Virginia Beach Celebrates 15 Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll

  • American Music Festival, 15,000 runners highlight the 15th Annual Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon
  • Defending champion Jeffery Eggleston; USA XC Champion Laura Thweatt headline Labor Day Weekend tradition
  • Running legends Jim Ryun and Rod Dixon to take the ‘Remix Challenge’ participating in two-days of running
  • Sheryl Crow to headline post-race concert; Race weekend registration available for the Half Marathon, 5K and Mile on the Sand

This Sunday, September 6, 2015, the original half-marathon of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series will celebrate its 15th Anniversary with 15,000 entrants from all 50 states and 15 countries descending upon the Virginia Beach oceanfront.

RNRVB_Neglerio-3076“15 years ago, with only the rarest exception, half marathons were just local training races for marathons and then came Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach, the original destination half-marathon! It laid the foundation for the half-marathon to become the most popular and fastest growing distance in running and we are thrilled to celebrate this milestone in the event’s history,” said Tracy Sundlun, SVP of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series and one of the event’s founders. “Labor Day weekend is a great time to travel and Virginia Beach, with its gorgeous boardwalk, is one of the best beaches on the East Coast. Tie that in with the American Music Festival, the post-race concert on the beach with Sheryl Crow and it makes for an unforgettable weekend.”

One in three participants will be running their first half-marathon and almost three in five runners will be female. Over 60% percent of entrants are from outside the Hampton Roads area, which means 21,000 hotel room nights filled with runners over Labor Day Weekend.

The race starts at 7:00 am adjacent to the Virginia Beach Convention Center on 19th Street, runs through the resort area and Camp Pendleton, and finishes on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk at 17th Street. Event weekend concludes Sunday night with an evening concert featuring Sheryl Crow on the 5th Street Beach Stage.

Beach Race Sets the Pace

Miles of golden sand, iconic fishing pier, combined with the many gift shops, restaurants and ice cream parlors make Virginia Beach the ultimate end-of-summer running destination. In 2001, the event debuted as the world’s largest inaugural half-marathon with 10,826 finishers. Later surpassed by the inaugural P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon in 2004 with 13,835 finishers, today the Virginia Beach event still ranks as the 7th largest debut half-marathon in history.

Participation in half-marathon races in the United States has exploded over the past decade. Last year, for the first time in history, the half-marathon distance surpassed two million finishers in the United States, according to the 2014 Running USA Annual Half Marathon Report. The 13.1-mile half-marathon now counts more than three times as many annual finishers as the 26.2-mile marathon in the U.S.

Humana Ready to Rock in 2015

Humana Inc., one of the nation’s leading health and well-being companies, will celebrate its first year as the title sponsor of the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon with a series of pre-race and race-day activities designed to give runners, walkers and supporters that extra boost of encouragement, and an opportunity to share their personal stories in social media using #rockyourhealth.

“One of the many reasons the Rock ‘n’ Roll series is so appealing is its ability to bring people with inspiring stories together in a fun and healthy way,” says Neil Steffens, Vice President for Humana Senior Products in Virginia. “We’re encouraging people to share those inspiring stories using #rockyourhealth so that they may spur a healthier movement – not only for races like here in Virginia Beach, but in everyday life – to get up, get out there, and get active.”

15 years of Rock ‘n’ Roll: We Salute You!

Impressively 139 runners have completed all 14 previous editions of the race and are registered for the 15th anniversary event this weekend. The oldest is Chris Catoe, 80, a retired Marine Corps colonel who rides his bike to the start line every year. All of the 15-year runners will receive a special commemorative gift, complimentary entry and will be recognized throughout the weekend.

 A World Class Road Race

Some of the sport’s best athletes have won the half-marathon in Virginia Beach, including Deena Kastor (2001), Paul Tergat (2002), Margaret Okayo (2003), Martin Lel (2003) and Edna Kiplagat (twice – 2006-07) and Olympic Marathon champion Tiki Gelana finished second in 2009. U.S. half-marathon record holder Ryan Hall and 2008 Olympic Marathon gold medalist Constantina Dita have also toed the start line in recent years.

Headlining the elite field in 2015 are defending men’s champion Jeffery Eggleston and 2015 USA Cross Country Champion Laura Thweatt. Eggleston, who owns a marathon personal best (PB) of 2:10:52, recently represented Team USA at the IAAF World Championships Marathon in Beijing. He won the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Grand Prix last year and will be challenged on Sunday by former Auburn University All-American Elkanah Kibet, who owns a half-marathon PB of 1:04:01 and is currently a sergeant in the U.S. Army.

In the women’s race, Thweatt holds a PB of 1:11:02 for the half marathon and will face an international challenge from Japan’s Yuko Wantanabe (1:10:06 PB) and Ethiopia’s Frehiwat Goshu (1:11:56 PB).

Legends Take the ‘Remix Challenge’

Returning in 2015 will be the  unique ‘Mile on the Sand’ on Saturday morning. More than 2,000 participants have signed up for the event and runners who complete the ‘Mile on the Sand’ and the half-marathon or 5K on Sunday will complete the Remix Challenge. These runners will earn a special Remix Challenge medal in addition to each race’s finisher medals.

Taking the Remix Challenge in 2015 will be running legends Jim Ryun and Rod Dixon. In 1964, Ryun was the first high school runner to run a sub-4 minute mile. A three-time U.S. Olympian, he also made a career in politics, serving as a Congressman from Kansas in the House of Representatives for four terms. Dixon rose to fame in the 1970s as a world-class middle distance runner from New Zealand and won a 1500 meter bronze medal at the 1972 Munich Olympics. A decade later he won the 1983 New York City Marathon in dramatic fashion, coming from behind at the 26 mile mark to win by 9 seconds.

Both running legends will host clinics on Friday and Saturday during the two-day Health & Fitness Expo in the Virginia Beach Convention Center. The free expo is open to the public on Friday from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm and Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, showcasing the latest in running and fitness apparel, nutrition and information as all registered runners pick up their race numbers.

15 Years of Headlining Acts

The event has annually been held in partnership with the American Music Festival, which takes place Friday through Sunday with more than 40 bands performing along the oceanfront. All Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon runners receive free entry into all American Music Festival concerts over Labor Day weekend. The post-race concerts have featured some of the biggest names in music:

2001 – Counting Crows

2002 – LIVE

2003 – Goo Goo Dolls

2004 – Collective Soul

2005 – Journey

2006 – 3 Doors Down

2007 – INXS

2008 – B-52’s

2009 – The Black Crowes

2010 – Pat Benetar & REO Speedwagon

2011 – Bret Michaels

2012 – Train

2013 – Third Eye Blind

2014 – Train

2015 – Sheryl Crow

Registration for the 15th anniversary race will be available at the Health & Fitness Expo on Friday, September 4 and Saturday, September 5 for the Half Marathon, 5K and Mile on the Sand. For more information about the Humana Rock ’n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon, visit RunRocknRoll.com/Virginia-Beach.