Any professional knows that the best way to retire is with one final performance of a lifetime. Hometown hero Bobby Mack did just that at Sunday’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon & ½ Marathon presented by WRAL with featured charity The V Foundation for Cancer Research. The 31-year-old Mack, who lives and works in North Carolina’s capital city, broke the finish-line tape for the 13.1 miles in a blazing one hour, eight minutes and two seconds—a full 35 seconds ahead of rival Christian Thompson who finished second in 1:08:37. Sunday’s victory was a repeat of his first-place showing at the race last year. Third place in the men’s division went to Tibor Vegh (1:10:23).
“It feels good,” admitted a smiling Mack afterward. “I’m retiring from the elite side of the sport. I did it in my home town and it makes things even more special for me.”
Mack said that he adjusted his pacing in the race to account for the hills in the final miles and ensure that he could have enough reserves left to surge to the win if need be. “I faded out in the final miles last year and made sure today that it wouldn’t happen again.”
The women’s half marathon was not as close as the men’s. Thirty-two-year-old Molly Nunn of nearby Winston Salem won in 1:21:17 and it wasn’t for a full 90 seconds before her nearest rival, Kristina Vegh (1:22:47) came through for second. Nicole Esplin was third in 1:23:31.
“The race was fantastic. It was amazing,” said Nunn. “I was coming off a knee injury so this was a big if for me. My time was really good since I didn’t know what to expect. The course was great. I had run the City of Oaks race last year so I knew what to expect with the hills. This was a last-minute decision. I had emailed the elite director to see if she could let me in and she did, so I will definitely be running here next year and plan to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas later this year. I can’t wait.”
A full marathon was held in conjunction with Sunday’s half. Sean Zion of Cameron, North Carolina won the men’s division in 2:42:47. Brian Fowler (2:44:18) and Thomas George (2:47:26) placed second and third respectively.
“It was good,” said Zion. “I was feeling the hills at the end and actually had to stop a bit at mile 22. Good stuff.” Zion had hoped to run faster than his 2:42 showing, but was pleased nonetheless. “I’m happy with it,” he said.
Twenty-year-old Emma Astrike-Davis of Durham (3:00:43) prevailed in the women’s marathon by an 11-minute margin. Brittany Van Nielen came in next in 3:11:00, while Amanda Knapp was third in 3:14:54.
“The weather was awesome,” champion Astrike-Davis said afterwards. “It was sunny and the fans were amazing.” Astrike-Davis runs on the cross-country team at the University of North Carolina and divulged that she hadn’t run more than 13 miles in training recently. Several of her teammates came out to cheer her on at the end as well as her cousin and her cousin’s three-year-old. “My cousin showed up at three different spots. They almost ran as much as I did and I want to tell them that I love them a lot.”
Conditions for Sunday’s race, 37 degrees and sunny, were chilly yet optimal for both the half and full marathoners. Temperatures had warmed up by the time the headliner band, St. Lucia, mounted the stage at Red Hat Amphitheater to belt out tunes for celebrating participants and their families at the finish line festival.
Other weekend highlights included the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K, which took place on Saturday, April 9 in Dorothea Dix Park. Participants that ran Saturday and any distance Sunday earned the coveted Remix Challenge Medal in addition to each race’s finisher medals. Gavin DeGraw also performed on Friday night at Red Hat Amphitheater as part of the expanded Weekend of Music.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon Start Line (Photo courtesy of Michael Robson)
2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon & ½ Marathon presented by WRAL Results
Name, Age, Hometown, Time
- Sean Zion, 31, Cameron, NC, 2:42:47, $500
- Brian Fowler, 34, Raleigh, NC, 2:44:18, $250
- Thomas George, 24, Raleigh, NC, 2:47:26, $100
- Emma Astrike-Davis, 20, Durham, NC, 3:00:43*
- Brittany Van Nielen, 31, Norfolk, VA, 3:11:00, $250
- Amanda Knapp, 24, Youngsville, NC, 3:14:54, $100
Men’s Half Marathon
- Bobby Mack, 31, Raleigh, NC, 1:08:02, $500
- Christian Thompson, 27, Winston Salem, NC, 1:08:37, $400
- Tibor Vegh, 32, Raleigh, NC, 1:10:23, $300
- Reed Kamyszek, 23, Durham, NC, 1:10:37, $200
- Christopher Capps, 25, Charlotte, NC, 1:10:44, $100
Women’s Half Marathon
- Molly Nunn, 32, Winston Salem, NC, 1:21:17, $500
- Kristina Vegh, 32, Raleigh, NC, 1:22:47, $400
- Nicole Esplin, 24, West End, NC, 1:23:31, $300
- Julia Boulton, 22, Darien, CT, 1:25:37, $200
- Mary Lynn Zastrow, 24, Spring Lake, NC, 1:30:45, $100
*No prize money awarded to preserve NCAA eligibility
About Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon & ½ Marathon presented by WRAL
The 3rd annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon & ½ Marathon presented by WRAL with featured charity The V Foundation will take place the weekend of April 8 – 10, 2016. The scenic marathon and half marathon course will give runners a first class tour of Raleigh and will start and finish downtown. Runners can rock to the sounds of live entertainment, along with enthusiastic cheerleaders to keep participants moving. The event concludes with a post-race Toyota Rock ‘n’ Roll Concert Series and finish line festival. Runners that complete the Saturday 5K and any distance on Sunday will earn the Remix Challenge medal in addition to each race’s finisher medal. A two-day Health & Fitness Expo kicks off race weekend at the Raleigh Convention Center on Friday, April 8 and Saturday, April 9. The Expo will have numerous vendors featuring the latest in running gear, nutrition and training tips. To register for the race or for more information, visit RunRocknRoll.com/Raleigh or follow on Twitter @RunRocknRoll.