May 10, 2009

Race Report - Big Sur International Marathon

Looking back from near Hurricane Point

I won't go into too much detail on this report. There's really only one thing I can say about it: Anyone who is capable of running a marathon (and it's my belief that almost every body is capable of running a marathon) owes it to him/herself to run the Big Sur International Marathon.

I mean seriously, just do it. You won't be disappointed.

Having said that, you might want to train first, especially given the elevation profile:

I'd suggest powerwalking that bump in the middle. It's called hurricane point.

Being a point-to-point with a start line in a rather remote area, it would seem like a logistically difficult marathon to participate in- thankfully, it's extremely well organized and the race officials go to great lengths to make it easy on us as runners. It would be easy to stay in monterey, carmel, or a place like seaside and catch the bus they provide down to big sur - probably easier than staying in big sur itself. I stayed in Morgan Hill, an hour from monterey, and that meant the earliest wake-up call I've ever had: 2:45am. ouch.

After arriving in monterey and riding the bus down, I spent an hour in the landmass of 3500 people in a ranger station parking lot trying to stay warm and drinking to free coffee provided by the race (huge props, guys). Soon after the sun rose, we started lining up a few hundred feet behind the starting line. After about a half-hour most everyone was standing on highway 1 waiting for the race to start.

The race's first 5 miles were a picturesque run through a valley under blue skies and no wind without a hint that we were near an ocean - and would - by itself - qualify as a top scenic race if that never changed. However, once we did get near the water, we started dealing with some gradual hills, overcast skies, and a nasty headwind - but I didn't care, because I was taken by the scenery.

And because my descriptions of scenery are worthless without pictures:

Point Sur Lighthouse

Looking down 600 ft from Hurricane Point

That's about it. My clock time was something like 5:59, chip time 5:55.. which, technically, is only 6 minutes off my PR time - but actually about 15 minutes off. I didn't exactly have my best race. But I didn't care either. The course of the big sur international marathon isn't something to race - rather it's something to enjoy.

One postscript: Rewarded with the nicest medal I ever had: