Itâ€™s a 13.1-mile race. No matter how you look at it, it possesses some kind of challenge for anyone that attempts the distance.
But this one will be a little more fun. Actually, it could be a lot more fun.
On Sunday morning, Aug. 7, an expected 8,000 runners and walkers will invade the capital city for the inaugural Rock nâ€™ Roll Providence Half Marathon. The race is the latest of the popular Rock nâ€™ Roll Marathon series that has already made its way to 25 U.S. cities and an additional two more internationally.
â€śItâ€™s been something we have been working on for several years now,â€ť said Rock nâ€™ Roll event manager Shannon Davis. â€śWe have not been in New England market and this is a real exciting city fo us. It just seemed like the ideal setting.â€ť
What differentiates the Rock nâ€™ Roll Marathon series from most other road-racing events is the entertainment thatâ€™s provided to the participants. Bands will be lined along the course throughout their 13.1-mile excursion and when theyâ€™re finished, a concert will take place on the State House lawn, just a short distance from the start and finish of the race.
The featured band for the Providence race is California rock band Sugar Ray.
â€śItâ€™s like a 13.1-mile block party,â€ť said Davis. â€śWeâ€™ll have bands at every mile mark. There will be cheer stations scattered throughout the course and themed water stations.â€ť
The race course takes participants on a scenic tour of Providence and neighboring Pawtucket. It begins on Gaspee Street, just in front of the State House. The race then makes its way to Blackstone Boulevard primarily via South Main Street, Benefit Street and North Main Street. After a the two-mile stretch on Blackstone Boulevard, the raceâ€™s halfway point, the course continues through the East Side, making its way to India Point Park and back into downtown for the final five-kilometers.
â€śWe built a really beautiful, moderately-flat course,â€ť Davis said. â€śWe made it as flat as possible.â€ť
If the heat wave continues by race day, officials of the Rock nâ€™ Roll Half Marathon are already prepared, according to Davis
â€śWe have a heat plan in effect,â€™ she said. â€śWeâ€™ll have ice towels at the finish, sponge stations on the course as well as ice liquid at water stations.â€ť
With 6,600 participants already registered, the Rock nâ€™ Roll Half Marathon is on pace to become the largest inaugural half marathon in New England. There will also be several elite runners in the field with the potential to set a state record for the half-marathon distance
â€śIt does have an elite field,â€ť Davis said, â€śbut we are focusing on getting some local talent to the race.â€ť
On-line registration for the Rock nâ€™ Roll Half Marathon (7 a.m. start) will continue until July 31. After that, participants can register at the R.I. Convention Center during the eventâ€™s two-day Health and Fitness Expo on Friday, Aug. 5 (1-6 p.m.) and Saturday, Aug. 6 (9 a.m.-5 p.m.). The expo, which is open to the public, will have over 60 exhibitors. All participants must visit the expo to pick up their race number, swag bag and T-shirt.
There will be some familiar names helping out in the event. Tracy Sundlun, son of former Governor Bruce Sundlun, who died this past Thursday, is the senior vice president of Competitor Group Inc., the raceâ€™s organizer. Sharing his expertise is Charlie Breagy, race director of more than a dozen road races in the state, including the immensely popular CVS Downtown 5K.
â€śSo far, so good,â€ť Davis said. â€śWe are excited about coming to Providence.â€ť