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.