Dallas Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon Tips (& why I ain’t runnin it)

This weekend is the 5th annual Dallas Rock n Roll Half Marathon.  I have run the previous 4, but not this year.  Here’s are the 3 top reasons why:

1) They no longer support a charity.  They decided a couple years ago to be a purely for-profit race.

2) They have always been expensive, and now even more so.  Sorry, I ain’t payin $150 to run a half marathon in my back yard.

3) The entertainment has gotten weak.

My sis and I running the race a few years ago. I'm the one on the right.

My sis and I running the race a few years ago. I’m the one on the right.

It’s too bad.  When the race first started, it was a lot of fun.  The course was lined with high-energy bands and supporters.  The post race party included a a cool headliner concert and some free beers and grub.

My sis and me.

My sis and me and a lost man behind us.

In my opinion, it’s not like that anymore.  The race just seemed to lose it’s buzz over the years.  For example, the post race concert went from acts like Better Than Ezra and Bret Michaels, to (and this is no joke) some random 4th place finisher from American Idol from a few years ago.  Who?!?!

He spells his first name with only 1 "T".  Maybe I should go by Scot?

Bret spells his first name with only 1 “t”. Maybe I should go by Scot?

So in the end, I decided to skip this year and instead look for more locally-run, charity supporting races.  Funny thing, RnR sent me an email trying to entice me to become a 5-timer in this race.  What was the incentive they offered, you ask? Answer:  A key chain bottle opener!!!!  WOW!!!!!  A key chain!!!!! What an amazing offer!!!!!  How could I resist!?!?!  Sawwy RnR organizers, you’ll have to step up your game more than that.

One of the 4 medals I currently own from this event.

One of the 4 medals I currently own from this event.

That said, I have a ton of friends running this race.  And since I’ve run it 4 times already, here’s my tips:

1) Don’t pay for Expo parking.  They want like 15 bucks or so.  Park on the street instead.  You should be able to find a metered spot just as close, and it may be free (or just a couple bucks).

At the expo.  I got several compliments on "my style", so I'm never going to change outfits again.

At the expo. I got several compliments on “my style”, so I’m never going to change outfits again.

2) Race day – get there EARLY!!!  The start and finish are two locations, and they are not close.  If you are parking at the finish and taking the shuttle over to the start, you’re gonna need extra time (they have had severe issues with the shuttle system in the past).  If you can, have someone drop you off at the start, that’s the best option.

Another of the medals.  And some tin foil.

Another of the medals. And some tin foil.

3) Since you’ll be there early, you’ll need to find a place to hang out until the race starts.  If you’re lucky, you can sneak into the convention center – it’s shelter and they have potties.  Last year we went to the Omni hotel.  They were nice to let all the runners chill.  They also have potties and shelter.  And I believe they had a Starbucks.

4) The race doesn’t start until 8 am for some reason.  The sun will be up.  If it’s a warm day, you will be blasted by the sun from the back and the front as it reflects off the Omni hotel.  Have sunblock and your shades ready!

Some years it's hawt, some years its cowd.

Some years it’s hawt, some years its cowd.

5) There are a lot of first timers at this event.  Resist the urge to go out sprinting at the start (like they will be).  Keep it in check.  Remind yourself that you’ll see them later (when you pass them).

The ferris wheel on the medal wasn't to scale.

The ferris wheel on the medal wasn’t to scale.

6) The first 8-9 miles are a general slow incline.  Conserve your energy.  Don’t burn out getting up the hill.  Leave something in the tank for the down hill.

Who doesn't love a 9 mile incline?

Who doesn’t love a 9 mile incline?

7) Yes, what goes up, must come down.  The last 3-4 miles are mostly downhill.  Enjoy it.  Hopefully you didn’t burn the tank to get there.

8) Finish strong!

9) Find your friends and celebrate with the cooler of adult bevvies you had stashed in the trunk of your car, which was waiting at the finish area.  You did pack a cooler, didn’t you?

After the race with some friends and a giant ferris bueller wheel.

After the race with some friends and a giant ferris bueller wheel.

So there you go.  I wish all my friends running this race the best of luck!  And I wish all my running strangers luck too!  If it’s your fist 13.1, I send you congrats in advance!

Anyone else have any tips?  Who would you like to see in concert after a race?  Sup?

-Scott

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49 thoughts on “Dallas Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon Tips (& why I ain’t runnin it)

  1. RnR is kinda losin’ it as far as I’m concerned . . . STL wasn’t so bad last year, minus the FREEZING cold temps mother nature gave us. I ran Steamboat last year and no other race will be the same after that. High expectations my friend.

    • Yeah, you can’t do much about the weather. Though I’ve begged them to start at 7 instead of 8. But they won’t change. If it’s cold, it’s cold. But if it’s hot, I’d rather have the race start in the dark. I’ve now run 6 total RnR’s and yes, they are somewhat getting disappointing. I guess that’s what happens when you put dollars in front of people. I’ll have to look into Steamboat. Hilly I’m guessing.

