Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio

Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio

Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio

( 31 reviews )
93% of reviewers recommend this race
  • San Antonio,
    United States
  • December
  • 3 miles/5K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Relay
  • Road Race
  • Event Website

Riley Fickett

Massachusetts, United States
15 56
"Race Review: Rock n' Roll San Antonio Marathon 2021 💀"
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management
Riley Fickett's thoughts:

Last month I ran the Rock n' Roll San Antonio Marathon in San Antonio, Texas! After the heartbreak that was the Rock n' Roll Savannah weekend (aka not running my 18th marathon in my 18th state due to weather), I was antsy and ready to capture another 26.2! I'm happy to say that the weather was in my favor for this one and I was able to finally check off state #18. Let's dive into how the weekend went!

This trip was extra fun because Brett traveled with me to Texas, and we ended up meeting up with our good friends Erin and Cullen in San Antonio. We hadn't seen them since July so it was so nice to finally be traveling with them again! As soon as we met up at the airport we headed over to the expo so I could pick up my bib and race gear.

With Rock n' Roll, most of their expos are set up very similarly. They set up the expo hall so you have to walk through the entire event before leaving. From an event planner perspective it is a very smart way to set up the expo to ensure that participants are seeing every part of the space before leaving! I think Rock n' Roll also does a great job of giving you plenty of photo opportunities and really makes the expo an ~experience~ rather than a chore. I will say, though, that if you've been to one Rock n' Roll expo you've basically seen them all, haha. They're all quite similar, which makes sense because they're all put on by the same company!

It sounded like for the San Antonio weekend, they were having some trouble with getting participant shirts in on time. There's been so many supply chain issues since the start of COVID that it's totally understandable that this happened (and I mean… do I really need another participant shirt? 😂), but Rock n' Roll also did a fantastic job of letting us know in plenty of time that shirts would be delayed and we would pick them up at the finish line and not at the expo. I didn't hear anyone being bothered by this, and I think the crystal clear communication by Rock n' Roll had a lot to do with that!

After the expo, Cullen, Erin, Brett, and I all went down to the Riverwalk area for dinner! We went to this restaurant called the Iron Cactus which had TOP NOTCH Mexican food and we stuffed ourselves completely full before heading over to our AirBnB for the night.

Before bed I did my race-day-eve ritual of laying out my flat runner! The weather was predicted to be a bit warm so I was kinda nervous how that would impact my race. I needed to dress cool and comfy for the run, and I think I achieved just that!

In the morning we were out the door before the sun came up. The start line is right in the middle of the city, so parking near the start wasn't entirely possible. We got somewhat close to the start line before I hopped out of the car and headed down to the starting area on foot. This was by far the biggest race I had been a part of since the start of the pandemic, so the corrals were FULL, but the energy of the starting area was fantastic and I was so happy to be there! Erin, Brett, and Cullen were even able to come find me at the corral before the race started which was incredible! I loved being able to hang with them while we waited for the race to start!

The way the corrals were spaced I ended up being at the VERY FRONT of the starting waves! It was so crazy to be in the very front. I definitely felt SUPER out of place because I'm used to hundreds of runners being in front of me. I knew I needed to take it all in, though, because it's very rare that I get to be in the front of the crowd. After some photos and some cheering at the start line, we were off!

Standing and waiting for the race to begin, the weather honestly wasn't that bad. However as soon as I started running, the humidity really showed itself and it got super sweaty super fast. This, of course, affected the way I needed to approach the race. Although I didn't really train for a sub-5 leading up to this race, I was curious to see if I could pull it off again in San Antonio since the course was relatively flat through the entire race. However when I got to about mile 3 I came to the realization that it was just too muggy for me to really push myself in the way I needed to hit a sub-5 pace for 26.2 miles, so I took it easy and enjoyed the run.

The first half of the race was filled with so much to look and so much entertainment! Rock n' Roll always does a great job with on-course musicians and DJs, and I feel like this race did a really great job of also representing the culture of the city. San Antonio is known for being a really big military city, and this marathon does a lot to honor veterans. Mile 5 was one of the most notable miles of the race because the first half is lined with photographs of fallen servicemen and women, and the second half is lined with folks holding hundreds of American flags and cheering as hard as they can for the runners. I'd be totally lying if I told you I didn't get a little bit emotional during this mile!

