Submitted by Scott Devine
December 15, 2014
RACE: Santa To the Sea Half Marathon
DATE: December 14, 2014
LOCATION: Oxnard, CA
DISTANCES: Half Marathon/5K/1K Kids Run/Diaper Dash
START TIME: 8:00am (Half Marathon)
WEATHER AT START: 51° and sunny
FINISHERS: 1,878 (Half Marathon)/ 736 (5K)
‘Tis the season to be sweaty, Fa la la la la… la la la la. This past Sunday the north pole came to Oxnard as a gaggle of runners showed off their holiday spirit (and a whole bunch of wacky holiday costumes too) as they trekked from the 101 highway down to the ocean in the 7th running of the Santa to The Sea Half Marathon.
Costs for this Santa-centric race are quite reasonable as they start at $55 for early comers, climbing throughout the year, maxing out at $95 just before race weekend. And the race does run specials/discounts throughout the year, so your inner Scrooge can smile as you’ll be sure to save a few dollars off registration fees. As for the expo/bib/shirt pick-up, the race offered several options.
You could do the traditional “day before race” expo in Oxnard. Another option was to do VIP pick-up on race morning for an extra $20. For those of us in LA who didn’t feel like driving all the way to Oxnard two days in a row, the race organizers also had an early pick-up the week before in Santa Monica (a tradition I hope they continue).
I, however, chose the final option which was to pay $6 to have my bib/timing chip mailed to me. I would get my race tech shirt at the finish line. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a bit of a problem as after the race I was told they were out of men’s shirts (grrr). But like Santa coming to the rescue, I met with the race director who took my info and said he would get a shirt mailed to me asap.
The swag for the race was pretty standard fare, meaning a finisher’s medal and race tech shirt. One nice twist is that the organizers let the runners vote (via Facebook) on various aspects of the bling. We got to decide on the color scheme of the medal as well as the ribbon design. As for the shirt, runners got to pick the color and short sleeved vs. long sleeved. The votes were tallied and the winning designs chosen.
This year’s medal featured Santa chugging along, lugging the number “7” on his shoulder along with a green border surrounding him. The ribbon was a holiday themed green and red sash, complete with images of presents, ornaments and the race’s name. Not the most subtle or elegant medal you’ll ever receive, but it definitely radiated the holiday spirit.
The 2014 race shirt was a deep green color with white stripes on the side and featured the race’s logo on the chest. The shirts were long-sleeved and they had crew neck versions for the “lords a’ leaping” and V-necks for the “maids a’ milking.” As race shirts go, it was a pretty decent design and again kept with the holiday theme.
Transportation to the half marathon was pretty straightforward. Drive on the 101 highway until you get to “The Collection” shopping center in Oxnard where you park and catch a quick bus ride to the starting area. People running the 2nd leg of the half marathon relay took another shuttle from the start line to the midway point of the race. After the race, runners caught another bus back to the parking area. Parking is free at “The Collection” and the whole operation went pretty smoothly.
COURSE (HALF MARATHON)
The Santa To The Sea Half Marathon features a “point to point” course… hence the “to the sea” part. You start at the big “Santa” located at Nyeland Acres (right by the 101) and meander your way down through the city of Oxnard until you get to the ocean (find yourself standing in waves and you’ve gone too far).
The route is flat (with the exception of a freeway overpass or two) with twists and turns along industrial parks and neighborhoods making your way to the coast. Once you hit mile 11, you run along a seaside bike path for a mile or so before finishing near the harbor.
Two things of note on the course: first off, at times you’re sharing the road with cars (runners have one side of the road). The course does intersect several sizable intersections with cars waiting to cross. Police and volunteers were on hand directing traffic and holding cars. But on more than one occasion I felt a little uneasy that an impatient motorist was going to try and “thread the needle” and jump the gun. Secondly, on some stretches of road the pavement was a bit beat up (lots of cracks/potholes). Runners need to be extra alert to make certain they don’t step on a crack and potentially twist an ankle (or break their mother’s back).
Kudos to the over 500 volunteers who helped out with the Santa to the Sea Half Marathon (many of whom I saw handing out water). The services for the race were in keeping with its size and fairly basic. The course was dotted with water stops (and some energy drink) and Gu’s were given out at one stop near the end.
Since it’s impractical to think a race of this size would be packed start to finish with fans, the race opted to create “cheer zones” along the course where locals gathered to give runners a nice motivation boost. I enjoyed running through each of the zones, high-fiving kids along the way.
Given the meandering nature of the course, I was wondering early on if there would be enough signage out there to give runners sufficient heads up on which way to go. I definitely went with a lemming-inspired “follow the person in front of you” strategy. And while mile markers were present on the course, be sure to bring a GPS watch if you want to know your time.
The Santa To The Sea Half Marathon did have a pretty good finish line area. After receiving their medals, runners were treated to a few drinks, fruit and snacks (I appreciated the homemade cookies). Runners could also visit the tented area to check out the race expo one last time. Spectators were also able to see many of the presents donated by the runners.
NOTE: One really great aspect of the race was that each runner was asked to bring an unwrapped toy to give to local charities. As I approached the start line amidst the sea of Santas, almost every runner I saw was bringing toys or goods to donate. Well done runners!
One other nice addition at the finish line was the race basically emptied out into the area for the local farmer’s market. So be sure to tuck an extra $20 in your running belt if you want to pick up some good home grown produce and local prepared food.
Oh, and since the shuttle after the race dropped you right back at The Collection, you have the chance to do some quick shopping or grab a bite to eat (provided you’re not too sweaty or too tired to walk).
I enjoy “holiday themed” races and the chance to break out goofy headgear (I opted with Santas on springs this year).
