City of Oaks Marathon
By John Kane Jr.
Raleigh has become accustomed to being at the top of lists such as “Best Places to Live,” “Fastest Growing City,” and “Best City for Raising a Family.” However, when Raleigh is compared to other cities that also frequent the top of these lists such as Denver, Richmond and San Francisco, our city lacks something that each of them have: a marquee, locally-produced marathon event. The Colfax Denver Marathon attracts more than 10,000 runners annually, andRichmond and the San Francisco’s events pull more than 15,000 and 25,000, respectively. All of these events generate strong economic impact for their respective cities and are a source of pride and enjoyment every year for their residents.
Raleigh residents, local media and local government have a strong history of supporting road races. This is exemplified by the 1981 Great Raleigh Road Race. More than 4,000 runners took to the streets of Raleigh to participate in this race that was covered live by WRAL (video of coverage: Runoaks.com/Race1981) and finished in front of thousands of cheering spectators. Despite the fact that the number of people who finished a race in the United States grew from five million in 1990 to over 17 million in 2015, Raleigh’s longest running race – the City of Oaks Marathon – had roughly the same number of participants in 2015 as the 1981 Great Raleigh Road Race.
The City of Oaks Marathon, half marathon and 10k is celebrating its 10th anniversary this November, and it will be the first chapter in a new story for a race that has the potential to become Raleigh’s marquee running event. There are several key elements required for the City of Oaks Marathon to become a nationally renowned race. One of these elements is to create a rich event experience before, during and after the race itself, which requires investment. In early 2016, Race 13.1 – a locally owned event management company – took over the City of Oaks Marathon, and the company is making a number of investments in this year’s event: a more robust and experiential two-day health and fitness expo; on-course entertainment with drumlines and DJs; a post-race party complete with a food truck rodeo, multiple bands, beer and food; and a jumbotron screen in the finish area live-streaming the race.
In addition to Race 13.1’s investment in the event, there are three other elements needed to make the City of Oaks Marathon a nationally renowned event:
• Spectator support – as a runner, there is nothing better than having streets lined with people cheering for you along the course. So if you can’t run, come out and cheer, support the runners, our great city, and join in the fun at the free post-race party.
• Media Coverage – The News & Observer is a longtime supporter of the race. In addition, coverage like the 1981 Great Raleigh Road Race received from WRAL, ABC11 or another local network helps to raise the event to another level.
• Local Government Support – the City was wise to recruit and support the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon coming to Raleigh as it has been a great addition to our city in many ways, but Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh is just one of more than 30 Rock ‘n’ Roll events; it will never be Raleigh’s hometown marathon. With the right government support, we can create a race course in 2017 that will highlight the best of our city, allowing runners to see many of the reasons why Raleigh is the best place to live in the United States.
So what are you waiting for? Support our great city and run in the City of Oaks Marathon, Half Marathon or 10k on November 6th. If you can’t run, come out to the race, enjoy the party and cheer on the runners, helping to make this a truly memorable event for everyone who traveled from near and far to experience our great city.
For more information on the marathon, please visit: CityOfOaksMarathon.com.