Rocket City Marathon 2022: New Format, New Course, New Day
HUNTSVILLE- A fixture for 45 years, the Rocket City Marathon is set for this weekend with a new three-day format featuring what many consider one of the top marathon races in the country.
The 2022 version of the annual extravaganza will include the pre-race Expo, presented by Barrios Technology, Historic Huntsville Group Runs and race dinner on Friday, Dec. 9, the 10K, 5K and Kid’s Marathon on Saturday, Dec. 10, and the marathon, featuring two half-marathons jaunts on Sunday, Dec. 11.
“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.
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. “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,” added DeBardelaben.
The Rocket City Marathon 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.
New areas for the course to take place this year 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 racecourse, 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.
More than 1,200 runners will pound the pavement for the marathon while an additional 1,000 expected for the two half-marathons on Sunday.
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.
The Sunday events begin at 7:00 a.m. Race organizers feel the new format and expanding the races will make the weekend event even more attractive to runners from all across the world.