Women Rule!

We were prepared to title this column “Wet and Wild,” but with the rain holding off just long enough for all but the late finishers, weather wasn’t a major factor on Sunday. Instead, the story of this year’s Big Sur Half marathon weekend was the women, who truly shined.

US Olympians Magdalena Lewy Boulet from Oakland and Blake Russell from Pacific Grove battled in an epic women’s race, with “Magda” coming out the winner. Watching them in full flight with Monterey Bay in the background is awe inspiring.

65% of our half marathon entries were women, and this is not unusual. At the fitness expo, Lisa Beckham of the Competitor Group reported that they organize 28 marathons and half marathons across the nation, all with similar demographics.

We asked some women runners at the weekend’s events why they ran and some themes were evident. Tracy Clark, a young mother from Elk Grove said,”It’s ME time, a much needed break, and it’s energizing.” Tara Clark and Avril Waddle, competitive local runners in their 40’s who often train together, commented, “It helps us stay sane, we can talk both good and bad about our husbands, and we can eat chocolate guilt-free.”

Females of every age gave impressive answers at the weekend races. Sisters Alondra (age 9) and Andrea (age 7) from Del Rey Woods Elementary said, “It’s healthy, it’s good for you, and it’s fun.” Emily Passey and Olivia Chapa, freshman runners from Aptos High School who just finished their cross-country seasons, said, “Running is relaxing, and you can think about life.” Sharron Douglas, the 73-year-old retired principal of Carmel River School, runs for health, explaining “It makes me feel good both during and after any run.”

It was hard not to notice Norina Florendo and her friends from San Francisco, celebrating loudly and happily after the 5K on Saturday. Norina just started running two years ago and has already helped 7 of her friends start running programs. They finished their first 5K at Lovers Point on Saturday and proudly displayed their medals, then headed down the coast to Nepenthe to celebrate their acheivement.

Several businesses that cater to women runners were present at the expo. Sunny Arada is a runner and recent Fresno State grad who started a business called “Endure” that sells running-themed jewelry, necklaces, and shirts for women. She says, “It takes a certain personality to run regularly.”

It also takes a certain personality to be a mother – and according to local psychologist (and mother of 4) Dr. Kathryn Hambley, “Running makes me a better mother.” There were also more than 100 members of the group Athletes for Adoption in bright red shirts at all the weekend events. November is National Adoption Month, and the group picks our race weekend as their annual fundraiser. According to Darren Denlinger, the Chairman of their Board of Directors, “It’s the best race there is anywhere in November.” We wholeheartedly agree.

Motherhood almost came early to one runner, who didn’t want her name mentioned. She is seven and a half months pregnant and felt contractions just before the mile 4 aid station of the half marathon. Although the race has outstanding organization, labor and delivery services are a tall order for most aid stations. Luckily it turned out to be false labor, and our mom-to-be cautiously dropped from the race.

It was a day for the women all around; even the local running club’s “predict your own time” contest was won by a female, Anne Goode. Anne takes home a 6-pack of Sierra Nevada for running just a few seconds off her predicted time. She wouldn’t share any with us – she must be waiting for her girlfriends.

Congratulations to everyone who ran on Sunday – even the men! We’ll see you all next time.

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