By Octavio Serrano

Runners fear they may not finish a race, but at the 2019 Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon & 1/2 Marathon, they’re encouraged by the sound of music. 

The 17th annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon kicks off Saturday, January 18, and brings the running community together. There’s something for every skill level, ranging from full marathons to a 5K. More than 16,000 athletes are expected to participate. 

“It’s a musical journey,” says Judy Stowers, Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon race director. 

“We have more than 40 bands who are along the courses and those courses consist of a full marathon, a half marathon, a 10K, a 5K and a kids’ run.” 

Stowers says the event maintains a high energy level and finds a way to make every runner feel comfortable.

“It’s just a super fun high-energy event,” Stowers says. “Whether you are a runner or not, there are lots of opportunities to volunteer. Whether you’re on the volunteer side of things or you’re actually racing, it is really a Valleywide event that just helps bring some unity between these communities and between runners.”

The race distances have themes like the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and current music, Stowers says. The runners will have the opportunity to listen to songs performed by local bands. 

“Sometimes when you’re in these different distances, some miles are harder than others and the opportunity to have music along the way to encourage you is super helpful in getting to that finish line,” Stowers says. 

This year, the Tempe-born Gin Blossoms will headline a free, public concert at Tempe Beach Park. In addition, there will be a Health and Fitness Expo on Friday, January 19, where athletes and running enthusiasts can shop from among 50 vendors, Stowers says. 

Stowers says multiple cities came together to coordinate the marathon, as it cuts through Tempe, Phoenix and Scottsdale. 

“There’s a lot of local support for the event, so when we’re combining three jurisdictions with Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe, there’s a lot of collaboration that happens between the communities and brings a large international field,” she says.

Although Stowers hasn’t run the race, she says she enjoys watching the runners’ enthusiasm for the views.

 “From a visual standpoint, we’re so lucky in the Valley to have the mountains and the cacti and different parks to be able to run past and through that just give it a really nice desert feel but in the middle of the city,” she says. 

“My favorite is when runners are running up through Papago Park. There’s drumming group that is at the turnaround and it’s very fun and they’re very high energy.” 

The goal of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon is to bring together like-minded individuals. 

“The purpose is to bring people into health and fitness at various levels as well as to provide with a really unique environment in which people can run and enjoy live music along the marathon,” Stowers says. “It’s inspiring and motivating for people.”


2019 Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon & 1/2 Marathon

Friday, January 17

Noon to 7 p.m.: Health & Fitness Expo Day 1 – Phoenix Convention Center, North Hall A and West Halls A to D 

Saturday, January 18

8 a.m. to Noon: Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K presented by Brooks and KiDS ROCK! – Start Mill Avenue at Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, and ends at Rio Salado Parkway at Ash

9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Health & Fitness Expo Day 2 – Phoenix Convention Center, North Hall A and West Halls A to D 

Sunday, January 19

7:50 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Half Marathon – Start University Drive and College Avenue, Tempe, and finish at Rio Salado Parkway at Ash, Tempe, 

7:50 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Marathon – Start Arizona Center – Van Buren Street and Second Street, Phoenix, and finish at Rio Salado Parkway at Ash, Tempe

7:50 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Start University Avenue at College, Tempe, and finish at Rio Salado Parkway at Ash, Tempe

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