Following two years of cancellations and delays, the St. Jude’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon is returning to its normal April schedule. On April 23-24, the annual marathon, half marathon, and 5K runs are back, and Outsider recently caught up with race director Erika Larsen to talk about all things related to this weekend’s events.
Previously known as the Country Music Marathon, the annual races have been held in Nashville, Tennessee since 2000. Along with a return to the event’s usual April dates, live musical performances are back this year as well. After canceling the 2020 race due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and having to reschedule 2021’s April event to November, things are finally getting back to normal in 2022.
“We haven’t raced on this weekend in April in three years, which is crazy,” Larsen said. “We’ve been on this weekend for 21 years in Nashville. The community really knows it as a staple weekend, they just know to come out and support. It’s been one of those known things in the city, so we’re really happy to have it back on the calendar.”
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon is occurring only five months after their previous event last year. That’s a first in the event’s more than 20-year history. Most training programs for marathon runners take about five months for peak conditioning. It’s cutting it close this year, so event organizers are recognizing those that ran in November and are already returning to run once again. Marathon organizers created the “encore medal,” which is a special edition medal to be given out only to those who have participated in both November and this April’s events.
“Returning to our normal weekend, we really wanted to celebrate that,” Larsen said of return runners who will receive the encore medal. “We’re excited to have all those people with us [once again], and it will be a really cool medal to celebrate them as well. Really just wanted to highlight those people that stuck with us and for continuing to be with us over what’s been a really long two and a half years.”
Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon Registrations Back On the Rise
The Nashville marathon’s registration numbers show that numerous runners from November’s event are returning. As of early last week, more than 17,000 runners were expected to participate in 2022. During our interview on Wednesday, Larsen shared that registrations continued to rise and she is now expecting around 23,000 participants this weekend.
In November, only about 12,000 people participated due to the pandemic and colder running conditions. Previously, upwards of 25,000 runners have run in the April event. Organizers fully anticipate getting back to 25,000 plus participants in the near future, and are already close to it. In only five months, registrations have almost doubled for the 2022 marathon.
“As you can see, we’re slowly climbing back up to that number,” Larsen explained. “And I think it’s because people see that we’re back. They see that it’s normal, if you will, and everything’s going back to normal. Last year was a little bit of a bare bones [event] logistically just to get back to executing it again. But this year we’re really bringing the experience completely back from Nashville music to a whole beer garden to food vendors. We really want people to hang out and enjoy the event.”
Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon Route Changes for 2022
Compared to November’s race, the 2022 Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon has made some adjustments to the course. The event has removed the greenway portion of the race located in Shelby Bottoms. As an alternate, race organizers added a new part of the course that’s located in North Nashville.
In addition, race organizers are moving the finish line back to South First Street. For the 2021 race, the event shifted the finish line to the East side of Nissan Stadium at Interstate Drive and Russell Street. Runners will now once again have great views of the Nashville skyline as they finish the marathon.
“This year we wanted to go back to what we’ve done in years past with the finish line and the festival area being on the river side of the stadium. I think it flows better, great photo ops, it’s close to the pedestrian bridge,” Larsen said of the route. “And overall it’s just a really good experience because you can see the Nashville skyline and you really feel like you’re encompassing all of Nashville.”
Another welcomed change to the event is the return of concerts at the marathon. Last year, the race did not schedule any live performances due to the ongoing pandemic. However, concerts are back for 2022 with multiple performances taking place in parking lot H at Nissan Stadium. Altogether there will be a total of 20 band stages set up across the racecourse for the weekend. This year’s headliner is the British rock band The Struts. The marathon will also have plenty of other activities available along with food, drinks, and games for children.
Race Day Entertainment Schedule – Saturday, April 23 (Nissan Stadium Lot H)
- Chris Shrader + Band: 7:00am – 9:00am
- The Struts: 11:00am-12:00pm
- Matt Jordan + Band: 12:30pm – 2:30pm
Further Marathon Details and How You Can Still Participate Now That Registrations Are Closed
For those that are interested in participating, you can still run for free to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. You can also sign up for the marathon’s Health and Fitness Expo on Thursday and Friday leading up to this weekend’s races. However, official registrations closed this past weekend to participate in the 2022 Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon.
Runners had seven race options of various lengths to choose from over the 2-day weekend event. On Saturday, runners will participate in either the full marathon, half marathon, 6.15-mile race, or 5k race. On Sunday, the event will continue with a 1-mile race, a Kids Rock race, and the Doggie Dash race. For reference in case you want to participate in future events, the breakdown of each race’s registration costs are below. Prices are subject to change for future events.
Saturday, April 23
- Marathon – $135
- Half Marathon – $129
- 6.15-Mile Race – $119
- $5k Race – $59
Sunday, April 24
- 1-Mile Race – $25
- Kids Rock Race – $20
- Doggie Dash Race – $20
Even if you aren’t participating in the run itself, there’s still plenty of excitement and fun for all ages. Organizers encourage any and everyone to come downtown and enjoy the festivities while showing support for participants who are running for a great cause. You can get more information about the upcoming events at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series’ official website.