43rd Annual Rocket City Marathon Is A Saturday Challenge Spectacular
HUNTSVILLE- The 43rd running of the Rocket City Marathon is set for Saturday, Dec. 14 with the 26.2-mile race beginning in downtown Huntsville and with a finish inside the South Hall of the Von Braun Center. More than 1,300, participants, including more than 100 from Madison, will face the challenge of what is regarded as one of the top marathon races in the South.
The course will take those engaged in the race through parts of Huntsville, including the old sections of downtown, and then outward to the confines of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and the Botanical Gardens before returning to the main district of Huntsville around Big Spring Park and with a finish line inside the Von Braun Center.
What began in 1977 with a start line on Monte Sano Mountain and a finish line on the grounds of UAH, the Rocket City Marathon has certainly blossomed into an event that has brought together runners from all across the world for a fun and challenging course. Participants registered for the Saturday morning 7:00 a.m. start include from the United States, Canada and Australia. Thirty-Nine states will represented in the marathon, most of which will be Alabama including 104 from Madison.
In the inaugural race, Huntsville’s own Steve Bolt took the winning ribbon in his very first marathon attempt. He was a longtime mile runner at both Grissom High and the University of Alabama and was regarded as one of the best in the world. Even while nursing a foot injury, Bolt somehow sizzled the field and won what was the first marathon race in Alabama.
This year the race, sponsored by Fleet Feet Sports of Huntsville, will include a Half Marathon race, sponsored by David Hall of Southern Marketing Associates, a Kids Marathon where the youngsters will actually complete their marathon training with their final mile of running, and this year a new Marathon Relay Division. Relay teams will consist of up to five members.
The Kids Marathon will take place Friday, Dec. 13 at 4:30 p.m. In addition, the always spectacular Pre-Race Dinner will be held at the Huntsville Museum of Art starting at 6:00 p.m. This year the dinner is not just a “carb dinner” as in years past, but food options for all types of diets. Race organizers also invite everyone of all ages to partake in the traditional Historic Huntsville Group Runs of 2-4 miles beginning at 3:30 p.m.
The Rocket City Marathon will also host its annual Race Expo from 11:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. inside the Von Braun Center and is open to the public and is free.
The latest registrations for each of the three main events with this year’s marathon extravaganza include: marathon- 1,299, half marathon- 684, relay runners- 125. From Madison: marathon- 104, half marathon- 97, relay runners- 28.
A race medal and finisher gift will be given to all finishers in all events.
Prize money is always up for grabs in the Rocket City Marathon as this year the open male and female divisions each offer: 1st– $1,000, 2nd– $750, 3rd– $500, 4th– $300, 5th– $200. The Masters male and female divisions will include 1st– $750, 2nd– $500, 3rd– $250. The Half Marathon is also offering a $500 award for both male and female first place finishers.
At the completion of the marathon race while runners are enjoying post-race food, families and other attendees can enjoy concessions offered in the South Hall. The award ceremonies will also be held in that location with several excellent door prizes to be awarded.
For those thinking about weather conditions, the normal low temperature on race day is 34 degrees while the normal high is 54 degrees. Thousands of spectators are always along the race route and most racers indicate the on looking fans are inspirations for them to finish.