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Memories and Moments: 25 Years of the Rock 'n' Roll Running Series

By Rock 'n' Roll, 09/15/22, 12:00PM EDT

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From 1998’s inaugural race in San Diego to an international series that has transformed running events, we look back at the 25-year history of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series.

SEPT. 14, 2022

The Rock ‘n’ Roll® Running Series will celebrate 25 Years Running in 2023. That’s 25 years of runners, from novices to record holders, enjoying remarkable moments at Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series events all over the world. Established in 1998, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series’ mission to make running fun has transformed both the U.S. and global running landscape by infusing race courses with live bands, cheer teams, and entertaining water stations, creating a block-party atmosphere for everyone involved. With the goal of Bringing Fun to the Run™, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series has done just that while growing the first marathon in San Diego into an international series that has set its start line in 47 cities across 12 countries. 

Focused on running, music and community, the 25-year history of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series is highlighted by milestone moments curated throughout hundreds of races, meaningful partnerships, and the inspiring community of participants. Check out some of our favorite memories below and join us next year to be part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series 25 Years Running celebration. 

Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series Milestones 

1998: Inaugural Suzuki Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego. (Founder: Tim Murphy) 

Highlights

  • 8,000 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society | Team in Training participating fundraisers 

  • $15 million raised and becomes the largest 1-day fundraising sport event. 

  • 55% women, while the marathon average is 70% men. 

1999: Kenny Souza (professional duathlete), dressed as Elvis, iconically leads the starting pack at Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego. 

2000: Inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Country Music Marathon in Nashville, TN. 

2001: The Series’ largest inaugural race, Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series Virginia Beach, debuts as Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series’ first half marathon stand-alone event. 

2002: First KiDS ROCK in Nashville. 

2004: Inaugural P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona (1/11/2004) 

2006: Roger Craig, former 49ers running back, brings Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series to San Jose. 

2006: Haile Gebrselassie, two-time Olympian, breaks the half marathon world record at Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona. (source

2008: Inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio is the largest marathon/half-marathon race in Texas with 30,000 participants (11/16/2008) (source

2009: Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series acquires Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas (source) and shuts down the strip. (12/6/2009). 

2011: Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series acquires Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington DC, originally known as Rock ‘n’ Roll USA. 

2011: Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas becomes a night race; “Run the Strip at Night”. (Source

2012: Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series becomes an international series with the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Madrid. (source

2014: Meb Keflezighi sets US Masters record at Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego (source

2014: Harriette Thompson, age 92, becomes the oldest woman to complete a marathon at Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego (source

2015: Rock ‘n’ Roll Country Music Marathon is renamed to “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville”. (source

2015: Participant Joe Harris becomes the first ever Rock 'n' Roller to complete 100 marathons and half marathons with the Series. Joe blazed the train for many to follow, with more than 25 participants exceeding the 100-mark. 

2016: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is the Featured Charity of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series 

2016: Mike Wardian broke Guinness World Record for fastest marathon in an Elvis costume at Geico Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas (source

2017: Harriette Thompson, age 94, becomes oldest woman to complete a half marathon at Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego (source, source 2

2017: Larry Macon (72) completes his 2,000th marathon at Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio (source

2018: 10-year-old Arielle Avina is the youngest female to ever win a Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series 5k with her time of 19:20 (source

2019: Nashville Marathoner Scott Wietecha wins his seventh consecutive Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series event in Nashville. 

2020: Jordan Maddocks breaks Guinness World Record for fastest marathon dressed as fruit at Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona (source

2021: Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series changes its name to Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series, to reflect the variety of distances available at events, and encourage an inclusive running environment. 

2022: Jordan Maddocks breaks Guinness World Record for fastest marathon dressed as a vegetable at Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona (source

2022: Inaugural Publix Rock ‘n’ Roll Clearwater (10/1/2022). 

2022: Coming soon: Participant Sherry Ricker continues an extreme global run streak, having attended every event for the last three years, culminating in her 200th participation this October at United Airlines Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose! 

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