Rock 'n' Roll Marathon set for Sunday - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Rock 'n' Roll Marathon set for Sunday

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The 16th annual Rock'n'Roll Marathon will be held Sunday amid increased security and with a new finish line, Petco Park.

"Security protocols (already) in place are being enhanced," Scott Dickey, president and CEO of Competitor Group Inc., which conducts the race, said at a news conference Friday. "We are adding more private security and police officers."

Dickey said the new safety measures, prompted by the bombings at the Boston Marathon April 15, also include intermittent bag checks and more service dog patrols.

"There will be other behind-the-scenes security measures undertaken that we can't share," Dickey said.

About 8,000 runners have entered the 26-mile, 385-yard marathon, with 57 percent of the field female and 32 percent from outside of California, according to organizers. The field is among the 10 largest in the nation.

The half-marathon has drawn a field of about 22,000 from all 50 states and 30 nations, organizers said.

The races will start, as usual, on the west side of Balboa Park.

The best race among the elite runners is expected to be in the men's half-marathon, where two-time defending champion and 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist Meb Keflezighi will try to hold off top Kenyan runners Eliud Kipchoge, Stephen Kibet and Bernard Koech.

All three have run the half-marathon in a faster time than Keflezighi, a San Diego High School graduate.

"Competitor Group has assembled an amazing field, which will make it very difficult for me to defend my title, but I love racing in my hometown," the 38-year-old Keflezighi said.

"Winning the Rock'n'Roll San Diego Half in 2011 was a turning point for me. I enjoyed running my home course, where I know every inch of the way, with family, friends and fans cheering me on. This is a fun race for me."

Deena Kastor, the only American woman to run the half-marathon under 1:08 on a certified course, is also set to race. The 40-year-old Kastor is a frequent entrant in San Diego events. She won an Olympic bronze in the marathon in 2004.

More than 40 bands on 38 stages will provide entertainment along the courses of the event, which benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Bill Earley, president of the society's San Diego chapter, said fund-raising for this year's run has generated $4.5 million.

"Over 16 years, the marathon has raised more than $254 million for cancer research and patient services," Earley said, adding that participants should be proud of what they are "doing to help save lives."

The event also is an annual financial boon to the city, Dickey said.

"Over the weekend, the marathon accounts for 54,000 hotel nights and more than $70 million of economic impact," Dickey said.

Streets in downtown, Balboa Park, Bay Park, Normal Heights, east Mission Bay and Mission Valley will be closed or congested until approximately 2 p.m.

Information about street closures related to the event, can be found on the website of City Council President Todd Gloria,

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