Rocket City Marathon Expands in 2022 – Registration Deadline Approaches for Full Family Event – The Madison Record


HUNTSVILLE- There is less than a month left to register for the 2022 race of the annual Rocket City Marathon. Those who register until December 2 can do so for a $125 registration fee.

This year there are major changes to what has become one of the fastest marathon courses in the country. For the first time in the history of the race, the 26.2-mile race will be held on a Sunday, different from its usual Saturday date since the race started in 1977 from the top of Monte Sano mountain to a finish on the UAH campus. Race officials decided on the change to accommodate other events surrounding the race, including Expo RCM, 5k and 10k races, the Kids Marathon and two half marathon events.

“There were a lot of people trying to run a few of these events on the same day and on the same course,” said Dwayne DeBardelaben, co-race director with his wife, Dana. “We had discussions with the Huntsville Athletic Commission, our main sponsor for the events, because we knew if we expanded the event it would attract more people from out of town and out of state. We have visited other cities with similar event schedules and these seemed to have worked.

This year, the event has been extended to three days in an attempt to allow visitors from outside of Huntsville to take their time visiting the immediate area, which will mean additional revenue for Huntsville and Madison County.

“We presented to the Commission who spoke with Mayor Tommy Battle and others, and then we heard they supported the idea,” DeBardelaben added. “Also, during the marathons last Saturday, we had problems with traffic restrictions, so we contacted ALDOT and they quickly gave us permission to do things that we hadn’t done before. This year we ran down a small section of Governor’s Drive and other areas that we weren’t able to use. I attribute these changes to the Huntsville Athletic Commission which has helped us immensely.

Present in Huntsville for 45 years, the Rocket City Marathon features a flat, fast course and is an official qualifier for the Boston Marathon. The course begins at Big Spring Park across from the Von Braun Center, passes through parts of historic Huntsville, passes through the grounds of the US Space and Rocket Center and the Botanical Gardens before ending at the Von Braun Center arena.

This year, the course will be overhauled in a major way. New areas where the course will take place will include historic Blossomwood, past Maple Hill Cemetery and through Five Points and past Veterans Park before heading to the Clinton Avenue and Governor’s Drive locations before descending Holmes Avenue winding through the UAH campus, then past the Space & Rocket Center and the Botanical Gardens towards the finish line located inside the South Concourse of the Von Braun Center.

In addition to the change of days and general race route, the event will include two half marathon races as part of the marathon. Those who choose to run the first half of the marathon for their half marathon getaway will start with Marathoners and finish at Campus 805 on Clinton Avenue. The second half marathon will begin at the UAH campus and complete their experience at the marathon finish line. The second half-marathon is sold out with 800 participants. The first half marathon is still open for registration.

The 5K and 10K races will each have a cap of 500 participants with runners completing their exciting adventures inside South Hall amongst the RCA Expo.

Schedule of events includes: Friday, December 9 – RCA Expo, Presented by Barrios Technology, 11:00am-8:00pm inside VBC South Concourse, Packet Pick-Up for all races 11:00am-8:00pm, Huntsville Historic Group Races – 3 miles 3:30-4:30 p.m., RCM Race Dinner with guest speaker at VBC 6:00 p.m.; Saturday, December 10 – 10k run at 7:00 a.m., 5k run at 9:00 a.m., children’s marathon, RCA exhibition, package pick-up for marathon and half-marathon races; Sunday December 11 – Marathon Race 7:00am, Half-Marathon Race 9:00am, Second Half-Marathon, Post-Race Party (VBC South Hall) 10:30am-2:00pm, Prize Giving 1: 3:00pm Post-race stretching will be provided by Therapy South.

In 2021, the marathon brought together 1185 runners, 700 of whom took part in the half-marathon. This year the preliminary numbers are higher than they were a year ago, so race directors are gearing up for three exciting days of fun for the whole family.

“We definitely need volunteers to help run the events as more volunteers are needed this year due to expansion,” added DeBardelaben. “If you can dedicate a few hours on Saturday and Sunday, that would be helpful for the outcome of the races. Volunteers can register on the race site.

The main sponsor contribution this year is the Huntsville Sports Commission with additional corporate sponsors from Fleet Feet of Huntsville/Madison, SportsMED Orthopedic Surgery & Spine Center and Publix. Medical support at each event is provided by HEMSI while communications along the route are handled by the Huntsville Amateur Radio Club and traffic control monitored by the Huntsville Police Department.

The Rocket City Marathon serves as the qualifying race for the Boston Marathon and will serve as the host marathon this year for the RRCA State Marathon Championships. The annual RCM show will again feature a wide variety of vendors with their support of the annual race.

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