April 11, 2010

Santa Cruz Half Marathon

We ran the Santa Cruz Half Marathon for the first time today, along with 2199 other runners. There was also a 10k race with 1114 runners. We had read about the great views on the race so decided to do it. The views did not disappoint but the weather did. We knew a few days before that the weather was going to be bad but we decided to make it a weekend trip anyway, spending the day before the race at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The race start was only a few short blocks from the Boardwalk itself so the morning of race day parking proved to be a challenge. Once at the start we could feel the cold breeze but were grateful that it was not raining. The course started out on a street along the coast and there was room for us to spread out but after a couple of miles it quickly narrowed and stayed that way for most of the course. The course had only a few hills and was mainly an out and back route with one loop in Wilder Ranch State Park. Once in Wilder Ranch the paved road was replaced by gravel and dirt and we had to be careful not to twist an ankle. The dirt path through the park was the narrowest part of the course making it difficult to pass other runners. We could definitely feel the wind while in the park but the views were still spectacular. Once out of Wilder Ranch we re-traced our steps back towards the Boardwalk. The course continued to be narrow all the way to the finish, since the street that had originally been closed for the race was now open to car traffic. Nearly two hours into the race it began to rain lightly and the wind began to pick up. Thankful to be near the finish we picked up our pace. The finish seemed very abrupt as we made a sharp right turn only a few steps from the finish line which is on the beach itself. Having the finish line on the beach is nice in theory but caused us to get sand in our shoes and socks and had us questioning whether it was really the best location for the finish. Once at the finish we received our medals and then picked up our t-shirts since they were not handed out prior to the race. This race t-shirt is probably our favorite race shirt to date since there are no sponsors on the shirt. There were also plenty of the usual post-race snacks on the beach. Despite the weather, the narrow course and the sand-filled finish, it was a great race and we would do it again.