Thousands upon thousands of runners and spectators turned out for the 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon and Half Marathon Sunday morning as music, cheering and sounds of sneakers on the pavement filled the air.
The 16th annual 26.2-mile race began at 6:15 a.m. at 6th Avenue and Quince Street near Balboa Park.
The course then headed through University Avenue and Park Boulevard before moving into downtown San Diego, passing through B Street, 11th Avenue and Broadway, among other streets.
Mile six took runners to Kettner Boulevard, then India Street and San Diego Avenue through Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. By mile 11.4, runners were on Mission Bay Drive, followed by Clairemont Drive, Morena Boulevard and Friars Road, among many other markers.
Mile 19.4 took runners on northbound SR-163 down to 10th Avenue, Robinson Avenue and other surrounding streets.
The highly-anticipated finish line was set up downhill at 13th Street and K Street in downtown San Diego, near Petco Park. See a full map of the 2013 course here.
As runners triumphantly charged downhill towards that finish line, thousands of spectators – some holding enthusiastic signs – cheered loudly from the sidelines.
The endorphins, and emotions, were high.
“It was awesome. I feel so good,” one runner from England told NBC 7 at the finish line.
“It was really good downhill,” said another excited runner.
Pacific Beach resident Ashten Wolfe told NBC 7 she was elated to cross the finish line.
“It was great. I’m dead, but I finished. It’s awesome; it’s an adrenaline rush,” said Wolfe.
Like many participants, Wolfe said she couldn’t help but think of those who took part in the Boston
Marathon nearly two months ago as she ran in San Diego on Sunday.
“My prayers and thoughts go out to all those injured and who passed away in Boston,” said Wolfe. “I hope I can be in Boston one day to remember all those who were injured. I’m sorry that happened to all the families and hope that everyone is recovering and doing well.”
Runner Jason Swingler, 43, traveled to San Diego from Phoenix to participate in the marathon for the first time.
“Being 43, I was just glad to finish. I really love San Diego,” Swingler told NBC 7.
He too said he thought of Boston often during Sunday’s run.
“Boston comes to mind. I’m really glad that there were no incidents today. It’s a great day to run and everyone is having a great time. And that’s the way it should be, right here,” said Swingler.
Local runner Mark Rodriguez said seeing all the spectators on the sidelines made his marathon run a little easier to finish.
“At 10 miles is where I started to cramp up and it was a wrap, but one hour and 42 minutes and a 7:37 pace? I can dig it! It’s okay,” said Rodriguez. “Coming across that finish line and seeing all these people out here, it’s awesome.”
A husband and wife visiting from Mexico City crossed the half marathon finish line together and said the event was a success.
“It’s a pleasure to be here in San Diego. It’s a good race,” said one runner from Mexico City. “It’s the first time that we’ve run a half marathon.”
Local marathon runner and 2012 Olympian Meb Keflezighi also crossed the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon finish line on Sunday and told NBC 7 he was happy to be back in his hometown, running alongside fellow San Diegans.
Fans waited for him at the finish line, including one of his former high school teachers who greeted him with a big hug.
“It’s overwhelmingly great to be back in San Diego. The course was tough, but it’s a great show. This is a great day for San Diego,” said Keflezighi at the finish line.
The Olympian said he ran the half marathon faster this year than he has in the past two years, so he was pleased with his time of 1:02:11. He said he’s actively conditioning every day and will run the New York City Marathon this November.
Keflezighi told NBC 7 his favorite part of the race was running through his old neighborhood and past San Diego High School, the school he graduated from in 1994. He said Arizona Street brought back memories of his first apartment in San Diego.
He said he and his family are planning on moving back to San Diego for good next week.
Keflezighi also couldn’t help but think of Boston during his run.
The Olympic marathon runner was actually in Boston on April 15 cheering for Boston Marathon runners from the grand stand for hours before two bombs exploded near the finish line. He left the area about five minutes before the bombs went off, he told NBC 7 in an interview back in April.
NBC 7's news reporter and anchor Artie Ojeda also competed in Sunday's race, giving a thumbs up at the finish line (photo below).