I had my reservations about this race as I had a bad experience in 2010 with Rock N Roll San Diego, was not overly impressed with Rock N Roll Las Vegas in 2010 and read about the nightmare that was Rock N Roll Las Vegas 2011.
However, as a lifelong Pasadena resident I signed up for the race long before the course was announced. It was a pleasant surprise when I did finally see the course and I saw that it was an awesome course featuring the very best of Pasadena. In comparison, the Pasadena Marathon (held in mid/late May) does not feature the best of Pasadena.
I signed up for an opening day price of just $55 which is unheard of for a Rock N Roll series race and then I counted the months until the race finally approached.
The race expo was nice enough, well organized and easy to get in and out of which I liked. I really liked the race shirt as well as the medal (which I got a sneak peek of at the expo). Race day parking was $10 and this was understandable as most major events at the Rose Bowl (the start and finish of the race) charge for parking. There is nowhere really within a mile where alternate (free) parking is possible, so I didn’t hesitate to pay the $10.
Parking on race morning was easy enough and with enough parking to accomodate a football game with 100,000 people, I was able to park within about 1/8th of a mile of the start/finish.
The corrals were monitored well and this made for a nice start without walkers / slower runners lined up too far ahead. Plenty of portable toilets meant next to no wait which was awesome and almost unheard of for a race with a few thousand runners.
Also, although I run more marathons than half marathons, I appreciated that this was a dedicated half marathon as it is the Rock N Roll races that are a marathon / half marathon combo that seems to have the problems as the half marathoners merge in and out with the marathoners.
Race day weather was absolutely perfect…high 40’s at the start and warming to the high 50’s by the end with sun shining.
Really, I thought the course was beautiful from beginning to end and I enjoyed starting at the Rose Bowl, running through beautiful residential areas near the Rose Bowl, running through Old Town Pasadena, running near Cal Tech, back through Old Town, over the Colorado Street Bridge and finally back to the Rose Bowl.
Although there were rolling hills and it wasn’t the easiest course, the beauty of the course, as well as the perfect weather, were enough to inspire me to a new half marathon PR. While Miles 11 and 12 were challenging, gaining about 150′, the final mile to the finish was a nice downhill to the finish.
The post-race concert of Sugar Ray was great and it was free to non-runners, as well, meaning that my DW was able to enjoy one of her favorite bands very upclose and personal. By the time of the concert, temperatures were probably in the low 60’s and with sun shining and in the Rose Bowl area setting it was awesome.
Easily, this race is my new favorite half marathon and I wasted no time in signing up for the 2013 edition of the race and plan on making it a yearly tradition hopefully for decades to come. This race was an A+ on every level.