Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon spreads word of widespread Palm Sunday closures

03/24/2014 3:33 PM

02/15/2015 10:44 AM

Thousands of informational door-hangers went out last week as the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon gears up for its Palm Sunday race and the biggest series of street closures in city history.

Anyone who lives within a quarter-mile of the race course – which runs from downtown to Umstead State Park on April 13 – has received an email and a notice on their door, race organizers said.

“The biggest thing is to let folks know that the event’s coming,” said Ted Metellus, who designed the course.

But people with homes on the route aren’t the only ones likely to be inconvenienced by the run. So Rock ‘N’ Roll has rolled out a website ( runrocknroll.competitor.com/raleigh/road-closures) to help churchgoers and others trying to get past barricaded roads.

The website has maps showing which roads will be closed and suggested detours to reach the 20 impacted churches holding Palm Sunday services. For the northern half of downtown, Capital Boulevard is the only way in, with traffic for the southern half of downtown directed to use South Wilmington Street.

In West Raleigh, churches near Hillsborough Street will have their members crossing the race course at several designated “metering” points. Cars will line up at the barricades, and police will allow traffic to cross whenever there’s a break in the runners. Metellus said he couldn’t provide estimates for how long the delays will be at those points.

Churches affected had initially voiced concerns with the road closures when they were first announced. But Metellus said Rock ‘N’ Roll has met with nearly every church along the route, and many are now embracing the event.

Vintage Church spokeswoman Jessica Janes said the Warehouse District congregation is encouraging members concerned about traffic to attend the 5 p.m. service on race day. The church’s two morning worships will still happen though.

“We would advise folks to come in, get as close as possible on their normal route, and park and walk in,” she said. “It’s a huge thing for the city to be able to host it.”

Rock ‘N’ Roll will issue another round of reminders the week of the race. For now, they’re finalizing where rock bands will perform at 15 different sites along the route.

Stages will be set up at intersections along the course, allowing runners to pass live music nearly every mile. The most unique spot is the Shaw University pedestrian bridge across Blount Street, where a band will play to the runners passing by below. Most of the locations – with a few exceptions – are outside residential neighbors.

“If we do have a band station in close proximity to a residential location, then we’ll modify the band that’s there – it’ll be something acoustic,” Metellus said.

And for the entire event, organizers told city leaders in a memo that the bookings “steer clear of excessively loud, aggressive rock such as heavy metal and punk.”

In Raleigh, about 80 local bands applied to be on the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon line-up – more than most other cities that host the race, Metellus said. Among the bands selected is Chapel Hill’s McCauliffe Brothers Band.

They’ll bring their funk-rock music to one of the stages starting around 7 a.m. – one of the earliest shows the band has ever played.

“Growing up our parents did marathons, and it’s always a good atmosphere,” bassist Mike McCauliffe said. “It’s going to be good to feed off the energy of the runners.”

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