MADRID, SPAIN — The Competitor Group’s Rock N Roll Marathon series has made its debut in Europe. With its first new races in Scotland and Spain, the series of marathons that has brought big marathons to cities around the United States and Canada has landed on the Continent in style.This weekend’s inaugural Rock N Roll Madrid Marathon showed that the popular format that includes rock bands, post-race concerts and smooth race organization can be transplanted to other parts of the world. The most notable impacts to the 35 year old Maraton de Madrid were a large increase in foreign competitors, from about 1,000 last year to 4,000 this year as well as a steep increase in the number of women competitors. Female participation in the event grew from only 8% in 2011 to more than 25% in the re-flagged 2012 event.
Rock N Roll Madrid drew approximately 19,000 participants across the Marathon and 10K distances with about 12,000 in the marathon and 7,000 in the 10K. Athletes from 78 countries took part in the event.
One notable difference between the Spanish event and many American marathons was a strict six hour time-limit for the marathon. Many races in the United States and Canada offer up to eight hours or more to finish, giving them wider appeal among first-timers and walkers. As Scott Dickey, CEO of Competitor Group told an audience on Saturday evening, “this is a race, not a run.”
Tough but Beautiful
The Rock N Roll Madrid Marathon route was routinely called “tough” by competitors afterward. The course sports nearly 20 kilometers of rolling downhill in the middle and a tough uphill section over its last eight kilometers. As one runner told me after the race, he recalled thinking to himself, “oh yeah, this thing goes up at the end,” when he hit the final long series of hills. Another simply told me it was “a real meat grinder.” A number of runners compared the course to the New York City Marathon, known for its tough bridge ascents and descents.
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