Surf City Marathon Review and Tips

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Marathon, Half Marathon and Beach Mile races begin and finish near the pier, where personal belongings can be left at either start line or primary expo tent for safekeeping in an event-issued deposit bag.

Surf City Marathon and its three races attracted over 15,000 runners on Sunday morning in Huntington Beach. Conditions were ideal.

The Marathon

This award-winning marathon takes place along the picturesque sand beaches of Southern California and is known for being both flat and scenic – ideal for pushing to meet Boston qualifying times.

This marathon begins and finishes in front of Pier Plaza in Huntington Beach and winds along the ocean and through Surf City USA’s city streets, providing an ideal route for new marathoners or those hoping to improve on previous times. It is an ideal course for first-timers or those hoping for personal best times!

Runners will find plenty of support from spectators during their run, seeing palm tree-lined hills and dolphins surfing waves – an ideal way to kickstart Super Bowl weekend while giving yourself some beach therapy!

The Start

Surf City Marathon’s half marathon distance is by far the most popular distance, beginning in waves at roughly 2-3 minute intervals and self-seeded according to pace per mile. Beginning just past the pier and continuing through Surf City streets before turning towards Huntington Central Park where runners encounter only an incline between miles 3-4; here, hundreds of children will line the pathways of Huntington Central Park cheering them on with signs of encouragement – making for some fantastic spectators on race day!

As soon as you’ve reached the halfway mark, turn back toward PCH and admire the seascape that defines Surf City USA. When your journey comes to an end, head toward PCH for one last look around before reaching your final goal and collecting your Cowabunga Beach Medal!

Volunteering at any marathon event, from full to half distance races, can make this event even more successful! Volunteers will be rewarded with Race Team t-shirts, special volunteer parking passes and lunch, community service hours credit and detailed training before their shift starts! Volunteering provides clubs and associations the opportunity to work as one team; click here for more details and sign up now.

The Half Marathon

A half marathon is an ideal distance for beginners looking to challenge themselves, with beautiful scenery along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) providing some breathtaking beach views – something Huntington Beach, Surf City USA is known for!

Once past the Huntington Beach Pier, head through Huntington Central Park before encountering its sole incline between miles 3 and 4. At its conclusion, begin making your way back toward PCH via Seapoint Avenue; take in its ocean view while running down Seapoint – it may give you that extra push needed to cross the finish line and earn your medal!

As you begin your return towards the start, be sure to stop by our post-race celebration – The Finish Line Festival – for some live entertainment and refreshments! From food trucks and beer gardens, local surf bands, free t-shirts and commemorative medals; just sit back, relax and take it all in! This is what a California marathon should be about!

If the 2020 Surf City Marathon isn’t quite your cup of tea, don’t despair – there are other amazing coastal runs nearby to suit every running style! Los Angeles Marathon, Orange County Marathon & Half Marathon and SDCCU OC Marathon & Half Marathon all offer fantastic opportunities.

The Coastal Challenge is a series of marathons and half-marathons in Southern California that allows you to earn a special medal simply for participating. Each year counts towards this challenge; thus you could complete Surf City Marathon & Half Marathon 2022 before continuing onto LB Marathon and SDCCU OC Marathon in 2023 for full qualification!

Participating runners who wish to join the Coastal Challenge must sign digital waivers through their ACTIVE account and once completed will appear in your Race Entry page or can search their profile and search for Surf City Marathon & Half Marathon entries.

The 5K

If the marathon or half marathon distances are too far for you, enjoy an out-and-back course like Huntington Beach Pier’s 5K that starts just north of it and finishes just steps from Main Street with ocean views throughout! Participants receive a special finisher’s medal as well as high quality short sleeve technical shirt like all marathon/half runners!

The 5K is a USATF certified race with chip timing. Runners will start in waves every few minutes to allow plenty of room on the course, aid stations, and finish line. Your pace can help determine your wave. Look out for signs displaying pace at the start line to locate it quickly. To receive your race number at bib pickup and have it recorded accurately on chip timers’ machines you must be in the appropriate wave.

Once you complete the first mile, you will enter Huntington Central Park where hundreds of children will cheer you on as you meet Seapoint for one last climb – before turning back towards the beach and iconic pier for your final sprint to the finish line and post-race party on the sand!

Volunteers are essential to making our race a success! All volunteers will receive an official race team t-shirt, special volunteer parking spaces, lunch, credit toward community service hours and thorough training prior to their shift.

The Beach Mile

The Beach Mile is an annual one-mile run on Huntington Beach’s famous sands. Starting on the north side of Pacific Coast Highway between ocean and Hilton Waterfront Beach Hotel, runners begin their race along Pacific Coast Highway between these locations before turning onto Seapoint where there will be one incline in Seapoint before making their way through residential neighborhoods cheered on by hundreds of local children eager to welcome marathon runners!

Surf City gets its name from its proximity to the ocean. When passing through Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve wetlands and the park loop, you will eventually arrive back at PCH/the Beach with stunning ocean views as a reward.

After crossing the finish line, runners over 21 will be invited to enjoy an orange county-centric beer garden featuring live music from some of Orange County’s premier bands and offering an assortment of food vendors for everyone’s enjoyment.

Closing Thoughts

Visitors and spectators are welcomed and encouraged to attend and watch all the action from both the beach and along the course. A complete listing of event details can be found on its website.

Newport Beach resident Michelle Jacobsen won the women’s race with an impressive time of 2 hours, 57 minutes, 41 seconds. Heather Gilliland from Cardiff by the Sea finished close behind in 3 hours, 00 minutes and 26 seconds – both athletes earned medals as winners of each race.

Jacobsen completed her inaugural marathon at Surf City Marathon in 2021 and holds a Personal Best Time (PR) of 2 hours and 57 minutes 26 seconds from California International Marathon held March 20,2021. She has run over 150 marathons and ultramarathons while representing Team USA in various races and events, serving as mentor for Surf City Marathon’s Youth Running Program which provides children an introduction to running, health, nutrition and training for a marathon marathon.

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