Whether you are an avid runner looking for an exciting new running experience, or a newbie who wants to cross a marathon, half-marathon or 5K off their bucket list, the Rock n’ Roll Running Series stop in sunny San Diego is the place to be.
Rock n’ Roll San Diego is one of the most well-known and popular marathons in the country. It regularly attracts more than 20,000 runners, many of whom dress up in costumes. The atmosphere of the marathon, half-marathon and 5K races are electric every year as harriers transverse downtown San Diego to the accompaniment of live bands and DJs playing along the route.
If you’ve ever wanted to run a “destination race,” the Rock n’ Roll San Diego marathon, half-marathon or 5K is a great choice. Consider bringing the family and taking a vacation in San Diego afterward. The city is filled with amazing sights and adventures, including luxurious beaches, championship golf, SeaWorld, Legoland, U.S.S. Midway Museum and the San Diego Zoo.
About the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series
Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego is part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series that is owned and operated by the IRONMAN Group’s Competitor Group, a division of Advance Publications. The popular running series is known for its creative race routes that include themed water stations, cheerleaders and live music. The San Diego stop includes a marathon, half-marathon and 5K, along with a two-day Health Expo and other events.
Since its inception, the marathon has raised more than $100 million for charities, according to the group’s website.
The San Diego race is the original race in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series, established in 1998. Today, there are events held annually at destinations across the world – like Liverpool, Seattle, Cancun and Medellin, Colombia. Events began as a single marathon but eventually added a half marathon in 2010 and later a 5K to its lineup to appeal to a more diverse running crowd.
The route of the race has changed a few times over the years.
Over the years, the San Diego event has seen a few highlights:
- The inaugural event was held in 1998.
- In 1999, Philip Terus of Kenya set the men’s course record in the marathon with a time of 2:08:33.
- In 2006, 17,339 of the 21,159 participants successfully finished the marathon. The nearly 82 percent completion rate is the highest in the history of the race.
- Bizunesh Deba of Ethiopia established the female marathon mark of 2:23:31 in 2011.
- In 2013, Bernard Keoch of Kenya set the men’s half-marathon record at 58:41.
- In 2015, Harriette Thompson completed the women’s marathon at age 92 years, 65 days – the older woman to ever complete the race.
- Shalane Flanagan of the United State established the female half-marathon mark at 1:07:51 in 2016.
- In 2017, Harriette Thompson was at it again, this time completing the half marathon – at 94 years old!
- The races were cancelled for the first time in 2020. It was because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon
The original event – the marathon – remains the big draw at Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego. A favorite among locals and tourists alike since the first race in 1998, the course travels through eight well-known neighborhoods. This ultimate foot tour highlights all the iconic communities, their personalities, and everything we love about America’s Finest City.
The marathon begins early in the morning, with a start time of 6:15 a.m. The start line is at 6th Avenue and Quince Drive on the west side of Balboa Park. The finish line is at Ash Street and Union Street. The race has a time limit of seven hours.
At the start, runners head north along 6th Avenue before heading west along University Avenue. From there, the course turns north on 30th Street and follows Mountain View Drive through Normal Heights. The race heads south and west until the two courses separate just north and east of Balboa Park. The half marathon continues south through Balboa Park to the finish, while the marathon heads further west.
The marathon continues west through Mission Hills and Old Town. After a magnificent route through SeaWorld, the course U-turns and heads east through Overlook and east along Friars Road. The marathon turns south at Highway 163, as runners get to traverse the iconic bridge and through Balboa Park prior to the finish line at Ash Street and Union Street.
Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon
If more than 26 miles isn’t your cup of tea, consider the half marathon at just over 13 miles in length. The race begins at 7 a.m. The half marathon follows the marathon route for the first 8 miles, then breaks off on its own route. Just past mile marker 8, the marathon route continues west, while the half marathon heads south through Balboa Park, the Municipal Golf Course, U.S. Naval Medical Center and Golden Hill Park. Enjoy live music from a few stages set up in the park. The half marathon exits the park just before mile marker 12, then it’s a sprint to the finish!
Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego 5K Race
If you’re a novice runner just getting your legs, or a family looking to get in on the action, then the 5K race is perfect for you. The race begins at 7 a.m. at 6th Avenue and Palm Street. The finish line is at Balboa Avenue and Olive Street. The race has a limit of one hour.
The 5K route follows a completely different path than the marathon or half marathon. The 5K heads north on 6th Avenue before a U-turn before Pennsylvania Avenue. The route goes back down 6th Avenue, past the starting point and all the way to Hawthorne Street.
At the south end there is another U-turn back north for a few blocks before you enter Balboa Park near Jupiter Street. The trail then goes through the park, around Marston Point and up Balboa Drive to the finish line.
Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Health & Fitness Expo
In addition to the races, the two-day Health & Fitness Expo features fitness apparel, health and nutrition information, interactive displays and cutting-edge running technologies for guests to enjoy. The event is free and open to the public at the San Diego Convention Center.
All participants registered for a race must attend the Health & Fitness Expo to pick-up their individual materials. Bibs will not be given to friends or family members under any circumstances. (An adult may pick up a packet for a child under 18.)
Parking is available at the San Diego Convention Center for a daily fee and applies on Friday and Saturday. There are alternate lots and metered parking available in downtown San Diego.
Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon Accommodations
If you are looking for lodging for the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon, consider San Diego Coast Rentals, which offers vacation condos and private homes to rent in and around San Diego. Our properties are clean, well-maintained and competitively priced compared with downtown hotels, and units are available that have up to five bedrooms.
Many of our properties are located on or near the beach and are within easy driving distance of the race start (though there’s also plenty of public transportation as well.
If the Rock n’ Roll San Diego marathon or half-marathon is only the start of your San Diego vacation, then make it enjoyable with a classy vacation rental property. Check our available properties or give us a call at (858) 531-3247 for recommendations based on your preferences and budget.