Statement on Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon & ½ Marathon From Scott Dupree, Executive Director, Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance
More than two years ago we began the evaluation process of the Rock ‘n' Roll Marathon Series. The more we learned the more we were impressed, and we began to envision a new, world-class event in Raleigh. An agreement was reached in February of 2013 and preparations commenced immediately.
Last weekend, the Rock ‘n' Roll organizers and our local host partners delivered on that original vision, as the inaugural Rock ‘n' Roll Raleigh debuted on a sun-splashed April morning.
The reaction we have tracked - via social media, mainstream media and e-mail - has been overwhelmingly positive. Clearly, Rock ‘n' Roll Raleigh made a favorable first impression, and we truly appreciate all of the positive feedback and glowing reviews.
We want to send out a huge thanks to the participants -- thousands of Triangle residents and thousands of visitors -- who have shown their enthusiasm since day one, and who thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Your passion and support have been amazing.
On the other hand, Rock ‘n' Roll Raleigh has also served as a lightning rod for criticism in recent weeks, coming from what I believe is a vocal minority. I'd like to take a few moments to set the record straight.
But first, I must acknowledge the two heartbreaking tragedies on the course. We continue to keep those families in our prayers.
Of much less significance were event operations. Of course the inaugural race wasn't perfect. But when is a huge, new event flawless? Yes, the course was hilly. (This just in: Raleigh is hilly, but we'll try to tweak the route for next year). And, yes, there was a traffic backup entering downtown from about 5:30 a.m. to 6:45 a.m. on race morning. (And we have already had discussions about improving traffic flow and parking next year). So obviously there are key areas where we can improve.
But let's look beyond the logistical challenges. Let's take a step back, rising above the operational level, to look at the big picture. Rock ‘n' Roll Raleigh was a wonderful and healthy event with so many positives. It was and is all about fitness, an active lifestyle, fun, fellowship and music. And then, beyond those quality of life benefits, there is the economic boost for the community. The race generated millions of dollars in visitor spending and filled thousands of hotel rooms and restaurants. Initial numbers show that the countywide hotel occupancy rates were up a whopping 16 percent over the same weekend last year. (A full economic impact report will be released in about six weeks.)
And, in a less tangible way, there is the incredible branding and exposure (both national and international) that Raleigh received by being part of a Marathon series with such far-reaching marketing power. More than 12,500 people from 49 states and eight countries registered for Rock ‘n' Roll Raleigh. Thousands more heard about Raleigh and perhaps will consider running or visiting here in the future.
As for Competitor Group (CGI), the company that owns the Rock ‘n' Roll series: Yes, CGI is a for-profit company. Newsflash: THEY MAKE MONEY. Good for them. (They also help create economic impact for their host cities and their charity partners). They also spend money, lots of it - I'd say a small fortune -- in our community as well. And because the Rock ‘n' Roll brand and marketing strength are so far-reaching, CGI is very effective in helping charities raise money. The V Foundation for Cancer Research says it is very pleased with its first year as a Rock ‘n' Roll partner. And I'm sure St. Jude Children's Research Hospital values its relationship with the Rock ‘n' Roll Series stop in Nashville (St. Jude Country Music Marathon & ½ Marathon) and appreciates how much that event benefits the charity, since it's now in its third year as an official partner. That's just one example of many, as Rock ‘n' Roll charity partners have raised more than $300 million over the years.
I've been working in the sports event industry in Raleigh for 16 years, and I can say, without question, that CGI is as professional, organized, prepared, well-intentioned and considerate as any organization I have ever worked with. The staff is friendly, unpretentious and exceedingly patient. Just a high-character group all the way around.
CGI went above and beyond the norm in terms of working with the City of Raleigh, listening to feedback and suggestions, and then responding quickly. They were a true partner with the City every step of the way. CGI is exactly the type of partner we should be proud to do business with, and the Rock ‘n' Roll Marathon Series is exactly the type of event we should be proud to host.
Now, looking ahead, our next step is a comprehensive review & recap meeting that will take place around mid-May with CGI and our many host partners. In that meeting we will identify the primary challenges that arose in 2014, and begin the process of producing an even better event in 2015.
Finally, thanks to our City of Raleigh officials, the Raleigh Police Department, area leaders and local partners (especially WRAL and the V Foundation) who have steadfastly backed Rock ‘n' Roll Raleigh. Thanks to the medical team and our many volunteers. And most importantly thanks to the runners from the Triangle and throughout the U.S. who registered for and enjoyed the inaugural race in Raleigh. You are all "Rock Stars," and your enthusiasm and support are truly appreciated. My hope is that, while we constantly strive to improve the product, we don't allow the cries of the critics to overshadow all of the positives and all of the good associated with this first-class event.
Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance