Single Gal and Rocking and Rolling with a Marathon

Sunday was the start of what I hope is a great tradition in San Jose: the Rock and Roll Half Marathon. For a day, San Jose was a place you could find cool bands, and people cheering on local and foreign runners not only downtown, but through neighborhood streets.  This is exactly the type of event we need here in San Jose—one lasting not just for a year or two, but strong enough to be sustained over the years until it becomes a staple in the culture of the city.

In Boston, for example, everyone knows what weekend the Boston Marathon falls on. And it’s not just for the runners; everyone in the city gets involved. Restaurants and bars are packed with people like me just looking to have a good time, turning an event for extremely fit people into an event that extremely unhealthy people can participate in too (from their stool in a bar or seat on the street).  I hope the Rock and Roll Marathon becomes that for San Jose. However, can such events be forced, or do they have to happen organically and we have to accept that there is no way to know whether or not they will catch on and be embraced by the community?

I think the Rock and Roll Marathon has more of a chance to stick around than the Grand Prix because it isn’t marred with controversy. To be successful over time, it will take people going to it year after year, eventually bringing each new generation of their family to the event.  I can’t see the Grand Prix being around long enough to do that, but something like the Rock and Roll Marathon has that potential.  There isn’t anything controversial about it (yet) and it just seems it’s an event that everyone can enjoy. 

Let’s hope that the people at City Hall keep their hands off of it—then it has a chance. 


  1. SG, my mom lives on one of the streets that was closed for the race.  I was over there early Sunday morning and was surprised that during the course of the race there wasn’t more neighborhood spectating going on.  Special recognition to the clean-up crews.  Sweepers were out and in no time flat the street that had turned white with tossed paper cups was back to normal again.  I think the city did a great job getting the streets opened back up quickly after the last of the runners had passed through.

    I have a couple of suggestions.

    More advance PR so people know this thing is happening.  I had no idea this event was taking place until less that a week before it happened.

    Get a “Bay to Breakers” party feel going to this thing with costumes etc that will draw more spectators and participants.  I can see viewing parties being thrown by people who live on the route as this race becomes more of a draw.

    Hoping this is the start of a SJ tradition.  You are right SG, there’s a way better chance of this race going on for years to come, unlike the Grand Prix which should be put to sleep before there’s any more financial hemorhaging.

  2. I ran in this year’s 1/2 marathon and had a blast! Residents lined the sidewalks in their slippers and lawn chairs to cheers us on.  The bands and cheerleaders were a great inspiration.  I am looking forward to running in next year’s event! 

    Job well done to everyone involved!

  3. Dear Single Gal:

    You didn’t say what place you finished in the race.  (Thanks for writing a great blog every week… seriously!)

    You know that the San Jose mayor’ race has taken a serious turn when a guy in a chicken suit shows up.  I attended the debate last night at the Mexican Heritage Plaza.  Some guy shows up in a chicken suit squaking about something Reed did, or didn’t do.  (Great stuff!)  I hope that the METRO prints a picture of the spectacle, it should translate into some votes for Reed.

    Regarding the Merc poll that showed the race to be very close, I seem to remember that this same institute released a poll that showed Measure A winning and Chavez winning the primary.  I’m not sure that they are very accurate pollsters.  BUT, I could be wrong!!

    Reed Volunteer,
    Pete Campbell

  4. Please…it is not Friday yet…as for the SG article, I totally agree that this small, low cost type of event does more for a community than any big time thing like a GP though I can’t imagine it ever becoming much more than B-to-B or Wharf-to-Wharf and that would be a stretch.  Fun race though, it was.

  5. The course needs to be revised so that it runs on more commercial streets and not so many residential streets. There is no reason to make it hard for residents to leave their homes on a nice Sunday morning to head off to their weekend activities.

  6. ABC, that’s hilarious!  It puts things in good perspective.  I see that Reality Check didn’t think much of it, however.

