Race Recap: Surf City Marathon/Beach Cities Challenge

We’re officially back up and running after completing the Surf City Marathon (and the final of three Beach Cities Challenge races for us)! While we feel incredibly lucky to have so many amazing races within a quick driving distance, we also love a race getaway weekend. Last Saturday included all of our favorite things: an early morning walk on the beach, followed by breakfast burritos (you know, to assist with carb loading), packing, and a gorgeous drive up the Pacific Coast Highway to Huntington Beach for the race expo.

Welcome to Huntington Beach!
Welcome to Huntington Beach!

The expo was large! The tent was on the west side of PCH, just across from the Hilton in Huntington Beach, and featured a constant stream of runners picking up their race packets and sampling all the various energy bars, chews, blocks and hydration offerings. The line for the Clif booth actually doubled back on itself (about 30 people long), but we’re glad we hung in there because we got to try the new Clif Sierra Trail Mix bar (so good)!

We'd never seen a line this long at an expo!
We’d never seen a line this long at an expo!

After the expo, we drove to the Hilton Costa Mesa where we were booked for the night. We’ve stayed there a couple of times before, and have been so impressed with their customer service. Whenever they are listed as a race hotel, we book there! Dinner was at Maggiano’s just down the street. If you’ve never eaten there, definitely do it when you get the chance! Warning: The bread is amazing and it’s very easy to fill up on before your meal arrives. Everything we ordered was fantastic, and we even had some leftover to take home. Bonus!

After that, it was quick to sleep for a 4 a.m. wakeup call. We were a little unprepared in the breakfast department (the hotel was out of bagels, so we bought a few energy bars at the gas station next door). Those, plus lots of water, and we dressed and boarded the shuttle bus taking us to the start line. The previous day’s expo tent served as a waiting area for the marathoners, which was really nice since it was a bit chilly outside.

Thanks to Dunkin Donuts for providing pre-race coffee!
Thanks to Dunkin Donuts for providing pre-race coffee!

Once 6:30 rolled around, we were lined up at the start, and by 6:34 we off and running! It’s important to note that the Challenge series is something we planned to complete before we moved to the West Coast – it’s fun to think that was almost a year ago now. Wow! It was before G planned to run the SD 50-miler and before C registered for the Carlsbad Marathon – both of which were just two weeks prior. We knew this wasn’t going to be a PR race, but more of a let’s-enjoy-running-together-and-finish-the-challenge race. So that’s what we did!

The beginnings of a gorgeous sunrise at
The beginnings of a gorgeous sunrise at the race start.

The course is relatively flat: It starts on the PCH in front of the Hilton, runs north for a couple of miles, then winds east into a neighborhood and through a gorgeous park area before coming back out to the coast highway. From there it goes north for several miles, back south, then doubles back on the beach path to Mile 21-ish, and then turns back south to finish near the start line.

We can’t say enough about the plentiful aid stations, the beautiful ocean views and the overall experience! Despite realizing how sore we were from our previous races, we had a wonderful time and completed the Beach Cities Challenge (O.C., Long Beach, and Surf City).

Beach Cities has seriously cool race medals
Beach Cities has seriously cool race medals

While this was a fun goal to complete, a break from back-to-back racing and a focus on quality training is much-needed for both of us. Stay tuned for what’s next!

Have a great week,

GnC

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