RaceGrader - Authentic Race Reviews - Swim, Bike, Run

Surf City Marathon & Half Marathon

February 01, 2015 · Huntington Beach, CA

Distance: 13.1 miles, 26.2 miles

This spectacular oceanfront course is an exclusive Southern California favorite! Run by the famous Huntington Beach pier and continue through scenic Huntington Central Park. Observe native surfers in their natural habitat as you hit the beachfront running path at Bolsa Chica State Beach. More than 2,000 volunteers and several surf bands will be along the way cheering you on and making sure you have plenty of nourishment and energy! Where else will you get cheers from a surfer?

DISCOUNT AVAILABLE!

Click here for registration information
pre-race course post-race
a a a
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by lbclove

March 16, 2014

Review

Whats not love about this race? It is in the best location and the weather is always perfect hard running.

The expo- I went right when it opened so there was a line to get in but it moved rather quickly. They always have a nice big expo with tons of vendors. The atmosphere is great and really gets you pumped up for the race.

Race day- I parked several blocks away for free and biked in. Which made the day SUPER EASY. Its always ice cold before the start so I brought a long a mylar blanket and sat inside the expo tent till it warmed up. The corrals are always thick with people but everyone moves over and you get right in. They had plenty of well stocked aide station along the course. Its a fairly flat and fast course in my opinion and the race goes by super quick. The winds really picked up during the race and I had to fight them for the last 4 miles of race. It felt like running in mud but added to the challenge.

The finish line as always was well stocked with goodies. I Pr’d that day and it was taking me a minute to think straight. The gentlemen handing out mylar blankets was so sweet I will never forget him. He could see how long it was taking me to think and he turned me around and wrapped it around me. He said the blanket was a nice warm hug from my mom :)

Post Race- It seemed ok to me. I didn’t hang out for too long. I went inside the tent to verify my finish time. I checked out the few remaining vendors and bought a couple Surf City shirts at a reduced price.

This years medal is a little bigger than last years and I LOVE this years long sleeve pink tech shirt. My long sleeve Surf City shirts are always my go to winter shirts for running so I appreciate that they give out something I can use.

I love Surf City and will run it every single year.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by Jessica Chance

February 10, 2014

Review

So this is my third Surf City. I love the beach and can not imagine a better place to find your zen and settle in for a long run. The course is fast and the hydration and runner support along the course is good. There are plenty of stops for water and clif shot blocks and I for one certainly appreciated the multiple opportunities to re-fuel.
The expo is a little crazy on Friday when it opens and unless you get there before it opens on Saturday, you should pretty much expect large crowds and crazy parking. The state beach offers close parking but its not cheap (and that is sucky). The security staff they had there were like the mafia. They were rude and very stern. This is supposed to be a good experience,,,geez
My only real major complaint with the course this year was the lack of crowd control at the turn around. When I went through, the crowd has closed so far in to the turn that we were only able to run about 2 wide (and we were coming from a 3 lane road). This could certainly be addressed by the management.
This race has been vastly different every year that I have done it. This year it was nice at the start and then windy and cloudy on the way back. Personally I appreciated the colder weather in the last few miles. The 2 years before were blazing hot and due to the proximity of the water, sunburn is very common so bring your sunscreen.
Post race is fine..good crowd control and the beer tent is fine but since your spectators can not partake of any refreshments, its kind of a drag to grab a beer by yourself while your family/friends are waiting (for another few hours) outside a fence…crummy :(…and speaking of crummy, their snack bags are pathetic.
This did not affect me personally but did affect a couple of people I went to the race with: they RAN OUT OF MEDALS….seriously? how does that happen? so much for photo ops.
All in all, this is a good race and I will definitely do it for years to come….hopefully they will improve on some of these minor things and it will get a solid A from me next year

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by SD Tri Guy

February 3, 2014

Review

I have run a half dozen full marathons and numerous half marathons, but this was my first experience running the Surf City Half Marathon. Overall, Surf City Half Marathon was an enjoyable experience, but the pre-race packet pick-up and pre-race shuttle service needs better planning.

I decided to go to the expo to pick up my bib on Friday to avoid long lines and the crowd, but that back fired on me. I showed up at 3pm when the expo opened, and there was a line over a quarter mile long that extended through most of the parking lot. I stood in line for 35 minutes. Not a good introduction to Surf City. Just glad it wasn’t raining as some of the early forecasts were predicting. The expo had the usual amount of vendors for a race this size, but the one extra feature was a photo booth where you can take a picture riding a wave. The shirts are long sleeved tech tee’s.

On race day, I arrived at 6:30 (an 1:15 before half marathon start) and got one of the last parking spots in the state beach parking lot. Once I parked, there was a 20 minute wait to get on a shuttle and then there was so much traffic, that it took the shuttle bus 20 minutes to travel two miles to the drop off point. Leaving me 10 minutes to get to the start line, warm up, and get into the correct corral.

The race course itself is mostly flat and fast. A majority of the course has scenery along the coast. There were plenty of aid stations and I really appreciated that they had 4 gel block stations (most half marathons have just 1). The mile markers were also large and easily visible from 1/8 mile away.

The post race area included the usual grab bag of post race food and a mylar blanket. There was a band and large beer garden area where they offered two free beers. I did not use the bag check, so I can’t comment on that service. The race is known for its surfboard medal, and the 2014 version lived up to the hype. It even smells like mahogany! This race was also my third race in the Beach Cities Challenge (Surf City, OC, and Long Beach half marathons) so I received a very large Beach Cities Challenge medal. In my opinion, the best multi-race challenge medal I’ve seen.

Overall I give it a B grade, but if the organzier’s can streamline their pre-race logisitcs it would be an A grade.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by Scott Devine

February 3, 2014

Review

It’s Super Bowl Sunday football fans and you know what that means… yup, time to race. As part of another annual tradition, The Surf City Marathon and Half Marathon kicked off another chapter of their seaside scramble. And unlike the blowout “big game” between Seattle and Denver yesterday, the Surf City Marathon and Half Marathon was an exciting time from start to finish. Around 18,000 runners (2332 Marathon finishers/ 15447 Half Marathon finishers) lined up yesterday along PCH at Sunrise in preparation for the race and to gain a 2,000 calorie deficit before heading off to their respective SB parties. Let the game begin…

REGISTRATION/PACKET PICK-UP
Registration costs for Surf City were in keeping with most races (I paid around $90 for the half), signing up just a few months ago. And after shelling out $195 this past week for the Disneyland Half Marathon, that seems like a steal. Packet pick-up for the race was at the seaside Expo held on Friday and Saturday in the parking lot near the start line. Parking for the expo was $15 at the beach lots, but if you’re comfortable with a little walking you should be able to find a meter (bring change) within a mile or so (I used the money I saved with the meter to buy a Surf City pint glass… so someone still got my money). The expo itself is a nice time, complete with a decent amount of vendors present. There are also a few photo opportunities (I like the “pose on a surfboard” one myself). And an added bonus is that when you walk out of the expo you’re right on the beach, so hang out for bit (like I said, bring a lot of change for the meter) and enjoy the view.

TRANSPORTATION/PARKING
As I said earlier, approximately 18,000 runners swarm the beach side community of Huntington Beach for the race. And while there is parking at and along the beach, things can get a bit sticky. The race organizers “highly recommend” carpooling (4 to a car) and people who arrive on race morning should expect traffic delays and finding a spot might be a bit of a challenge. There are shuttle options, which I recommend, and I myself solved the problem by just getting a hotel nearby the night before and letting them drive us to and from the race.

T-SHIRT/MEDALS
Surf City does have a great piece of swag with their finisher’s medal. Continuing their “surfboard” trend that they started in ’08, the race features a “wooden” medal supporting the race’s logo. This year’s model, nicknamed “Maverick” featured a shortboard with a floral pattern and was quite cool. The differences between the half and full medal were minimal, the biggest difference being the color of the neckband. And an extra bonus for you runners who complete the “Beach Cities Challenge” is the 2014 edition of the challenge medal (I got mine yesterday). By running three consecutive races (Surf City, OC Marathon and Long Beach) you earn this gigantic medal (it’s a heavy sucker) featuring the challenge’s logo atop a golden seashell… some serious bling. And Surf City also did a good job this year with their shirts as they offered pink long sleeve shirts for the ladies and yellow ones for the men. Sure, they’re a bit loud in the color department, but they’re a good fit and mimic a bright “wetsuit” look that you might see on a surfer cutting through the waves.

