The Big Sur International Marathon (BSIM) course is no walk in the park. It’s TOUGH and demands a whole lot of personal strength and determination to get through it. I certainly knew that going in to it. I also knew that this course was breath taking and beyond words. I guess that’s why I’m having such a hard time writing this.
I mean, did you know that Runner’s World has ranked the BSIM in the top 3 marathons to run? Take it from me, it truly is that beautiful.
There is such excitement at the starting line of a race. Everyone is filled with anticipation and nervousness. It was fantastic and I was in heaven. Did I mention that I got a chance to meet and even mingle with a fabulous and amazing blog reader? She and her awesome friends ran the Boston Marathon a short 6 days earlier and were still out there to toe the line in Big Sur… with ME!
We all toed the line and, at 6:50 am, the gun went off in Pfeiffer State Park.
The first few miles of the marathon take runners down hill past the giant and majestic redwoods. The spectators, although generally on the lighter side, are fun and friendly and land marks along the way are charming. I was in awe while running through this section. Places like this remind me just how lucky I am to be capable of running — especially on this course.
After 5 miles or so of redwoods, the road heads out along the beach. The sun and gentle breeze seem to say “Good Morning” as views of the California coastline take your breath away. Or is that the hills that are taking your breath away?
If the latter is the case, you’d better gather some more strength because the fun is just beginning. You ain’t seen nothing yet. These are the mild hills. The best is yet to come.
Runners enjoy several miles of sunshine, wildflowers, and coastal views. This is also where the happiest cows in California live. Look left and look right, and you will see them grazing and sunning themselves beside the loveliest of views.
Upon seeing the Point Sur Lighthouse, runners know that the famed Hurricane Point is just ahead. This climb, although seriously tough, has got to be my most favorite part of the course. It makes you dig deep to find the toughest, most determined and capable YOU and, with the help of the Taiko Drummers, conquer that hill.
The view at the top is AWEsome!
Besides the view and the feeling of success, runners are also rewarded with some down hill before crossing the Bixby Bridge. This is where the baby grand piano can be heard. I attempted to share a bit of the climb and the bridge crossing with you: check it out.
Don’t make the mistake that I did in 2003. The race is far from over at this point. To a certain extent, Hurricane Point is just the beginning. Although you are half way through the race, the number of ups and downs seems endless as the race continues. Fortunately, the number of breathtaking views available to the runners is equally generous. You just need to remember to look.
I took it all in: the ups, the downs, the beauty, and the beast.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention the signs. First, there is the Mile Marker project which I was a bit hesitant about (because I loved the traditional cello markers) until race day. Besides these clever and amusing markers, there were also plenty of other fun signs along the way.
I especially liked seeing this sign.
I also enjoyed the smattering of live music along the course. There was everything from harps to rock to acoustic to synthesized. But I missed the bag pipes which were supposed to be at mile 25.
And although the course does not allow for spectators to get on and off the course easily, there was plenty of spectators (be it relay runners or true spectators) along the way.
I LOVE this race. I will certainly return to Big Sur again. I might even plan it for next year.