On Superbowl Sunday, February 7, 2016 we ran the 20th edition of the "Surf City Marathon" in Huntington Beach, CA
Some of the marathon crew wanted a winter race and our usual options didn't line up on our various calendars (and the weather didn't cooperate either). We searched around for something that would be warm, not hot, and dry. After several years of looking at Surf City, we decided to go for it this year. At a very pricey $145 for the event, I skeptically pressed the "Register" button and signed up.
The race had an early start at 6:30am - the forecast high was 80F, so the earlier the better! As parking was supposed to be a challenge we went on parking recon after the expo. The effort paid off nicely when we pulled into a nice spot on the street at 5am and walked to the start. When the race gun fired, it was a pleasant 48F.
The first two miles of the race were flat and fast, running along PCH in the cool ocean air. We took a quick right turn at Mile 3 and ran smack dab into a large group of high school kids cheering so loud I thought I'd won the marathon! It's funny how crowd support quickens your step a bit and fires you up, even at Mile 3. We took another few right turns and hit the only set of hills in the marathon. Miles 5 - 8 went through Huntington Beach Central Park which was nice and shady (particularly relative to what was coming up). After Mile 8, the course took us back down the hill and onto PCH to start Mile 10.
Running north on PCH, we hit the turnaround about Mile 12.5 and then ran back south to Mile 15.5. This was easily my least favorite part of the race - almost 6 miles on 6 lanes of black top. No shade and the temperature getting increasingly warmer.
We left PCH and ran north along the path at Bolsa Chica State Beach to Mile 20.5, essentially retracing our steps along PCH but this time with a view of the ocean and without the 6 lanes of black top :-). The ocean views were great and the breeze helped to cut the heat a bit. A quick turnaround and then another 5 miles south retracing our steps.
At Mile 25.5, we exited the beach path and headed south on PCH to the finish line. Conditions at the finish were in the low 80s - February in SoCal.
Post-finish we rushed to pickup our drop-off bags, shower and head the airport for a quick bite. Fortunately we had a live stream of the Superbowl on the plane and caught the 2nd half at home.
Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:
Organization – Well organized, marked course and great support. Grade: A
Course - Some nice parts however the PCH portion, almost 10 miles, is pretty lousy. But hey, finding a marathon in February that is dry and warm isn'tn easy. Grade: C
Aid-stations - Many aid stations, fully stocked. Plenty of water and electrolites. Grade: A
Swag – Nice medal and dri-fit long sleeve shirt. Grade: A
Price - Incredibly steep. Grade: D