Over 16,000 people gathered in San Diego on June 1, 2008 for the 11th annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. Racers came from all over the world to participate in the event along with their supporters, lining the race route. Friends, family members, cheer squads, local bands, church groups, members of the military and complete strangers shouted words of encouragement and inspiration while racers started their 26.2 mile race. Amazing. So many people, so many different motivations, with one common goal: crossing the finish line.
As the race progressed, fatigue took its toll on the racers. Miles 1-6 were smooth sailing, fast paced and feeling good. With medical, water, and Accelerade stations placed about every 1.5 miles the racers had the extra “edge” to press on. Miles 6-12, the pace started to slow and it seemed like a hill would come up about every other mile to break motivation and focus, and remind racers of their physical limitations. Muscles start to tense, cramps become impossible to ignore, and the belt that you wore to hold water and other essentials begins chafing your skin. People start “falling out” (as the military personnel might call it), but just when the racers think they can’t go any further, they see gigantic PowerBar Gel signs. They are saved! PowerBar Gel “replenishes and restores nutrients to help maintain peak performance.” The racers are now ready to take on the remainder of the race.
The emotional highs and lows during the race vary: from confident to insecure, when you just start slowing down and realize this race was a whole lot longer than you thought. From insecure to scared, when you realize your body’s tensing up, your joints are starting to throb, and you feel like you didn’t train nearly enough to make it to the finish line. From scared to hopeful, when you start looking around at everyone racing next to you and see people of all shapes and sizes, people young and old, people who are all struggling to take another step but still keep going. Hopeful, when you see all the people on the side lines cheering you on, calling out your name even if they don’t know you (it’s on the race bib) telling you that “you can do it,” “keep going” or “thank you.” The official charity of this race is the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training and some of the racers running with Team In Training had dedications on their jerseys for people they raised their donations for. Whomever the dedication was for, it was an inspirational and touching sight to see. Hope can take you all the way to the finish line, and when you cross the finish line, the feelings of relief, joy, pain, and exhaustion are more immense than words can describe.
The community support drawn by the race was immeasurable, and due to the amount of people involved, it also provided a huge captive audience for all the contributors sponsoring the race. The Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon served as a host to numerous companies pushing their merchandise. Well over 16,000 people were exposed to these companies and their products. The website that everyone had to visit in order to sign up for the race is packed with sponsors and their gear. This race was an amazing advertising opportunity for vendors with products closely related to fitness. If I learned anything from this experience I would have to say it’s this: 1) Always run with New Balance shoes, 2) PowerBar Gel does help maintain peak performance, and 3) Drink Accelerade to give you that extra edge while racing.