RALEIGH, N.C. - The Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, described as a "26.2-mile block party," will be headed through downtown Raleigh in only a few weeks. To help you get ready to run, Out and About has created this quick-guide to the race.

This musically-themed marathon kicks off April 11-12 with a Health and Fitness Expo at the Raleigh Convention Center. Race participants must pick up their packets at the expo. This event is open to the public, so make sure to stop by and check out the latest in running technologies, fitness apparel, health and nutrition info and more.

Sold Out and Team V:

Already registered for this sold out race? Consider joining Team V, which is raising money for The V Foundation for Cancer Research, founded by the late Jim Valvano, legendary North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN commentator. Since 1993, The Foundation has funded more than $115 million in cancer research grants nationwide. Runners can sign up to join Team V on the V Foundation website. In addition to being fully reimbursed for the race entry fee, you can also raise money toward cancer research and enjoy some VIP perks, like pre- and post-race meals and private restrooms.

Course and road closures:

The race starts at 7 a.m. on April 13 on South Salisbury Street between Davie and Cabarrus streets and finishes at West Lenior Street at South Salisbury. See a map of the course or check out videos of the route.

Trying to navigate traffic? The race website has an interactive road closure map.

Race organizers have been working with downtown Raleigh churches to develop alternate routes for Palm Sunday worshippers. They have posted individual directions for dozens of congregations and will have officers directing traffic to and from houses of worship along the route.

Map: Route and Bands

The marathon begins and ends in the heart of downtown Raleigh, and runners will wind their way east to Chavis Park, north through the Oakwood neighborhood before making a turn to the west. The course passes William Peace University and Cameron Village. Runners of the half marathon make the turn on the campus of North Carolina State University and head back to the start/finish line. Those who choose to run the full 26.2-mile marathon continue west on Hillsborough Street and past PNC Arena before circling back downtown.Gear check info:

Before you enter your assigned corral, drop-off your pre-race/post-race clothing and belongings at the Gear Check. Each participant will receive a large, durable gear bag at the Health and Fitness Expo when you pick up your packet. Gear Check trucks will be arranged alphabetically and by truck number near the Start Line. Attach your gear tag to your gear bag before you leave it with the Gear Check crew. After the race, reclaim your checked bag at the designated Gear Check area. Do not leave any valuables, cash or jewelry in your gear bag. Remember to claim your bag before close of the Finish Line Festival on race day.

Wave Start/Corral Systems

In an effort to provide everyone with as comfortable a run as possible, the Wave Start has been incorporated in most Rock ‘n' Roll Marathon Series events. Participants are assigned to an appropriate corral based on the projected finishing time submitted on their entry form. Typically, there are multiple waves assigned to several of the finishing times. All spectators should be aware of this when organizing their viewing schedule for the day.

When the gun fires, the first corral will be released. The rest of the participants will be held at the start line. At pre-determined intervals the next corral will be released.

By using this staggered starting method, the pack will be spread out and allow every runner to settle into their racing rhythm from the first step right to the finish line.

Course Time Limits:

To ensure that roads reopen to vehicular traffic at the scheduled times, the course time limits will be STRICTLY ENFORCED. Participants must maintain a pace faster than the course time limits in order to complete the race on closed city streets. A cut-off location will be enforced on the course; runners or walkers who do not reach the cut-off location by this time will be stopped and shuttled to the finish line area. Please note - this is timing tag time, not gun time. Course time limits begin when the last participant and Tail Vehicle cross the start line.

When and where to watch:

Prime spectator times are between 9 and 10 a.m. as the bulk of the half-marathoners cross the finish line and between 10 a.m. and noon as the marathoners complete the course. The winning runners are expected to complete the half marathon in about an hour and the full marathon in about 2 1/2 hours.

Here are some of the suggested spots to view the marathon:

Moore Square (Blount Street and E. Hargett Street) - Mile 2
Peace Street and North Blount Street - After Mile 6
Hillsborough Street and Pullen Rod - Mile 9/22.2
Trinity Road and Hurricane Alley Avenue - Mile 11.8/13.3/18.5 (Stadium)
Hargett Street and South Boylan Avenue - 12.7/25.8

Where to park:

The city released a list of three parking decks that officials recommend runners, families and friends use:

Blount Street Deck, at 314 S. Blount St.
Moore Square Deck, at 233 S. Wilmington St.
Wilmington Station Deck, at 115 S. Wilmington St.
Roads will be closed starting at 6 a.m. April 13 and city officials recommend that those seeking to park downtown be in place by that time.

Roads will open to traffic after runners have cleared the area. Race organizers said they expect all roads to be open after 4 p.m.

Finish line:

After the race, meet up with your loved ones at the Family Reunion area and relish in your post race accomplishment with refreshments and live music at the finish line stage. With so many people competing, you should designate a meet-up location before the race. The Family Reunion area will post tall, clearly-marked signs by letter (A - Z), so be sure to coordinate and plan to meet at a pre-determined letter.

Post-Race Concert at the Finish Line Festival:

It wouldn't be rock ‘n' roll without a live concert at the finish line where you can celebrate your accomplishment with some of rock music's favorite acts! Rock band New Politics will be headlining the concert at Red Hat Amphitheater, which is free and open to the public.