Promoters say a route adjustment will make the second annual Raleigh Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon more fun for runners, and a pastor says a calendar shift will make it less challenging for churchgoers.
The inaugural event on Palm Sunday this year drew about 12,500 full- and half-marathon runners who loped through downtown and trotted west on Western Boulevard, Hillsborough Street, Edwards Mill Road and Reedy Creek Road to Umstead State Park – and back.
When the event returns for 2015, many of those far western street miles will be diverted through Meredith College and along a more scenic, southwesterly circuit through the N.C. State University Centennial Campus and around lakes Johnson and Raleigh. There will be fewer hills.
“We’ll be running by the lakes, running by the golf course, running through sections of the campuses that are really beautiful,” said Ted Metellus, the course designer, who works for California-based Competitor Group, which stages Rock ’n’ Roll Marathons in Raleigh and other cities.
Next year’s run on April 12 will fall two weeks later in the Christian church calendar, on the Sunday after Easter. Downtown and West Raleigh churches will find streets closed again to accommodate marathoners, but there will be fewer parishioners trying to make it to church than on Palm Sunday, always a busy date in the church year.
“It’ll be easier because it isn’t Palm Sunday,” Lori Pistor, interim minister at West Raleigh Presbyterian Church on Horne Street, said Wednesday. Hers was one of several churches that were forced to shift Palm Sunday worship schedules from morning to late afternoon this year, because the barricades cut off access.
She said downtown churches and retailers have learned to handle the disruptions of road races, including the smaller, long-established City of Oaks Marathon, which ran last weekend.
“In some ways the race this past Sunday was a bigger hassle than Palm Sunday was,” because the church kept to its regular morning schedule, Pistor said.
“This race has been going on for years, and people know it’s a challenge. It almost becomes a badge of honor to know when to come and how to get across” the barricaded streets, Pistor said.
Metellus said the 2015 race will cause less traffic disruption because it will use fewer major streets. For most of the 26.2-mile route, runners will be traveling in only one direction on each street, leaving other lanes open for cars.