Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Pizza and beer. Lennon and McCartney. Chocolate and peanut butter. Moe, Larry and Curly. And the current winning combination is the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon and Virginia Beach.
In 2001, Elite Racing, Inc. launched the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Virginia Beach as its first stand-alone half marathon in the company's renowned Rock 'n' Roll race series. And to use a musical metaphor, the Labor Day weekend race has become a chart-topper.
Since the event's inception, the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Virginia Beach has attracted 15,000 to 20,000 participants annually--no one-hit wonder here--and stamped itself as summer's shaking- rattling- rolling-and-running swansong event.
"We've sold out every year," said Erin Gaul, the race's event manager.
"Labor Day weekend is a great time to travel, and Virginia Beach, with its gorgeous boardwalk, is one of the best beaches on the East Coast," Gaul said. "Tie that in with the Verizon Wireless American Music Festival, the post-race party and the concert on the beach--and it makes for a great weekend."
The weekend's highlight is the signature event--the half marathon, which offers serious prize money for the winners and serious fun for all participants. That fun will be enhanced exponentially with 20 live bands, 16 cheerleading squads and throngs of spectators along the striking seaside course who will produce enough sound and good-time groovin' to figuratively blow the roof off Virginia Beach.
"For runners who are trying to set a personal best (time), the entertainment on the course is a motivational factor," said Ian Monahan, Elite Racing Inc.'s director of public relations. "For someone doing his/her first race or for recreational runners, the music is a great source of entertainment. Some people dance at the aid stations. But for everyone, the music and cheering every mile helps them get across the finish line."
Monahan also said the flat, scenic course is supported, not only by the event's bands and those working the aid stations, but also by the residents of Virginia Beach.
"The event has transformed the community and in a lot of ways, the community has taken ownership of the race. People have parties and barbecues and they dress up in costumes as part of our 'Rock around the block contest,' which has become so popular," Monahan said.
"Then there's the novelty of finishing along the ocean front on the boardwalk (for the final 2.1 miles)," Monahan continued. "And after finishing the race, runners can dive into the ocean and spend time on the beach--the post race party is literally right there in the sand."
Indeed, Runner's World Magazine, in its Aug. 2007 Half-Marathon Special Edition, named the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Virginia Beach as the "Best Party Half Marathon."
"When organizers of the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon decided to create a spin-off half marathon, they gave it its own identity--separate date, separate location," Runner's World wrote. "Which means that runners at the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon are the stars of their very own parade."
All Music, All the Time
If space is tight while packing your bags, let me suggest leaving your iPod behind, for live music will not be lacking Labor Day weekend in Virginia Beach. The 20 bands playing along the race course are just the middle act on the musical program.
The Verizon Wireless American Music Festival takes place Friday, August 29 through Sunday, August 31 with more than 20 bands jamming and jolting, rocking and rolling the oceanfront. Runners may show their race entry numbers and receive free admission to any of the festival shows throughout the weekend.