Calistoga - Napa,
- 3 miles/5K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Virtual Race
- Road Race
- Event Website
I ran the half marathon this year for the NVM, and it was the first year that a half marathon has been associated with this race (this year was the 41st running of the full marathon). I got in the Thursday night before the race to explore Napa before the race and enjoy some wine beforehand.
Travel: options include flying into San Francisco or Sacramento. I’d do Sacramento in order to avoid the hassle of SFO. I rented a car and drove in and it was about the same amount of time from Sacramento airport as it was from SFO.
Expo/Packet Pick Up: Happens the Saturday before the race. This year, pick up was at the Marriott Spa and Suites in Napa. Pre race shake out run before the expo for anyone interested and then the expo is open from 9 am to 6 pm, with bib pick up extended from 6-8 pm with no expo. I think there was also an option for having your bib mailed to you. If you got the VIP upgrade, after you picked up your bib, there was a hospitality room on the first room with some extra goodies (Nuun water bottle, a bottle of wine, treats, etc). I’m bummed that I had literally no room in my suitcase to take my wine home with me. The expo had presentations/demos and speakers through out the day, which was pretty nice to have. Small expo, but I think it was pretty local, which is always good to see.
Pasta Dinner: $45, essentially all you can eat with pasta, salad and desserts. I heard some people with issues that there was only 1 gluten free pasta. My biggest thing was there was really no protein involved. I would have loved to see some chicken or meatballs or fish, something to balance out the carbs. Speakers as well, but they didn’t start until 6 (dinner started at 5:30). I had to find the pasta ticket station. Maybe a better idea, especially if you pre purchased tickets up until a certain point, would be to staple them or include them with your bib so it’s one less stop to make.
Pre Race Transportation: the half and the full started at different places along the Silverado trail. The Half started at 7 AM and the full at 730 AM, which I think threw some people for a loop, as the half marathon buses left at 510 (ish) AM and the full at 5:40 (ish) AM. I heard of at least a few people missing the half marathon busses. I stayed next to the Marriott and took the shuttles out first thing in the morning.
The course itself: essentially all downhill, which for California is a win/win situation. A little bit of a hill close to the start of the half marathon, but nothing to get too bent out of shape over. The half started about 1/4 a mile from the Conn Creek Winery and the first 10 miles or so went along the Silverado trail. We passed at least 7-10 wineries that I could see, all different set ups and in different stages of getting prepped for their season it seemed. Mile 10-11 takes you past Oak Knoll before having you turn once more and head towards Vintage HS, where the finish was at. Very scenic course with intermittent people cheering, but it was kind of nice to not have spectators from start to finish.
Post Race: seemed like a lot of HS students were volunteering and having fun with it, which was cool. Water at the finish with some bananas and nutrigrain type bars. Soup was being served in the cafeteria, PT was also available. There was an area to check your results as well.
Post Race Shuttles: probably the one thing that needs looked at for next year. There were shuttles going to one of the other area high schools and a second set going back to the hotels (Marriott, Embassy Suites, the Hilton Garden Inn, etc). I’m not exactly sure what happened, but the buses to the other HS came and went twice and we saw no hotel shuttle. More than a few of us ended up Ubering/Lyfting back to our hotels because even though weather was perfect in the 50s, I was sweaty and getting cold. By the time my Uber got to the HS, the first hotel shuttle arrived, but that was after a good 30-40 min. One of the race officials was looking into it and it seemed like a communication issue, but something to fix for next year for sure
Overall, however, a great race. One of the few in California that’s all downhill and doesn’t throw hills at you at every turn. If you’re in need of a good long weekend and fun race, take a look at this, especially with the addition of the half marathon!