Race Review: Surf City Half Marathon and the Cowabunga Challenge

Disclaimer: I’m promoting Surf City Half Marathon and the Cowabunga Challenge as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!

Welcome back from Surf City! 4th time’s a charm for Surf City, right? I first ran Surf City in 2013 and then came back for the past few years starting 2017. I flew out to Orange County on February 1. If you ever go out for Surf City, John Wayne Airport is an awesome alternative and about 25 min from downtown Huntington Beach and you miss flying through LAX. I took a Lyft to the hotel and checked in before finding dinner at one of the neighboring hotels with a wine bar (score!).

Saturday morning, after having breakfast, I ran into one of the physical therapists from work (mind you, Spokane), who was with family and doing a trip to Disney Land. We had a group Bibrave Pro text message going on and poor Fallon will probably have the best story of all of us. Rain decided to show up to Southern California that led to flooding in some areas, which meant that Fallon got rerouted. I went to the expo and picked up my Cowabunga bib and picked up Fallon’s Bib (quick and easy with the QR code) and dropped the extra stuff in my room.

The Cowabunga challenge took place on the beach itself. To make things interested, winds were hitting close to 30 mph. This was the first year for the Cowabunga Challenge Mile, so why not do it on the beach with ridiculous winds. The first half mile was a breeze, but the second half was right Into the wind and slowed most of us down. I’m pretty sure I was dealing with sand in my ears and my legs look like I had chronic venous issues just because of the sand!

Afterward the 1 mile run, I went back to the expo and within 20 minutes it was pouring down rain. I’m just glad it didn’t happen earlier! I picked up my half marathon bib and shirt at the legacy longboard table. My bib got stamped and I was able to get my half marathon and legacy status shirt. I may have gotten the wrong size. Whoops. The expo is huge and has a ton of vendors, races and things to look at and do (really one of the better expos I’ve been to). Take time to enjoy it when you’re out there! After searching the expo, I went and found lunch in the hotel in order to stay out of the rain. I napped in the hotel for a bit before Fallon made it into town and picked up her bib. After going to church and catching some dinner, I headed back to the hotel for the night.

Race morning showed up and somehow it wasn’t raining! We were all excited about that and the wind wasn’t horrible. After grabbing some breakfast and getting changed, I spent a few minutes getting my stuff together and letting fellow Bibrave Pro Mai avoid the port a potties and use my hotel bathroom. We made it down to the start of race and met up with all the Bibrave Pros. The skies still had us wondering about the rain status though!

The race itself is spread out. The full marathon starts at 630 AM, the 5K at 7 AM, and the half marathon at 7:45 AM. I get wanting to spread the half and full marathon out, but I’ve always thought switching the 5K and half marathon made more sense in terms of time. The course itself though is mainly on the Pacific Coast Highway. The first three miles out is on the highway before turning into one of the neighborhoods. It was flat briefly before we hit some hills after mile 4 or so. You get a view of the city before heading downhill and back out to the Pacific Coast Highway. After hitting mile 8, we came back into town and ran against 5 miles of wind (or so it felt like it). We were dealing with some sprinkling rain on and off for a little bit and another hill around mile 10 that I seem to always forget about. The last mile the crowd support picked back up heading back into the finish line. Aid stations every 1-1.5 miles with water and Nuun. I don’t get a long with Nuun in terms of flavor/texture so no electrolytes for me :-(.

Post race, there was plenty of food, water and you got your medals. Food trucks, beer gardens, massage tables galore and plenty to do. I hung around some before heading back for the million dollar shower. After packing up and checking out, I headed back to the airport for lunch and to fly back to Washington.

Overall, always a fun race and always well run. Love the addition of the Cowabunga Challenge (hey, we got a cape!), always a great course. Medals are always awesome and surf board themed. If you’re looking for a great race and a good winter get away, look into Surf City!

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About drrunner
8 time marathoner, 65 ish time 1/2 marathoner with a bucket list item to hit all 50 states. BibRave Pro, Doctor and a mix of insanity

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