Overall Rating
Overall Rating (77 Reviews)
4.5
(77 Ratings)  (77 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2.6
SCENERY
3.9
PRODUCTION
4.6
SWAG
4.3
For over 45 years the Rocket City Marathon, conducted by the Huntsville Track Club, has been a premiere marathon event in the South. The Rocket City Race Weekend is more than just a series of races, it is an “event” built around the races. We work just as hard creating … MORE
Local Historical Weather (Dec 14):
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L (°F)  35  51  35  36  36
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Recent reviews

    DonutShark FIRST-TIMER '23

    Highlights: * Running past rockets at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center * Being cheered on by members of our armed services in uniform outside of the Rocket center. These … MORE

    Highlights:
    * Running past rockets at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center
    * Being cheered on by members of our armed services in uniform outside of the Rocket center. These men and women deserve to be honored for all they do. And here they were cheering US on.
    * Swag/Expo – Got a giant bag of Ka’Chava. Picked up some high-vis long-sleeve shirts from prior years for $1. Got some cheap souvenirs for the kiddo. The race shirt was a lightweight, light blue long-sleeve tee…and hey, blue is my color.
    * Running through the botanical garden. It’s winter, so nothing is in bloom, but it’s still a pleasant setting.
    * Post-race food was plentiful. The usual fare: Nothing unique, but hey, they didn’t run out (unlike other races I’ve run)

    The rest:
    * Other than the rockets and the botanical gardens, the race course is fairly forgettable. I just watched a YouTube preview of the whole course and I don’t remember any of it.
    * The medals. I’ll say this: They’re not ho-him. They gave us three medals: One for the marathon, and two half-marathon medals. Feels like double-dipping. It’s overkill. I hate taking credit for a “race within a race.” Why not give out a 5k medal while you’re at it? I tossed the extra medals in a junk drawer.

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    jvsutton REPEAT RUNNER '23

    Nice weather, fairly flat course and wonderful views of historic homes and cemeteries. And the finish line was wonderful! Breakfast buffet was excellent! So much fun! MORE

    Nice weather, fairly flat course and wonderful views of historic homes and cemeteries. And the finish line was wonderful! Breakfast buffet was excellent! So much fun!

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    mjenn66 FIRST-TIMER '23

    Nice expo, everything you would need, and not crowded. I ran the back Half. Shuttle to start. Great indoor campus to hang out until start!!! Race was nice, lots to … MORE

    Nice expo, everything you would need, and not crowded. I ran the back Half. Shuttle to start. Great indoor campus to hang out until start!!! Race was nice, lots to see along the course and scenic too. Not crowded at all on course or at the start. Another great indoor area for the finish!! Lots of good post race food as well. Found free parking for expo and race also. Really nice event overall. Finisher medal was unique and well done! I can’t think of anything negative that needs improvement about the whole event. 👍

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    stacijwilliams FIRST-TIMER '23

    The course was great with varied scenery. It was a really neat to run through the space and rocket center and the botanical garden with the holiday display. The course … MORE

    The course was great with varied scenery. It was a really neat to run through the space and rocket center and the botanical garden with the holiday display. The course had some hills, but nothing that was unmanageable or super long.

    The medals were large and travel themed this year. The shirts were a cotton blend, not tech. This race gave a finisher gift, which was a seat cover this year.

    I was worried about the number of aid stations prior to the race, but with the weather they were sufficient. There was a good selection of post race food and non alcoholic beverages (who knew boiled potatoes were a must have post race snack) but if you wanted a beer it needed to be purchased.

    The finish line being inside was a cool experience. Overall a very fun and exceptionally well run race weekend.

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    hseitz FIRST-TIMER '23

    I've been to 44 states, but this was the first time I've ever rented a car, because I flew to the HSV airport and there is no bus from airport … MORE

    I’ve been to 44 states, but this was the first time I’ve ever rented a car, because I flew to the HSV airport and there is no bus from airport to downtown. Huntsville is a beautiful midsize town, though. Rolling hills surrounding a fairly flat city, with all the charm of Tennessee and none of the nasty Bama stereotypes. The US Space and Rocket Center is just west of town, and reportedly this town has one of the highest percentages of PhD’s in the nation, from all the rocket scientists. This city also goes *hard* on their Christmas decorations (I’ll explain).

