The 2014 version of the Rocket City Marathon brought a new location for the start/finish, a new course, and a larger Expo. The start and finish were at the Von Braun Civic Center in downtown Huntsville which is located by several close hotels, one right next door. The finish of the marathon took the runners into the arena, finishing inside where friends and family could watch from the stands. The course itself is two "loops" such that the half-way point runs right by the Civic Center, making this a nice course for spectators to see the runners at multiple points. The second half runs through the Space and Rocket Center where you get to run by a Saturn V full size replica and around/underneath a full size Space Shuttle sitting on top of the external tank and rockets. Just after the Space and Rocket Center, the course runs through the Botanical Gardens where Christmas lights and decorations are set up for the Galaxy of Lights (too bad it isn't dark when we run through here!). The course through here has rolling hills, but nothing bad, and the rest of the course is relatively flat, but not as flat as the old course used to be. Personally, I prefer the new course much more than the old.
As for the Expo, it was expanded this year, due to being held in one of the large halls in the Civic Center from less than 10 vendors in past years to 75+ vendors at the Health and Fitness Expo. The Expo included a video taking runners through the course, along with speakers at various points describing the course and answering questions.
The pre-race pasta dinner was held at the Space and Rocket Center, where those dining got to sit beneath a Saturn V rocket that hangs from the ceiling along the length of the Davidson Center.
After the finish of the marathon in the arena, the finishers received a very nice medal and then were treated to some wonderful food and drinks, including some awesome, warm vegetable soup! For the spectators, the snack bar was open the entire morning as well as the bar located in the lobby! The race t-shirt was a SS tech shirt of good quality with "Finisher" shirts also being sold in the lobby for those that chose to buy one. There was ample parking around the downtown area, both paid parking and free parking. All in all, a very nice race that had increased in size this year to close to 2000 runners. This increase was due to the venue for the start/finish being a larger venue and allowing for larger crowds. I only see this race and expo getting better and bigger now that they have the new location and new course. Highly recommended for a fast course and a great time. Picture is of this year's finisher medal.