The sound of pounding feet and cheering echoed throughout San Diego Sunday as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half Marathon took over the city.
Freeways and roads shut down to make way for the annual races, both of which kicked off at 6th Avenue and Quince Street.
Among the runners was the 2014 Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi, an icon of the San Diego running community.
“We can’t put in words or a sentence, but it’s just wonderful to be home. I live about 2.3 miles away from here. I train here every day, and to be here at this race is just an amazing experience,” Keflezighi.
San Diegan Ben Bruce reigned triumphant as the overall winner of the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon with a time of 02:23:49.
"It's great to win in my hometown. I mean, that course goes past where the cross country championships was a couple of years ago, past... where my high school won CIF sectional, so it means a lot," said Bruce, tearing up.
The soon-to-be dad said he was thinking about his little boy along the way: "It got me through the last few miles when it hurt."
The first woman to finish the marathon, 23-year-old Anna Corrigan of Washington, D.C., said her goal was to finish under three hours. She crossed the finish line at 2:44:27.
"Oh my gosh, the energy was amazing. I don't think I could have gotten through it without everyone cheering and all the bands," said Corrigan. This was her first marathon.
As for the half marathon, Solomon Deksisa won in 01:00:10, and Birhane Dibaba was the fastest woman, finishing in 01:09:32.
While runner Harriette Thompson may not have had the fastest time, she surely had one of the most inspirational stories of the day.
She took on the marathon at 91 years old.
"I guess I could say it's never too late, and you feel wonderful if you -- I'm sure that if you exercise, you certainly know the benefits of it," said Thompson.
As she ran her 15th Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Marathon, she raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Thompson herself suffers from squamous cell carcinoma on her legs, and she said she's recovering now from nine recent radiation treatments.
Other unique characters took their turn on the track.
One was runner Darren Weissman – a.k.a. Doctor Dribble. He trains basketball players for a living, and he said someone asked him if he could do anything while dribbling two basketballs.
Weissman thought he’d find out by running the marathon while dribbling a ball in each hand. He did it in part to raise money for his charity Doctor Dribble’s Helping Hands, which provides free basketball clinics for underprivileged kids.
“Along the course, people ask me, ‘Oh, well can you put it between your legs?’ Oh yeah, no problem, I’ll go between the legs; I’ll go behind the back,” Weissman said, showing the maneuvers. “I’m having fun out on the court, just making people happy.”
Both races started by taking runners through Hillcrest, but from there, the marathon and half marathon diverged.
The half marathon wound north through University Heights and west toward Normal Heights. With an abrupt turn south, the course ran through North Park and meandered to Balboa Park.
Finally, runners reached the finish line downtown at Petco Park.
Of course, the full marathon participants had more of a trek.
From Hillcrest, their path turned south through Balboa Park, wound through downtown and turned north onto India Street. Their journey took them to the far north side of Mission Bay Park, and from there, they veered south and made their way onto Friars Road.
Taking State Route 163 and Park Boulevard, the runners ran back through Balboa Park until they reached the same finish line at Petco Park.
At the end of the course, organizers proved why it's called a "Rock 'n' Roll" marathon.
Petco Park was filled with the smooth voice of singer Aloe Blacc, known for his hits "Wake Me Up" and "The Man."