Boston or Big Sur?

As soon as the calendar turns to April, the dreams of marathon runners take flight. Springtime marathons are marquee events in all the greatest cities in the world: Boston, London, Paris, and of course, Carmel.

Yes, our hometown event ranks right up there with the most highly respected marathons in the world. Runners from every state and all corners of the globe come to the Monterey Peninsula to run the Big Sur Marathon on the last Sunday in April.

Likewise, it’s nearly every marathoner’s dream to run the famed Boston Marathon, traditionally held on Patriot’s Day, a Massachusetts holiday observed on the third Monday of April. In 2009, as most other years, the Boston Marathon is a mere six days before Big Sur. Therefore, local runners face a dilemma each spring in deciding which marathon to attend.

Honestly, you can’t go wrong with either choice – and for a handful of hardy (feel free to substitute crazy) local runners, the decision is too agonizing, so they just do both. This year the two of us are doing split duty: Mike will join about 15 other Central Coast runners who are running at Boston on April 20th, and Donald will stay home to run Big Sur six days later. Although both races are world-class events, the experiences we will take away from each will undoubtedly be quite different.

Big Sur will always be our favorite. It’s our hometown marathon. We know how much time is donated by local volunteers and how hard everyone involved with the race works to ensure its success. It’s an opportunity for friendly competition with our friends on one of the most challenging courses in the world. The scenery is breathtaking, and it’s the only day of the year that it’s safe to run on Highway 1. Big Sur has been voted the best marathon in North America by several publications.

No other marathon can compete with the sights and sounds of the Big Sur Marathon (as we’ll describe in two weeks) – so why would locals go anywhere else? Only the allure and history of Boston can occasionally take us away from home.

Simply put, Boston is the most famous and prestigious marathon in the world. Running there is like playing baseball in Yankee Stadium, golf at Augusta National, tennis at Wimbledon, or driving at the Brickyard – while competing right alongside the professionals. Boston has more history - over 110 years worth – and attracts more talented runners than any other footrace. Runners are required to meet qualifying standards in order to enter, so participation in the race is considered an honor by all marathoners. Best of all, the entire city goes marathon crazy and treats every athlete like a star for the entire weekend.

In addition, Mike has extra incentive to travel east: his son Bryan lives in Boston and will also be running the marathon. It’s going to be a father-son dual for family bragging rights.

The choice between Boston and Big Sur is always tough – and next year, the temptation to do both races will be greater than ever. For Big Sur’s 25th presentation in April of 2010, there will be a special “Boston to Big Sur” challenge. Any runner who does both marathons will receive a special award, jacket, and recognition on race day. If you’re someone who likes to experience the best of both worlds, maybe you can join them.


Scott Dunlap May 5, 2009 at 11:38 AM  

I did Boston and Big Sur this year - very doable. Now with a jacket, I'm definitely doing both!


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