Monterey Bay Half Marathon Review

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The Monterey Bay Half Marathon takes runners through historic downtown Monterey, Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and along Pacific Grove coastline. Additionally, this event includes 5k and 3k runs.

Kenyan runner David Bett set a men’s course record in 1 hour 2 minutes 13 seconds to beat Ethiopia’s Korir by 21 seconds and set an official course time of 1:02:13.

Start & Finish

Starting in downtown Monterey along Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and running along Pacific Grove shoreline, runners will encounter beautiful coastal scenes such as waves crashing on rocks beaches, Victorian-era homes and possibly whale or sea otter sightings along their journey. runners will receive a unique ceramic finishers medal and have access to two water/fuel stations during their half marathon run. Participants are strongly advised to train safely and strategically so as to complete it within six hours. runners that fail to maintain an average mile pace of 16 minutes per mile may be turned back at the marathon turnaround point or directed onto an alternative course, and will no longer qualify for aid stations, official finish times or finishers medallions.

At the Health & Fitness Expo on Friday, November 11th at Portola Hotel & Spa (1 Portola Plaza in Monterey), runners can collect their race bib and packet. Photo identification will be required upon receiving their packet; alternatively runners who cannot make Friday can collect theirs at Lovers Point Park beginning at 6:30 AM race morning; they won’t be permitted to start without them!

Out and Back Course

This certified out-and-back course starts on Del Monte Avenue near Camino El Estero and proceeds along the peninsula’s coastline to Asilomar State Beach before turning back toward Cannery Row and returning via Lover’s Point Rec Trail before finally concluding at Custom House Plaza-Monterey State Historical Park where runners can connect with family and friends at the post-race Finish Village while enjoying food, music, hot soup drinks in Cheers Garden; have their results printed; purchase merchandise; etc.

Awards are presented three deep in five-year age divisions for the half marathon and special awards are given to both male and female finishers overall in this race. Following this race at Lovers Point Park, runners can enjoy a pancake breakfast sponsored by Pacific Grove Kiwanis Club; all finishers in both 3K and 5K receive medallions but no overall or age division awards are presented in either event.

Course

The Monterey Bay Half Marathon is an out and back course starting from historic Downtown Monterey and running along Cannery Row and Pacific Grove shoreline, passing Steinbeck’s Cannery Row before taking in Pacific Grove shoreline views of ocean waves crashing on rocky beaches, beautiful Victorian-era homes, frequent sightings of whales, dolphins, sea otters, pelicans and pelicans – not forgetting frequent sightings of aquatic life such as whales dolphins sea otters sea otters pelicans pelicans).

USATF certified and sanctioned, event participants can expect unique ceramic finisher medallion and online certificate as well as cash awards given for top three participants within each division.

Before the race starts, runners will assemble in corrals according to their predicted time entered during registration. Please be accurate with this prediction for a safe start and successful race!

The Big Sur International Marathon Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, donates an estimated annual contribution of $300,000. Over its 30+ year history, they have hosted both the Big Sur Marathon in April since 1986 and Monterey Bay Half Marathon since 2003; additionally they organize Pacific Grove Lighthouse 5Ks and By-the-Bay 3Ks each November.

Perks

Entrants completing the Half Marathon within 3.5 hours will be recognized with a medallion and be included in our online results book. They’ll also get a race shirt.

Congratulations to the over 4,000 runners and walkers who braved windy, cold conditions to participate in this year’s Monterey Bay Half Marathon. Despite these difficult conditions, participants reported an excellent race experience with friendly local support and an enthusiastic audience cheering them on.

Runners or walkers unable to complete the half marathon safely may opt for either the 5K or By-the-Bay 3K events instead. The Monterey Bay Half Marathon is an official USATF road race with a maximum 3.5 hour course limit, providing them with an alternative option.

Are you new to running or starting again after taking an extended hiatus? Our friends at None to Run have created a free 12-week beginner plan designed specifically to get you going on this path!

Spectators

Running through Monterey and Steinbeck’s Cannery Row will give runners plenty of encouragement from cheering spectators on this out-and-back course through historic downtown, Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, Pacific Grove’s coastal paths, Victorian homes along the bayside, rocky beaches with ocean breezes for an incredible race experience!

This year’s Monterey Bay Half Marathon field features many of our former champions as well as an elite international runner contingent. Kenyan David Bett will provide stiff competition as he attempts to defend his title, having run an outstanding personal best time of 1:02:13 at November’s Horsetooth Half Marathon. Defending women’s champ Josphat Kipchirchir also made her return after posting a time of 1:13:20 last month during our Monterey Bay Half.

Former champions include men’s champion Stephen Pretak (defending), 2016 winner Paul Peterson and local favorite Andy Ames – each winning four races!

Watchers of the Monterey Half Marathon can watch it unfold from various vantage points such as Monterey Peninsula College parking garage, free secure bicycle parking in Del Monte Center Lot, or from Monterey itself. Free shuttles will run every 10 minutes starting from 5:15 AM; private vehicles may park in designated runner drop off areas on Pacific Street between 5:30-9 AM for direct drop-off by runners.

Runner’s Expos are open to the general public – not only race participants – and will take place at Portola Hotel & Spa. Admission to these free expos will feature many top running apparel brands as well as health & fitness products and services.

Registration

The Monterey Bay Half Marathon is an official USATF certified event open to 9,000 qualified runners. Beginning at Del Monte Avenue and Camino El Estero in Downtown Monterey, runners travel along Cannery Row before passing close by Pacific Grove’s shoreline, Pacific Ocean and onto an coastal recreation trail before returning back towards Fisherman’s Wharf for their finish near Fisherman’s Wharf near Fisherman’s Wharf near Fisherman’s Wharf for completion.

The course has been carefully planned to cater for runners at all levels – from novice to elite runners – with a maximum time limit (chip time) for the half marathon of 3.5 hours; runners who do not meet this time requirement will not gain access to aid stations and may even be removed from the race altogether.

Runners will be placed into one of 15 start waves based on their predicted time of entry during registration. All runners are strongly advised to arrive early to allow enough time for parking and reaching their starting wave.

Visitors to the course are invited to cheer on runners from anywhere along the course. At Custom House Plaza’s finish line area is a live music stage and Finish Festival offering hot soup, beer gardens, merchandise, merchandise tents and much more! Furthermore, numerous restaurants and hotels can be found within walking distance to its starting area in downtown Monterey.

Closing Thoughts

This year’s field includes elite runners from across California and beyond, such as two-time Olympian Marya Weigel; three-time Olympic Trials qualifier Kristen Zaitz; Shadrack Biwott – winner of the Boston Marathon 2021; Parker Stinson (an accomplished ultramarathon runner); and local runner Adam Roach. A number of military veterans will also take part thanks to our special Military Corral.

As part of our efforts to ensure the wellbeing and safety of all race participants – runners, volunteers, and spectators alike – Big Sur Marathon Foundation staff will closely monitor signs of illness or injury throughout the race, so please seek medical assistance immediately should any symptoms present themselves; emergency assistance should also be sought as necessary.

Please also be aware that running without being officially registered presents serious health and safety risks; giving away your bib to another individual violates Big Sur Marathon Foundation rules and may result in fines as well as exclusion from future events held by Big Sur Marathon Foundation.

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