival, etc.) that set it apart. Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego’s got a great energy that really makes you want to run it again.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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