  2. Excellent advice. I won’t be running it either, but because of my foot. I’ll be with the TNSR gang cheering near the finish line.

  3. You posted some great tips!! Also, that’s not cool that Dallas Rock n Roll no longer supports a charity…:( Also, crowd support and bands are so important for motivation, so I see why you’re not doing it.

    • Yeah, I actually contacted them when I couldn’t find the attatched charity. They wrote back and said that if I want to run for a charity I can join Team in Training or such. Booooo.
      The bands on the course has gotten weak. Each year there seem to be fewer and fewer bands. And they always seem to be on break when I pass. I usually finish in the top 10 percent, so why are they on break already?!?!

  4. I haven’t done a race where there is a concert afterwards, but would definitely love to find one! It’s a bummer that this race is for profit now. I wouldn’t be a fan of running it either. Loved your tips and the pictures! As always Scott you are quite entertaining.

    • Thanks Jenna! I try to have fun! I’ve been to lots of races that have concerts at the end. Why not celebrate your accomplishment with a party?

  5. Aww that’s lame (on their part), but great tips! My boyfriend’s uncle spells his name “Scot.” But he did it before it was cool 😉 Definitely LOLed at your ferris wheel comment.

    • Ha, we have a local high school who’s mascot is the fighting Scots (like the Scottish). I thought about buying a shirt, but I’d have to draw on the extra ‘t’.
      I actually thought about you when I wrote that caption!!!! Glad you got it!

  6. Ferris Bueller wheel. You gave me the giggles.

  7. I signed up for RNR this year, but totally forgot to even check if a charity was involved…hmmm. now I wonder!?

    • I don’t know if each city is different or not. I just remember they always had the charity on the logo, but then it disappeared one year. So I contacted them and they told me that if I want to benefit a charity that I can sign up with Team in Training. Gee thanks.

  8. Thanks for the tips! I now know what to expect if I ever make the long journey down there 🙂 RnR is doing a run here in Vancouver this year which I’m hopefully getting a free entry into…the hotel I work for partners with RnR and I’m their “Property Champion” so no one-fiddy entry fees for me! I hope anyway, haha…

    • If you do ever come to Dallas for a race, let me know for sure! Nice on the free entry. I would’ve run it if I had a free entry. Congrats Property Champion! Keep that skrilla in your pocket!

  9. I’m another who is becoming anti RnR. The Phoenix one charged for tracking ($5) which I thought was ridiculous considering how much it already costs. But, I’ll be doing RnR Madrid next month so…..lol!

    • For real? That’s horse poop. It’s also wrong that they charge the spectators to park here. They don’t charge the runners if you get there early enough, but at a certain point they start charging – and so it’s all the people who are going down to support their friends/family get gorged. Ugh.
      Madrid will be amazing!

  10. I hate how much races cost. Even when they go to a charity, they cover their expenses first, and who knows how much their “expenses” are… There’s a half marathon here for the Children’s Hospital. It costs $20, but you have to donate/raise another $40 to the hospital. At least I know where my money is going.

    • I hear ya. They did a news story here about a race and how little they actually gave to charity. The race response was basically “so what, we’re here to make money”. The charity said they were glad to get anything. So I doubt it’ll change.
      That children’s hospital sounds good! I was looking at a half in New Orleans that goes to children. I think the entry is $60, but if you raise $250 for the charity, then you get a free entry!

  11. Great tips. Yep, many series seem to have jumped the ship in terms of pricing for their events and reducing the swag, and or perks of the race. They can, due to the demand, but don’t you feel a little ripped off when you supported them in the early years? *sigh. Even some of these so-called charity races, I’ve been reading about; the percentage that actually goes to the charity is so tiny, the races are making huge profit, using charity volunteers, and in turn, supporting them minimally-enough to say, “they supported them”. While I have no problem with events making money, it’s a little shady for them to call them a supporter of a charity, when it’s pennies on the dollar.

    • Thanks! And I agree. So many people are doing races now, that they keep charging what they want. A lot of these new runners don’t realize how cheap it used to be – even a few years ago. And I agree about the pennies on the dollar. There was a news story here a couple weeks ago that followed up with a charity about how much money the race gave them – it was a tiny fraction of what the race made. Bummer.

  12. A keychain?? How could you resist?!?!

  13. Kind of sad it’s so expensive. Luckily, my upcoming Rock n Roll was a gift.

  14. $150 for a half if nuts. I put my name in the hat for Chicago and that was $185 for at least an extra 13.1! I like your reasons for not doing this one. I have been wanting to do a RnR but now I might have to do some research. Bummer. Hope you have fun watching/cheering.

    • Tell me about it! I hope you get in to Chicago!
      The RnR series has kind of become a monopoly. A couple years ago I ran on of their 13.1’s in New Orleans. On the shuttle after the race, a lady next to me said how sad it was that they are going to cities and basically swallowing the local established race and making it one of theirs. I didn’t know what she meant at the time, but now I understand.

  15. TartanJogger

    What? The offer of a keyring didn’t work? 😮 Good for you, I can understand why you’re not running it.