COURSE
For all its popularity and other positive attributes, the one thing about Surf City that’s very pedestrian is the course itself. Now I’ll preface this by saying you are running along PCH near the water, which is really sweet and a great view (and smell the salty air… or maybe that’s just the sweat from the other runners). But that’s pretty much all you run. The course is basically an “out and back,” running along PCH, with one short add on. Around mile 3 you hang a right and spend the next 2-3 miles scampering around a residential neighborhood before returning to PCH a little before mile 6. From there on, it’s nothing but PCH until around mile 8 where you hang a U-turn and head back to the start (you don’t hit the residential section on the way back). For the full marathon runners it’s even more of the same as you do the same stretch out and back yet again, only closer to the beach. One great thing about Surf City though is it’s a speedy and straight course. With just a few hills in the residential section and another hill and slight upgrade a little after mile 10, this course should allow you to push yourself and shoot for a PR. And since it’s a straight course, for the most part, you don’t have to worry about adding distance to the run (I ended up only adding .06 miles over the entire race). Since it’s near the ocean you can get some winds and a slight headwind yesterday from mile 9 on did slow runners down a tad near the end.

COURSE SERVICES
Surf City does a pretty solid job with their course support, offering plenty of water stops manned by eager volunteers. The “official” drink was Vitalyte, and Cliff shots were offered at more than one stop. I noticed several medical tents set up along the course along with numerous bike volunteers carrying supply packs like beachside St. Bernards. There were also a few bands scattered along the course belting out tunes (thanks for coming out) and I turned down my headphones whenever I ran by them.

FINISH LINE SERVICES/POST PARTY
Surf City has a decent post race party, complete with a beer tent offering runners 2 free beers (a nice kind of post-race rehydration) and the opportunity to re-visit the expo to grab up a few more souvenirs (note, they’re 2-for-1). A lot of runners, myself included, did cut the post race celebration short in order to get home in time for the Super Bowl.

RECOMMENDATION
I have to admit a little personal bias toward Surf City, as it was the site of my first ever half marathon (you never forget your first). But this is just a solid race presented on an enjoyable (if unremarkable) course and offering a slew of runners a chance to run along the beach before heading off to watch the big game. I look forward to running Surf City again in 2015 and plan to now make it one of my “annual” races.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by genevieve

December 31, 2013

Review

Excellent scenery with beautiful ocean views. Well organized start but getting to the line was quite chaotic. Course had sufficient resources and water stations but wasn’t very well controlled (several surfers cut me off as they ran across the course). The bag check was absolutely terrible – it took volunteers nearly an hour to find my bag as it did for many other runners.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by lbclove

April 6, 2013

Review

The course was good with nice views. My wave was not too congested with walkers. The tech shirts ran super small. I was sad to see only one medic station around mile 5 and then never again. Several runners were on the side of the road with cramps and what not with no support in site. The water stations were very empty starting on mile 7. They ran out of some of the post race food which I thought was weird. If a set amount of people registered then why not have enough for everyone. They gave out shot blocks for the half marathon between mile 10 and 11 which seemed stupid. Why have it so late in the race? I bring by own gel so it wasn’t and issue for me but it was a weird place to have them. The shuttle situation to leave was an absolute nightmare and took forever. I was surprised they did not have any vendors or food trucks post race since the Long Beach Marathon was filled with them.
Nice view and a flat (mostly) fast course but the lack of essentials made the whole experience just blah.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by frazledmom5

April 3, 2013

Review

This was my 3rd time running Surf City Full Marathon.

I am always disappointed with the expo at this race. For the size of the race, they should get a bigger tent for the expo and have a wider variety of vendors. Packet pick-up can be crowded and stressful. I like the long sleeved tech tees and the reusable bags.

There were plenty of porta potties (with paper!) We arrive early and find parking, bad traffic is bad!

I like that the full and half have different start times, it helps from being too congested at the start. The course on the other hand gets very congested at times, especially after the full and half runners merge together.

Aid stations were plentiful, my favorite was the “beer and bacon” station.

The course was very scenic and my family loves this race because they can spend a few hours at the beach while they wait for me.

After crossing the finish line things get ugly! Way to congested, got routed off into the gear pick up line….took FOREVER to find some free space.

Surfboard medals are one of a kind and worth the run. Results are posted promptly.

Traffic is bad leaving the race so its a good idea to bring beach towels and enjoy the beach before heading out.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by boyster

April 3, 2013

Review

This was my 1st time doing HB. It was my final race for the Beach Cities Challenge. The expo was small, but check-in went quickly. Tech shirts ran very small, but I was able to exchange for a larger size. I did not enjoy traffic on the way home from Expo, but it was better than giving up a Sat. Weather was great for the race. Bathrooms were nice to use in the hotel. The course was ok, plenty of fluids. Post race was crowded, with a very long line for Beach Citites meadal. Even longer long line for shuttles back to parking. My worst issue was the amount of walkers in early corrals. This is an issue with every race, but seemed excessive at this couse. It is very frustrating when you are trying to PR to have to run around groups of people 3-4 wide. All in all a good race, but once was enough for me.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by sverga

April 3, 2013

Review

Excellent course, with great support. Pace groups were excellent motivators to run with. It was awesome to run by the ocean. The only thing I would change about the course is the last 5 or so miles of the marathon was an out and back from the finish line, so it was mentally challenging. Great run otherwise.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by Bell

February 15, 2013

Review

Nice half marathon race but lots and lots and lots of people. Nice mostly flat course, along PCH so the views are great. Best Beer Garden on the plant, great SWAG and lots of race support. Lot’s of spectators to cheer you on.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by Ruth Ranalli Brajevich

February 8, 2013

Review

Marathon – I actually like the Marathon course better then the Half. This is a great course for First Timers. Nice and flat and scenic during the back half (where Marathons get boring typically). Course support was the BEST I have ever had. Surf City does it right! Tons of Clif bloks, bananas, etc during the 2nd part of the full. Only challenge was when you run on the beach path, you had to share the road with the general public. The only other challenge is parking. Wonderful event overall!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by Jimmy Nguyen

February 8, 2013

Review

This is the first beachside race I’ve done, and for this year, it’s the first of my Beach Cities Challenge. The pre-race expo was nice though the humidity of the weekend combined with a lot of people under a big tent made for a lot of obnoxious odors wandering about. Gross.

Parking for pre-race was alright, though a bit confusing. I managed to find metered parking less than a block away on 1st street. Parking for race day for me, was a breeze – cuz I got there super early and parked at one of the shuttle stop locations.

Race day was actually pretty and warm, the skies were clear and the sun was up and out in full force. I’ve done other daytime races before, but I’ve always ended with the sun on my back, and this time the sun was in my face.. I was very tired at the finish line needless to say.

Lots of good water stations, however not enough Vitalyte electrolyte stations. Lots of portapotties on the route and good volunteers, but could definitely use some entertainment along the bolsa chica area. The entertainment along PCH was awesome and definitely helped with the last 3-4 miles along PCH.

Overall, I had fun and the race was great.. of course the bling is always a super plus. Would I run this again? Sure, why not? :) Looking forward to the OC Half and Long Beach Half to complete my Beach Cities Challenge!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by missblueeyes

February 5, 2013

Review

This was my first SoCal half marathon.
And by the far the largest.

Pre race: I went right when bib pickup opened 3:00. I had free parking and no trouble getting my prerace packet. I like that the shirts were long sleeve an had a women’s fit with a v neck option. This is my first race that had that option. The theme is all surf and is cute and I ended up taking lots of pictures. The vendors there were nice and helpful….and they had just about every energy bar user the sun for you to try. Overall: quick easy and cute

Race day: I arrived at 6:30 and went straight to overflow parking at the high school. I easily found a spot and was on the shuttle bus (which was quick and I did not have to wait). I arrived at the race with plenty of time to enjoy and mentally prepare. Yes it was chilly…which is good to my point of view! The race itself was pretty standard. But here’s the thing: it has a TON of runners. I think they did a great job starting in multiple waves. On top of that, the road is so wide that I never felt to cramped in running. They had plenty of water stations/energy stops. By the time I wanted to quit at mile 12, there was a large enough crowd to keep me going. Honestly, this race was a lot easier to navigate and get in and out of than any of the others I’ve ran in NorCal. My chip didn’t catch on the start but did on the finish ad because I timed myself, I was able to go to the solutions booth and easily fix it. Oh! And the fact that you can check your time immediately after the race was awesome. The beer garden had a huge line, I skipped it. Plus it’s Super Bowl Sunday…I had other things to get to. I wish they had water right after the finish line…it’s about four groups of volunteers back and it is so crowded that I felt like they should have had it right after the finish.

