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Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon has 4,000 fewer runners in second year

With cooler weather and a flatter route, the second Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon appears to have ended happily for thousands of runners.

Streets closed, traffic piled up, and visitors and residents gathered on Sunday to watch some 8,300 registrants from around the world run a full or half-marathon.

It was about 4,000 fewer runners than last year’s first Rock ’n’ Roll event.

But it was still more than the 7,500 race officials expected to turn out last year, said Dan Cruz, spokesperson for the Rock ’n’ Roll marathon series.

“We hit a home run last year in terms of excitement,” Cruz said. “It’s often difficult to recreate that excitement of an inaugural year.”

Last year’s race was marred with the death of two runners who collapsed and died near the end of the half-marathon.

An autopsy report indicated Derrick Myers, 35, of Raleigh, likely had an undiagnosed heart problem that could have contributed to his death. No autopsy report has been released on Jason Schlosser, 31, of High Point, who also died.

The 13- and 26-mile routes were tweaked from last year to avoid some hills on the Reedy Creed and Edward Mill roads area. It wasn’t in direct response to the deaths, Cruz said.

The new route is a more scenic route of Raleigh for runners who came from all 50 states and 10 different countries.

Raleigh resident Bobby Mack, 30, was first to finish the half marathon in an hour and five minutes. Salome Kosgei, 35, from Kenya, was the fastest woman in the half-marathon race, finishing in an hour and 18 minutes.

New York native Benjamin Ludovici, 26, was first to complete the full marathon, in two hours and 41 minutes. Durham native Heidi Bretscher, 28, was the first female to finish the full marathon in three hours and six minutes.

Last year’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon had an $8.1 million economic on the city, according to a study conducted the San Diego State University.

An accurate estimation of economic impact for this year will be available in July.

Quality, not quantity

Even though overall participation was down, Team V, which is made up of members who raise money for The V Foundation, is on track to raise more money per runner than last year.

Team V members had to raise at least $750 each to be part of the Cary-based foundation’s team. The V Foundation does not receive any money any other part of the race.

At their pasta party the night before the race, 200 runners had raised about $140,000. They’ll have until the end of the month to finish raising money.

In July, Chicago will host its first Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon and The V Foundation will be one charity benefiting from the race. The Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon is a series, with races that take place in several different cities in the United States and Canada. Some marathons, like Raleigh’s, directly benefit a local charity.

The V Foundation is named for Jim Valvano, the N.C. State University basketball coach who led the team to its 1983 national championship win.

In1993, he he died from cancer. The foundation was created the same year to raise money that goes directly to cancer research.

Jamie Valvano, a daughter of Jim Valvano, counted runners off Sunday morning.

“It was just very well done and emotional in that you always see the shirts of people running in honor of loved ones,” she said.

But Valvano’s race was about more than her dad. She is also a cancer survivor, having been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005.

She went through four rounds of chemotherapy, got a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy and has been in remission ever since.

“I’m an example of a person who has benefited from the research The V Foundation does,” she said.

In 2010, to mark the five-year anniversary of being cancer-free, Valvano ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Virginia Beach, Va. to celebrate her health.

Valvano worked for The V Foundation for seven years when it began. She’s a seventh-grade language arts teacher at Lufkin Middle School in Apex, but plans to put her teaching career on hold at the end of this school year.

She’ll be dedicating her time to The V Foundation instead, she said.

“We continue to be effected, our family as well as our community,” Valvano said. “I’m so fortunate that I’m still here and share with people to fund quality research.”

Hankerson: 919-829-4802;

Twitter: @mechelleh

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