Chasing the Century Mark – Rock n Roll Marathon Lifetime Achievement Project

After joining the 100 Half Marathons Club last year, I’m seeing more and more Facebook posts about friends hitting major milestones. My friend Hyalker will be running his 100th half marathon in San Diego in a few weeks. 13.1 x 100 club founder Andrea finished her 250th at the inaugural Disney Dark Side Half in April and we’re starting to plan for a big 300 this fall.

As mind-boggling as those numbers are, an even higher bar would be to finish 100 races in a single race series. Last year, “VIP Joe” Harris was the first to reach 100 Rock n Roll events (half and full marathons) at Rock n Roll DC 2015. A few weeks from now, Kevin Gonzalez, the all-time number 2 on the Rock n Roll circuit, will reach the 100 mark at Rock n Roll San Diego.

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It takes a lot to get to 100 in one race series. And to be clear, I’m going to consider half and full marathons for the sake of the count. Obviously, the series has to be successful enough to last. You have to be in good enough physical shape to keep going for 3 – 10 years, and have the vacation time and finances to be able to afford the race entries and travel. Finally, they have to be happy to continue racing and not lose interest in the distance. A lot of friends hit the road race circuit for a few years then branch out to Tri’s, Ultras or Century Rides and there has to be a choice in where you spend your training time. It has to be a passion for you. Let’s face it. How many things do you really stick with for that long?

So where does a Marathoner for Life go to establish that kind of loyalty? Mainly Marathons has become a national staple for those pushing to do up to 5 – 7 races i as many states on consecutive days. As of this writing, only two “Mainlyners” – Parvaneh Moeyedi, and Pam Penfield – have achieved the 100 mark. Jim Simpson is listed with 98, but I haven’t seen the page updated since the Independence Series last weekend. With 50 races per year (including new ones opening in Hawaii in 2017), this is a great series for those accelerate the completion for the 50 States Half Marathon or 50 States Marathon Club. Registration ranges from $85 – 130 for a single race or $500 – 700 to sign up for an entire 5 or 7 state tour and the Series are set up so you can drive from one place to the next in the week. I’ve heard people really have a lot of fun with these week-long events because you’ll see a good percentage of the people all week on what are mostly loop courses. You could theoretically hit 100 races in 2 years and change if you have the vacation time.

Northern California-based Brazen Racing boasts 26 events per year. All but a few of the events have a half marathon or full distance and a couple have 50K or 6 hour and 12 hour events. At the New Year’s Eve race, Brazen has an annual ceremony recognizing  “Streakers” – anyone who participates in all 26 events, either in the race or as a volunteer. Peter Dea and Katherine Ingram have been Streakers every year since 2010, and while it’s not shown how many of those were volunteer and which were running, I’m willing to bet they’re over the century mark. Registration fees range from $65 – 75 depending on how far in advance you sign up. Big perk: Brazen gives a free race entry if you volunteer to support a race, so in theory, you could finish a dozen halfs of fulls a year without paying a dime! This also means your aid stations are mainly staffed by marathoners so they know how important it is to be there. A Brazen racer could get to 100 in 4 years. The fact that all the races are within a 25 miles of our house would make this an easy task if we weren’t out of town all the time!

This brings me back to the Rock n Roll Marathon Series. Rock n Roll has been around since 1999 when the first marathon was run in San Diego. Two weeks ago marked the 200th race in the series (Rock n Roll Madrid 2016). With 30 separate Tour Stops (25 possible per year if you exclude events that overlap), one could hit the 100 mark in 3 – 4 years. I see the main limitation on that to be financial. Rock n Roll tends to pick destination races where hotel and airfare could add up quickly. Unless you have a really good bank roll, some connections in the travel industry, or a job that takes you to the right cities at the right times, getting to more than 15 races a year puts a dent into your wallet. Last year, Leah Reid partially financed her Tour-leading 23 race journey by selling her car. Rock n Roll’s registration fees actually aren’t so bad with the Global Tour Pass. For $479, you can register for as many races as you want, including the shorter Remix races.

As if traveling all over North America and Europe isn’t challenging enough, Rock n Roll also set up some logistical challenges for the more adventurous including the same-day SA2LV (RNR San Antonio in the morning, RNR Las Vegas the same night in 2013) and Tex2Mex (RNR Dallas/RNR Mexico City on the same day in 2016) challenges and some back to back Saturday/Sunday full marathons.

