Following a nearly 20-month COVID-19 induced hiatus, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series returned over the weekend as eager Rock ‘n’ Rollers once again lined up at the start line for a Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series event.
On September 4 and 5, participants took to the streets of Virginia Beach to celebrate the 20th and final edition of the Heineken 0.0 Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series Virginia Beach. Half marathon runners and walkers received a running tour of Virginia Beach that started on 28th and Pacific Streets, headed north on Pacific toward 31st Street (King Neptune statue) where runners turned south toward the Croatan Bridge and General Booth Blvd. before finishing on the Virginia Beach boardwalk.
“We were absolutely thrilled to see the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series hit the streets of Virginia Beach this weekend,” said Elizabeth O’Brien, Managing Director of North America for The IRONMAN Group. “We are grateful to the City of Virginia Beach for an amazing twenty years of running that have made this event so special. Seeing runners doing what they love is incredibly meaningful, especially after a nearly 20-month wait and as we say goodbye to one of our longest running events. The success we have seen this weekend in Virginia Beach is a great step forward in returning to what the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series is known for and what we love to do, bringing Fun to the Run.”
Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series has developed a series of comprehensive Safe Return to Racing operating principles prepared in accordance with industry standards for open air participation sporting events including standards from World Health Organization (WHO) and guidance from the IRONMAN Group Global Medical Advisory Board. These Ready to Rock: Safe Return to Running Guidelines empower everyone involved to focus on a safe return to running. With attention to density reduction, touchpoint minimization, enhanced hygiene, screening, and education, as well as self-awareness, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series will continue to deliver a rockin’ participant experience with necessary adjustments so that the participants can race safely, race smart, and race their best.
The half marathon saw Bradley Hodkinson (Richmond, Virginia) win the race clocking a time of 1:10:31. Jordan Chang (Blacksburg, Virginia) was second with a time of 1:13:19 and Erik Chazen (Scottsdale, Arizona) followed in third place finishing in 1:13:24. Carter Norbo (Charlottesville, Virginia) was the women’s champion with a final time of 1:19:55 with Elizabeth Northern (Fort Worth, Texas) behind her at 1:21:55 and Allison Kelley (Charlottesville, Virginia) rounding out the podium in 1:21:58.
Elite runners and fast times aside, Sunday’s race was all about the party atmosphere. Several local bands, including Court Street Company, The Reef, Red Stapler, Slick Trick, and the Joe Gosman Band performed live on band stages along the route interspersed with cheerleaders and themed water stations.
The musically-themed road race celebrated the day’s accomplishments with the sounds of The Deloreans, Virginia Beach’s popular local 80s showband to rock the finish line festival following the half marathon. Sunday’s event capped off an unforgettable weekend of music, fun and running as the sun sets on the final edition of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series Virginia Beach.
What are they saying:
“It felt great to be running Rock ‘n’ Roll again in Virginia Beach,” said Tom Purcell a local legacy runner who has run every year since it began. “There was so much spirit on the course today. I didn’t want it to end. I met a runner from Albany, NY and it was his first time in Virginia Beach he said running on the boardwalk was so special, like nothing he’s ever seen before.”
“The course was really good. I was shocked at the number of supporters out cheering us on,” said Bradley Hodkinson, first place finisher.
“It’s nice to be back and racing against people,” said Carter Norbo, women’s first place finisher. “It was a great day and a lot of fun.”
“I never planned to run all 20 events here in Virginia Beach,” said Margo Smallwood. “It just happened. When I got to the 10-year mark and then the 15, I knew I couldn’t stop. This was my first half marathon ever and it will be my last. It’s bittersweet.”
“Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach has always been a great race with great organization,” said J. Blunt.
Kim “Rooster” Rossiter, president of Ainsley’s Angels, reflects on the past 11 years at Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach. “It was amazing to be back today. We rallied together and harnessed a positive mental attitude to accomplish our mission, said the retired US Marine Corps major. “We had 15 riders and more than 40 pushers. Today was very special for so many of us. We are grateful for the opportunities this event has given us and we are going to miss having Rock ‘n’ Roll in Virginia Beach every Labor Day weekend.”
Ainsley’s Angels is a group that provides opportunities for special needs children and young adults to participate in endurance events through volunteer runners who guide push chairs around the course.
“When I turned 50, I did my first half marathon in Virginia Beach,” said Rita Ayers. “Although a multiple sclerosis diagnosis has taken its toll on my endurance, I will keep running until my legs give out. I challenge myself each day and then I am in a better place. It’s great to be back and I will keep on running.”
Husband and wife running team, Nick and Letty Marino are happy to be back running but sad that the Virginia Beach event is ending. “It’s such a big party all weekend and nothing has stopped us from running since it started in 2001,” said Letty Marino.
“Racing again today felt like home…family reunited,” said Trey White Team Hoyt Virginia Beach. “Thank you, Rock ‘n’ Roll from all of us at Team Hoyt VB.”