Overall, it’s a good race that I feel like is worth doing. Get there early, use overflow parking, and dot stress about anything else. Enjoy the beach air while you’re running

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by pasadena13

February 4, 2013

Review

Expo: I went to the expo Saturday morning around 10AM. I was able to get free parking in the beach lots next to the event and only walked about a quarter of a mile to the expo tent. It was packed inside there. There were lots of giveaways, but nothing too great. A lot of protein type bars, which I just didn’t have much of an appetite for. The bib was nice and had my name on it. The long sleeved tech shirt has a nice design, and it’ll be something I’ll wear many times. The goodie bag was empty, but was a nice resuabe tote bag that I can use for groceries and future races.

Race day parking: I parked in the Newland Center lot, which was a strip mall with plenty of parking spaces, on Beach Bl north of Adams. Had no problem parking, but stood in line for the shuttles for about 45 minutes before we were picked up.

Start line: Because I used the shuttle, I got there with about 10 minutes to spare. I made a beeline for the gear check tent and had no problem checking in my gear (in my goodie bag). Then, I walked to the start, which the race had already started. I got in the wave just before the wave I was actually assigned. There wasn’t anyone checking to make sure runners were in the right corral. However, I couldn’t figure out how to enter the corral I was assigned, so I was able to get into the one before that. The weather was great! About 55 to start and the sun was starting to come out. There just wasn’t much energy at the start line.

Course: It was pretty flat with some larger hills once you got to the wetlands/neighborhood about mile 4-5. The rest of the race was completed along PCH. We went all the way up PCH and then all the way down. It just never seemed to end. It was a nice view of the ocean, but it was also very smoggy and I got a lot of sun because the last half of the race was directly into the sun. There were thousands of runners (about 20K) and the course was crowded but there wasn’t too many times where I was having to go around other runners or getting caught behind someone super slow.

Water/Vitalyte/Cliff Shot Blocks: Water and Vitalyte seemed to be passed out at each station, which was about every mile. The tables were well marked and you didn’t have to wait for water, as there there hundreds of volunteers out on the course. I couldn’t believe there was no gel or anything else but one little shot block passed out somewhere near the middle of the race. This area was very disappointing and I’m glad that I finally took a gu around mile 9. I was glad I brought my fuel belt with chapstick and gu packets.

Course Entertainment: There were about half a dozen surf bands along the way, and I loved the music. I was glad I didn’t wear an ipod so that I could just take in all of the things going on around me. There were lots of spectators at the turns and many had signs, which I appreciated.

Finish Line: The last 3 miles were very hard, and you were going directly into the sun on a course that never seemed to end. It was in the 70s by the time I finished and boy was I feeling the heat (that I hadn’t experienced in the last several months). I was very tired, but happy once I crossed the finish line. I didn’t like the fact that it was nearly 11AM by the time I was getting my gear (which seemed to take forever…there were lots of volunteers on hand but they were slow to find your bag). The medals were nice. They were surfboards made out of a wood type material. Nothing fancy. There were water bottles, space blankets given out, and grocery bags filled with post race eats. Good stuff, too…rice cakes, frozen strawberries, fig newtons, pineapple cups, cliff bars, and I can’t remember what else. I was really happy with this area, although it sure was packed after the food zone and I didn’t even go into the beer garden area or see what else was being offerred.

Would I run this race again: I’m not sure. It’s far from where I live, you have to drive down there two days in a row, the shuttles took forever pre-race, there was next to no energy on the course, it was hot, the race didn’t start until 0745, the gear retrieval took a long time, the course was flat, pretty boring, and seemed like it was never ending.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by katieshannon

February 4, 2013

Review

This was my 4th half marathon, but my first of the beach city challenges. The expo and packet pick up weren’t too bad other than we had to pay 10 dollars for parking and walk a good distance to get to the expo. the expo itself was well organized and the lines went my quick.
The race itself was a bit boring to me. I thought the announcer at the starting line was lacking enthusiasm and they did nothing to pump up the runners prior to starting. I found the course itself really boring, although the views of the ocean were nice, i thought how they set up the course was dull. there wasnt much entertainment along the course at all and not many spectators as the last 3 half marathons I had done. I was bored most of the course and it was mentally discouraging to do so many turn arounds as other runners ran past you. The end of the race after the finish line was well organized and the medal and snack pick up went very smoothly. The volunteers were great. Overall I give this race a B but I would not do it again due to the course.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by TDR

February 4, 2013

Review

The Surf City Half Marathon was my second half marathon and I enjoyed the run very much. My complaints are really minor.

Pre-Race: Bib pick up was fairly easy. T-shirts for women ran SMALL. Good thing I ordered an XL, although people who were complaining about size were permitted to switch. The expo was very fun. We got there early and as we exited, there was a very long line of people waiting to pick up their bibs. On race day, the shuttles were very slow. We arrived early and parked at the Newton Center. The line for people waiting to board was easily 300 people. People gave up and began to walk. There were no porto-potties or bathrooms at the parking site which many were also grumbling about, too. I finally boarded a bus at about 7:30 for my race, but many were left behind. I hope next year race organizers have more shuttle buses to accommodate the number of runners parking at these sites. Once I arrived at the race site, I had to run and find a bathroom, wait in line to use it, and run to find my wave.It all worked out but I was anxious about it pre-start.

Course: The course was beautiful. It was HOT! Lots of water, which was great. I didn’t see any entertainment, as promised by the organizers. Nor did I ever see the Cliff Blocks that we were told would be distributed. The volunteers were super and very nice and water was plentiful, which is really all that matters. Oh, there were hills. I don’t know why I was surprised by the hills!

Post-race: I only received one bottle of water, as I exited. It was hot so I guzzled that one down pretty quickly and then couldn’t find any more. My husband actually ran to one of the running group support tents to find me water. (One was very gracious and provided me with a bottle and offered up snacks, as well! Thank you, Running Group!) We didn’t go to the beer tent or anything because we were worried that it would take a long time to get back to parking based on our experience of waiting in the morning. (It took about 45 minutes.)

Overall: I liked this race. It kicked my butt, but I still enjoyed running it. Beautiful coastal scenery and very well organized, other than the parking/shuttle/bathroom stuff. I would run it again for sure.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by Gatorsgochomp

February 4, 2013

Review

I have to say, I got injured during this one, so I might be a little bit spiteful, however compared with previous years that I have run this one, I thought this year could have been better.
The good: packet pick up was easy and the expo for this race is always great. Volunteers for this one are amazing. Cliff block shots at mile 11 were a nice treat! Perfect amount of hydration stations; volunteers even had M&Ms at mile 4!!

The bad: Late late start, but I expect this. What I did not like was that even though I started in the 13000-13999 group, I had to run zig zags to dodge all of the WALKERS in front of me as I ran miles 1-4. It was infuriating to run into people that were clearly not running at all in the early miles. This race needs to do a better job to get these people in the back and keep people in the appropriate carrels.
Would be nice if they changed the course a little bit. Miles 1-3 and 11-13 are great; the rest is pretty boring and lonely.
This will be my last year for this event.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by Stacey Parzik

February 4, 2013

Review

I love this race! I just completed my 6th year in a row, my 4th time doing the Half Marathon. It definitely seemed more crowded this year. From the expo on Saturday, to parking and the course on Sunday.
Though the packet pickup, shirt pickup and Longboard Legacy areas I got through really quickly, the expo itself was mobbed. I really appreciate that parking is free for the expo, but like another reviewer said, an earlier start time on Friday so I could go while the kids are at school and really ‘shop’ would be awesome. That being said, I was able to get all I needed from the vendors, and some free samples and get out in an hour.
Race day-I decided to park at the school since from experience last year Beach traffic is pretty bad; Brookhurst flowed nicely and I arrived at the school at 6:25-6:30…there were still quite a few spaces… and figured since I planned to start at 8:03 wave I had time to use the bathrooms there, big mistake. It was 7am by the time I got out of bathroom line and in the LONG shuttle line. Finally arrived at the course at about 7:45am and did have time to hit the bathroom one last time thanks to someone pointing out a ton more port-a-potties under the Hyatt bridge. I don’t know if my wave started on time or not, I wasn’t really paying attention. I was really focused on getting a PR this year so I definitely noticed having to navigate around a lot of walkers. Didn’t reallly annoy me. I know this race is walker friendly, just seemed to notice more this year. I finished at 10:30am. There was still Cliff Blox, Vitalyte and water at the aid stations and plenty of stuff at the finish. Thanks to my legacy (having done the race 3+ years) the special beer garden entrance line was only about 10 deep so got in there right away!
So my notes for next year to myself are: plan to park at Edison by 6:30, stop at McDonalds on Brookhurst before parking if I have to go, and/or use the under bridge port-a-potties vs. the beach bathrooms or parking lot ones, no lines!) Take Brookhurst back to freeway, WAY less post race traffic than Beach!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by ckshubin

February 4, 2013

Review

This was the third race in my Beach Cities Challenge series and where I received my challenge medal.

