Milestones – The Game Changer

“You missed the first Boston Marathon. Don’t miss the first Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.”

– Tim Murphy, creator of the 1998 San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

In the early 1990s, long-distance running was for the fast and few. It was male dominated, skinny men in short shorts, running on roadsides, tank tops soaked, shuffling, looking like they enjoyed the ordeal about as much as an IRS audit.

Then Murphy, a cantankerous Irishman with a gift for marketing, dreamed up the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon: bands performing at every mile, cheerleaders, aid station costume contests and a big concert at the finish line.

Today, the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon & ½ Marathon, birthplace of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, is a running milestone.

To celebrate and commemorate our history, we are rolling out a video series, Milestones. The debut episode, The Game Changer, looks back at the 1998 Inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon, which was the game changer of the running industry.

Come June 4, 2017, the race leaves its teenage years behind and turns 20. Its impact on the running community is unmistakable.

Marathons and half marathons are no longer an exercise in drudgery. You might get blisters, but you’ll also get bling, courtesy of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series’ hip medals. Boring? Not when you jog down the Las Vegas Strip at night. Or past the monuments in Washington, D.C. Or the French Quarter in New Orleans. Today races have become fun, hip destination-style events pioneered by the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series.

Male dominated? That’s so last century. More than 60% of the participants at Rock ‘n’ Roll events are female.

The first Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon set a record for most entrants in a first-time marathon (nearly 20,000) and most finishers (15,771). Nearly 5,000 of the participants wore purple singlets. They were part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training program and raised nearly $15 million to fight cancer.

Total money raised by Team In Training in the history of the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon: more than $180 million. No race has raised more money for a charity.

Twenty years running. That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll.

We invite you to run with us in 2017 and be part of our 20 years running celebration! Share your moment with us, and it could be featured on our website, social media platforms or used in our communication with the local/national media. We will contact you directly before using your story in any medium. Here’s to the next 20 years!

View our other Milestones episodes:

  • The Champion | Featuring three-time Super Bowl champion, Roger Craig, who was a founding member of the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon
  • The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll | No tradition has endured quite like the legacy of the Running Elvi. The origin story of dressing up like The King, and taking to the streets.
  • A Run to Remember | Featuring wear blue: run to remember, the organization that honors the service and sacrifice of the American military.
  • Positively Harriette | In 2015 Harriette Thompson became the oldest woman in history to run a marathon.
  • The Celebration | A thank you to the participants, volunteers, sponsors, and staff that have made 20 years of running possible.