While Competitor Group (the company that runs Rock n Roll) does a nice job with the yearly incentives like Challenge Medals, multi-race Heavy Medals and the Hall of Fame, one thing CGI doesn’t have is something on par with an official lifetime achievements award. I ran into Tracy Sundlun of Competitor Group at Rock n Roll Nashville and it sounds like CGI wants to continue celebrating the marathoners who have shown that level of loyalty to the series. So consider the following food for thought!

Last year, a few of us (thanks, Amy and Joe!) compiled a list of people we think have 50 or more lifetime Rock n Roll races.  In addition to Kevin getting his 100th at Rock n Roll San Diego, we could have 7 more hit the 100 mark before the end of the 2017 race calendar. Al Hernandez is lining up San Jose this fall. This is a home town race for him, and he’ll be one of the few dozen 11 year Legacy runners. Side note: Al has Legacy status in 7 active RNR races 4 discontinued races. I can’t imagine that’s not the most for Rock n Roll and would likely challenge the most number of Legacy races in any other Series.

Jeff Calene, 4th all time (some races still to verify) stands at 85 races currently and told me he is shooting for either Las Vegas or San Antonio for his 100th. #5 Sherry Ricker has 83 races and is going for it all in 2016. She could hit 100 in DC or Dallas 2017. The back half of 2017 is a long ways off, but Beth, Jim, Kamika, Susan and I are in the 78 – 80 range. If we can keep up the pace from 2014 and 2015, Fall of 2017 looks like a good plan.

Since I’ve been cross checking the data from Athlinks, Half Fanatics and Marathon Maniacs sites, I was able to start digging into with who might be the highest total mileage with Rock n Roll, including the Remix races that started in 2014. I ran into numerous issues including races that have no results (inaugural Montreal), some where Athlinks ignores my age group (Dallas 2016) and some where hyphenated names didn’t make the conversion between Active to the current database.  I’m down to anyone who we had listed at 60 or more lifetime races as of the end of 2015, so the data is nowhere near complete. But for those I have confirmed:

Most TOTAL Rock n Roll Miles including Remix.
(14 people are over 1000 miles)
Joseph Harris 1785
Sherry Ricker 1487
Al Hernandez 1400
Most Rock n Roll Full Marathons (Lifetime)
Hardest to really confirm since there were very few half marathons in the 2000’s. A lot of people with 30 lifetime events may have all full marathons!
David DeNeire 30
Shirley Shaw 28
Sherry Ricker 25
Mitchell Ginsburg 25
Most Rock n Roll Half Marathons (Lifetime)
Joseph Harris 106
Kevin Gonzalez 97
Al Hernandez 85
Most Rock n Roll miles (single year).
(This includes anyone we know who had 50+ RNR’s as of the end of 2015 and the Heavy Medal Elites for 2015)
David DeNeire (2012)
Greg Heilers (2015)
Louie Soriano (2011)
Bradley Carpenter (2015)
David DeNeire (2011)
Sherry Ricker (2015)
517.1
414.0
399.2
378.4
373
351.6
Most Consecutive Rock n Roll Tour Stops
(From RNR Vegas 2010 to RNR Nashville 2013. Excludes overlapping events)
David DeNeire 54

I’m not done with the workbook, but if you’re interested in seeing where you are in the chase for the Century mark or just want to count Rock n Roll specific races or miles, I’ve created a public spreadsheet that adds up miles based on which cells you fill out (H for half, F for Full, 5 and 10 for shorter distances). For convenience, I’ve grayed out years where the events weren’t held and I’d be happy to add your sheet to the workbook I have if you want to see where you land on the all-time list. Feedback and suggestions for upgrades are welcome!

Also, I have no really good idea if there are other race series that might set people up for a 100 mark. Any recommendations would be welcome!

We have four weeks left before our TNT Peninsula team hits Rock n Roll Seattle. This is an On Your Own weekend with a chance of rain in the morning, so I plan to get a lot of slow, wet, lazy miles in.

We haven’t lost interest in chasing the 100. Not by a long shot!

~//~

Thanks to 100 Half Marathons Club members Rachel and Cortney, I’ll call out Southern California based A Better World Running as a good series to race to 100. ABWR had over 50 events in the last 12 months not including a monthly virtual race. Registration fees range from $35 – 45 and anywhere from 100 – 300 people finish each race (including full/half marathons and 15k/10k/5k distances).  Professional race photos are posted on their Facebook page (download for free!).

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