Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Big Sur International Marathon Review

(Pic from the 2010 Big Sur Marathon)
The Big Sur Marathon was the fourth marathon that I have run and it was the best. It is a purist's marathon and a soulful course. Not a lot of flash and glitz, it is a challenging and beautiful run... It is a true runner's marathon.

Just getting to the starting line of this race makes it quite an adventure. If you're staying in Monterey or Carmel you have a 3:30am wake-up call and an hour long bus ride to the start. Once there, the race organizers do a great job of providing h2o, bagels, coffee, toilets and good vibes.

The field of runner's for the full marathon is about 5,000 so it has an intimate feel compared to other marathons. I saw a few people I knew and made friends with a handful of folks including an 80 year old man who was a Big Sur Marathon and Quad Dipsea vet. He was running Big Sur for the 20-something time. He shared some great stories while we waited for the gun.

Once we took off, I realized there were quite a few seasoned runners on the course. It seemed like there were a lot of people on par for a 3:20-3:50 finish. This was the first marathon that I ran without headphones and it was a great course to do it on. I was really able to tune into nature, the ocean and the movement of the course. The hills were great but the road was rougher than I expected it to be... I was wearing my Brooks Green Silence racing flats and I actually would have been more comfortable in my beat up Brooks Cascadia trail shoes. The weather was abnormally warm for a Big Sur Marathon. As you can see in the pic at the top, the marine layer (foggy looking air) only rose to about 200 ft... above that layer is warm dry air. On the Hurricane Point hill I noticed a fairly drastic change in temp and was excited to get back down into that marine layer. I was cruising and feeling great at an average pace of 8:30/mile through mile 16... then my hamstring locked up. This was the first running related injury that I have had and I think it had to do with the temperature changes + being on a hilly course. I had to slow my roll to a hobbling 10min+/mile pace and finished just over 4hrs. Pushing through this minor setback made crossing the finish that much sweeter.

Along the way I loved the MILE MARKERS and felt that the aid stations were excellently placed and stocked... even with fruit!! The ladies on Strawberry Hill were handing out some of the best Strawberries that I have ever tasted. The Watsonville Taiko Drummers as you approached Hurricane Point Hill were chilling and Michael Martinez, the pianist just on the other side of Bixby Bridge was excellent.

It was great pulling into Carmel and there was a solid but still intimate crowd at the finish. I am definitely running this marathon again in the future. Congrats to Daniel Tapia and Veronica Clemens, who won in 2:26:09 and 2:55:18, respectively.



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