Monterey Bay Marathon Race Review

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After two years of the Monterey Bay Half Marathon being postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic, runners can recommence running this November’s 13.1 mile course that winds its way through downtown Monterey and Pacific Grove.

This year’s race is expected to attract an elite field, such as three-time marathon Olympic Trials qualifier Maya Weigel from Colorado and former race winner Kenyan David Bett, looking for another victory.

1. Cannery Row

Running begins in historic Downtown Monterey and proceeds along Steinbeck’s Cannery Row before reaching Pacific Grove and then along the scenic Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, one of the most breathtaking parts of this race course. There is a 3.5 hour time limit and over 9,000 runners may enter; additionally there will be 5k and 3k events prior to that as well. Finishers of both races will receive medallions along with an online finisher’s certificate upon completing.

Cannery Row’s star attraction is undoubtedly the Monterey Bay Aquarium, with its commitment to marine education and conservation as a focal point. Cannery Row restaurants are equally impressive, boasting both local seafood specialties and famous fine dining experiences that draw crowds.

These restaurants feature outdoor seating that’s perfect for taking in stunning bay views and charming cottage gardens that line Cannery Row. One popular spot is Chart House, serving seafood and steak with breathtaking water views; another favorite spot is A Taste of Monterey which provides full selections from Monterey County wines along with stunning Cannery Row views. Plus there are boutiques all along Cannery Row offering souvenirs or new decor items – making walking around Cannery Row the best way!

2. Ocean View Blvd.

As runners move through Pacific Grove, their senses will be truly taken aback by its stunning beauty. Here they’ll witness deep blues and greens of the Pacific Ocean lapping against its rugged coast; kelp beds swaying in the water; seagulls flying overhead – an unforgettable scene!

runners will have the opportunity to see Point Pinos Lighthouse and Pacific Grove’s historic Victorian homes along this stretch. Following that route along Monterey Bay Coastal Trail back onto Ocean View Boulevard before proceeding toward Lover’s Point.

This section of the race presents runners with a difficult challenge as it’s both hilly and non-flat; but those who manage to conquer it are rewarded with spectacular ocean and bay views as they head toward Asilomar Beach before turning back around at Lover’s Point and onto Custom House Plaza to finish.

The Monterey Bay Half Marathon may not offer quite the same picturesque coastal backdrop of its spring counterpart, the Big Sur International Marathon, but it still makes for a fantastic running challenge with stunning coastal vistas. Entries for this half marathon are limited to 9,000 runners while there’s also a 5K and 3K race held beforehand.

3. Lover’s Point

Lovers Point Park and Beach in Pacific Grove is a favorite picnic spot and plein air painting location, as well as being an all-year beach for swimming, sunbathing, watersports and surfing.

This beach is west-facing, making it suitable for swimming year-round. As its water can be quite cold, many visitors choose sunbathing or renting kayaks to explore its rocky cove.

North of Lovers Point lies a portion of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, an expansive area brimming with marine life that is home to sandy beaches, rocky shorelines, surfgrass meadows and kelp forests.

Visitors to this 4.4-acre park can climb the rocks at its namesake point to enjoy stunning coastal views in California. There is also grassy bluffs, grassy areas for children to play on and a children’s swimming pool for youngsters as well as beach volleyball courts and restaurants available within its borders.

Monterey Bay offers some stunning sights. Here, the deep blues of the ocean colliding against its rugged coast, seagulls swooping along on a breeze and dolphins splashing about can all be witnessed first-hand.

4. Asilomar Beach

Asilomar Beach on Monterey Peninsula’s Pebble Beach side stands out as something special: originally built as the YWCA Leadership Camp, its conference grounds house 13 historic Arts and Crafts-style buildings designed by Julia Morgan that stand among coastal dunes that provide shelter to deer, birds and other forms of wildlife. Here you can slow down, unplug and take in its picturesque surroundings.

Running enthusiasts can park in the lot adjacent to Monterey Peninsula College and use free shuttles that will bring them directly to the start line. Parking is free throughout the day and there are also plenty of spots at nearby Asilomar Beach.

At one mile north of Asilomar is an attractive running sand path connecting Lovers Point Road with Monterey Bay Coastal Trail – making for an excellent running course with stunning ocean views! It makes a wonderful addition to the course.

The Half Marathon welcomes up to 9,000 runners, and its course will traverse historic downtown Monterey, Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and Pacific Grove shoreline. Participants can expect invigorating sights such as crashing waves on rocky beaches, charming Victorian-era homes and aquatic wildlife such as whales, dolphins, sea otters and pelicans along the route.

All participants must complete the race in under 3.5 hours (17 minutes per mile). It is USATF sanctioned and certified, with aid stations every five miles along its course. Runners will finish up at Custom House Plaza-Monterey State Historical Park where they can visit the Treadmill Recovery Center, enjoy free beer from Lagunitas Brewing tent or watch awards ceremonies before visiting their respective Treadmill Recovery Centers and watching awards ceremonies!

5. Monterey Bay Coastal Trail

This scenic coastal trail traces what used to be Southern Pacific Railway route from Castroville to Pacific Grove and boasts breathtaking coastal views. Over 2,000 people frequent it every weekend – making it the City of Monterey’s most frequently used recreational amenity and key component in its parks and recreation master plan.

The trail provides an ideal way for families to reach landmarks like the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row and American Tin Cannery without having to park on busy roads. Plus it’s an amazing spot for seeing sea gulls soaring overhead and seals playing in the water!

Running along the Coastal Trail offers runners an ideal opportunity to experience all that the coast has to offer while maintaining an appropriate speed and being mindful of other users – make sure that you read our Coastal Trail Etiquette guidelines on City of Monterey website for more details!

At Monterey Bay Half Marathon we hope that you’ll thoroughly enjoy your run, and can’t wait to celebrate with you at the Finish Village at Custom House Plaza-Monterey State Historical Park. Don’t miss your opportunity to earn yourself a medal as part of this year’s Monterey Bay Half Marathon; cash awards will also be presented to the top three overall finishers based on Gun Time.

6. Back to Cannery Row

Cannery Row was once one of the main centers for fish canning. Back then, this industry provided jobs and food to many families; now however, tourists, scuba divers, aquarium visitors, literary tourists (John Steinbeck has set three novels here), tourists from other countries are visiting as tourists or just curious. The narrator ponders how best to share his story of Cannery Row.

Doc’s life is intricately connected to nature as much as to industrial culture. He relies heavily on seafood sales for his livelihood, while Dora and Lee Chong depend on him too. The narrator meditates upon this relationship between nature and humanity – providing raw material for human culture – but ultimately remains unaware.

Participants of the November half marathon can relive these scenes by running along a route that passes Cannery Row, Ocean View Blvd, Lover’s Point and Asilomar Beach before looping back around Pacific Grove via Custom House Plaza-Monterey State Historical Park for its final stretch – providing runners with spectacular views of Monterey Bay the entire way. USATF certified races can run up to 3.5 hour marathon distance.

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