When San Antonio resident Amina Davidson started training with her husband just over a year ago for her first half-marathon, she was determined to strengthen her lungs in a world plagued by COVID-19.
“I used to get bronchitis every year around this time of the year,” she told the San Antonio Report just minutes after crossing the finish line for the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series’ half-marathon Sunday morning. Holding a bouquet of sunflowers from family members, Davidson smiled as she spoke. “I couldn’t even run a mile when I started training in November of last year. I am blessed.”
Davidson and her husband, John, have come a long way since then, she said. While John Davidson has been a Rock ‘n’ Roll runner in the past, having completed full marathons in 2012 and 2013, he said the couple had to really decide to “get off the couch” last year to get ready for Sunday’s race.
“I mean COVID was definitely a part of our decision to get out here,” he said. “It feels really good to be here today.”
Roughly 18,000 participants partook in one of the four Rock ‘n’ Roll Fiesta races this weekend, said Ironman Regional Director Scott Langen, the event’s lead coordinator. Racing kicked off with 5K and 10K runs on Saturday and concluded with the half- and full marathons Sunday.
After a hiatus in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was exciting to bring the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series back to San Antonio for the first time since 2019, Langen said.
“[Cancellations] was the story of our circuit last year,” Langen said. “We couldn’t hold live events for obvious reasons. Coming back has been fantastic. The city has really been so welcoming.”
Bringing all the events back definitely posed unique challenges, Langen said. Race organizers wanted to make sure to honor signups for 2020 while allowing more racers to register, he said. Langen added they were pleased with the weekend’s turnout, which was on par with 2019 attendance.
“The running community here really embraced our return,” he said.
The course started and ended near Hemisfair, with runners heading as far north as Brackenridge Park. The full marathon course added areas of the East and Southeast sides. Live bands and DJs dotted the route.
Handing out water bottles to finishers, local residents and volunteers Lee and Jenn Anthony said they were excited to be back out at another Rock ‘n’ Roll event. While the support turn-out seemed a bit lighter to them this year, the event still had all the buzz and energy it has had in years past, Jenn Anthony said.
Full marathon finishers Josie Boden, Erica Boden and Tori Martin said they were surprised by how warm and humid the weather was Sunday compared with December weather in their home city of Cincinnati.
“The last marathon we did was in 30-degree weather,” Erica said. Sunday morning’s temperature hovered around 70 degrees, with humidity levels above 85%, according to the National Weather Service. “This is so unbelievably humid. The air is so thick! Merry thick-mas, everyone!”
With tears in her eyes as she crossed the finish line, San Antonio native and first-time marathoner Dana Dominguez said she didn’t mind the weather. Having run the marathon in 3 hours and 42 minutes, Dominguez, 22, said she was shocked to learn she’d gotten third place among women ages 18-24.
“I will definitely be doing this again next year,” she said.