Pre-Race – Packet pick up was one of the easiest pick ups ever – on par with Disney at the Tinkerbell Half this year which says a lot!

Free parking was offered and plentiful (unlike at the OC Marathon). I got there just before the Expo opened on Friday to find a really long line waiting to get in. However I was very pleasantly surprised at how quickly it moved and how fast I was at the front. I like that they don’t let everyone in at once but only small groups at a time. Bib and t-shirt pick up was very easy. The Expo was one of the better ones I’ve seen and one of the only ones I actually stopped to chat with the vendors and actually purchased some items. My only gripe is why they open the expo so late on Friday. I’d love a 10 or 11am opening vs. 3pm opening. I don’t live near any freeways though I’m not really that far from Huntington Beach and fought traffic both going and coming all along Beach Blvd. and even other side streets trying to avoid it. It took me well over 3 hours’ drive time total getting there and back home. The fact that I could have driven from L.A. County where I live to San Clemente and back in less time did not escape my musings as I sat in traffic at red light after red light trying to get there and home during the worst traffic times. A much earlier Expo/Packet pick up opening time would have all that could have been avoided.

Race Day – The course is fairly flat with a couple of hills. I hill train so they didn’t affect me. Very few mile markers for the half – many for the full so it was weird not knowing how far I had ran or how far I had to go. Several stations had run out of Vitalyte when I ran by and just had water. I found myself wishing several times I had just brought my own to carry. Several stations the Vitalyte was pretty watered down, so much so that I wondered if it was doing any good. I’m not the fastest but usually finish in the top 3rd in gender and age so I’m not slow either and I found myself wondering how those who were struggling behind me would make it on just water. It being warm and sweating and losing salt replacing that is imperative so to run out on course is unacceptable.

I only saw a couple of medical tents on the course. There needs to be way more of these especially later in the race. I saw none on the last half of the race – sometime after mile 6 -8 there was nothing. They need to add several medical tents just past a couple of the water stops at the later mileage on the half course. Generally I’d like to see more medical tents on the whole course overall.

Again, like Long Beach, this race has a late half start. The full marathoners take off starting in waves at 6:30 but the half waves don’t start till 7:45. Too late for my preference.

The finishers chute is one of the best I’ve experienced in all my races. Long and straight with plenty of volunteers and sections spread out so you were able to get everything they offered. Finisher’s food was good and even after you got the food bag you still picked up additional food/fruit/coconut water and you made your way out of the finishers chute. This part of the race is well done and Long Beach would learn much from Surf City on how to do a proper finishers chute.

The shirts i’m not so impressed with. Iron on vs screen printed shirts most races give out seems really cheap. I’d rather have a nicer screen printed shirt and forgo the tote bag if it comes down to costs.

Parking – is a nightmare. Period. This was the nuttiest, craziest parking I’ve ever experienced. I arrived at 6:30 to find that parking was already maxed out. I pulled out of the VERY slow line getting into the beach parking area at Magnolia and decided to drive to Edison High School to find at 6:30 I got one of the last parking spots in that parking lot. If I do this race again I will probably toss a sleeping bag in my suburban and get there at 5am just to get a parking spot and sleep for a couple of hours in the back of my car. Yes, it was that crazy.

Shuttles seemed okay. Even parking at 6:30 I missed my 8:06 corral start time because by the time the shuttle dropped us off and I did a bathroom stop (long lines) my corral had already taken off so I just funneled into the next one.

Post Race – late finish since late start. Hot. Didn’t do the beer garden. Line to get the Beach Cities Challenge medal was really long but they were really good at moving it along and it went really fast. Love that many vendors were still at the Expo and you could still buy gear! That I have not seen and love the idea. Shuttle lines to return to the beach parking lots and the high school were long but what are you going to do? Was glad the porta potties were still at Edison as the lines at the beach were long and I had a long drive home.

Because of the parking, late start and general craziness surrounding this race combined with the average course I may or may not run Surf City again. To me, it rated way above Long Beach overall and lower than OC Marathon so it’s pretty much right in the middle to me. Having run all 3 for the challenge there was something in each race I liked and didn’t like. Because of the Beach Cities Challenge it’s hard not to link the 3 together or to compare them. Surf City would fall in the middle of the 3. A fun race but the course isn’t as nice as OC but its much better than Long Beach and some of that is just location. Overall Surf City puts on a good race and with some improvements like making sure there’s enough cups and electrolyte drink on hand at all stations, better mile markers for the half and way more medical tents later in the course with an earlier start it could be an amazing race.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by Michelle Torres

February 4, 2013

Review

There was a lot of waiting time for the race to start. This happens every year but it’s frustrating. I think the course needs to be changed up a bit. Running majority on PCH is a bit of a killer-beautiful but feels like it’s never ending.
Overall it seemed like there was a lot more people than in previous years. Seems like you had to wait in long lines to do anything. Previous years it wasn’t like that. The amount of people is what frustrated me and made it not so fun.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by rogandnaomi

February 4, 2013

Review

I give this half marathon a “B” because I’m not a huge fan of the course. There is a turnaround at Warner ave that is horrible. They also had mile markers for the half and full along the course and some people were confused. It is also disappointing to leave the beach view to run into the neighborhood at mile 4.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by Tracy Berger

February 4, 2013

Review

Best race ever!! Well organized from start to finish! The volunteers we the AWESOME!!!!! Couldn’t have asked for a better race experience. It was my 1st marathon and I’m looking forward to racing it with you again next year!! I have 26.2 + reasons to be so grateful for. Can’t thank you enough!!! <3

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by RaceGrader

February 4, 2013

Review

The Surf City Marathon & Half Marathon is a great race. They really do it right. I’ve done this race for many years but decided to run the Full this year for the first time. PRE RACE: The registration process was simple. Packet pick up and the expo went off very well. It was crowded and parking was a bit of an issue, but that can be expected with 20,000+ runners. There seemed to be a good “mix” of vendors at the expo, including RaceGrader!
COURSE: Because I live in Huntington Beach, I run this course all the time. It’s flat with a few small hills that you can easily power through. But the weather is always the “X” factor. And this year, things were perfect. Clear skies gave you great views of Catalina and Long Beach as you headed towards Warner Avenue and very little wind. It was a picture perfect day. The course support was good with some really great volunteers. There were a few stations that didn’t offer Vitalyte on “both” sides. Rather they had water on one side and Vitalyte on the other. And I think there could be one more station put on the bike trail for the full marathoners. That stretch between Seapoint and Warner is very tough. I appreciated the 4 or 5 volunteers that set up a impromptu aid stop at the pay station about half way through. Looks like they took some jugs from the Half course and walked it over for the marathoners. Of course, there was an “aid station” of another kind. As you run through the RV section there are many people out watching and cheering you on. And some of them set up a “beer and bacon” table. They were encouraging running to take a quick shot of beer and down some bacon. Considering it was mile 20…I was tempted. But I figured if I stopped I probably wouldn’t want to leave! Another aspect of the course that I liked was the merging of the Full and Half runners. For the most part, the Full marathoners get their own course. Or at least for most of the race. Overall, the course and support were great. POST RACE: It’s great to cross that finish line after 26.2! The medals are great and so are the volunteers congratulating you on your efforts. They offered you one bottle of water and a bag of various foods for recovery. I can understand why they only offer one bottle of water with so many runners, but I desperately needed more liquids. I like the long corral from the finish line to the exit. There’s nothing worse than a bottle neck of runners at the finish line. The aid station at the end of the coral was great. They were icing people down and even gave me a few bags of ice to carry with me. There are a ton of people at the finish line. But I was able to find my wife and kids easily because we had a pre-chosen meeting spot (very important for this race). I then made it over to the beer garden. The line was long for entrance. But if you do the race 3 years in a row, you become a “legacy” member and are entitled to an extra shirt at packet pick up AND express entrance to the beer garden. They even have a “legacy” member line to pick up the beer. No waiting! With the combination of great weather and great beer (pretty much unlimited) this is the best beer garden I’ve seen at a race. OVERALL: For an event this size this is an incredibly well-run race. They really do a great job and I highly recommend this race!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by jdo2g

