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Registration is open until Dec. 2 for the 2022 Rocket City Marathon. The 26-mile trek through many parts of Huntsville is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 11 and will include new races and new course layout. Photo Contributed

Rocket City Marathon Expands In 2022- Entry Deadline Nearing For Entire Family Event

HUNTSVILLE- There’s less than one month remaining to register for the 2022 running of the annual Rocket City Marathon. Those registering through Dec. 2 can do so for the entry fee of $125.

This year there are major changes in what has become known as one of the fastest marathon courses in the country. For the first time in race history, the 26.2-mile race will be held on a Sunday, different than its usual Saturday date as the race began in 1977 from atop Monte Sano Mountain to a finish on the campus of UAH. Race officials decided on the change to accommodate other events surrounding the race, which include the RCM Expo, 5K and 10K races, the Kid’s Marathon, and two Half Marathon events.

“It all got very crowded trying to handle a few of these events on the same day and course,” said Dwayne DeBardelaben co-race director with his wife, Dana. “We had discussions with the Huntsville Sports Commission, our primary sponsor for the events, as we knew if we grew the event which would draw in more people from out of town and out of state. We visited other cities with similar event schedules and those seemed to have worked.”

This year, the event has been stretched to three-days in attempt to allow visitors from outside Huntsville to take their time in visiting the immediate area, which will mean additional revenue for Huntsville and Madison County.

“We presented to the Commission who spoke with Mayor Tommy Battle and others and then the word got back to us they were supportive of the idea,” added DeBardelaben. “In addition, in past Saturday marathons we’ve had some issues with restrictions with traffic, so we reached out to ALDOT and they quickly gave us permission to do the things we haven’t done before. This year we get run down a small portion of Governor’s Drive and other areas we haven’t been able to use. I attribute these changes to the Huntsville Sports Commission who have helped us tremendously.”

A fixture in Huntsville for 45 years, the Rocket City Marathon features a flat and fast course and is an official qualifier for the Boston Marathon. The course starts at Big Spring Park in front of the Von Braun Center, runs through portions of historic Huntsville, through the grounds of both the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and the Botanical Gardens before finishing inside the arena of the Von Braun Center.

This year, the course will be revamped in major ways. New areas for the course to take place will include historic Blossomwood, past Maple Hill Cemetery and through Five Points and in front of Veterans Park prior to making its way to the Clinton Avenue and Governor’s Drive locations before moving down Holmes Avenue winding through the campus of UAH, then going through the Space & Rocket Center and Botanical Gardens moving towards the finish line located inside the South Hall of the Von Braun Center.

In addition to the change in days and overall race course, the event will feature two Half-Marathon races within the Marathon. Those choosing to run the first half of the marathon for their half-marathon jaunt will start with the marathoners and finish at Campus 805 on Clinton Avenue. The second half-marathon event will start on the UAH Campus and complete their experience at the marathon finish line. The second half-marathon race is sold out with 800 participants. The first half-marathon is still open for registration.

The 5K and 10K races will each have a 500-participant cap with runners completing their exciting adventures inside the South Hall among the RCA Expo.

The schedule of events include: Friday, Dec. 9-  RCA Expo, presented by Barrios Technology, from 11:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. inside the South Hall of the VBC, Packet Pick-Up for all races 11:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., Historic Huntsville Group Runs- 3 miles 3:30-4:30 p.m., RCM Race Dinner with guest speaker in the VBC 6:00 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 10- 10K Race 7:00 a.m., 5K Race 9:00 a.m., Kid’s Marathon, RCA Expo, Packet Pick-Up for marathon and half marathon races; Sunday, Dec.11- Marathon Race 7:00 a.m., Half-Marathon Race 9:00 a.m., Second Half-Marathon, Post-Race Party (VBC South Hall) 10:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m., Awards Celebration 1:15 p.m. Post-race stretching will be provided by Therapy South.

In 2021, the marathon featured 1,185 runners with 700 partaking in the half-marathon race. This year, the preliminary numbers are above what they were a year ago so race directors are prepping for an exciting three days of fun for the entire family.

“We certainly need volunteers to help in managing the events as more volunteers are needed this year due to the expansion,” added DeBardelaben. “If you can spare a few hours on Saturday and Sunday it would be helpful to the outcome of the races. Volunteers can sign up on the race website.”

The major sponsor contribution this year is the Huntsville Sports Commission with additional business sponsorships from Fleet Feet of Huntsville/Madison, SportsMED Orthopedic Surgery & Spine Center and Publix. Medical support at each event is provided by HEMSI while communications along the course provided by the Huntsville Amateur Radio Club and traffic control monitored by the Huntsville Police Department.

The Rocket City Marathon serves as a Boston Marathon qualifying race and will serve as this year’s host marathon for the RRCA State Marathon Championships. The annual RCM Expo will again feature a wide variety of vendors with their support of the annual race.

Race website: www.rocketcitymarathon.run.

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