    Rain threatened all weekend, but mostly held off and let up about 20 minutes into the race. The sun came out after 1.5 hours and dried up the roads! Most runners huddled in the conference center next to the start line, out of the rain, until it was time to start. Free parking in two garages .3 miles from the start, $5 parking closer, $10 parking right outside the start line. The free parking is limited to like 20 spots, so get there 40 minutes before.

    This race had some of the best scenery I’ve seen in America…and some of the least crowd support. I saw maybe 5 signs my entire run. In addition to the marathon, there are 2 half marathon choices: the front half or back half. Choose the back half!! The first 13 miles are okay, running through a bunch of gently rolling neighborhoods before returning downtown at mile 11, but the back half was amazing. We run past the US Space and Rocket Center at mile 18, running past 50-foot rockets and excited army guys in combat fatigues. Then we run through the Huntsville Botanical Garden from miles 19-21, past two miles of Christmas lights (sadly not turned on). At mile 26, you finish by running around the lake at Big Spring Park, where over 400 locally decorated Christmas trees greet you before you finish inside a hangar at VBC South Hall. You get three medals for finishing the full marathon, and postrace food is so plentiful! Chocolate milk/cola/bananas/pizza/even some chopped potatoes in a cup (??) Take some pictures with the hundreds of Christmas trees and enjoy the rest of your time in Bama!

    There are 4 GU stations around the course, roughly every 6 miles. You’ll want to hit every water stop before 20 miles because they are sparse (up to 2.5 miles in between at some places). Cola was given at mile 18!!

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    Perfect to have the back half start waiting area inside since it was a chilly wet morning. Great squishy cups at the plentiful water/powerade stops. Plenty of porta potty sites, … MORE

    Perfect to have the back half start waiting area inside since it was a chilly wet morning. Great squishy cups at the plentiful water/powerade stops. Plenty of porta potty sites, gels along the course. Friendly volunteers, cool rocket/space center with photographers. Finish line was indoors! Then a separate room for finishers to eat and hydrate with pizza, homemade PB&J ‘s, chocolate milk, fruit. Loved the soft tech LS shirt – and a car seat cover given out at the finish.

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    dsbland FIRST-TIMER '22

    I hate that this is such a late review but this was such a fun weekend that it was worth circling back to and giving it the credit it deserves. … MORE

    I hate that this is such a late review but this was such a fun weekend that it was worth circling back to and giving it the credit it deserves. The city of Huntsville is truly a hidden gem, I had no idea how many interesting things there are in Huntsville. Coming from Texas, our Huntsville has a federal prison and while the people there are awesome it’s not exactly a tourist destination!
    Alabama’s version of Huntsville is a beautiful and vibrant city that seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. The space industry is front and center and deservedly so as the rocket center and space camp make a fun way to kill some pre-race hours on Saturday.
    The race itself has clearly been run for years and the folks in charge keep things smooth and professional. The last two years have seen cancellations due to Covid two years ago and then a massive storm last year so everyone involved was super excited to get things going. The Expo was small but proportionate for the race and location and the merchandise available was very nice and well done. Between the expo and the start line area where I stayed there were plenty of options to pick up anything you might need on race morning and plenty of food and drink options. I didn’t rent a car and never felt like I needed one, plenty within walking distance and quick Uber trips otherwise
    Race morning was cloudy and drizzly and a little warm but I actually like those conditions, full sun is a killer to me so cloudy and a little drizzly suits me just fine. The start line is a little chaotic with a lot going on but there was no problem getting in position and being in the right place at the right time.
    The course itself was fun, sneaky hilly in a few parts and almost always having something interesting to see or watch. The weather probably kept a lot of people from coming out to cheer but the ones who did were loud and enthusiastic.
    In the late part of the race you do run through the space and rocket center, passing by Saturn 5 rockets and the entrance to Space Camp. It is an awesome way to have a real pick me up just when you really need it and is pretty unique to this race. Getting high fives from a few rocket scientists who came out to watch (I assume all employees there were rocket scientists) is another bonus that no race I have run has been able to offer.
    The only down side to the course for me was immediately after the rocket center you run through what I can only call a brief trail race section, literally through some trees following some flags and cones, not an actual path. I can understand that the purpose was to connect the back side of the rocket center to a large park but that was not a fun time to be dodging rocks and hopping over roots. Fortunately it was brief and we popped out of the woods and into a large park. This was my least favorite part of the course, the park was sparsely populated and this time of year everything is dead so there isn’t much scenery. The park was decorated with Christmas light displays along the roadway which were somehow depressing being unlit and on a cloudy day. I have no doubt that driving through this light display in the evenings is quite impressive but hitting that scene after running 20 plus miles is not so inspiring!
    The park section wasn’t too long and it did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for this course and this race and the rain didn’t either! The Rocket City Marathon is a well run event and the course almost always as something new to see or experience. The people are awesome and I have no doubt that a prettier day would have produced a lot more spectators. Those of us trying to run the states always say this is a good race to run to tick that state off your list. In this case, this is a great race to run regardless, if you have the chance this should be on your list.

