Insider's View of the Big Sur Half-Marathon

With each passing year, it’s getting harder to come up with new complimentary adjectives to describe the Big Sur Marathon’s events – so we’ll just preface our report of yesterday’s Big Sur Half Marathon on Monterey Bay with the word PERFECTION. By race standards, events don’t get any better than this.

So what makes an event perfect? Start with the weather: cool at the start but with clear skies – conditions that were ideal both for running fast times, and for viewing the race as a spectator. Then consider the course: a beautiful coastline route with rolling hills that are challenging enough to provide variety but still gentle enough to allow great times. Large numbers of spectators congregated to boost the runners’ adrenaline and enthusiasm. And the out and back layout gives you the diversion of watching other runners for a while.

Logistically, the race went very smoothly as well. The wave start system was flawlessly executed and allowed runners to avoid congestion from start to finish. The d-chip timing system made sure everyone’s time was recorded accurately, regardless of starting wave. Course organization and volunteer support were second to none, as usual. The local military community and the Defense Language Institute provided hundreds of volunteers to help the race go smoothly.

And if all that wasn’t enough … we even loved the color of the race shirts; there wasn’t a trace of periwinkle in sight.

Although we’re veterans of countless road races, we still take away lessons from nearly every event – and here are some things we learned from this year’s race:

You can’t keep runners from their beer: Mike was in the inflatable Michelob Ultra beer tent waiting for an after race treat when the tent started to deflate slowly, causing some out-of-staters to think we were having an earthquake. The locals didn’t panic, however – and before the tent could collapse, a hero we’ll call Big John (“he stood 6 foot 6 and weighed 245”), stepped to the middle of the tent and held it aloft, allowing the beer pouring to continue. It should be noted that Big John was wearing a race medal and most certainly had to be one of the biggest finishers on Sunday.

Old dogs can still learn some tricks: Rod MacKinlay holds the course record for the 65 to 69 division, and recently turned 70, so he should have been a lock to set another record for his new age group. Rod felt so good he ran the first mile in a bit over 6 minutes and 30 seconds, but paid dearly for his ambitious start later on and missed setting a record. We predict that next year he’ll start a bit more conservatively – and will almost certainly take the record down.

Persistence wins: Some local runners always win or finish high in their age divisions – and normally, Peter Krasa from Pebble Beach isn’t one of them. However, this year Peter has been on a tear, and won the 65-69 year age division yesterday. He’s made himself a fast runner by dedication and persistence. Peter also has a great sense of humor and a love of running that is contagious; so watching him win his age division was something that all local runners cheered about.

NO soup for you: Steve Marshall from Seaside ran the race, then stayed on his feet for hours providing hot soup to later finishers. At one point a table tipped and Steve bravely tried to right the listing soup tureen. Spilling hot soup on his bare legs apparently wasn’t a problem - but he did complain that his racing shoes and new socks were drenched. At his next race, he’ll be the guy who smells like minestrone.

Big Sur Half Marathon in Afghanistan: The marathon organization sent race shirts to soldiers who ran the first Big Sur Half Marathon in Afghanistan. 85 military personnel completed their race simultaneously with those in Monterey. We thank them for their brave service, and gladly welcome them to the family of Big Sur runners.


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