HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – After severe weather brought last year’s event to a standstill, the Rocket City Marathon will be back in Huntsville this weekend. The race is expected to bring 3,000 runners to the area.
For the first time, the Rocket City Marathon will take place over two days and offer more routes. Race organizers said they have partnered with the City of Huntsville to showcase the community during the marathon.
“It’s an offering to the city and to the people coming in from out of town,” said Co-marathon director Dana Debardelaben. “We have a lot of people that come, but the race still has a fairly small feel to it. It’s personable and welcoming.”
The Rocket City Marathon has been a Huntsville staple for more than 45 years, and during this year’s races, runners will have the opportunity to see more of the city than ever before, including Big Spring Park, downtown Huntsville, the Botanical Gardens, and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. The event will also offer more races: a 5K, 10K, two half marathons, a kid’s marathon, marathon relay, and the full marathon.
Debardelaben said she and the many volunteers involved are working to create a community-centric event that offers a great experience for runners.
“This race has kind of a big race feel with a small town personality,” she said. “Big races seem to be really impersonal, and people don’t know your name and they don’t know who you are. The race director is far removed from the event itself.”
Dana said she and her co-director and husband Dwaine Debardelaben have spent more than two and a half years planning the marathon.
“Dwaine and I love to get to know our racers and volunteers,” Debardelaben said. “Every single person involved in this race, including us as directors, are volunteers.”
Debardelaben said opportunities are still available for volunteering if you are interested in helping out. Click here for more information.
Runners from 45 states and several countries, including Canada, Kenya, and Guatemala, will participate. Debardelaben said the event will be large, but it is designed to be both fun for spectators and not disruptive for the city. Drivers will not encounter many road closures.
If you would like to watch, Debardelaben said some of the best spots to check out will be the start and finish lines at the VBC, Big Spring Park, and Campus 805.
Rocket City Marathon Schedule
Saturday, December 10
- 7am-6pm: Race Expo
- 7am: 10K Race (start and finish at VBC)
- 9am: 5K Race (start and finish at VBC)
- 10:30am: Kid’s Marathon (start and finish at VBC)
- 11am-6pm: Packet Pickup for Runner
Sunday, December 11
- 6am: Marathon Early Start (start and finish at VBC)
- 7am: Marathon Start (start and finish at VBC)
- 7am: Front Half Marathon Start (start at VBC and finish at Campus 805)
- 9am: Back Half Marathon Start (start at UAH and finish at VBC)
Several added elements will make the races more accessible. Runners can choose to begin the marathon during an early optional 6:00 am start time on Sunday, giving them more time to complete the race. Many of the courses have also been created with walkers in mind. One of the half-marathon courses takes participants on a tour of the city’s murals. Whether runners intend to qualify for the Boston Marathon or take the course a little slower, Debardelaben said all are welcome.
The 2021 Rocket City Marathon was canceled because of a severe weather threat.