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    michael.miranda FIRST-TIMER '22

    Huntsville is not the best marathon I have raced. The swag and expo was pretty disappointing. They didn't have much to offer in purchasing anything. Not really any selection of … MORE

    Huntsville is not the best marathon I have raced. The swag and expo was pretty disappointing. They didn’t have much to offer in purchasing anything. Not really any selection of shirts and didn’t have any jackets (not even for sale). They had some generic Rocket City hoodies that were comfortable but I think they were from past races.

    There were a couple of hotels near the start and finish line, however nothing worth writing home. The first half of the marathon is run through some of run down areas of Huntsville. The back half though was more scenic going through the Rocket areas and outside of Redstone Arsenal. I am hoping this wasn’t the best Alabama has to offer.

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    mer.neale FIRST-TIMER '22

    Weather can be iffy but overall unique sites of the rocket and city were enjoyable! Race directors were awesome with keeping you updated leading up to the start. I did … MORE

    Weather can be iffy but overall unique sites of the rocket and city were enjoyable! Race directors were awesome with keeping you updated leading up to the start. I did the early start so can’t say much about the general start but even for the back of the packers, there was still food at the end of the race which was nice. It was a cold and rainy day so crowd support was certainly impacted.

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    SkylaneVal FIRST-TIMER '22

    This race was well organized. Packet pickup was quick and easy. The start line organization was also good. I did the back half marathon. I didn’t use the shuttle service … MORE

    This race was well organized. Packet pickup was quick and easy. The start line organization was also good. I did the back half marathon. I didn’t use the shuttle service to the start line as my husband dropped me off. A plus was that there were real bathrooms at the start, not just port-a-potties. The course was nice with a few rolling hills. I enjoyed running through the Space and Rocket Center, though I didn’t like the short trail run leaving the center as my shoes picked up some rocks that I had to stop and deal with. The botanical gardens were also nice to run through. The rest of the race was mostly through neighborhoods or town. Shoutout to the local police who did a great job closing the streets and dealing with some impatient drivers.

    There were regular water stops (I liked that they use reusable cups) that were well spaced and organized to make it clear where to get water and Gatorade. Great food at the end and photos are included!

    The race organizers were out and about and super friendly. Highly recommend this race.

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    emi_lauren FIRST-TIMER '22

    This could’ve been a really great race - well organized, course was well marked, decent crowd support, and great scenery. My only problem was that it’s advertised as a flat … MORE

    This could’ve been a really great race – well organized, course was well marked, decent crowd support, and great scenery. My only problem was that it’s advertised as a flat course. It was NOT a flat course. Lots of rolling hills, and several hard climbs spread throughout. Also about .5 of gravel late in the race. This shouldn’t necessarily deter anyone from running, but be forewarned and train accordingly.

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    jvsutton REPEAT RUNNER '22

    Awesome medal(it lights up!), great shirt, finisher gift was a really nice pair of gloves), free breakfast buffet, all in all, it was fantastic! MORE

    Awesome medal(it lights up!), great shirt, finisher gift was a really nice pair of gloves), free breakfast buffet, all in all, it was fantastic!

