I vividly recall my running partner and I having a week long debate over which half marathon we would be running in February 2009 (as the possibility of us doing two back to back was immediately thrown out the window). This was going to be my first half marathon ever. I, on the one hand, was attracted to the idea of doing the Buffalo Run Half Marathon in Catalina: dirt roads, nature and torturous hills. She was a big fan of swag and attracted to the idea of getting a surfboard medal at the end, hence Surf City.
Surf City ended up winning the spot as my first half due to a rational talking to from my running partner of flat, fast course versus 8 miles uphill for a newbie… and I’m glad I was convinced! It’s a great race that I would recommend to first timers or vets.
A word to the wise – the race has a tendency to sell out pretty quickly as it’s one of the most popular of the SoCal Half/Full Marathons out there. So if you’re thinking about doing it it’s best to make up your mind around December-early January. That being said, the race’s popularity with over 12,000 runners did not attract as many sponsors as one would expect (the Expo was not as mind-blowing as I thought it would be and the goody bag was anti-climactic at best). But it’s not all about the Expo…
The course was *awesome* – great scenery, ocean breeze and phenomenal supporters cheering you along the way. It was fast and flat the whole time. The course also provided local bands and entertainment along every 5 miles or so playing their best rendition or homage to the Beach Boys. My favorite part of the course had to be between the 8-11th mile when you were out of the residential neighborhoods and out along PCH. The view of the ocean was majestic. It also made the arduous task of pushing out the last few miles as hard as possible bearable.
There were plenty of water stations along the way and gummy sharks (this was the first time the gummy sharks and I met but they definitely did the trick). The finish line festival was AWESOME. It came complete with beer garden and lots and lots of free food for finishers (joint juice, bananas, clif bars, coffee, etc). Having the surfboard medal and wooden surfboard souvenir was also a nice little take away at the end (aside from finishing my first half).