Rock and run: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon returns for its final Oceanfront performance

The big event combines running with live music. But this year, organizers decided this will be their last event in Virginia Beach.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — One of the biggest races in Virginia Beach is making a comeback.

This weekend marks the first Rock ‘n’ Roll race in a year and a half since the pandemic shut everything down. But it’s a bittersweet symphony; This is also the last one in Virginia Beach.

This will be the 20th and final edition of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach half marathon, which over the years has attracted thousands of runners for a one-miler, 5k, or half marathon.  

Race director Adam Zocks said a lot of factors went into the decision to end the big race – and it wasn’t an easy decision, but ultimately it was a mutual one with city leaders.

“It was time for us to move on,” Zocks said. “It was the right time to make this our last one.”

Dr. Howard Roesen is a legacy runner. That means he hasn’t missed a single half marathon in the two decades it’s been around.

“I think some of it was luck,” he joked. “You know looking back at it to say I’ve done it 20 years in a row, the 13 miles, it’s kind of nice to say that.”

From injuries to busy weekend events and even illness, Dr. Roesen never let anything break his streak.

“I did have a couple of injuries, but it didn’t prevent me from running. One wedding I had luckily was Sunday night instead of like a Saturday… One time I had a fever, it wasn’t that bad, so I ran through it,” Dr. Roesen said.

“It is kind of sad. I was hoping to keep doing it until – well, I couldn’t do it anymore.” 

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach half marathon is more than just a race — it’s a party.

This weekend, you can expect runners from all over the country to hit the Virginia Beach boardwalk for one last run full of live music and one of the best views in the city. 

“Virginia Beach was the first half marathon that people really traveled for. It changed the running scene,” Zocks said. “Bringing people to Virginia Beach to experience not just the race, but the city.”  

Organizers are searching for volunteers, and it’s not too late to register for the half marathon.

You can sign up to run or volunteer this Friday at the event’s Health & Fitness Expo at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

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