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Saturday, June 23, 2012 - Page updated at 08:30 p.m.

Marathoners to rock, but slower roll for traffic

By Emily Heffter
Seattle Times staff reporter

The new course for Saturday morning's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon sends miles of runners snaking through Seattle streets in what a race spokesman called "Seattle's 26.2-mile block party."

A party for the runners — about 22,000 of them are expected — will be less fun for drivers, who will have to detour for much of the day.

Traffic should be particularly stymied along the waterfront, where Second Avenue will be uncrossable for people seeking to get to the Washington State Ferries terminal or waterfront businesses.

The race has 49 starting waves, beginning at 7 a.m. That means the half-marathon's winner should be crossing the finish line of that 13.1-mile race around the same time the last group of marathoners hears a starting gun.

San Diego-based Competitor Group bought the struggling Seafair Marathon three years ago and turned it into a Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.

The for-profit marketing company charges more than most for race entries — between $80 and $140 — but promises a rollicking good time with 45 bands on 30 entertainment stages.

Competitor has Rock 'n' Roll Marathons in 27 cities.

In 2009-2011, Seattle's race started in Tukwila and ended at CenturyLink Field, but Competitor's deal with Tukwila expired.

This year's race begins and ends at Seattle Center.

The new course was painstakingly charted by Seattle city special-event planners, who nixed the race organizers' initial idea to have the race start at Seattle Center and end at Husky Stadium.

Instead, participants will leave Seattle Center and run through downtown on Second Avenue, then up Dearborn Street to Rainier Avenue South and eventually along Lake Washington Boulevard.

The marathoners will go to Seward Park, then across the Interstate 90 bridge before returning to Seattle Center on the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Besides its 2,500 volunteers, the race will need 80 private security workers and 319 Seattle police officers to handle traffic and security, according to Competitor.

Only the Fourth of July and Seafair require as many city police resources, according to the city.

Competitor paid the city $64,524 for its special-event permit.

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or

On Twitter @EmilyHeffter.

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