San Diego a blast

By Bob Rubanowice


I just returned from a running vacation in San Diego.

The fourth annual Suzuki Rock’N’Roll Marathon is the 6th largest in the United States and 9th largest in the world. The atmosphere is party, party, party!

A 26-mile course lined with 27 entertainment stages and 44 live bands played everything including alternative rock, pop punk, hip hop funk, jazz, new wave, ska, Latin vibe, urban zydeco, rock-reggae, blues, and Afro-Cuban drumming.

More than 1500 high school cheerleaders spaced along the course constantly yelled to us that we all looked so wonderful. We believed it early, but in the last 5 or 6 miles no amount of live music and peppy cheerleading made up for those days off in training in the months before.
It was a micromanager’s hog heaven. A huge pre-race Sports Expo, shuttle buses, 23 corrals seeding runners, gear bags transported by UPS, medical stations every mile, accurate computer chip timing devices, and food, mylar blankets and a beer garden at the finish line. On the course itself over 2,000 volunteers passed out water, Ultima, Carb-BOOM and PowerBars at 21 different stations.

300 port-o-johns lined up in a row near the starting line, at the western edge of magnificent Balboa Park. And yet many a runner wandered into the adjacent doggie off-leash area before the race, giving new meaning to the tee-shirt slogan–You’re a redneck if you use the same tree as your dog.

One neat feature was the sea of nearly 3,700 purple-shirted “Team in Training” participants who raised almost 50 million dollars for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for cancer research and patient care. With that I could sympathize, since two June’s ago I could barely make it three mailboxes up the street myself shuffling in my pj’s and slippers as I began my own cancer rehabilitation program. This day I went farther and faster.

My times? Let me just say I was 9,494 out of 15,752 finishers, and was beaten by a bunch of faster Kenyans and Ethiopians.
Winning the first place purse of $65,000 (out of total prize money of more than a quarter million dollars) was Kenyan John Kagwe in 2:10:06.
Also from Kenya, the woman’s winner was Margaret Okayo in a splendid course record of 2:25:03.
All participants got free tickets to a Smash Mouth outdoor ampitheatre post-race evening concert. I didn’t understand a single word of their lyrics, but their subwoofers shook the canyon floor and they were loud!