Overall Rating
Overall Rating (23 Reviews)
3.8
(23 Ratings)(23 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2
SCENERY
2.6
PRODUCTION
4
SWAG
3.7
Run California’s fastest half marathon at the annual Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon! This flat, fast and scenic race is conveniently located in downtown San Jose and is known for being one of the most supportive and motivating race experiences in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series. The event … MORE
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Recent reviews

    bayna6 FIRST-TIMER '17

    I really like running in San Jose, I would definitely do this race again. The scenery was nice, the temperature was really good and the participants we fantastic. MORE

    I really like running in San Jose, I would definitely do this race again. The scenery was nice, the temperature was really good and the participants we fantastic.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
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    3
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    4
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    2

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    bayna6 FIRST-TIMER '17

    This was my first trip to San Jose and I really enjoyed it. It is a great place to run, the course is very nice, the scenery is nice and … MORE

    This was my first trip to San Jose and I really enjoyed it. It is a great place to run, the course is very nice, the scenery is nice and I would definitely run this one again.

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    frankhwu REPEAT RUNNER '17

    This was my PR (to date). So I have only positive things to say. It's flat, which accounts for it being fast. I also had a personal pacer, someone I … MORE

    This was my PR (to date). So I have only positive things to say.
    It’s flat, which accounts for it being fast. I also had a personal pacer, someone I run with often who is much faster but nice to me. We finished with the exact same time.
    Mass start. Bit of a wait for your turn. Not complaining; just noting.
    I am spoiled by San Francisco. I can’t say I really am dazzled by the sights of San Jose. However, it is fine.
    I probably will run this again.

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    Angela REPEAT RUNNER '17

    This race was my 3rd half back in 2010 & I though it hardly seems possible I was back this year for my 20th! ***LOCATION*** San Jose, CA ***DATE*** Early … MORE

    This race was my 3rd half back in 2010 & I though it hardly seems possible I was back this year for my 20th!

    ***LOCATION***
    San Jose, CA

    ***DATE***
    Early October (Oct 8, 2017 this year)

    ***PRICE***
    Competitor shows only the current price rather than the entire fee schedule and I was not diligent enough to track the various price increases, BUT I can tell you that a) I paid $79.99 + $11.99 transaction fee (!?!) in March, b) the price has risen to $175 for last-minute expo registration, and c) they offered a limited 2018 pre-registration special race weekend for $59 (a price I consider actually reasonable for a half marathon).

    Truthfully, the cost of Rock ‘N Roll races makes me a bit ill, but it is worth noting that RNR now offers a kind of refund insurance that covers things like illness, injury, pregnancy, etc. that might foil your race (I don’t see the amount listed on the website anywhere now, but one assumes it would be less than the cost of the race?), and you can also defer for $45.

    ***DEADLINES/SELLOUT FACTOR***
    I feel like this race has sold out in the past, but as of the day before the race, there were still spots available if you signed up at the expo. (Online registration was closed on Friday, I think.) It makes more sense now why I saw promo codes floating around the internet a few weeks back.

    ***FIELD SIZE***
    Half Marathon – 6,483
    10K – 2,403
    5K – 1,767

    ***STAGING***
    The start is at Santa Clara and Almaden, just a few blocks north-west of Cesar Chavez Plaza, and the finish is pretty much at Cesar Chavez Plaza, so I was quite happy with my decision to stay at the Four Points Sheraton, less than a block from the finish. Yes, it’s an additional expense, but for a bigger, longer race, I really prefer not to have to drive and deal with parking or public transit on race morning if I can possibly justify it. (Also, more sleep!)

    Gear check was maybe two short blocks away, and it was nice to see that they had several smaller banks of toilets scattered around the staging area rather than one GIANT PORT-A-POLLY GALLEY. I never had to wait to use them.

    ***PARKING***
    As of 7:30pm the night before the race, the parking info page still said “Coming soon!” Oops. When I ran this race back in 2010, I didn’t stay within walking distance, and found it very easy to park in municipal public parking within just a few blocks of the start, and it was even free! (The caveat being that since I was driving & am paranoid, I arrived quite early & apparently beat the rush). I’m not sure if it’s that easy anymore, but there are definitely a BUNCH of large public garages in downtown San Jose as the staging area is right near the convention center. If you’re staying at hotel near the start (and there are MANY to choose from), you’re good; you’ll just probably have to pay. (Eg, I stayed at the Four Points Sheraton, a couple blocks from the start, and parking was $29/night.)

