Latest reviews by Michelle
I have run this course three times so far. This year, I ran it as a pacer (4:08 group). It was so easy to work with the pace team coordinator and race director for this race. My friends were able to (legally/officially) transfer bibs, which I think is a great idea. There may be a small fee, but I'm all for having that option.
The parking at the finish line was plentiful. In the years past, I just walked to the finish line (shuttle pick-up) from my hotel, but I had to drive this year. We got there around 4:15am, easily found spots, and got on the shuttle right away. There were shuttle pickups until after 5am, but we like to go early to beat the rush to the porta-potties. There was water and a little aid tent near the start line. They had a wave start this year (according to predicted finish time). The race started on time, and there wasn't too much of a congestion problem. The only time it might be hard to pass people is when you are trying to pass a pace group (but since we were leading it, we never really noticed the problem).
The course has some rolling hills in the first 7 miles or so. Around mile 8 or 9, there is a steady drop in elevation toward the coast. I loved seeing all of the mountains around us as we made our way to the beach. This year, It was a bit warm (mid-to-high 50's at the start) with no cloud cover. One good thing is that there is a lot of shade on the bike path down to the sea. In addition, there were plenty of water/electrolyte stations along the course. We never had to go more than 2 miles to land at the next fluid station.
There are plenty of timing mats along the course, which I love. It adds to the integrity of the race to be a BQ course (since there are some runners who look to cheat on a course like this). Look out for suspicious runners! We actually witnessed a guy who got dropped off on the course by car. I'm hoping he was DQ'd because he missed a timing mat.
Again, if this course is run properly (without too much gambling and going all out in the beginning), you can PR/BQ. I PR'd and BQ'd on this course in 2014, following my pace band that I printed out for myself. It kept me in check so that I didn't completely burn out by mile 16 or 17, which was (interestingly) the place that a lot of people hit the wall (I hit the wall there, too, in 2013).
I followed a pace group in 2014 to BQ. This year, I had the pleasure of pacing 4:08, which could guarantee that some get a BQ AND make it in (2-minute buffer). They had all of the Boston qualifying times pacing 2 minutes under (so you could see a 3:03, 3:23, 3:58, etc.). Following a pace groups helps to ensure that you do not do something too risky and hit the wall. We had a lady who stuck with us all the way to mile 22, and then we told her to push ahead of us. She BQ'd by almost 5 minutes (finishing 2.5 minutes ahead of us!). We had another lady who stuck with us from the start and finished 5 yards ahead of us and after trying to PR for 2 years, she finally PR'd with us by 40 minutes!!! Sometimes, it is hard to trust that the pacer will execute their pacing duty well (we're not machines, so we can't be perfect), BUT I think if there is a time to stick with a pace group, I would definitely think this race is it.
The medal and shirt this year were my FAVORITES of any race shirt or medal that I've ever done! The design of the shirt was simple and the colors used really popped on the light grey shirt. The medal had real sand (I think) at the bottom. Super cool!
Whether you are going for a BQ or a PR, this course is designed for it, given that you do not decide to gamble and go way too fast in the first half. All of my running friends who did gamble ended up having a difficult last few miles (including myself in 2013). Train well and race smart, and you will fall in love with this course!
This was my third year pacing for this wonderfully scenic race! Though I did not attend the expo, I heard they had a few locations for bib/packet pickup for a few days before race-day.
Parking is usually not a problem for pacers because we get there very early and find free street parking (and many meters do not charge on Sundays, or start charging after 10am).
With logistics aside, this year's half had wonderful weather again. Some clouds, cool 50's to start and somewhat into the 60's toward the end of the race.
The race has some hills, but it is mostly flat at the end and has a big downhill finish (on the sand). The most scenic part of the race is when we run alongside the cliffs at Wilder Ranch. Though it is scenic, it is also on a dirt path with some rocks and cracks in it, and it could get crowded. As a pacer, I just always remind people to announce that they are passing, and to (otherwise) stay toward the right side. The aid station at Wilder Ranch is the only one that got congested enough where we each had to stop cold to grab fluids. Otherwise, each of the aid stations were far apart enough to not have any issues. This course seems to be consistently short every year (around 13.0 or just above it), so I heard from a few friends who have PR'd on this course.
The shirt design and medal design were super cute this year!
Through the timing company, we were able to sign up for race alerts and get our official results texted and emailed to us right away. I really liked knowing my official time by the time I got back to the car.
Overall, I love the weather and the scenery of this race!