Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Big Sur Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
I DID IT YA’LL! I completed the Big Sur Marathon on 4/25/2022 with a time of 4:44:55 and I couldn’t be happier. So many thoughts flooded my brain, but the main one was OMG, I am never doing this marathon again. LOL I kept repeating it over and over again to my boyfriend as he kept telling me how proud he was of me for crushing the distance. Haha.
That being said, if anyone is considering doing this race at any of the distances (5k, 12k, 11 miler, 21 miler, marathon), I’d still recommend it for the views. If you can keep up with the time limits, I think it’s 100% a race worth running at least once in your life. See below for my race weekend recap. 🙂
Two days before the race: My friend who was racing the 21 miler, my boyfriend, and I drove up the PCH from Southern California Friday morning. I had never driven up the PCH and my boyfriend thought it’d be a good idea to see the views and I could also preview the course. It was a fun trip, but if done again, I would have broken it up into two days to give us more time to make pit stops and explore. We did stop along McWay Falls, which was beautiful. The trail itself was mainly closed off, but we got a glimpse of it and the stop was worth it.
Day before the race: We headed to the expo at the Monterey Conference center, picked up our bibs and our collapsible cups (to reduce race waste), ate brunch, and walked around to explore. There is a pier near the Monterey Coast Guard where all the sea lions and on occasion, sea otters like to hang out there and we were able to see a few sea otters frolicking in the ocean. We even saw one eat a crab. Best part was that it was free. 🙂 Shortly after sightseeing for a bit, we went back to our AirBnB and called it at night at 7 pm.
Morning of the race: This year, the race started a bit earlier than other years with a start time around 6:40 am. This meant that our bus pick up time was 3:30 am. That’s right folks. 3:30 am. It takes a little over an hour for the buses to pick you up and drop you off at the start line for the marathon and then they need to get out of the course so that the staff can set up the finish line. The course is windy and it’s dark so the buses need that time to safely navigate their way to the drop off point. Thank you bus drivers for keeping all of us safe. 🙂 Anyway, the takeaway from this section is WEAR WARM CLOTHES AND CHECK YOUR GEAR IF YOU DON’T WANT TO DISCARD THEM. I don’t know where my brain was at when I decided to just wear a few layers on top with my capris and that I’d be fine. It is COLD in the morning (low 50s) and we were waiting about an hour and a half until we started. I luckily had brought those packets that warm up when exposed to air so I held those in my hands to keep them warm until the start.
The race: The start of the race is fairly quick. There were 5 corrals and each of them were dismissed within 2 minutes each. The marathoners start downhill, which is really nice, but also misleading as the rest of the course is not that downhill. LOL. Once you hit the 5 mile mark where the 21 milers start, the elevation starts to increase. At mile 10, the climb up to Hurricane point, the highest point of the course, begins. It’s practically a 2 mile climb and it’s intense. Part way through, there are Taiko drummers who encourage you to keep going. If that doesn’t help, the views should keep you going. It’s so beautiful out on the course and there are parts of the course that just open up to these views where you can’t help but stop off to the side and snap a few or ten photos. I should know. I took several and I’m not usually one to stop for photos. After you reach Hurricane point, you start to head back down towards Bixby bridge and a mile out, you’ll hear the lovely sounds of the piano player that’s always there. It’s like he’s greeting you with his song. 🙂
After Bixby bridge, it’s honestly all kind of a blur. This year’s winds were grueling. We had lots of headwind and as we were making the climbs up those hills, the struggle felt never ending. Towards mile 21, I started feeling tight and I had to dramatically decrease my pace and start a run/walk method. Whatever gets you to the finish line, right? 🙂 Despite this race being one of my most difficult races, I feel like it was the most rewarding because it was challenging.
Post race: Honestly, I was in so much pain and after whining to my boyfriend that I’d never do this again, I picked up some post race snacks that the volunteers gave us and headed out. I did really appreciate that there was a quick exit and that I could reunite with friends so soon after rather than go through a maze to get to the exit.
That’s my recap folks! If you have questions about this race, please let me know. If you’ve run this race before, let me know how you did!