    ***THE COURSE***
    Let’s just get this out of the way: The course is USATF certified, folks. People run Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying times on it. It is 13.1 miles. Your GPS is not God.

    This course is pancake-flat, and actually has relatively few turns for an urban race. (Don’t let the elevation graph fool you, look at the scale.) Both times I’ve run this race there has been a pretty awesome crowd presence (see: urban races), plus there are the bands if you’re into that. (Personally, I’m not. You run by them so fast that you barely catch any of what they’re playing, and I don’t know about you but when I’m racing I’m a bit too preoccupied to pay attention to that kind of thing anyway.)

    Aid stations were sufficient, well organized, staffed by super with-it volunteers, and–be still my beating heart–pouring real actual sports drink with real actual calories in it. Lemon-lime Gatorade 4eva. I carry my own gels but the later stations were handing some out along with maybe shot blocks or something, not totally sure.

    ***SWAG***
    Not that I need more of them but I am happy to say that the tech T situation has much improved since 2010! This one actually fits, and doesn’t make me feel like I look like a can of Sprite if I wear it in public. And of course it wouldn’t be a Rock ‘N Roll race without a goofy rock-themed medal. (Then again I guess if you run a gimmicky race you can’t complain too much about getting a gimmicky medal.)

    ***AWARDS***
    If you are super speedy, it might be relevant to your interests that there are prizes for male and female overall winners 1st-3rd, plus 1st, 2nd, & 3rd male & female in five-year increments. At 6,000+ runners, including a fair number of elites and pros, though, they were definitely not relevant to mine! (I believe the men’s race was won in 1:03:xx & the women’s race in 1:12:xx hoooooly Jesus! AND she was in my age group!)

    ***IF YOU DECIDE TO RUN***
    – If you can swing the additional $$ I definitely recommend staying nearby as it is just so easy with the approximately 10 gazillion hotels within a five block radius. It saved me so much time & stress in terms of sheer logistics & variables to manage.

    – The thing about this race is that yes, it’s a fall race, but just barely, and it’s still in San Jose, so it is unlikely to ever be particularly chilly (though it did rain a bit in 2010). The high this year was forecasted to be 87F, so although it was not super hot during the time I was actually running (8:00am start), it was full sun on asphalt so it felt warmer toward the end of the race than it actually was.

    – Officially there is no race day packet pickup, but I overheard some race staff talking and it seems to me that they will definitely give you your bib on race morning if for some reason you weren’t able to get it at the expo, but they don’t advertise that fact since they don’t want 400 people going, “Pshhh, I’ll just be a slug & pick it up in the morning.” So be a good person & pick it up at the expo if you can, but don’t panic if disaster strikes.

    ***OVERALL ASSESSMENT***
    You know, for all that I am not a fan of Competitor Group and some of the Rock ‘N Roll races have gotten bad reports in the past, I have to admit that this was a really great, really well-run and convenient race for me. My only complaints are that the website needs to be updated with key information (ie, parking, aid station info, etc.) in a few places and maybe put the trash cans a bit closer to the tangents. All in all, though, it’s a pretty great Bay Area option if you’re looking to run a fast race, and I can see why so many elites and other super speedy folks run it. No, it is not the cheapest race you could run, but I just took advantage of that $59 2018 pre-reg deal myself, which I think is pretty fair.

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    PeteSinCA Oct 13, 2017 at 2:29pm

    San Jose weather varies considerably around that time of year. I did a 10K the weekend before in central San Jose (a block or two from the 2012 and 2013 RnR start area) and it was still in the 60s at 11AM. OTOH, there was 2017 Trail Hog weekend.

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    trainwithv FIRST-TIMER '17

    5K on Saturday and you can pick up your bib there and not go to the Friday night expo. Great flat courses with close parking for both the 5k and … MORE

    5K on Saturday and you can pick up your bib there and not go to the Friday night expo. Great flat courses with close parking for both the 5k and 1/2 marathon, later start for the 1/2 at 8am. Great friendly race with lots of support and cheerleaders.

