A Guide to the 2016 Suja Rock ‘n' Roll Marathon

The Rock 'n' Roll 5K is at Balboa Park Saturday, and the marathon and half marathon is Sunday

The 2016 Suja Rock 'n' Roll Marathon returns to the streets of San Diego this weekend and there are many ways to enjoy the race: lace up those sneakers, snag a spot on the sidelines or rock out at the finish line.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with a free expo at the San Diego Convention Center (Halls D & F) featuring the latest health and fitness trends, including running gadgets, fitness clothes and health guides.

The expo is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Rock 'n' Roll runners can swing by to pick up their race packets there and grab a wristband for the post-race party.

On Saturday, the 2016 Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K starts at 7 a.m. on 6th Avenue and Palm Street at Balboa Park. The 5K finishes on Balboa Drive and Olive Street with plenty of musical entertainment.

On Sunday, it’s show time.

Runners – and cheering crowds – will be ready to rock 'n' roll in the Suja Rock 'n' Roll Marathon & Half Marathon, which begins at 6:15 a.m. at 6th Avenue and Quince Street at Balboa Park.

According to marathon organizers, downtown San Diego will be very congested by 5 a.m. With over 30,000 runners and 60,000 spectators along the route, it’s smart to use public transportation. Some road closures will be in effect, as seen here.

A full map of the 2016 Rock 'n' Roll course is available here.

If you’re looking for a spot to cheer on your favorite Rock ‘n’ Roll runner, consider parking at Qualcomm Stadium and taking the Green Line, which arrives at the 5th Avenue trolley station near the race starting line. There are also multiple other San Diego MTS trolley stations located within walking distance from the race route. To buy trolley tickets for the race weekend, click here.

Meanwhile, lots of popular restaurants in North Park will open early Sunday, at 6 a.m., including Ritual Tavern, Waypoint Public, El Comal, Breakfast Republic and Cardamom Cafe. Spectators can grab a bite and relax before the runners pass by between 6:15 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. in that area.

In Normal Heights, spectators can cheer on runners on miles four through seven. To watch the half marathon from there, drive to Adams Avenue from Interstate 805 and exit El Cajon Blvd. eastbound. Head to the east of 34th Street and turn left into the neighborhoods. Find a parking spot and walk over to the running route.

Spectators can also go to Mission Hills to catch the race from another scenic spot and wave at runners as they round miles 14 to 20.

The marathon finish line is at Waterfront Park along the Embarcadero. To cheer for the runners as they race to the end, ride the trolley to the Santa Fe Depot station, which is walking distance from Waterfront Park along the Embarcadero.

The finish line is also the site of the post-race celebration, which will feature free concerts open to the public until 2:30 p.m., including headliner Gavin DeGraw performing from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. There’s also an awards ceremony for marathon runners at Waterfront Park at 10:15 a.m.

After the race, participants can also head over to the Whiskey Girl restaurant at 5th Avenue and G Street in downtown San Diego for brunch and another shindig. Food will be served at 10 a.m. and music and karaoke will follow. The eatery plans to offer a 15 percent discount on food to marathon runners until 4 p.m., plus a free Michelob Ultra. Runners will also be treated to other freebies and raffle giveaways.

Ready? Set? Go.

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