Flat footed: Runners say Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon needed more rock ’n’ roll

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It was the race the music died!

Road-runners from around the city and beyond unplugged their headphones at the Grand Army Plaza starting line of the first ever Brooklyn Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon on Saturday, many lured by the promise of live musicians playing along the fun-run route in and around Prospect Park.

But participants say there was a distinct lack of rock and or roll at the otherwise pleasant cross-Brooklyn tour.

“I went with the expectation that there would be a number of bands, with a stage every other mile, but some of the stages were empty, and some of them had an acoustic guitar playing with no speakers,” said Craig Motz, who ventured down from the northern hinterlands of Queens for the race. “I ran without music, so I was hoping there would be more bands playing and a little more excitement then there was, so, in that regard it fell short.”

More than 17,000 runners from every state in the Union and 31 other countries turned out for the more-than-13-mile trek, organizers said — the first time the popular nation-wide Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon series has staged a half-marathon in the borough after hosting several 6-mile races in previous years.

Stilt walkers dressed as members of the band Kiss high-fived the marathoners as they sped away from Brooklyn’s Backyard, but once the 13-mile course quickly took racers farther outside the park, they say the music became sparse, acoustic, and generally disappointing.

“There was a kid with steel drums, and he was good, but that’s not the type of music you want to run with,” said Phyllis Bitow, who came out from Jersey for the endurance event. “There was a guy with an acoustic guitar and an upright base, but it wasn’t music with a beat and it doesn’t carry. It needed to be amplified.”

It was only towards the end of the race, as the course veered back into Prospect Park, that the music cranked back up to 11 — including a performance by headliner Nate Ruess of the band Fun, who reportedly rocked the athletic ankle socks off participants near the finish line.

“The music at the end was great,” said Bitow.

Runners say they otherwise enjoyed the flat and traffic-free course, which provided great views of the city and the park — they just with there had been more of a soundtrack to go along with it.

“I thought it was a great course, a perfect day, and I had a good time,” said Bitow. “I just expected more music.”

Organizers acknowledged the soft-rock issue along the route — which they said was due to city ordinances forbidding amplified music before 9 am — and said they will meet with city officials in coming weeks to find a better solution for future marathons.

“Working within the parameters given to us by the city, we tried to roll out non-amplified entertainment that no question fell a little bit short of what the brand has come to represent,” said Rock ’n’ Roll Half-Marathon spokesman Dan Cruz. “We’ll work with [city partners] to try and improve the on-course entertainment next year.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated with comments from organizers.
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Reasonable discourse

Chicken Underwear from Actually from Brooklyn says:
This is what happens when you let a giant for-profit organization take over the streets of Brooklyn. Lots of hype but very little to be delivered.
Oct. 13, 2015, 12:35 pm

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