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    PeteSinCA Oct 11, 2017 at 11:40am

    For locals who don't like parking in central SJ, VTA Light Rail has a stop or two close to the start area.

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    littlebvt FIRST-TIMER '16

    This was one of the smaller RnR races but still was nice. The race went along the streets and neighborhoods of the city and the residents cheered us on, along … MORE

    This was one of the smaller RnR races but still was nice. The race went along the streets and neighborhoods of the city and the residents cheered us on, along most of the race. The beer garden was seamless and made the race even more rewarding!

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    Ymer REPEAT RUNNER '16

    Its a nice flat course and goes through some nice neighborhoods in the San JOse area, but smaller than most of RNR other races. The usual standards for medals and … MORE

    Its a nice flat course and goes through some nice neighborhoods in the San JOse area, but smaller than most of RNR other races. The usual standards for medals and entertainment,

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    RunKMacRun REPEAT RUNNER '16

    Great to do with the 5K on Saturday. Both courses are flat and fast. I believe some records have been set with the course. I'm already signed up for my … MORE

    Great to do with the 5K on Saturday. Both courses are flat and fast. I believe some records have been set with the course. I’m already signed up for my 4th year.

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    RunKMacRun REPEAT RUNNER '16

    I love running around all the expensive old homes. The 5K course is quick and pretty flat. 5K is a great run and you earn the Remix challenge if you … MORE

    I love running around all the expensive old homes. The 5K course is quick and pretty flat. 5K is a great run and you earn the Remix challenge if you do this along with the 1/2 on Sunday

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    fabe46 FIRST-TIMER '16

    There were only a few (three if i had to put a number on it) significant uphills on cousre. The course went through nice neigborhoods. The bands and spectators were … MORE

    There were only a few (three if i had to put a number on it) significant uphills on cousre. The course went through nice neigborhoods. The bands and spectators were good. Weather got little warm but nothing too bad. Cool medals and shirt logo. Plenty of hotel options downtown near festival, expo, and start/finish lines. I would do again in two or three years.

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    amandasava FIRST-TIMER '15

    This was my second Rock n Roll race and it was a huge let down compared to San Diego. The course was flat and easy and well marked, but it … MORE

    This was my second Rock n Roll race and it was a huge let down compared to San Diego.

    The course was flat and easy and well marked, but it was hot and uninspiring.

    As usual for a Rock n Roll event, the expo and swag were fantastic. And I did love doing the 5k the day before for the Remix medal.

    Overall it was a fine road half, but not one that I’ll be looking to do again.

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    fabe46 Oct 05, 2016 at 12:14pm

    Of three cities I have done with rock n roll or for any race and city... San Diego has been best hands down..

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    lindayoung FIRST-TIMER '15

    Ran the half marathon in 2015 (their 10th anniversary year). Overall, this was an A event! Pros: -Reasonable and logical price tiers, usually starting at ~$60 for the lowest pricing … MORE

    Ran the half marathon in 2015 (their 10th anniversary year). Overall, this was an A event!

    Pros:
    -Reasonable and logical price tiers, usually starting at ~$60 for the lowest pricing (unlike disney which starts at almost $200 for first tier pricing)
    -Nice course (flat, enjoyable, good variety)
    -Quality bling
    -water stations were well stocked
    -volunteers were great
    -got a promo shirt for early sign-up 🙂
    -they allow people to change corral assignments; was a quick and painless process
    -good finish line snack variety (water, gatorade, nesquick, bananas, nuts, power bar, beer)
    -perfect northern california weather

    Cons:
    -think they really skimped in the goodies inside our bib pick-up bags at the expo (only got a 15% sports authority coupon; which btw previous years had a 20% off sports authority coupon)
    -Had a hard time carrying my water, gatorade, banana, and other snacks in the finish chute; would have been nice if they gave out a small baggie to help us carry the snacks, especially as we were not allowed to re-enter if we wanted another water or something
    -saw the porta potty lines in the first 5 miles or so were crazy long, maybe could use more potties? the ones in the second half of the race had no lines though..

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    mzcoonz REPEAT RUNNER '15

    This race is perfect if you are looking for a PR - super flat and not a lot of turns so you have to worry about running the tangents or … MORE

    This race is perfect if you are looking for a PR – super flat and not a lot of turns so you have to worry about running the tangents or adding extra mileage to the distance.