Last year I ran the Holiday Half Marathon in Pomona, so it’s hard not to think of Santa To The Sea without comparing the two. In their defense, I’ll say each race has its strengths as well as areas
where they could improve. But both are small town races, so you tend to be more forgiving with shortcomings as well as wanting to support the local running community.
I’m glad I ran the Santa To the Sea Half Marathon. From the runners donating gifts, to the people decked out in costumes and the locals supporters cheering on friends and family (and strangers), I think the race succeeded in capturing the spirit of the season.
Submitted by lbclove
March 16, 2014
Packet pick up for Santa to the Sea is Awesome. They allow you the option to pick up in Santa Monica which made it so much more convenient than having to dive to Oxnard or paying extra fro same day VIP pick up. Parking in Santa Monica is never easy but pick up itself was quick and the volunteers very nice.
Pre-race- We parked in a great location of upscale stores and getting on the shuttle was fast and easy. The start line was kinda sketchy in a dirty little street/alley near a trailer park but it was decorated in such a festive manner you quickly forgot about it. They had a giant Santa for gift donations. The toy drive is very important for this a race and big part of it so if you are going to run this race be sure to bring an unwrapped toy or gift card. I loved how they had energy gels,food powerade and water before the start. It was nice to kick things off that way and you could see that the crowd really appreciated it as well.
Course- This course is 100% flat except for a a very a quick shot over the freeway in the beginning. The first 6 miles are not very scenic. Its mostly industrial buildings and strawberry fields. Really the best part of the entire race are the cheer stations. Each school has a competition and the kids decorate, dress up and cheer on the runners, At he end of the race you get to vote on which was the best and the winning school gets money. The kids really go all out so its neat to see what’s around the next bend. At the halfway point they had cinnamon buns and pretzels and the course really gets scenic at that point. You travel down holiday lane past some nicely decorated homes.
Finish line- The finish line was amazing lots of energy and photographers. Santa was calling out names making each runners feel super special. They had a TON of food and Red Bull at the finish. Lots of vendors and a neat farmers markets next door. One thing that stood out about this race was the volunteers. Every single one I passed thanked me for running including the officers controlling traffic. It was reminder to me of how in important this race is to the city of Oxnard and much they truly appreciate the runners. Plus you get a cool little Santa medal. It’s a fun race on a flat, fast course whats not to love!
Submitted by Sandy K
December 8, 2013
This was a funfilled small town race. Approximately 3,100 runners in 2013. Picked up the race packet the day before. I had hoped to pick it up the weekend before, but the race shirts had not arrived yet.
The shuttles before/after were plentiful and often. Plenty of parking at “The Collection” shopping center. The race started at 8am, which was nice, since I drove in from the southbay. This year, temperature at the start was 37 degrees, which was definitely cool. By the end of the race, the temperatures were perfect. Overall the race course was uneventful, but decent. They could have used 2 more water stops. And if it had been warm, 3 would have been better. Loved they switched up poweraide flavors at each water stop. Thank you!
The post race tents and activities were great. Jersey Mike mini sandwiches for runners. And the Sunday Farmer’s market was also going on at the finish area. The medal is nice, and so is the shirt. Enjoyed seeing all the costumes the runners were wearing.
Overall, would I do this race again, probably. Area’s of opportunity for improvement, additional water stops, free packet pickup at the shuttle bus start.
Helpful hint: If you are from out of town, stay at the Hilton Garden, you could walk to the start.
Submitted by jyamastoker
August 22, 2013
Santa to the Sea is another one of our favorite races. We’ve been doing the half marathon relay the past couple of years. So for the relay, each member of the relay team does about 6 1/2 miles. Tho’ you have to pay the same price as the half marathon but it gives other participants a chance to do this race. The organizers do a good job putting on this race. The half marathon is a point to point race. You have to park at the shuttle pick up point and you get shuttled to the start or halfway point for the relay. They do a good job shuttling you to the start and back to the parking lot after you finish. What I like about the race is that it’s a tradition to bring a toy or a baby gift which you leave at the Santa, which is donated to families living around the start area (Santa). This race is relatively small (about 2K participants). The organizers have a number of different cheering squads along the course. It really helps having them cheering you on the course. I really like their Santa medal and tech shirts. It’s also nice that a number of participants dress up in different holiday costumes. They have a costume contest at the finish line. Will be back again in 2013!
Submitted by Gregg Condon
March 25, 2013
December 2012 was my 3rd year running Santa to the Sea and it remains one of the highlights of the year in my racing calendar. It’s simply the best, most well organized local race I’ve done.
Unlike some other big races (Disneyland 1/2 Marathon) the fees are reflected in what you actually get, and the organizers add awesome new additions every year without making you break the bank.
This past year they added the “neighborhood challenge” and for the most part the participating neighborhoods went all out. This being the first year I’m anticipating that the 2013 race will have even more neighborhoods and more of a competition.
The finish line festival is great, constant shuttles going back to the Govt. Center and just an all around great race.
Can’t wait for 2013’s race!!
Submitted by Cyndi Williams Hitsman
February 11, 2012
I ran in 5 half marathons in the past 6 months and this race was BY FAR my favorite! The pre-race location is small, so taking the provided shuttles is a must! But there were plenty of shuttles and it was relatively quick. Start was on time. The course is interesting and fun – mostly downhill running through agricultural fields, beautifully decorated houses and then down to the beach. I beat my PR by 5 minutes because of the slow downhill grade. There were aid stations and restrooms every 2 miles with GU along the course. Lastly, the post-race party was fun with quite a few vendors, a band and drawings. The best part is that it is a fundraiser for Toy-for-Tots so lots of us brought toys for kids in need. I really loved seeing all the people dressed up in the costume contest – it was hilarious to see a running penguin or Christmas present. Excellent Race! I will do it every year for sure!