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    slomojohn FIRST-TIMER '22

    This race has an interesting concept - you can run the full marathon, which is a tour of Huntsville, and especially the Space Museum, or you can run one of … MORE

    This race has an interesting concept – you can run the full marathon, which is a tour of Huntsville, and especially the Space Museum, or you can run one of two half marathons – the front or back half. The back half is more sought after, as it runs through the museum. It’s also the one I did.
    This is a race well worth your time, regardless of which half you run. It’s very well organized and managed, which is not an easy thing to do when you have essentially three races at once. The course is scenic, and not too demanding, and the medal is excellent. The half has a generous time limit, as does the full (7 hours with an early start).

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    AJS23 FIRST-TIMER '22

    I ran the back half and there were some real positives and some ‘good to know’ considerations. The expo was fine, the shirts run very small (meant to fit tighter) … MORE

    I ran the back half and there were some real positives and some ‘good to know’ considerations.

    The expo was fine, the shirts run very small (meant to fit tighter) and they were running out of clear drop bags, so I had to ask for one and the volunteer said – do you really need one, because we are running out. Um yes that’s what I paid for! Some at the start never got a bag for the drop and were not happy.

    The course was fine, hills up and down but I liked the uniqueness. They did a great job with bussing and being able to wait inside before the race is a huge plus. I did not like finishing inside on a slippery floor but can get over it. The aid stations were great and I really liked the silicone cups. Plenty of gels too! The post race food was good.

    If you run this, I do not recommend the Embassy Suites. I am a Diamond Hilton member, and although it is very convenient, my room was very old and not ready when i arrived at 4pm. Normally being top status I can easily check out one hour late, it requires payment here (first time in 5 years traveling for races once per month). They weren’t very nice, and when I left there was a septic leak in the parking garage. There are other hotels I would recommend within walking distance.

    So overall it was a great race, and if you stay in a different hotel and they order enough bags, it would be perfect.

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    dchaplin1990 FIRST-TIMER '22

    The course was so beautiful, and I even got to walk through NASA, which was, out of the world amazing. The medal is super cool, which it even lights up … MORE

    The course was so beautiful, and I even got to walk through NASA, which was, out of the world amazing. The medal is super cool, which it even lights up in the dark

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    jsspinner FIRST-TIMER '22

    The expo was small, but bigger than some races. I did the back half which had the advantage of waiting for the start in UAH, which was nice. Not much … MORE

    The expo was small, but bigger than some races.
    I did the back half which had the advantage of waiting for the start in UAH, which was nice.
    Not much crowd support.
    Mile markers were almost non-existent.
    The course did go through space camp which was awesome for someone who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s when that was really a thing. Was not expecting the course to turn in to a trail race for a bit around space camp.
    The course was very rarely flat. It was either up or down hills most of the way.
    After this race got cancelled last minute last year, I really wanted to do this race. After completing the race, I’m just so so on recommending it to others especially with half marathon race choices in Alabama dwindling.

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    marxbk18 FIRST-TIMER '22

    It was great running through the space center. There are two half marathons. The front half starts with the marathon and the back half starts 2 hours later and is … MORE

    It was great running through the space center. There are two half marathons. The front half starts with the marathon and the back half starts 2 hours later and is the back half of the marathon. Only the back half runs through the space center. Fitz and Rudy are the announcers and we’re my personal highlight. The medal is one of the best I have ever gotten. It had very little flat stretches. That’s a bit different than running back home in Wisconsin. All in all it’s a fun race and I would recommend it.

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    bonniec218 FIRST-TIMER '22

    The race directors have worked hard to bring a little bit of something for everyone. I ran the back half which ran through the Space and Rocket Center and Botanical … MORE

    The race directors have worked hard to bring a little bit of something for everyone. I ran the back half which ran through the Space and Rocket Center and Botanical Gardens. It ended inside the event hall with plenty of food and drink. There were a few hills on the back half but wasn’t anything impossible.

    I can’t wait to see how this race grows in the future.