Miles 7-11 really leaned into the Mexican culture and influence in this region which I absolutely loved! There were folks in cultural attire on stilts, there were sculptures of mariachi skeletons, and miles 10-11 was completely lined with mariachi bands and folks doing traditional Mexican dances. It was honestly SO COOL and one of my favorite parts of the race.

We hit the marathon/half marathon split around mile 11 which is always interesting because the crowd always thins SIGNIFICANTLY, but I was thankful that I was actually getting to run a FULL instead of a half after what happened in Savannah! In the words of Brett when I texted the group I hit the split "F--k a half marathon!" 😂

The back half was a little bit less exciting, which I wish race directors would be better about. There definitely were some bands here and there, but it just seems so much quieter during the second half of the race. It's always such a bummer for the folks who choose to run the full marathons. I get that ALL of your runners are participating in the first half, but you gotta give your full marathoners some encouragement when their struggling!

I was able to see Brett, Erin, and Cullen at mile 14 which was perfect timing! I was starting to really feel tired from the humidity and I needed an energy boost. Seeing my cheer squad always brings me so much joy and gratitude, and it's the first time they've been together cheering me on since Rock n' Roll New Orleans in February 2020! I'm so thankful for them!

Miles 14-20 were all through this bike trail and I actually really enjoyed this section of the race. It was nice and calm and peaceful on that trail, and it actually felt like I was around more runners during this section. Something about the smaller space made me feel more like we were all sharing the experience of the run together through some of the toughest miles of the marathon. Rock n' Roll was also able to squeeze in a couple of entertainers during this part of the course as well which was so much fun to see!

I saw the Cheer Squad again at mile 20.5 which again was a huge boost. I feel like they picked the PERFECT points of the race to come and cheer me on and again, I so appreciate them traveling all around the city of San Antonio to come and see me for literally 30 seconds haha. Spectators - runners will ALWAYS appreciate you, even if you only see them for a short amount of time during the race! This would be the last time I would see them before the finish line.

Everything was going pretty smoothly for the next couple miles, even though I was a sweaty mess and I was so ready to be done running haha.

Then, came mile 23, which was almost 100% uphill 💀

I did try to run a little bit but honestly it was not worth it at that point of the race lol. Everyone else around me was walking so I really felt no shame just walking it up the steepest hill in all of Texas! Even after we hit the 23 mile marker we still had a little bit to go. It was ROUGH!

Luckily we got to the top of the hill eventually and a lot of mile 24 was downhill. At that point of the race we were so close to the finish that all I was focused on was getting to the end! As we got closer to the finish the crowds really amped up and we ran toward the finish line through a party-like atmosphere which was so uplifting after running all morning!

Eventually I got into the finisher chute, turned the corner, and saw the finish line as well as my pals! It gave me one final boost to push as hard as I could to get myself across the finish and complete state #18! Final time for Rock n' Roll San Antonio Marathon was 5:14:57, which I feel so great about considering how humid it was! Not too far off a sub-5 at all 😊

After the race I finally met up with the crew and we took some finish festival photos! I actually earned an additional medal through the Rock n' Roll Heavy Medals program. I was able to pick up the medal for the 1718 Challenge, for completing the Rock n' Roll New Orleans Marathon in 2020 and the Rock n' Roll San Antonio Marathon in 2021! I also was able to pick up my participant shirt, just like they promised!

Overall we had a fantastic time in San Antonio, and I really loved running the Rock n' Roll San Antonio Marathon. I know folks have a lot of opinions on the Rock n' Roll series but I've personally had some really great experiences running these races. I think the Rock n' Roll team has some really great customer service and they put on fantastic events. I really appreciate all the communication that they gave to participants regarding our shirts, the entertainment they provided along the course, and the effort they put into making the Rock n' Roll San Antonio Marathon a truly unique experience from start to finish. I definitely recommend participating in a Rock n' Roll series event if you get the chance!

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