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Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon will draw throngs of runners Sunday

More than 8,300 runners are expected Sunday morning, along with thousands of spectators, for the second annual Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon – a huge, daylong event that will tie up church and neighborhood traffic downtown and in West Raleigh.

The inaugural race in 2014 attracted a larger field and drew complaints after it spoiled worship services for many Palm Sunday observers. The race was marred by the deaths of two runners.

Race organizers have altered the route map this year. They say they have made additional changes to ease the crush of downtown parking and other inconveniences.

The new route avoids some of the major streets that were snarled last year, said course designer Ted Metellus with the California-based Competitor Group Inc., which stages Rock ’n’ Roll Marathons in Raleigh and other cities. For most of the 26.2-mile route, runners will travel in only one direction on the street, leaving other lanes open for cars.

The race starts at 7 a.m. Sunday at Davie and Salisbury streets downtown.

The half marathon route loops as far south as Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, north to Glascock Street and west on Peace Street before turning back on Hillsborough Street, Pullen Road and Umstead Drive to downtown and the finish line at Davie and Fayetteville streets.

The full marathon follows most of the same path but loops farther west on Hillsborough Street to run through Meredith College, then southwest on Avent Ferry Road to pick up the Walnut Creek greenway at Lake Johnson. The route follows Trailwood Drive to Main Campus Drive through the NCSU Centennial Campus before returning downtown.

After the marathon comes the rock ’n’ roll, a concert at Red Hat Amphitheater headlined by Smash Mouth at 10:30 a.m.

The race also is used as a fund-raising event for the Cary-based V Foundation for Cancer Research. The foundation does not receive any of the race proceeds, but it fields a Team V of runners who raised $300,000 in donations last year and have generated pledges of $135,000 so far this year, according to Sherrie Mazur, a V Foundation vice president.

“The Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon is one of the largest things we do now in the Triangle,” Mazur said.

The 2014 race had 12,500 runners. Two men collapsed and died on the half-marathon route: Derrick Lee Myers, 35, of Raleigh, and Jason Schlosser, 31, of High Point.

The event is scheduled to return each year through 2018 under a multi-year contract between the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau and Competitor Group.

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