San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll Marathon 2014. Credit: Page Graham / San Antonio Report

What started as a simple idea in 1998 – a marathon with bands along the course performing live music – has become a highly anticipated annual running festival in San Antonio.

The Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio marathon and half marathon returns Dec. 3 and 4. Organizers for the 2016 event revamped both the marathon and half marathon to create a flatter, faster course. This year the course will take runners runners past new sights, including the San Fernando Cathedral and Mission Concepción.

“After months of planning with our partners in San Antonio, we are thrilled to unveil this new course,” stated course director David Benjes. “The goal was to create a fast and flat course highlighting the best of San Antonio and we are proud of the result. We would like to thank the city for going above and beyond to make this possible and look forward to debuting the new marathon and half marathon routes in December.”

Drivers can expect significant traffic delays as there will be dozens of street closures over the weekend. With 90% chance of rain on Saturday and 70% for Sunday, the forecasted cool and wet weather will impact traffic as well as the runners this weekend.

The marathon, half marathon, and 5K races will start at the intersection of Presa and Commerce streets and will finish near Hemisfair Park and La Villita. The marathon and half marathon courses coincide before splitting at mile 12 at Montana and South Cherry streets.

The 2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half-Marathon will pass more of San Antonio’s historical landmarks.
The 2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half-Marathon will pass more of San Antonio’s historical landmarks. Credit: Courtesy / Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio.

In true rock ‘n’ roll fashion, live bands, enthusiastic cheerleaders, and spectators will line the race route, concluding with a celebratory finish line festival and post race Toyota Rock ‘n’ Roll Concert Series.

“This is truly a stunning course,” stated City Manager Sheryl Sculley. “Both routes highlight diverse parts of the city and will show runners from all over the world the beauty of San Antonio. This event generates millions of dollars in annual economic impact and we are proud to host this race each year.”

While entertainment during the festival weekend defines the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series experience, runners have raised more than $310 million for participating charities. The 2015 Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio marathons generated a total economic impact of over $28.5M for the local economy, according to an economic impact study.

In addition to the course changes, the SUBWAY KiDS ROCK annual children’s race is returning to Brackenridge Park for the first time in three years on Saturday, Dec. 3 and allows children in first through seventh grade the opportunity to race one-mile while kindergartners may run a half mile course.

Locals Offer Advice to First Timers

Throughout the course and at the finish line, runners are susceptible to cases of dehydration, post-race fainting, cramps, and lower-extremity injuries. Here are some pointers from Chris Goodwin, Physical Therapist with Momentum Physical Therapy.

While it’s important to stay hydrated in the race (especially in warmer climates like San Antonio), avoid overdoing it, Goodwin advised.

“Increased water intake prior to the race can increase the need for you to go to the bathroom, cause bloating, and cause an imbalance in your electrolytes,” Goodwin stated.

Goodwin added that warming up – not necessarily doing static stretching – is essential.

“Save the static stretching for after the race,” Goodwin stated. “Do dynamic movements to get the blood flowing. Jogging or power walking the first few minutes of the race also counts as a warm-up.”

It’s also important to dress appropriately for the race by dressing in layers.

Krysia Vodrazka ran the full Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon in 2011. She found all the cheerleaders inspiring, especially her two favorite supporters, son Austin and daughter Stefanie.

Krysia Vodrazka, veteran Rock ‘n’ Roll marathoner, has run the full marathon eight times, with her last time in 2015. She advises runners wear layers of old clothes to keep warm at the start of race.

“Doing this, you can shed outerwear and discard pieces as you advance on the course,” she told the Rivard Report. “Volunteers pick up the articles of clothing and donate them to local shelters, so you don’t feel bad about littering gloves, hats, or warm shirts on the course.

Tom Morrissey (right) ran the half marathon in 2011 after receiving a heart transplant in 2006. Dr. Michael Kwan (left) was the transplant cardiologist and is currently the director of Methodist Hospital’s heart transplant program. Credit: Courtesy photo.

“Be sure to invest in quality, comfortable running shoes and socks,” she added. “For this year’s races, waterproof foot gear will be essential.”

Although it’s too late to register for this year’s race, there’s always next year. Even if you’re not up to running the full marathon, some choose to walk the shorter course.

Or you can give it your best shot and enjoy the experience, like Schertz resident Tom Morrissey did when he ran the half marathon in 2011 – after receiving a heart transplant in 2006.

“Don’t be afraid of it, just give it a shot,” Morrissey said. “Running hurts, but I found out I was able to get to the finish line, even with the heart transplant.

“I’d tell first timers not to skimp on training before the race. I trained for 6 months and I managed to do it. If you train properly, it will still hurt, but a lot less. You can do this.”

Iris Gonzalez writes about technology, life science and veteran affairs.