Star Gazing

The Big Sur Half Marathon on Monterey Bay is Sunday and for once we almost feel like watching instead of running.

The elite coordinators, Steve Butler and Greg Mislick, have assembled one of the best fields for any race in the country. Rudy Novotny, who travels around the U.S. to announce races says, “it’s the best woman’s field I have seen in quite some time.” And we know the men’s field is full of stars as well.

We have the second (Magdalena Levy Boulet), third (Blake Russell), and fourth (Zoila Gomez) finishers from the 2008 Women’s Olympic Trials marathon in Boston.

If you are not running on Sunday we suggest you take the whole family and find yourself a great position to watch the race. We recommend standing near Lovers Point on Ocean View Boulevard. The course turns left from Ocean Avenue up Fountain into Pacific Grove, then back down to Lovers Point on 17th, then heads out to Asilomar and back. You should be able to see the elite runners go by 3 times – at 3.75 miles, 4.5 miles and 11 miles into the race.

While you are waiting for the elites to come back you can encourage the 8,000 other runners who are giving their all. Maybe they will inspire you or your kids to start running and enter the race next year.

Channel your inner Kenyan or Ethiopian: When you are watching the elites look for several things about their running form. It can make you a better runner. Look for how relaxed they run and how great their posture is. Look for quick leg tempo – try to incorporate that in your own running. Kenyan runners Fred Tumbo, Bernard Langat, Benson Cheruiyot, and Abdelaziz Atmani should be at the front of the men’s race with Ethiopian’s Ezkyas Sisay, and Gishu Dida. Sisay just finished 9th in the New York City Marathon on November 6th after leading for much of the race.

Belainesh Gebre, from Ethiopia, last year’s woman’s Half Marathon winner and course record holder at 1:09:43 recently withdrew, but according to Steve Butler, we have 15 women entered this year who are faster than last year’s second place time. And 9 of them have sub 1:15 half marathon times.

Root for the Home Team: You can admire the Kenyan’s and Ethiopians but we want you to yell loudly for our local heros who also happen to be national stars. We’ll even tell you their numbers so when you see them you can yell their names frantically. Believe us when we tell you it helps.

Blake Russell from Pacific Grove is number 38. Blake was on the U.S. Olympic team in the marathon in 2008 and the only U.S. finisher in Beijing. She has a half marathon best of 1:11:45. A few weeks back she came in 3rd in the U.S. 10 mile championship.

Brooke Wells, a Carmel High and U.C. Berkeley grad, who now lives in San Francisco is number 7. Brooke has a half marathon best of 1:15:40 set earlier this year.

Fasil Bizuneh, born in Indiana but lived on the Monterey Peninsula for 4 years when he was with the Big Sur Distance Project. Fasil is number 45. He was the winner of the very first Big Sur Half Marathon and should be right in the mix with a half marathon best of 1:02:47.

Crosby Freeman, is a Monterey Peninsulan by association, as he is Brooke Wells boyfriend. Crosby is number 24 and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has a half marathon best of 1:04.

Whether you are running or watching we know it’s going to be an exciting day on Sunday.

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