Raleigh city leaders discuss Rock 'n' Roll Marathon pros and cons


On Monday, city leaders ran through what worked and what needs to change before the next Rock 'n' Roll Marathon races through the streets of downtown Raleigh.

This year, routes were changed because of Palm Sunday and the start was delayed because of traffic.

ABC11 spoke with the mayor and other city leaders about the race, and there seems to be the sense that generally the race went well. However, a couple things need to be looked at and probably changed when the marathon returns next year.

To make sure they do not miss anything, city staff, with help from race organizers, will do a full review of the event, looking at everything from transportation to crowd control to the course itself.

In this case, experts say it is not likely the city or race planners could have done much about the two runners who died near the finish line, but it is something they will also look into.

City Council member Russ Stephenson, who lives along the course, says he has heard complaints and expects there are more. Still, the two things he says have come up most are complaints that the course encircled certain neighborhoods, namely Raleigh's historic Oakwood district, and the fact the race was held on Palm Sunday.

"There are still concern about access to churches and access to the neighborhoods that are encircled by the race course, and I think both of those things, along with the ones already discussed, we'll get staff to gather those comments, come up with some solutions to them and hopefully going forward, those impacts will be reduced greatly," Stephenson said.

City leaders say the race will most likely not be on Palm Sunday next year, and the race map may be different to try and cut down on bottlenecks, and make life a little easier on folks who live along the route.

One thing no one wants to talk about is the two people who died running the half marathon. They both collapsed in front of thousands of people, but officials have released next to no information about them.

"I think the fundamental thing is the families asked for privacy and we're going to respect that," said Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane.

That was the standard line, down the line, from McFarlane to Stephenson.

"Our primary concern is for the privacy of the family members," Stephenson said.

ABC11 has learned one of the runners, Derrick Myers, was a competitive soccer player, from Raleigh, in his 30s. ABC11 has also learned that Myers was running the race to raise money to find a cure for Friederich's ataxia, which is a debilitating genetic disorder. Yet, all that information was released from Myers' friends.

Officials have not released the other runner's identity. There is no police report and authorities say they do not investigate natural deaths.

The city sent ABC11 an email suggesting we call the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, based in San Diego. A spokesperson for the event sent ABC11 an email saying they would not give us any more information.

"You know, it's back to, fundamentally, the families of the two runners that passed away asked for privacy so no matter who you are, the city or the producers or anything, that's what you need to do, to respect," McFarlane said.

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