  7. The city that can’t trim neighborhood trees on its own schedule, can’t find the money to repair its roadways, ignores the infrastructure upon which its residents depend, and provides less public safety per capita than any other large city, somehow found the inspiration and energy to overwhelm its otherwise neglected neighborhoods with Sunday morning rock music.

    How absolutely idiotic!

    If I wanted to listen to painfully-loud rock music I would first undergo a lobotomy then head for the downtown. I thought it was bad enough that our homes are constantly vibrating from the over-amplified thump-thump-thumping of cruising morons, not to mention the insanely loud, illegally-modified Harleys fired-up every weekend by all the posers caught up in mid-life crisis.

    Have we created a generation so attention-deficient and manic that it must seek-out and destroy peace and quiet wherever its exists? Do these people have an insatiable need to draw attention to themselves? Isn’t it enough that the music and beer crowd has the entire downtown all to itself nights and weekends?

    Oh, and who, besides stoners living in their parents’ basements, blasts rock music first thing in the morning?

    There was no reason to disturb residential neighborhoods and the working folks who deserve to be left alone. The race could’ve been done without the noise, or held in one of the many business districts deserted on the weekends. But that, of course, would’ve been in keeping with San Jose’s way—because it would’ve been stupid.

  8. I personally liked that it came into my neighborhood streets. It was fun to watch and listen to the music! I saw the signs posted for about a week that notified all that streets would be closed. They also did a few writeups in the paper about it. The advertising could have been better but they drew 11,000 people I think so they must have done something right.

    Sam Liccardo really did it in 1 hr 28 min? Wow! I think that the winner did it in an hour. I would still be walking it!

  9. ABC…

    After reading SG’s posting, my twisted sarcastic mind had composed the perfect response. . .  then I read your comment #2.  Perfect; well said.

  10. finfan #13 sumed it up pretty well. Oh, and one other thing-they should have spent more time trying to minimize the negative to VTA bus routes.

  11. I did question the wisdom in blasting rock music or any other genre for that matter, at 8AM in otherwise quiet neighborhoods.  Still trying to figure out what the benefit of that was.  The runners are whizzing past for just a segment of each song and yet they are supposed to vote for best band at the end?  Who were the bands there to entertain?  At one point the Garage Band at the YMCA was running recorded rap during a break.  They would have received a resounding NO vote from me if I was jogging past and hearing that garbage.  Seems like a flawed polling process to me.

    I like the fact that the race has a party atmosphere and think that’s a good thing.  I HATE the idea of competitive sports in general, and that they are taken so seriously by some as to buy cars that are silver/black or red/gold etc.  This race doesn’t take itself seriously (excepting the Kenyans) and that’s a good thing.  Sunday mornings you can shoot a cannon down most SJ streets at 8AM so the closings were done when they’d have the least impact.  Like anything new there will be tweaks needed but I think this could develop into something fun that could bring out the community to participate on different levels.

    While I agree with a lot of points finfan has made, I still think this event should be given a chance to continue with changes made to satisfy some of finfan’s and others’ concerns.  It’s way cheaper, way quieter even with the bands, and a lot more fun than the Grand Prix.

  12. Some of you guys make me laugh with your continuous negativity.  Lighten up!  It was a fun race and for all of the neighbors who didn’t like the “inconvenience” there were many who enjoyed watching it and more who enjoyed running/walking in it. 

    I talked to neighbors who had homes inside the race course.  They moved their car to a block away the night before so they can take off in the morning.  Others had to use their brains to figure out the best way to their downtown destination.  They figured it out and went about their day.   

    The band I heard was great – and yes, they should take a break when playing for that long! When the music stopped, the racers were giving them a bad time.  They wanted to hear the music!  I would rather hear a band in the morning than airplane noise (a minority opinion, I know).

    Bottom line – it was a positive community event and it promotes healthy living (something we don’t get enough of these days).  Sure there are always things to improve but I give it a thumbs up.

  13. I understand Chuck expensed his $65 entry fee and Cindy offered a $10 million subsidy to the race organizers which she promised to fast track for approval—I believe her actual quote was, “Sunshine??? Sunshine is for losers”.