    It’s good for a first timer, or someone who wants to experience the RnR event series, but there were a few annoying items (for me) that comes with all big races for me:
    – No race day packet pick up, nor did they give the option to mail it to you. They force to you go to the expo and visit the vendors, and the lines just to get in and get your stuff are LONG, so that will take an extra 1-2 hours the day before, not even including your commute time
    – If you’re a back of the pack runner, it will take you 45 minutes of standing in the corral just to get to the start line. I was in the first corral, and when we were running past the race start (near the end), I saw about 1/3 the people hadn’t even started yet.
    – This year’s race advertised free parking, but then due to an issue with the space, they ended up charging people for it at a different location. This was false advertising and completely ILLEGAL

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    emcclendon REPEAT RUNNER '09

    Very hot and steamy temp. in San Jose during Oct. with an 8 am start, which needs to be at an earlier time to offset the hot temp. An absolutely … MORE

    Very hot and steamy temp. in San Jose during Oct. with an 8 am start, which needs to be at an earlier time to offset the hot temp. An absolutely non-challenging very flat and fast course, the fastest of them all. Non-scenic route but the city and crowded fans make up the difference. Fantastic race production with event tech tee, although waffle fabric, and nice finisher’s medal. Plenty of live rocks bands along the course provide the music and one free beer at the finish line. This is the race for your Half Marathon PR no doubt.

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    emcclendon REPEAT RUNNER '15

    This half marathon is held during the time of year when it is exceptionally hot in San Jose. Dull and non-scenic course is very flat and fast, which would be … MORE

    This half marathon is held during the time of year when it is exceptionally hot in San Jose. Dull and non-scenic course is very flat and fast, which would be good to go for your PR. The production is huge but the swag is mediocre, but with a fairly nice finisher’s medal. You are only allowed one free beer at the finish line, and the vent tech shirt tee is made of waffle fabric. This is a good PR race if you don’t mind the heat and over-crowded course.

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    zeigen FIRST-TIMER '15

    This is my first half marathon (have run several 5ks and 10ks previously). After a barrage of e-mail recommendations, I bought a prepaid parking pass for the expo at packet … MORE

    This is my first half marathon (have run several 5ks and 10ks previously). After a barrage of e-mail recommendations, I bought a prepaid parking pass for the expo at packet pickup on Friday, for $5. On race day on Sunday, despite arriving at the recommended time, there was a huge line of cars, that eventually revealed the garage had filled long before. The garage workers were rude and terrible communicators. This may be less the fault of the race organizers than the venue, but it took more than an hour to deal with the parking. And I ended up having to pay more elsewhere for parking and almost missed the race.

    Everything else was fine. The numerous musical acts along the way were inspiring, there was plenty of water and Gatorade along the route, and the t-shirt and medal and post-run water and snacks were all fine.

    I was a bit put off by the constant e-mails beforehand trying to upsell for VIP this and premium that, and the official photos were even more expensive than I expected.

    Also, the data from my GPS (both phone and watch) as well as the friends I ran with was that the course was closer to 13.3 miles than 13.1. But your mileage may vary. (HA!)

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    sfgal78 REPEAT RUNNER '15

    this was my 4th time participating in the rock 'n roll san jose half marathon, and 6th time attending the race (i came to cheer and spectate in 2010 & … MORE

    this was my 4th time participating in the rock ‘n roll san jose half marathon, and 6th time attending the race (i came to cheer and spectate in 2010 & 2014). the course remains the same, as does the start/finish area, as well as the plethora of lives bands, cheerleaders, and other lively characters along the course. the volunteers were spectacular, handing out medals, water, and food at the finish line. and let’s not forget all of the volunteers who helped out at the expo and days leading up to the event, since a race for 20,000+ runners take a lot of hard work!

    since 2015 was the 10th running of this event, participants received a special commemorative dri-fit tee (in both men’s and women’s cuts) as well as a heavy medal, with a big sparkly 10 in the middle. i cannot lie, one of the main reasons i signed up was for the special tshirt and medal!

    the one negative aspect about this year’s event was the parking situation. having participated in this event for several years, i am accustomed to free, dedicated parking at the sap center. even if i arrive late, i still have a spot there, with a slightly longer walk. a few days before race day, i received an email stating that due to another event at the sap center in the afternoon, parking would no longer be available for runners in the adjacent lot. we would have to park at one of the city lots and pay $5 in advance, or find street parking, or take vta, or be dropped off at the start line. this was quite inconvenient and i know that many of my friends were not happy about this last minute change. i had my husband drop me off at the start line since i didn’t want to take a chance of not getting a parking space even with the prepaid parking pass.

    aside from the parking snafu, i felt that the overall organization was very smooth and i didn’t even have to wait that long to use the porta-potty before the race!