April 22, 2012

Review

I ran the half-marathon. To be honest my experience with this race felt quick. Pre-race they were running out of t-shirts so it seemed like a lot of people did not get the shirts they wanted or ended up with female shirts. But of course they did have some real good vendors there so that made up for it. The course itself was along PCH for most of the stretch and through a neighborhood and along the outskirts of the Talbert Nature Preserve area. I personally was demotivated on the last few miles because I saw surfers crossing the street and other surfers waiting for waves, I wanted to be doing that instead. All in all it depends on what your looking for, this race did seem to be catered towards the full Marathon runners.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by Aletta Kupor Kennedy

April 10, 2012

Review

I ran this race in 2011, which was a great year. Started in perfectly chilly conditions and it was set to be a sunny day, but without getting too hot.

The start area is easy to navigate, well organized, though parking seemed like an adventure – I got dropped off, which I recommend doing if you have willing friends or family members. That is by far the quickest way to the start. Since the marathon started well in advance of the half marathon (which draws more participants), marathoners had priority in the lots nearer the start, but there was still a huge jam leading toward them, from what I saw. There are shuttles to get you to the start if you park in one of the more distant lots, but that’s something to factor into your early morning start. Bottom line…get there really early or get dropped off.

As for the course, aside from a very few small rollers, this is a pancake flat race. Great for a PR, if you ask me….if you handle the last 8-10 miles well. It can be tough, mentally, to run past the point where cheerful half marathoners are celebrating their almost-finish (i.e. past their mile 12), and follow a sign down toward the boardwalk with 10 more miles to go of your own race.

And don’t get me wrong – I love an awesome beachfront run. But do not underestimate the power of sunshine past mile 22ish. The beach boardwalk loop means you are running quite a few miles at the end with the sun shining down on you “head on”. If you want to avoid headache and misery on a very sunny day…bring sunglasses and/or run with a white hat on.

Overall, it’s a race worth running, but I’ve heard many say that it’s a better half marathon than full marathon. The marathon course does get a little repetitive, and a tad boring…but it remains nonetheless very picturesque!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by eddied26.2

April 4, 2012

Review

I ran the Surf City Half Marathon in 2009 as a tuneup for the LA Marathon. This was a great choice for my first Half Marathon! The expo was pretty nice and I met Dane Rauchenberg (52 marathons in 52 weeks) there. The Swag was pretty nice too, including a long sleeve Tech Shirt that I still wear! Packed pickup was very easy as they separated the Half Participants from The Full.

The Start of the race was great and it was easy to get in a good spot for your pace. I don’t remember there being a corral start the year I ran but there weren’t a lot of slow runners clogging up the front either. The course along PCH on Huntington Beach was nice, unfortunately it was very overcast that day and I couldn’t see the ocean but I will say that the conditions were pretty ideal for racing! The course was pretty flat and fast too which I probably took for granted being it was my first half! The Marathoners and Half Marathoners were both running together but split after a certain point, the directions were pretty clear though and I never was in danger of taking the wrong turn. One thing I remember about the 2009 race is that there were clocks for the Marathoners with their splits but none for the Half Marathoners. There were more than enough Water and Aid Stations though.

The finish line was a straight shot down PCH and hard to miss! I hate when races “hide” the finish lines and leaving you to wonder if you got lost somewhere! There was also plenty of food and beer at the finish and of course the highlight of it all was the Surf Board Medal!! That medal is worth it all definitely the most unique medal I have earned!

I would definitely recommend this Half Marathon! You cant beat the location, the fast and flat course, and of course the Surfboard medal!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by Jnguyen

April 2, 2012

Review

Save yourself a headache and park at one of the shuttle stops. They’re really convenient and you don’t have to deal with traffic down at the beach.

The course itself is a great run up and down PCH with one slight hill, but it shouldn’t cause you any issues. It is well organized and there are lots of volunteers and aid stations.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by brenDa

February 29, 2012

Review

Surf City was my first marathon. It was a perfect run along the beautiful beach and the event staff were spectacular. I loved the re-usable goody bag at packet pick-up, parking was not a hassle at all very convenient. I cannot wait to run Surf City again next year!!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by firenurse03

February 29, 2012

Review

One of the most organized races I’ve ever been to! The pre-race Expo is awesome! Lots of vendors and picking up your packet is always a breeze! I’ve only done this race twice but never had any issues with packet pick-up the last 2 times! The vendors at the Expo are totally awesome and they had LOTS of great deals on all kinds of different running gear (running belt, sunglasses, etc.) If you’re planning on buying some running gear but would like to save some bucks, this is a great Expo to go to!
As far as its course, I only did the half marathon and it’s just beautiful! You get to run on PCH along the beach from downtown Huntington Beach toward Bolsa Chica & Seal Beach then back. I hear the full marathon is even prettier because you also get to run through Central Park HB.
One of the many things I like about this race is also the fact that they used Arrowhead bottled water, so you know it was clean water that you were getting at the water stations! Lots and lots of volunteers to pour you water, but this year they ran out of cups so it was rather irritating, especially when you relied so much on those water stations. Other than that, my only other complaint about this race is also the fact that they didn’t have enough shuttle buses to take us to the start line from one of the assigned parking at Hoag Health Center on Beach Blvd. There was a long line of people waiting for the bus and it was freezing. It took a long time for each bus to come by and pick us up!! I’m not sure why they were having this issue this year because they didn’t have this problem last year! Best places to park is probably near the race (if you can find them. So, get there early!) Otherwise, the assigned parking places and the shuttle buses are okay. But still get there early, in case of the delay we experienced this year! So, other than the water cups’ shortage and the delay in the shuttle bus taking us to the starting line, everything else about the race is really great!! I liked the fact that they had individual baggies of free food, so you had a bag to place your free gatorade & water, too, instead of trying to carry the free items you get at the end in both your hands! Spectators were ok – there weren’t that many. But meeting place for family & friends are really easy because a lot of open areas (unrestricted) at the finish line unlike some other races. Food vendors at the finish line were great, and the fact that they still had the Expo available on race day was even better!! The beer garden is also one of the best I’ve ever been to (3 different beers and you can get as many as you want!) I’m not a big beer drinker, but my friends sure enjoyed their many cups of free beers!! LOL Overall, this is a really great race!! I would go back and do one probably each year!! And yes, they have one of the best medals out there, too!! I mean, who doesn’t like a medal shaped like a surfboard?? :)

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by fastrunner

February 28, 2012

Review

I did the marathon, the marathon course is a lot more scenic than the half since it goes through central park which is a huge bonus in my estimation. The half does not go out to the park. Although it adds some difficulty to the course, it is a beautiful distraction. There were a ton of water stations and people cheering on course which was great. It can get windy on PCH and I think the pain of running into a headwind offsets the ocean scenery. Also, if you’re doing the half, it is difficult to see the ocean as you’re on PCH, whereas the full also goes along the boardwalk where you can see the beach pretty well. Parking is mostly free but can be quite a distance away and you probably will need to take a shuttle if you’re in the half.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by cfairing

February 28, 2012

Review

Organized start. They have a ribbon to split runners up by different starts, according to your expected finish time. Course is all along PCH is is very scenic and beautiful. The only drawback of having the course be on PCH is that there is NO SHADE! I usually drink water once or twice in a race, and the heat and lack of shade had me drinking at every chance I could. My only recommendation to the course directors would be to possibly have a water sprinkler to run through midway in the course. Overall good flat course, and good for spectators since it is a mostly out and back race. Great expo! Lots of clothing, shoes, food vendors. I bought great arm sleeves there for only $15.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by brookins88

February 26, 2012

Review

Surf City is a must-do race for SoCal athletes. My running group has a HUGE contingent that run in both the marathon and half marathon every year. This year I decided to conquer my fear of very crowded races and give the half marathon a try. I was so glad I did!

