NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — An estimated 24,000 registered runners participated in the 2023 St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and the other related racing events in Nashville this weekend, offering participants a foot tour of Music City’s most iconic locations.

Included among those thousands of runners on the course on Saturday, April 22 were some elite runners, according to publicists for the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series. That includes the winners of the Nashville marathon: Garang Madut of Dayton, Ohio, and Sarah Higgins of Greenwood, Indiana.

“Scott Wietecha is a big inspiration. It feels good to come out and win it. I grew up here, my parents immigrated from South Sudan. It’s my hometown race — It’s good to come back,” said Madut, who won the men’s race with a time of 2:27:06. “I took the lead from the get-go. I went out, I was like, ‘I’m just going to see who goes with me.’ My goal was to win this. I was going to do whatever it took to win it.”

“I knew the course from the map, but I wasn’t super sure about it. I knew it was going to fun because of all the bands. I am a big country music fan and just moved to Indiana from California and Nashville is really close to Indiana, so I had been looking forward to coming here. I had to try to keep my pace because the bands made me speed up and I was like, ‘Whoa, chill out Sarah,” said Higgins, who finished the marathon with a time of 2:43:54, making her the champion of the women’s race. “I was hoping to get top three. I was just going to run my race and see what happens. The course was definitely flatter than I expected it to be because I heard Nashville was hilly. There were still inclines and stuff, but nothing like a crazy hill that you had to work really hard to climb. You couldn’t have asked for better weather.”

Meanwhile, the male and female overall winners of the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon were Patrick Rizzo of Kingston Springs, Tennessee, with a time of 1:07:41, and Robin Pomeroy of Verona, Wisconsin, with a time of 1:21:40, officials said.

The St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series — which is celebrating its “25 Years of Running” — is “a best-in-class road running series Bringing Fun to the Run® through music, entertainment, and community immersion all combining in Nashville to provide an unforgettable experience,” according to organizers.

The weekend series reportedly offered a variety of distance options for the racers, drawing runners and walkers from all 50 states and 37 countries, regions, and territories.

Event representatives said the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series brought participants through neighborhoods rich with history and past many iconic landmarks, including Broadway’s honky-tonks, Dolly Parton’s recording studio, and the Country Music Hall of Fame, all leading up to the finish line at Nissan Stadium, the home of the Tennessee Titans. 

The Metro Nashville Police Department said roughly 400 officers were spread out across the marathon course in order to make sure the event proceeded safely. Authorities also towed 66 vehicles that were left parked on the route the night before the marathon.

Officials said the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — which continues to lead the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases thanks to the support of more than 1,500 St. Jude Heroes and the Nashville community — is the official benefiting charity partner of the race series.

“We are deeply grateful to our Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series partners and every person who was part of this year’s St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series Nashville — especially our St. Jude Heroes, who trained with a purpose in support of this lifesaving mission,” said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., president and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “Truly, Music City came together this weekend to help accelerate research and treatment for kids with cancer. Our finish line will be crossed when no child dies from cancer, no matter where they happen to be born.”

Organizers said a number of musicians performed live on band stages along the route, including local bands like the Less Kerr and the Bayou Band, U.S. Airforce Band, and Hype Creek. Then, Greg Pratt, Angie Rey, and Runaway June took the stage as the Encore Entertainment at the Finish Line Stage outside Nissan Stadium.

| READ MORE | Latest headlines from Nashville and Davidson County

Then, on Sunday, April 23, the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series held the KiDS Rock — which celebrated 20 years in Nashville — along with Mile Fun Run and the Doggie Dash at Nissan Stadium. The festivities also included food trucks and live music featuring a local DJ, DJ Pete, according to event representatives.

For the Doggie Dash, furry friends reportedly took on the half-mile course while the Nashville Humane Association was on-site with a dog splash zone, water bowls, pet bags, and adoptable dogs.

Next up was the 1-mile fun run that started and ended on Titans Way. Officials said some race participants were able to earn a bonus medal for taking on the Remix Challenge by finishing a mile after a full weekend of running.

The race festivities were capped off by the KiDS ROCK, where more than 700 kids between the ages of 1 and 17 completed the final mile of their modified marathon challenge, organizers said. There was also a toddler trot that allowed those ages 1 to 3 to join in the fun on a more level playing field.

In the words of the running series’ publicists, “The KiDS ROCK® event has become synonymous with introducing the fun of fitness and running to kids at a time when poor nutrition and a widespread lack of exercise threaten the health of an entire generation.”

⏩ Read today’s top stories on

If you want to get a head start preparing for next year’s St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series in Nashville, presale registration is open online through 1:59 a.m. CT on May 1, with pricing at the lowest point of the year.

To learn more about the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series events across the country, follow this link.