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    mzcoonz REPEAT RUNNER '15

    I've attended the RnR series for the last few years, and I am extremely disappointed with this last year. The parking for race day was initially advertised as free, and … MORE

    I’ve attended the RnR series for the last few years, and I am extremely disappointed with this last year. The parking for race day was initially advertised as free, and then the week before, they decided they would charge us for parking. The reason is because the original parking lot would be closed due to unforeseen circumstances, but they should still eat the new parking cost (rather than passing it along to participants). It is actually ILLEGAL to charge people after advertising free! I emailed the race director asking about this, and obviously got no response. Very disappointing from a large race company like this.

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    ktown68 FIRST-TIMER '15

    Even thought the course map made it look like miles 6-9 were all up hill it was really not even noticeable. Great flat course that runs through all parts of … MORE

    Even thought the course map made it look like miles 6-9 were all up hill it was really not even noticeable. Great flat course that runs through all parts of town.

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    sfgal78 REPEAT RUNNER '12

    a long overdue review, overdue by almost a year in fact, but better late than never! i have participated in this event twice, in 2011 and 2012, and both times, … MORE

    a long overdue review, overdue by almost a year in fact, but better late than never!

    i have participated in this event twice, in 2011 and 2012, and both times, i finished with my best race times of the year!

    for the 2012 event, they added the “mini-marathon” so participants had a choice of 2 distances:
    1. mini-marathon, 5 miles
    2. half marathon, 13.1 miles

    i chose to participate in the half marathon distance since this is my favourite distance to race. pre-registration for the half was $65 since i registered super early (shortly after the 2011 event). normal prices are $85 (through 5/31), $95 (through 7/31), $105 (through 9/29), and $150 at the expo.

    the pros:
    *PERFECT race day conditions, sunny and cool with temperatures in the high-40s at the start and still cool at the finish line with temperatures hovering around 50.
    *fast and flat loop course that originated and ended in downtown san jose, passing through several residential neighborhoods and san jose’s japantown.
    *official pacers, carrying tall pace flags and wearing official pacer shirts, with projected finish times ranging from 1:45 – 3:00
    *friendly volunteers directing runners along the course handing out fluids at all aid stations
    *clear mile markers along the course, 1 for every mile
    *large, visible clocks at each mile marker and major split (5k, 10k, etc)
    *friends and family meetup area at finisher’s village, sorted by alphabet

    what you get:
    ++packet pick-up @ the race expo, held at the san jose convention center on the friday & saturday before the race (which was on sunday)
    ++reusable drawstring gear check bag
    ++dri-fit finisher’s t-shirt (more fitted for the women, which i like)
    ++cool medal in the shape of a tape cassette, awesome flashback to the 80s!
    (medal engraving available on site for a small fee)
    ++lots of post-race food, bananas, bagels, bars, water galore!
    ++free beer at the finish
    ++free entertainment in the form of local bands at the finish line

    the cons:
    -the recommended parking option was the hp pavilion, which was free for the day, but still a bit of a hike to the starting line….i walked roughly 15-20 min to get to the starting area
    -with the addition of the 5 mile option this year, the organizers needed to have added additional porta-potties. from 7.20am onwards, each clump of porta-potties had quite a long line of anxious runners!
    -although the course was flat, it was not very interesting since most businesses were not yet opened for the day and the residential neighborhoods were quite boring, so i felt like i was looking at one building after another
    -the course was lacking in entertainment as bands that were promised weren’t exactly delivered on race day. there was good entertainment at the start and finish, but i would have liked to see and hear more in the middle.

    despite the shortcomings for the 2012 event, i still look back fondly on this event as i hold my best half marathon time ever. will i run it again this year? you betcha! and here’s hoping for another PR!

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