First thing’s first: THIS RACE IS ALL ABOUT THE MEDAL. Attention medal junkies: If you race for the kick-butt medal, this is the race for you. Every year they create a new and awesome surf board medal and they are collectors items (well, at least in running circles!).

Ok, onto the rest of the details….This is a huge race, with 15,000 participants (and possibly more than that?) so if you are nervous about big crowds just plan on arriving early and taking a nap in your car. That was the best advice I had received, and it made race morning a breeze (if not a really long, early day).

The expo is extremely well-run. Crowded, yes, but super easy to navigate through and very well staffed to get you through packet pick up and into the booth areas. (Extra bonus points: the expo was open on race day prior to the start, which meant that I could actually buy the items I’d been waffling about the day before and wear them in the race. WIN! And a bonus for the vendors who were open as well, items like arm warmers, compression socks/sleeves and jackets were FLYING out the door.)

The start-line/corrals were well managed, though there was a lot of “merging” from the sides which irritated a lot of the folks who had lined up properly inside the corrals. But there were no fights and the irritation seemed to pass quickly. The crowds were patient and the atmosphere was more like a party than a race (this could be because I’m back in the slow corrals, but still. FUN!).

I had been warned that the full marathon course was really boring but the half-marathon was all along the coast and gorgeous, so that’s what I expected. My experience was a lot less ocean view and a lot more running along the coast in the hot sun separated by a berm and a parking lot. Long straight out-and-backs are a little boring without a good view, and for 2/3rds of the course you can’t really see the water and all you see is participants. Otherwise, it was certainly an easy course to follow! My only other issue was a lack of porta-potties. Although I didn’t need to use them, there was a lot of “jeesh, where are the potties” chatter and when you did find some the stench was overpowering, even just walking by. Yikes.

I was pretty warm by the post-race finish, so I didn’t enjoy the beer garden or the concert (the band sounded pretty good!). I ran back through the expo and picked up some more stuff, and had an easy cool-down walk back to my car a couple of miles away.

All in all: awesome race. My fears of the crowds were mostly unfounded, and it was a super fun sunny party race. I’ll absolutely be back next year!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by Carol Renney

February 25, 2012

Review

2012 was my first Surf City experience and it was fantastic. The course is breath taking. Who wouldn’t want to run along PCH staring out at the waves dotted with surfers? First thing I did when I got home from this race was tell all my running friends what a great course this was and that it should definitely be on their To Do list. I didn’t notice a ton of on-course entertainment but when you had the ocean to look at….who needed it. Definitely want to run this race again.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by Charmaine Wall

February 17, 2012

Review

Very well organized! Great course, Look forward to doing it again next year.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by MVTom

February 17, 2012

Review

A well organized race on a pretty nice course. The volunteers are numerous and enthusiastic. You can get a pre-race pancake breakfast and there start is well organized into waves based on finishing times. This of course means that it can take nearly half an hour before you get up to the start line, but once through the gates, it’s smooth sailing!

The course itself has a killer hill right at the beginning, but once you make the turn you get a nice view and since it’s at the beginning, you’ve got the whole race ahead of you. The only problem is that PCH around Bolsa Chica isn’t that scenic. You spend a great deal of time staring at the State Beach parking lot. The view comes back with about 2 miles to go and it’s spectacular. Also since the race runs along the highway, you don’t get a huge number of spectators until the very end of the race.

Post race was well organized if a little crowded. There were plenty of goodie bags and water. Biggest post race complaint? The line to the beer tent was way too long. No big deal really.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by archosaur

February 16, 2012

Review

My review may be a little biased, considering that I live right in the vicinity of the course and train on it daily. So for me, the course doesn’t have much wow factor. That said…

Pre-race: Registration was excellent. Website is informative and easy to use, email correspondence was timely, no complaints here whatsoever. The expo was a little disappointing though. When considering the size of the field, the tent setup was pretty small and cramped, and there wasn’t much in the way of freebies or great deals on running stuff. I pretty much breezed in and out after not seeing much of interest. I could see the location being difficult to get to/park for, but no complaint from me as I was able to ride my bike.

Course: All things considered, the course is fair. Downtown is a great place to start & finish, and the route up Edwards hill and through the park is a nice change of pace and considerate to get the only hilly portion out of the way early on. Coming back down onto PCH feels great, but most of the race is still in front of you and the lengthy back-and-forth route becomes monotonous. And I truly think the beach path leg is very poorly conceived, with late-stage marathoners having to dodge bicyclists, pedestrians, etc. on a congested section of the course. If you live inland, all the beach running might be nice, but for me it became tiresome (not to mention that it is always breezy along the ocean). The finish is also poorly conceived, with the marathoners being corralled into a small inconspicuous chute for the finish. Worst finish line photos I’ve seen.

Post-race: Disappointed here. Very narrow/congested finish area, and I couldn’t even begin to sniff the beer tent as the lines wrapped around practically to Newport. Was forced to head across the street to the hotel and weasel a few free beers from my friends. No complaints about the post race food, but this is not usually a big concern for me after a marathon. Very nice medal though, Surf City does a great job with those.

Overall: Probably not bad as a destination marathon, but for a local it is just okay. I think a course tweak and a little finish area enhancements would make a huge difference.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by RaceGrader

February 15, 2012

Review

Excellente race, very nice to run at th beach!!! I would only add to put the name and time in the medal, the weather was great, a lot of people, but to much space to run, kids were awsome!!! Never chage, this race must be one of the best races!!!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by keymaster

February 14, 2012

Review

The Expo was very easy to get to and well organized, the overall race was great. Parking was a little hectic but once you’re able to navigate the craziness of that the experience was good. At the start, there weren’t enough porta potties. The course was great, there’s nothing like running along the Pacific Ocean. Course volunteers did well and the shot blocks on the course were a big help. It was a good race, one that I do recommend and will do a gain next year.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by Cervelo_Chris

February 11, 2012

Review

This was my 4th year in a row participating in the Surf City Race. 1st time running the marathon, I have run 2 other marathons and this one is my favorite so far. Lots of water, fuel stations and very spectator friendly; a must do for anyone thinking about running a marathon. The ½ is also a great course. Cool surfboard medal and of course the Beer Garden. I will be back next year.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by jdo2g

February 8, 2012

Review

I enjoyed the pacers they had, they were helpful and gave advice while running. Running the 1/2 made me want to run the full after seeing that the full marathoners were allowed to run closer to the shore versus just running along the streets. Basically, after running the LBC 1/2, I’d go with the LBC one over the HB, based on the course.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by AwesomelyHumble

February 8, 2012

Review

REGISTRATION:
I was planning on running this race last year (2011), but registered a few days too late. This race really does fill up quick, no joke! So lesson learned, I registered early for 2012. I’m glad I am able to register for the race through Active.com. I get a discount since I’m a member. Registration price is reasonable. Some races can be expensive, this wasn’t.

EXPO/PACKET PICK-UP:
I came on Saturday to the expo, and it was a beautiful, warm, sunny day in Huntington Beach. I live close by, but the ocean still amazes me. Parking for the expo was fairly easy. There was a long line to get in (it was the last day after all), but the wait time was minimal – only a few minutes. I’ve been to other marathon expos where the expo is in a convention center, and I’ve been to races where the expo is outdoors. This expo in a very large tent was nice. Lots of vendors, lots of freebies, and friendly people to chat with.

I picked up my goodie bag and race shirt, which was easy and available (I’ve been to a race where they were out of my size). The goodie bag itself is nice. I can take it to the farmer’s market or the store and do my shopping. Only thing was the goodie bag didn’t come with any goodies! Oh well, I’m happy to have a nice usable bag.

COURSE:
I must say, I’ve heard mixed reviews about the course. Really, the only complaint is the looping of the course. After running the half-marathon (which loops once. Full marathon loops twice – like an “M”), the loop is no big deal. This course runs right along Pacific Coast Highway, which is pretty much right next to the sand. This is such a beautiful course – ocean breeze, ocean view, fresh air… just great! The course is incredibly flat. I think my GPS logger said an elevation gain of maybe 10 feet. It’s an easy course to run – flat, with minimal turns. Although usually long roads can be tiring on the mind. I didn’t get a lot of pictures this race; I guess the cameramen were hidden along the opposite side of me.

SPECTATORS:
There were lots of spectators, which is always nice and encouraging! Pretty much the whole course had spectators. Some had extra snacks, like oranges, candy, and other snacks. That is very thoughtful. Others were playing music, and cheering the runners on. The crowd in the end was incredible. I had goosebumps running through there!

