Bibrave Race Review: Surf City Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to The Surf City Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Well if flying out of LAX and driving to and from LAX wasn’t enough to give anyone an anxiety attack, I don’t know what is! I was in Huntington Beach this weekend for the Surf City Half Marathon. I first did this race in 2013 and have wanted to come back and do it again, so living on the west coast made things easier.

I flew out Friday morning, a rare direct flight from Spokane to anywhere. I picked up my rental car from the airport and hit the 405 towards Huntington Beach. I was hoping to miss any sort of rush hour traffic. Granted, LA always has traffic, I just wanted to miss the stand still part of it. I ended up stopping at the expo prior to going to the hotel. Since I was early, I found a place for lunch and walked around some. It was raining just a bit, but the sun came out by the time I got through the expo.

The Expo was easy to navigate. They had computers set up for number look up and liability forms to sign. You walked into race weekend registration, bib and shirt pick up

The lines for medium was long, but what can you do. It moved quickly though. No shirt exchange at the expo, but you could bring it race day to see if there was a size you wanted and you could swap out there. Always plenty of vendors and races there. I actually signed up for next year’s race at the expo. If you do the race 3 years in a row, you become a legacy runner (think special shirts and bling!). A ton of races, vendors, etc. Destination Races was there, a bunch of California races and your typical running specialty stuff there. Best of all, if you’re a beer drinker, the beer garden was open all 3 days.

Hotels: I stayed at the Double Tree Club in Santa Ana, about 30 min away. They have the Double Tree cookies there, but are awesome in general. They have free shuttles to/from the race, a pasta dinner and the best welcoming party after the race. The Hilton Waterfront is the sponsor hotel and right across the street from the start/finish

Getting there: Shuttles. Shuttles. Shuttles. Hotels associated with the race tended to do shuttles, which is what I took. There were other areas in town that let you park at their facilities and shuttled you in (I think the HS, the convention center, etc.

Race Morning: The Marathoners have their own start time at 630 AM. The Half Marathoners start at 745. The 1/2 marathon has a wave start based on your bib number and heads off every 3 minutes.


The Course: you start out on the Pacific Coast Highway for approximately 3 miles before heading into a residential neighborhood for another 2 miles and change. Around mile 4 you get a nice little hill and some coastal view before heading back down the Pacific Highway. You head to the turn around (somewhere between miles 7 and 8) before heading back into town. Mile 10 brings some more gradual hills, but otherwise very flat. You get the breeze from the ocean, which kept things cool. The marathons had an extra portion that they did prior to coming back on Pacific Highway with us and split again in the late stages of the half marathons. Aid stations were every 1-1.5 miles with bathrooms, water and vitalyte (never heard of it).

Pacers: are from gun time and were available for the half and full marathon

The Finish: Where the expo took place over the weekend and right along the ocean. You were greeted with medals and enthusiastic announcers, spectators and other runners. Plenty of medals for everyone. As you went through, you picked up water, food and heat sheets. These guys also know the true meaning of having chocolate milk at the end of a race. There were other free samples of stuff and vendors set up. You could also buy finisher stuff. If you’re a beer fan: beer garden with entertainment.

Personally, this was probably my best race in 22 months. I ran 2:24:35, my first sub 2:30 since May, 2015. I’m pleased with that!

Please go do this race sometime. Or multiple times. It’s worth the runcation and time in California. The weather is typically good, though the sun decided to not join us this weekend, which was sad. My only gripe is they still use a D Tag. How about upgrading to the B tag? Less likelihood of someone putting the wrong tag on their shoe or throwing out their timing chip.

If you need any other reason to stay at the Double Tree Club in Santa Ana, look no further. The post race welcome we arrived to:


























Surf City Half Marathon

This weekend, I traded in windy, sub 20 degree weather of suburban Kansas City for 70 degrees and beaches of LA and Huntington Beach.  To say it was needed is an understatement for sure!!  I headed out to LAX after working Friday morning (thankfully on a direct flight) and was met by a friend of the family.  We went to pick up some dinner (we were going to try the Lobsta Truck but couldn’t find parking).  We made our way over to a little local cafe and picked up some sandwiches, ate and then picked up my parents at the airport.

Saturday, we made our way to Huntington Beach to the expo to pick up our race gear.  First time ever I’ve been to an expo under tents!!  I did love being greeted by some surf boards, that’s for sure

Surf Board


We picked up our gear and wondered the expo.  I found myself a poster for $20, a new pair of sunglasses and tried some pre race stuff which wasn’t for sale (who does that?!?!).  We headed for a walk on the beach and stopped for some lunch before heading over to the DoubleTree hotel to check in.  We watched some good basketball and headed out for dinner at Baci’s.

Around 550 AM Sunday, we were up and at it.  Luckily, I was still on CST so it felt like closer to 8 for me.  Since my stuff was laid out from the night before, I changed, brushed my hair and had some of the free breakfast downstairs.  We hopped the 6:45 shuttle to the start and arrived at 7:20.  After hijacking the Hilton’s bathrooms (which were much better then porta potties), we walked to the start and parted ways to get into our corrals.  We were delayed in getting out, so much so, that 1/2 mile in, the Johnny Rockets restaurant was nice enough to let me use the bathroom again.  I was keeping a good pace up until right before mile 3.  I saw a guy seizing and stopped to see if there was anything I could do.  There was an RN there already and police were trying to get paramedics over.  All we knew was his name and because he didn’t fill out the back of his bib, we didn’t know if he had any health problems

This is where I’ll make my plea…runners, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE fill out the back of your bib with your info and medical stuff on it.  That’s where we look first to see if you have problems if something happens to you!!!

After race officials took over, I kept going along with the 2 others who stopped to help.  Half Marathon Bib #7737, I hope you’re ok!!!  We headed into a little neighborhood that had a hill to it. Nothing bad at all (yet people were complaining about it.  I have worse hills in my hometown of Ohio!).  After we got out of the neighborhood, we were back on the highway.  It was nice to have the smell of the ocean with you the entire time and good weather.  At this point I was kicking myself because it was chilly when we left the hotel so I wore a long sleeved shirt.  By the start of the race, I wanted to take it off, but it wasn’t one I was willing to part with so pushed the sleeves up.  i at least had a nice view of the beach

Surf City Beach

Surf City Beach

Somewhere after mile 8, we turned and headed back towards the finish.  We chugged along for some miles and began seeing marathoners running on the beach portion of their course (this particular day, I was glad it wasn’t me).  The marathoners started over an hour before us so bless them for that.  I realized how much I still hate running over parts of road that act as overpasses and their gradual inclines as well!  I was confused as to where I was at time wise since I had stopped to help the guy seizing but I was so confused with seeing pacers of the 2:15 group in front of 2:10 pacers.  I couldn’t even gage where I was at!  I was pretty glad to see the finish and take off my long sleeved shirt.  By far, one of my favorite medals I’ve ever gotten (who doesn’t like a surf board medal???).  I finished officially in 2:17 even.  Based on my garmin time, I finished in about 2:12:20 which I’ll take either one.

Surf City Medal

Surf City Medal

The nice thing about staying at a hotel close to the race is the shower I got afterwards.  I didn’t have to sit in a car smelling for an hour!!  We made our way back to LA and had some lunch in the Venice Beach area before I had to head back to the midwest (at least it’s in the 40s now).  My parents?  I’m apparently not the favorite child because they went to Hawaii this morning with out me 😦 (Just kidding!!!)

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