  14. Hey, I told you all about chicken suit guy showing up at City Hall Thursday. RC/DB are awfully quiet! I’m telling you, it’s him in a 3rd personality! Don’t start talking about chicken dinner around here or he will really get mad!

  15. After a bit of reflection, I guess I should apologize for the negativity. I was wrong. Having loud, distasteful music blasted into one’s home is an event to be celebrated. Mark T, join me in this mea culpa. Next time embrace that rap music; revel in its guttural depravity. Local and Mal are right: to allow one’s personal taste to get in the way of artistic expression is narrow-minded, even when the validity of the art form is in question.

    Next year I intend to take part; to make every effort to open the event to music of all kinds, so that the tattooed beerheads might have a chance to respond positively to classical music at their favorite venue, Mexican-American residents would awaken to an amplified Highland piper band, and those open-minded, always appreciative folks in the Rose Garden might get a chance to enjoy a little bit of Sunday morning White Power rock.

    Let’s give this city some real diversity!

  16. JEESH! fin fluff #13,22

    “I guess” … you…” should apologize for the negativity”

    must have been a rough day
    and I thought
    I was

  17. I’m amazed by some people’s ability to nit pick every little detail of everything.  DON’T YOU PEOPLE HAVE LIVES?!?!?! 

    This was the INAUGURAL race.  I’m sure the organizers learned a lot and will make changes accordingly.  If you want to live in a do-nothing, quiet mountain town, then MOVE!  I’m sick an tired of hearing people bitch and complain about living in a large city and the events that are a part of it.  If you’re not happy here leave.

  18. 25 – If we actually lived in a big city, I’d agree with you. But, we don’t. We live in a wannabe big city led by the gang that can’t shoot straight.
    If and when we actually grow up into a big city (and it takes more than population to make a big city) then we can discuss the pros and cons of events in a big city.
    Until then it is open season on misuse of funds, poorly planned and publicized events, etc.

  19. Any event that is not participated in by cruisers, gangsters, and people in cut-offs and oversized Raiders jerseys is OK with me.

  20. Back in the day when I ran races from 10ks to full marathons, I used to laugh when I saw the Sunday church folk all dressed up in their cars on the way to church gettin’ stopped by a race that was well publicized, but of which publicity they took no note.  They’d be
    a-fussin’ and a-fumin’ and a-cussin’ for bein’ held up by a bunch of runners.  I guess they all had somethin’ to confess when they hit the rail.

    No amount of pre-race publicity short of a personal visit to each home in town will ever be enough.

    Subsidy-free races like that should be embraced and encouraged.

  21. #19. Local: Thanks for the positive perspective.

    Although rock music isn’t my first choice it sounds like this race would be a fun event to have in any neighborhood. From all accounts it was clean and well organized.

    Heck, I’d like to live in a neighborhood that hosted the occasional fun event.

    I’m not sure I’d like to live next door to finfan though. He sounds like the neighborhood grouch!

  22. I ran in the 1/2 on Sunday, and as a visitor to the city of San Jose, I was very impressed with the event, the people, the staff at the hotel etc.  Im surprised that nobody has touched on the amount of $$$ this event brings to your city!!!  I myself spent about $1,000 between hotel, food,sight seeing etc.  If you times that by the amount of people from out of town, it can bring big revenues to your city! People who run races usually make a lot of money (avg.75,000 per year) and want to spend it.  Enjoy the benefits!

  23. 29 – Glad you enjoyed your visit (and that you spent some money here.) You are correct that these events should bring needed revenue to the city—we haven’t heard any figures yet about how much the race brought in. The problem is our city leadership that gives away much of the revenue to get these events to come to town. Then they falsify the revenue figures to justify the event. A little truth would go a long way here. The trust between the citizens and the elected officials is perhaps at an all-time low. Someday we hope that trust is regained and we can all enjoy a wide range of events that come to our town.
    Come back again—and spend. Thanks.