During the first week of February takes place the Surf City Half Marathon and Marathon in Huntington Beach which is in Orange County CA and as its name hints it takes place in one of the world’s most famous surfing beaches.
This race has been going on for a while, this year they celebrated their 20th birthday and is among the US marathons that are worth running.
The medals are legendary, they are miniature surfboards, nice and original.
The marathon starts at 6:30 am and the Half marathon at 7:45 am. The marathon has 2,500 participants limit and a 6-hour curfew. The remaining participants, around 15,000 run the Half Marathon.
One of the most interesting things is that they have a 3 race challenge called “Beach cities challenge”, Surf City in February, OC Marathon in May and Long Beach marathon in October. If you run all three in any distance combination you get a beautiful additional medal.
If you run a Marathon and a Half Marathon you get the Double Dog Dare Medal.
If you run Surf City and San Francisco’s Marathon or Half Marathon you get the California Dreaming Medal
My experience running the half marathon was awesome.
The Expo takes place near the beach on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and is located at the race’s start and finish line. You can go pick up your number, visit the expo, take a stroll on the beach or after the race you can get a wonderful feet massage walking along the beach where you will also find ice cream, beer, sweet corn, pasta and many other things to enjoy the race, your race bib includes the entrance and a free beer at the Beer Garden.
Despite being 15,000 or more runners for the half marathon, most position themselves where they belong according to the expected final time and there are no hurdles which is very comfortable.
Starting the race with a group that runs at the same pace means that nobody gets in your way and that you can run at your own pace from mile one.
The route is out and back along the beach except for a small one-mile detour through a residential neighborhood if you run the half marathon or if running the marathon then you take a small detour along the beach’s runners and bikers path both ways to complete the marathon.
There’s always runners going either way.
There aren’t many spectators, but who needs them with the wonderful ocean view you can enjoy 80% of the time.
All water stations, restrooms, etc. were always great.
The route profile it’s easy with some uphill and downhill and a maximum elevation of nearly 30m that don’t mess your pace. Being at sea level it’s a friendly race to post a good time.
The only factor that may spoil your experience is heat and humidity if you are not used to that it’s going to be a hard race.
The minimum temperature I experienced was 79° f and when I finished 1h 57m later was 86° f. I didn’t really train for this race, I took a rest in December and January and ran only 62 miles per month, my longest run was 6 miles, with a little more training I could easily take five minutes off my time which according to my Half Marathon experience confirms that the race is really friendly to post a personal best.
I suggest that you should run the marathon only if you are capable of completing the race in less than 4 hours, if it takes you longer it will be very tough.
This marathon is on Boston’s friendly qualifying races. After running the half marathon and feeling the weather I hardly view myself running a personal best with the heat. But if you live and train in warm weather at a moderate altitude it can be an excellent option for a BQ.
The second half of the race you run against the sun and wearing eye protection is a must if you want to be comfortable during that part which is around 6 miles or more if you run the marathon.
The medal, the views, the route, the people and the expo all get an A+ and make for a great Half Marathon.
There are hotels to suit all budgets and at least 15 provide transportation to the start line and back. You can fly to LA airport and take a 45-minute drive to Huntington Beach or fly to Orange County Airport that is only 10 minutes away.
Definitely, a race I want to experience again.
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