- 3 miles/5K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon
- Road Race
- Event Website
The competitor group puts on a great race, and Rock 'n' Roll Seattle is no exception. I have ran this race twice, and thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience both times. I must say that 2014 we had the bonus of a beautiful sunny Seattle day, which REALLY highlighted the gorgeous scenery around our city. However, the previous time I participated (2012) even the grey and misty June-uary weather we occasionally experience in the PNW couldn't dampen my enjoyment of the event.
The course is phenomenal. The race begins in the shadow of the Space Needle at Seattle Center, and takes runners right through downtown Seattle (underneath the famous Monorail--it's in the Elvis movie, Blue Hawaii). The course has an extended stretch south along Rainier Avenue, which offers spectacular views of Mt. Rainier. My favorite part of the course is "the blue mile," along the shore of Lake Washington. Running along the lake is serene and peaceful. The organization Wear Blue (Run to Remember) always sets up along this stretch with memorials to fallen soldiers: the combination of lovely scenery and sentiment just GETS me every time. There is one pretty mean hill around mile nine, and there is a slightly objectionable portion of the course that spans through a freeway tunnel at the entry to the I-90 floating bridge. Running through the tunnel is always hot and stuffy, but it's also pretty amazing to be surrounded by the echoes of feet pounding the pavement while you run on what usually is a busy freeway. The bands along the course were all great: there was a mix of hardcore techno DJs (which was fun in the tunnel), gospel singers, grunge acts, twangy bluegrass, and classic rock. I loved the variety. I also loved seeing the cheerleaders from local schools out along the course cheering us on. One group had decked themselves up in Kurt Cobain-esque flannel, sweaters, and grunge-wear and were doing a hilarious smells-like-teen-angst cheer routine. I loved the shoutout to our Seattle music heritage.
The expo was big, shiny, and totally easy to navigate. I got my packet in no time flat, ate a million free power bar samples, stocked up on nuun and gu, and bounced in less than an hour flat. It's fun to go down to SoDo and check out the stadiums, though.
The one issue I have with this race is that getting to and from Seattle Center is INCREDIBLY challenging on race day. Seattle is ENDLESSLY doing construction around the area, and the insane five-way intersections make driving difficult even under optimum conditions. With road closures for the race traffic around the area becomes a total cluster-fruitbat (pardon the expression) all day long. Public transportation is a dependable option for getting TO the starting line, but GOOD LUCK finding and catching a bus that is remotely on schedule in the aftermath. I paid for a special parking pass this year, and I was unable to use it because I couldn't reach the garage before road closures took effect (I should have budgeted more time for the giant snarl of traffic). Luckily I was able to find street parking, but even after the event I was challenged to get myself back on the freeway and to my happy home in northern Seattle. I got hellaciously lost in Queen Anne because I couldn't figure out how to get across aurora. Never drive while glycogen depleted. I'm not sure if there is a tenable solution to the transportation woes: just be forewarned that it will be difficult. However, the overall experience of the race far outweighs any automotive annoyances.
The medal had a kinda cool coffee cup design, and the shirt is a brooks tech T-shirt (that actually fits!). After the race there was free water, chocolate milk, and Dole fruit cups available. I was bummed out that they weren't offering bananas--those corn-syrup soaked fruit cups gross me right out. Luckily I had a Picky Bar stashed with my gear check, so I noshed down on that in lieu of the free food.
If you're looking for local restaurants to eat at after the race is over: Top Pot donuts or Molly Moon's ice cream are delicious treats. For dinner in the Belltown neighborhood go to Tom Douglas' Dahlia Lounge for a fancy and delicious asian-fusion seafood supper (get the Dahlia Bakery donuts for dessert). For pre-race pasta Ethan Stowell's Tavolata has handmade noodles. Friends don't let friends drink Starbucks: get Seattle coffee from Cafe Vita. If you're willing to venture across the ship canal Revel (korean fusion) in Fremont is the best restaurant in all of Seattle. Full stop. Eat the pork belly pancake, it will change your life.
Rock 'n' Roll throws great events, and Seattle is a great city. Apollo Ohno participated in the race this year, and I totally got to run next to him for miles 9-11...I hear rumor that he scored a PR, so maybe he'll be back next year. I certainly will. If you want to read a more detailed recap, with more photos, check out my blog: http://marathonsam.com/2014/06/21/rock-n-roll-seattle-half-marathon-recap/