  16. Great post. The closest big city to me is DC and so many of the races in DC are overpriced and not even organized spectacularly. I’m running a small town marathon instead with only a couple hundred runners, fabulous and friendly organizers, and a price tag that is half as steep.

    • That race sounds awesome. I had only done big half/full marathons until last year I ran the Flying Pirate Half in OBX, NC. It was smaller and it was amazing. I loved the vibe and how supportive everyone was. sounds like yours – everyone was so friendly!

  17. Great tips, Scot. (I like the new spelling:) )It kind of bugs me when races change into huge ‘for profit’ races. I guess some good that can come out of it is more tourists staying in hotels and eating in restaurants to bring money to a city?
    Our first marathon was RnRAZ in 2004 (their first year). Goo Goo Dolls played the post-race concert. We did the Denver RnR half last year, and I had never heard of the band.

    • Hahaha, thank you! Great Scot!
      Yes, it definitely helps the cities! But it unfortunately hurts the runners’ pockets. And it hurts the charities they kind of screw over. And it bugs me that the deep pockets of these big races can allow them to kind of overshadow all the traditional smaller local races. I used to justify the higher price of the RnR races because I got a free concert as part of it. But like you said, they went from being actual headliners to no names. I ran the New Orleans one twice. First year was Bowling for Soup. Next year was a local zydeco band – same this year too. Oh well.

  18. Erm Bret also wears eyeliner … And well. Maybe you should try that also. Maybe not.

    It sounds like it was fun the first year or so. And I’d imagine for those who’ve never done it, it’ll be fun for them. But it’s a bummer the it’s gone down the pooper.

  19. That is a bummer. I have heard similar things about other RnR races. There is one here in Philadelphia. A lot of people do not like how commercialized it has become. I can’t believe you didn’t go for the key chain! Hahahah

    • Yeah, it seems they’re all going down hill. Less about the experience and more about the dollar. I’ve done 6 (4 Dallas, 2 New Orleans), and it’s definitely suffered a decline. I know what you mean about the commercialization – my buddy said that at the expo this year, it has gotten weaker – he assumed because they charge too much for vendor space.

  20. elihawkins6

    I’ve never run an RNR event, but I’ve considered it and have friends who keep asking when I will. I keep telling them that at all that expense it’s a for-profit race company and they always look so confused… I’m a little shocked that people didn’t realize that… Thank you for saying so, I no longer feel like I’m the only person who pays attention to where the race fees go. Good advice, too! You know, for any race really.

    • Thank you! So many people here do it “just to be seen”. Don’t get me wrong, if it gets people running, I’m all for that, but the new runners don’t realize how most races were started to raise money for a charity. I wish it were still that way, but it looks like it’s going the other way – not just RnR, but a lot of races now-a-days.

      • elihawkins6

        Between loosing sight of the “good cause” and the “after party”, the other “new trend” of having to “pay into a lottery” (and then paying more to register if you get chosen from the lottery) is something else I’m not liking the looks of.

        There’s an awful lot of us paying for the chance to run somewhere – and not a lot of us caring whether the money is pocketed or given to a charity… One of the things I always liked about doing a race is that I can also put that money toward something good… Without that, I might as well write a donation check and just have a good long run with my running group! But that’s me, I guess. I like having a cause… a reason to run. I can have social runs any time I want. That’s the bonus to being active in a big running group and being on a local team. What I want is my running to have an impact and to inspire others.

        Any of that make sense, or did I just wax philosophical a little there on your page? Sorry.

        Have a good one!

      • Yes, I agree! The whole lottery system that some races are going to is insane. And one thing that really bugs me is how all the races now are jacking up the price each month – Even 5k’s are doing this. I’m sorry, but it’s hard for me to decide 12 months out if I will be running your race!
        It’s sad how this has become the new normal and that new runners accept it as how it just is. Haha, I feel like a grumpy old man – In my day races cost a nickel! Haha.

      • elihawkins6

        hah! Yeah. This is why I’m starting to really like the smaller local “cause” races that are everywhere around here in the spring and summer. Last year I ran two really well done 5ks, one for 9/11 memorial and one for disabled veterans, and they were both awesome… never mind that the field was ..uh.. “beginner” enough that i actually placed in one and was first gal overall in the other… 😀

      • Ahh very cool! You gotta love those smaller races – and yes, it can mean an easier chance of placing! I got 2nd or 3rd overall at a 5k last year that had about 500 people. It was benefitting a friend of a friend’s little daughter’s charity. Very cool!

  21. I’m really glad you clarified which one you were in that picture with your sister. You must be identical twins, yes?

    As hilarious as this post was, it’s also totally true and very informative. That’s so lame that they have totally gone for-profit. It sounds like you missed out on a super cool keychain though.

    • Haha, thanks! I always try to come up with a silly caption for my pictures – glad you caught it! But no, we’re not twins. I’m the oldest and she’s the youngest by about 6 years. But thanks for thinking I look so young!

      Haha, that keychain email insulted me. And they sent it like 3 times. It was almost as insulting as their for-profit decision.

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