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    kmerskine FIRST-TIMER '22

    I've never been a race or event organizer. I'm sure it's a heck of an undertaking, especially a race like this where you have a few thousand runners across multiple … MORE

    I’ve never been a race or event organizer. I’m sure it’s a heck of an undertaking, especially a race like this where you have a few thousand runners across multiple races of different distances. This race was superbly organized, any comment about this race must be prefaced by giving credit where credit is due.

    Parking. There is ample parking all around the VBC, although it was either a $5 or $10 to park. More on that later. You should have no issue parking in one of the multiple lots that surround the venue.

    The event location. The Von Braun Center is a great location for a race. There are multiple bathrooms, there is plenty of room to host thousands of runners as they wait for the race to start, and if the December weather is cold, it’s nice being indoors. The Back Half course is a point-to-point race and you have to shuttle to the start line. Park at the VBC since you’ll finish here. I did not have to wait at all for the shuttle up to Univ of AL at Huntsville (UAH) and once at UAH there is an indoor student union building, or something like that, where the 800 runners can wait, use the bathroom, sit and relax, or hang outside and stretch. Kudos to the organizers for both the use of VBC and UAH for start locations. Over the 55+ half marathons I’ve run, I’ve never seen one that has such runner friendly or indoor start lines. Even the finish line at this race is inside the VBC. At the finish the volunteers handed out the medals and an emergency blanket. Most winters that would be useful. In 2022 the weather was probably in the mid-50s at finish, so most probably didn’t need them, but many took them anyway.

    The course. The course is decent (I did the Back Half Marathon) and it was rolling but a net downhill, and it’s a fast course. You run through the Paul Marshall Space Center and it is here that you see runners, including me, stop to take a few pictures. That was the highlight of the course. It didn’t run through any attractive downtown space, nor was it particularly scenic otherwise. And although rolling, it was basically a downhill course. Very fast course, actually.

    The aid stations. There were more aid stations on this course than I’ve ever seen on a course. They had Powerade and water at all stations. They had Gu gel at most stations, and one station had chips and M&Ms.

    The post-race food. This was great. I’d like to see something other than pizza, or pizza that is vegan friendly, but pizza was only one of the several options. They had chocolate milk (but no soy chocolate milk), soda, water, bagels, oranges, bananas, PBJ sandwiches, pizza, and a few other things. Top 5 for post race food in the races I’ve done. I’m sure offering a beer ticket would please many, although I’d like to see Athletic Brewing Company set up a non-alcoholic beer table. Overall, the food was great.

    The bad? Not much, to be honest. The volunteers were super. The race organizer answered my facebook message about shuttle service (they sent an email, but apparently some runners never received it) within a few hours, and there was just so much to like. The one complaint I have is cost. I get that races are expensive. I know it takes a lot to put on a good race, but the race registration was $95, which is on the high end for races in this region. Then runners had to pay an additional $20 to do race-day packet pickup. Then it was $10 to park. I can deal with the parking and the race fee, but same-day packet pickup is a money grab, imo. For that reason it’s unlikely that I’ll do this race again. But if you don’t mind the extra $20 then you should absolutely do this race. It’s not a bucket list race, but if you live in within a couple of hours drive, it’s worth the drive.

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    aubreynetzel FIRST-TIMER '22

    Overall I'd say it's a good race and you can tell they put a lot of thought into it. Here's the positives & negatives: Positives - New this year they … MORE

    Overall I’d say it’s a good race and you can tell they put a lot of thought into it. Here’s the positives & negatives:
    Positives – New this year they offered an early start option so that the marathon essentially had a 7 hour cut off and half marathoners had 4 hours (love to see that more runners can be included), they have several fantastic pace groups, extremely well stocked aid stations (Gu every other aid station) and great volunteers, finish line food (pizza, bagels, sandwiches, potatoes, granola bars, and soda).
    Negatives – Course is hilly (their definition of rolling hills is far different from mine), no race-day packet pickup, parking isn’t super easy and many close places took advantage of the influx of people and were charging $10 even if you just needed to dash in to grab your packet, and the expo was disappointing – I got there an hour before it was done and all but one vendor had already torn down.

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  1. Races
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