VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Between the two of them, Chantal Sexton and Tom Purcell have raced almost 600 miles, but on Sunday morning their toes met the Rock 'n' Roll start line for the last time.
"[I'm feeling] excited and sad - excited that this is 21 years for us, but sad it's going to end because we like to do this every year," said Purcell, a Rock 'n' Roll "legacy" runner.
The Rock 'n' Roll Running Series in Virginia Beach is ending after two decades. Sexton and Purcell, whose friendship started over a love of running and exercise, have been loyal half marathoners since the first race.
"Good memories for me -- is every year I've seen this person I call the hare, I'm the tortoise, I'm just running out and he's already on his way back," Sexton laughed.
Tom said, "You know, everybody motivates each other so it doesn't matter how fast or slow you go, we're all in the same boat so we all can relate to being out there, running 13.1 miles and going to that finish line."
Every finish-line victory comes with the one-of-a-kind hardware. Together, Sexton and Purcell have 42.
Running towards another medal this year, Sexton is also competing for her dad.
"I'm going to run this race knowing that I'm doing it for him, that I'm going to cross that finish line and say thank you to him because he's done a lot for all seven of us kids," she said.
While the Rock 'n' Roll series, which includes a half marathon, 5K and one-mile race, proves to be the end of an era, the miles earned and the friendships made are forever.
"We're still out there together. We feel together, we feel bonded by that," Purcell said.
As for why the race is ending, Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach said in a statement:
We’ve enjoyed a fantastic 20 years here on the oceanfront, as well as a great partnership with the City of Virginia Beach and the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitor's Bureau. As we have jointly evaluated our goals for 2022, both organizations have agreed to shift our focus. The Rock 'n' Roll Running Series will soon announce new destinations for 2022 and beyond while the newly opened Virginia Beach Sports Center will welcome top-level sports leagues and events. While we prepare to sunset one of our longest running events, we look back with fond memories at the amazing moments we’ve experienced and the many miles we have covered in Virginia Beach. Together, we look forward to making the 2021 edition of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach an unforgettable experience for all.