AIDE STATIONS/VOLUNTEERS:
Big thanks to all the volunteers, they really did a great job having water ready. There were plenty of volunteers, and plenty of aide stations. Only complaint is the aide stations were on both sides of the street, which created some congestion. I guess if I’m to be running fast for time, I should start in the front, and on time (I was late and started in the middle of the second wave). Still, a little too much congestion.

At the end of the race, they were well equipped with plenty of fruit and water, which was very helpful! Glad to see healthy snacks rather than processed snacks. I did check a bag at the race, and it was very fast system they had. Got my bag safely!

POST-RACE PARTY:
Lot’s of vendors still remained after the race, and there was live music, which was exciting! The beer garden seemed to attract a lot of people, though I didn’t go. Now, I must comment on something. In the expo, they were giving massages to the finishers. This is always such a bonus after a race. In addition to this bonus, the massage was so thorough, and relaxing, it was incredible! I probably got a good 20 minute massage! LOL! Though there wasn’t a very long line, and there were a lot of other masseuses. But that helped out a great deal.

The finisher’s medal is very cool. I’m definitely going to hang this proudly. This was my final race of three for the Beach Cities Challenge, so I got another medal. This Beach Cities Challenge medal is some serious stuff! Very big and super heavy! Must be made of lead.

I very much enjoyed this race, and would like to do it again next year. Thanks again!!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by MissJewels212

February 8, 2012

Review

I’ll admit, the course is pretty much an out and back for both half and the full but I will say that it’s definitley one you will enjoy if you love the beach. The expo needs improvement…way to small of a location (in the beach parking lot adjacent from the Hyatt Resort on PCH inside a large canopy). If you get there too late Saturday, you may wait in line to get in and suffer while inside. All in all, I LOVE this course just because of the beach view. Parking is great as they offer FREE shuttles race day and expo days! Surf’s up dude!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by 3kidzmommy

February 8, 2012

Review

It was a great weekend! We stayed at the Hyatt so that we wouldn’t have to worry about parking. Went to the expo Saturday morning. It was crowded but very manageable. Course was excellent, weather couldn’t have been better. Volunteers were great, EMT care seemed wonderful. My only complaint is that they posted the finish times the day of the race but mine was one that had a technical difficulty. I went to the expo and asked what happened and they told me it sometimes happens and they have back up systems in place and it’ll be fine. It’s now Wednesday and I still don’t have a finish time. In a normal race I wouldn’t be too freaked about not having my time yet but because they posted everyone else’s times the day of the race I’m very anxious about what problems they might have encountered with mine! Overall a great race though. If I ever get a time and it’s close to what I know I finished in, then I’ll definitely do it again next year!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by spcecwgrl8

February 8, 2012

Review

Scenic.
Awesome t-shirts.
Cool medals.
Nice staff.
Fun music.
Has an option to mail bib and timing chip, which was a huge help!
Definitely recommend and I will be back!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by Caroline

February 7, 2012

Review

This is my favorite out of the 31 races I have done so far.
The course is great. Moslty flat…BEAUTIFUL.
The start went very smootly…you could not tell this was a huge race…Long beach should take some notes and Disney as well.
Plenty of water station…mile 8 no cups but that was the only one like that
Crowd: GREAT!
Staff also really good
Medal is awesome! and the Beach Cities Medal is the nicest I have
love the shirt also!
I will be back next year for this one!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by Charlene Ragsdale

February 7, 2012

Review

You can’t ask for better than Surf City. Great Swag bag (I used for groceries the next morning.) & great shirt. Personalized Bibs.

The vibe was great at the Expo. Everyone was friendly and that makes for happy racers.

I loved every moment of this race. Course is excellent. Has a slight incline at mile 4-5 and again at 10-11, but nothing to worry about for a trained racer.

Unique Surfboard medal.

I will race this again and again.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by dian

February 7, 2012

Review

I loved this race. The communication during registration is straight forward and simple to understand, and everything you need to pick up your race packet is clear in the several emails they send you leading up to race weekend. Parking was a snap, with guides to point you to the right lot, and plenty of spaces were available. I took the time to look up my bib # before I went to the Expo to pick up my packet, and I was in and out in less than 10 minutes. Would have been 5 minutes, if they didn’t force you to walk through the Expo to exit, but that’s to be expected.

The half marathon course is relatively tame, with only slight inclines throughout, and you just can’t beat the view. The port-a-potties at the start were plenty, and clean. I didn’t need a bathroom stop on the course this time around, but if I did, it looked like there were plenty to choose from. Only once did I see a line, and that was 2 people waiting for one of 6 port-a-potties. Aid stations seemed to be well stocked, even for a slower runner like myself (2:30), even at later stops in the race.

Post race seems a little disorganized, but certainly not chaotic. Plenty of snacks and water available beyond the finish line. One of my favorite things about the post-race is the beer garden, which has a special fast entrance for all runners. A nice touch.

All in all, a great race, and I’ll be back next year!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by Dan Crowther

February 7, 2012

Review

This was my fourth full marathon and by far my favorite!! Surf City offers incredible scenery, great weather (although it was a little warm this year), and great people. the expo is kind of small but everything is there that you need before a race. I would recommend not getting there on Sat afternoon before the race. With the size of the expo and number of people, I would try to get there as early as possible. The SWAG bag was great and something that I will use again! I liked the fact that it wasnt full of junk that I was just going to throw away when I got home.

The course was awesome with some incredible views. A good number of water stations and great snacks to munch on too. There wasnt as many spectators as I have seen at other races, but enough energetic people to keep you moving. Rarely did I find myself looking for someone to cheer me on. There were a lot of kids in Central Park who were so full of energy and cheering for everyone! One word of advice, they say there is only one “incline” on the course…they lied!! There are a couple but nothing significant! They are pretty short and sweet.

The post race activities were great too. Plenty of water and post race food. My only complaint about the water at the end was that they seemed to have run out of individual bottles and began pouring water in cups which was kind of a pain, but bearable. Again, there was plenty of volunteers offering encouraging words and smiles.

Overall, in my very limited experience running marathons, this IS the best one!! My wife and I will be running it again next year if everything goes as planned. Obviously the organizers and planners of this race are runners and they not only listen to the suggestions of those who run the race, they take them to heart!! Runners working for Runners!!

Whether you are running your first marathon, or your 100th marathon, this is an incredible marathon for Runners of all abilities!

See you next year!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by JCrowther

February 7, 2012

Review

* Expo was a little tight…hot and crowded but the bib/shirt pick-up was smooth and easy.

* Loved the course but it was difficult merging with all the fast 1/2 marathoners. Also rough having to turn around at mile 16 just ONE mile from the finish. Crowd screaming at runners “JUST 1 MORE MILE!” really was hard knowing I still had 10 to go!!

* Felt like there weren’t enough water stations on the 2nd half of the course when I really needed it. I know the boardwalk is tight, but there were some LOOONG stretches with nothing!!! it made that length of the run seem never-ending!!

* having the boardwalk open to the public was a little weird at first but then kinda cool!

* LOVE LOVE LOVE the medal…My favorite of ALL my medals!

* post race recovery goodies…could have used a bottle of cold water or vitalite and a moist towel to wipe off all the salt!

* more finish line photographers…we had to seek them out and people looked confused!!!

* Loved hearing the crashing waves, loved all of the amazing volunteers!

