I’m an experienced marathoner and triathlete, and I’ve run over a dozen half marathons in San Diego.
The inaugural San Diego Holiday Half Marathon held its packet pickup at Road Runner Sports. The race is capped at 3,000 entries so I wasn’t expecting a big expo or big crowds. I went later in the day and there were a few vendors with no lines, and no hassles. Race shirt is a long sleeve tech tee.
Since its a point-to-point course you have the option to park at the start or the finish. I chose to park at the finish and got there at 5:30 (2 hrs. before the start) and easily found parking on the street near the shuttle pickup. No line for the shuttles either. Pre-race staging area is the parking lot of the Albertson’s. Kinda funky but that’s to be expected with community grass roots races. It was about forty-five degrees prior ton the start. They had two tower heaters in the parking lot for runners to huddle under but could probably use 8-10 more. A lot of runners went inside Albertsons to keep warm and got coffee (Starbucks inside) water, bagels, electrolytes, etc before the race. They had a row of porto potties on the east side of Albertsons parking lot that a lot of people didn’t see. I used the porto potties thirty minutes before the race and I didn’t have to wait in a line.
The course was as advertised on the website. Mostly downhill with a small hill at mile one. Most of the course is run on a bike path so there’s limited crowd support after the start and before the finish stretch. Adequate water stations with a few electrolyte stations mixed in, as well as a gel station in the middle of the course. Definitely a PR-able course!
The finish is at Torrey Pines State Beach parking lot. They gave out race medals and had water and bananas. Would be nice to have juice or electrolyte drink and some other food choices (oranges, bagels,etc). I didn’t check in a gear bag so I can’t comment on that aspect. They had a live band play with over a dozen vendors, but would’ve been nice to have a beer garden to help celebrate with other runners!
Overall, a very good experience. You never know what you’re going to get with inaugural races, but this was very well run and organized. I heard a lot of good things from other runners after the race. They just need to fine tune a few things. I hope they start a Legacy Loyalty Program because I plan on returning next year! The San Diego Holiday Half is on its way to becoming a holiday tradition for many San Diego runners.