* I REALLY LOVED that this race seemed to cater to the Marathoners…I liked NOT being herded with 15,000 people at the start and getting to start first and get the best parking! I felt like the organizers really KNEW what runners want and need in a race and I LOVED the casual atmosphere!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by CM85

February 6, 2012

Review

I really have nothing to compare this to, as it is my first half marathon. That said, it was very well organized, except for the fact that they ran out of water cups at around mile 8 and we started late, but that didn’t really bother me. I was glad that my husband and I had Camelbaks on as it was a hot day and since we walked the whole thing, the water tables toward the end were closing up. It was wonderful to have all the volunteers (mostly kids) cheering us on. I did not train for this and completed it faster then I thought I would. It was a pretty flat course, aside from a few hills around the residential area and gentle slopes going towards the finish. I do wish the beer garden was open later, as when we crossed the finish line, it was closed. I do have to say though, the medal is amazing and so is the tech t-shirt they give out. Expo was great as well. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is starting out and I will be doing this again. :)

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by ajyacht

February 6, 2012

Review

Ran this race last year and my goal was to finish. This year I hoped to do better and had my second best personal best. The day was beautiful but about 10 degrees warmer then I would have liked and since the folks putting on the race have nothing to do with the weather I can’t complain. 2011 was perfect weather. I am excited since I got faster the last three miles. But mile 6.5 to the turnaround really kicked my butt!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by wanderlust262

February 6, 2012

Review

Overall I had a great experience running the marathon yesterday. The expo was easy to get in and out of, the volunteers were helpful and happy, and the weather was perfect. I loved the fact that the giveaway bag was a solid reusable bag and that it wasn’t full of flyers that I was going to throw away as soon as I got home. I absolutely love (and am extremely proud of) my medal. I do have few comments:

1. Before the race, I couldn’t find any water available near the start. It would have been nice to have a table handing out cups. Obviously I could have brought my own water bottle to solve this dilemma, but I did not, and therefore was in search.
2. While I am sure some people appreciated the Sharkies bites, it would have been nice to have the option of getting a gel near the end. By the end of a race I am usually too dehydrated to eat anything. I did carry 3 of my own, but I was hurting.
3. Switching between cups. As I got farther into the race and my mind became a little blurry, it was often difficult to distinguish between who was handing out water/Vitalyte. Sometimes Vitalyte was in the white cups, sometimes in the Vitalyte cups. This was especially difficult when they were calling it “vitamin Water”, and therefore added an extra confusion if you couldn’t hear everything.
4. A gap in water between 18-21. I am not sure how accurate this analysis is, but it seemed that there was a larger gap between water stations around this point. I was just thirsty :)
5. Bikes on the running path. This was my biggest complaint. I know that the race takes place on public land, but having families with small children riding their bikes on a very narrow running path with two way traffic is not only dangerous, but also is very frustrating when you are near exhaustion and trying to hold on for the last few miles.

Again, I had a great time at the race, and will hopefully run it again soon (I’m a sucker for bonus medals). These are mostly minor critiques and things that I will prepare for next time. Thank you for a great race.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by runnerdude

February 5, 2012

Review

I know this review won’t help, but I LOVE this race! The people who organize this baby must have a military background because it is organized sooooooo well! Today’s race was awesome!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by The Bear

December 27, 2011

Review

Ok. How can you say anything bad about a race that is run along the beach? I have done this full for the past three years. I really like it.

The expo is good with lots of vendors. I always end up being there for about a hour or so.

Get there early on race day. Beach Blvd gets very busy in the morning and I thought one year that I was going to miss the race. Parking kind of sucks. Be prepared to walk at the end of the race for a few miles, especially if someone dropped you off and is picking you up later. The race/city needs to have pre-paid parking. Personally, I would have paid a little extra to park closer so I do not have to walk so far after running 26 miles.

I am not much of a post race kind of guy, but I have walked by the area and it seems very festive. Beer garden, food, etc. All I ever want to do is get to my car and relax at home after a race.

The support on the course is good and the course is pretty flat. Some slight hills, but nothing drastic. Although some people think they are…So I have heard.

I almost forgot. The medals. Ther are awesome. Shaped like a surfboard. Way cool! The shirts are long sleeve, which is cool since all my others are short.

Great event. No complaints really.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by Davefromphilly

December 26, 2011

Review

For this review, I have completed the half marathon.

First off, this race is on Super Bowl Sunday. So you will definitely feel good after this run, knowing that you will be consuming many more calories later in the day. The pre-race festivities are good. The festivities are held at the state beach parking lot, right by the startling line. This is as close to the beach sand that you are going to get. As for the SWAG, you receive a good quality dry-fit shirt. Legacy runners (those runners who have raced the course in the last 3 consecutive years) receive an additional legacy shirt, as well as VIP lane to the beer garden after the race. It is one for the best perks of the race, as this line will easily be a 10-15 minute wait after crossing the finish line.

The course is top notch! You run about 9 of the 13.1 miles of the half marathon along Pacific Coast Highway. You literally can check out the surfers as well as the scenery during the run, and it is a welcomed distraction! When you are not running along PCH, you are running through the Seapoint neighborhood, and the residents are out in full force, cheering you on. The course is relatively flat, with uphill climbs at around mile 3 and mile 9, and the climbs are not bad at all. Overall, it is a fast course. I have set my two best half marathon times on this course.

As for the post race party, it is also top notch! After collecting your medal, you are given a grab bag full of food and goodies, water and powerade, as well as an entrance into the beer garden. The grab bag is plentiful and much needed after the long run.

This is a great course, and I have run it for 6 years straight. I would highly recommend it!

Follow me on Twitter for my running adventures. My name is @DavefromPhilly.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by me tri

December 26, 2011

Review

Traditionally my first race of the year. Everything is done pretty well at this race but it is just really BIG. I generally prefer smaller and midsize races. But you really can’t beat the location of this race. You run right along PCH for most of the race. Parking is tough unless you get there early. Good expo and swag!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by Caleb Gerard

December 24, 2011

Review

Did the 1/2 earlier this year. Not sure what I expected since it was my 1st 1/2 marathon.
Hotel choices for those of us coming from out of town was limited and VERY expensive. The hotel we chose was not very racer friendly with no morning-of breakfast available as well as a really crummy parking situation.
The registration tent was fine if a bit crowded. Parking was a bitch.
Literature made out that there’d be lots of entertainment along the route… there was not. Also, many of the mileage markers were missing from the 1/2 route, what’s up with that???
REALLY enjoyed the route itself, nice layout and well staffed with many fluid tables and well spaced port-a-potty stops as well.
Post race was friendly and easy to navigate with lots of munchies and drinks and a well stocked beer garden.
The medals were so frickin’ cool with the surfboard motif.
Someday may do the run again but only if we don’t have to hotel or we win the lottery.
Sure it’s a great race for a local to participate in.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by surfcitytriguy

December 24, 2011

Review

What better way to start the super bowl than a 13.1 mile stroll with thousands of your friends, beautiful weather and spectacular scenery. ! Even better now that I will continue to stick around for the beer garden. Legacy runners get a VIP lane straight to the beer!!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by runnerdude

December 22, 2011

Review

For shizzle my nizzle! I can’t say enough good stuff about this race! I use it as a bench mark to measure my fitness every year. LOVE the beer garden. Going to PR again in 2012 baby!

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by mid pack

December 21, 2011

Review

I wasn’t a fan of the registration process or the price. But everything else was pretty good. Parking is a nightmare so get there early. I would also suggest you do the packet pick up on Friday, it gets pretty crazy on Saturday. But there are some good vendors to check out at the expo. Weather is the wild card with this race. If it’s windy, it’s a looong way back from the turn-a-round point down by Warner Avenue. But the course is mostly flat with plenty of water/aid stations. I think they give out GU as well or something like it? The SWAG is not bad. Finishing medal is worth keeping. I’ve done it 3 times and will be back in 2012.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by Rob Peterson

December 21, 2011

Review

Half Marathon. Great race…ton of runners! If you’re looking for a course to break your PR this may be the one. Of course that depends on the weather. Every once in awhile you get a year with rain, wind, and cold. But usually it’s a perfectly sunny SoCal day. It is also nice to have it on SuperBowl Sunday. Gives you something to look forward to after the run and you won’t feel guilty about snacking or having a few beers. Like the race and medals you get for finishing.

ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
ABCDF
Overall
Pre-race
Course
Post-race

Submitted by HB Runner

December 21, 2011

Review

For the Half Marathon. I think this is a great race, especially considering the number of people participating. The registration process was a bit confusing with the log in and 3rd party website. The packet pick-up is crowded. But they do a good job of getting you through the line. As far as the course goes, you couldn’t ask for much more. It’s right on PCH with great views of the ocean pretty much the entire time. The only time you leave the ocean is for the “Seapoint Loop”. If you live in the area you may want to run this a few times to get used to the elevation climb. It’s fairly minimal but it’s always nice to know what’s coming ahead. I believe there was adequate aide and support on the course. There is also a good number of specatators to cheer you on. The finish line is pretty chaotic so I would suggest a predetermined meeting spot for your family and friends. The grass in front of the Hilton is a pretty good spot. The beer garden and post refreshments are good. And I always love the SWAG that comes with the race. T-shirts and medals are usually very good. If I had to give a tip it would be to hang out in the Hyatt or Hilton prior to the race. It’s warm and plenty of clean bathrooms to choose from! It’s always a race I have on my calendar every year.