Overall Rating
Overall Rating (7 Reviews)
4.9
(7 Ratings)(7 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
5
SCENERY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SWAG
3.9
Catalina Island Marathon is California’s oldest trail marathon. Coming up on its 40th Anniversary, this “bucket list’ marathon features the exciting and historic marathon course used largely since the first year on the Catalina Island Conservancy’s lands. This includes much of the rugged terrain, spectacular vistas, challenging climbs and special … MORE
Local Weather (Mar 10)
2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
 
H (°F) 73 68 73 72 66
L (°F) 61 56 59 61 49
Powered by Dark Sky

Recent reviews

    This is one of my favorite marathons to date. First, it's very small, which is highly preferable the majority of the time, at least in my opinion. Second, it's on … MORE

    This is one of my favorite marathons to date. First, it’s very small, which is highly preferable the majority of the time, at least in my opinion. Second, it’s on Catalina Island, which if you’ve never been there, is not to be missed. It’s truly gorgeous, and very challenging. This marathon is put on for and by runners. Here’s my rundown.

    Getting there – Catalina Island is…you guessed it, an island. My hubby and I flew in from VA to LAX, and from LAX, we splurged for a scenic helicopter ride. It was worth it, and actually not that bad in terms of cost. We caught our helo near Long Beach, piece of cake. It was a beautiful flight in and a nice little extra. We actually “hitchhiked” with someone the mile from the helo pad on Catalina into Avalon, the magical little seaside town. It was actually one of the locals who lives there year round and takes the helo into LA every week. Friendly folk on Catalina! Avalon itself is very small, no need for a car, and you probably couldn’t rent one anyway (maybe, not sure). We stayed in a little B&B one or two streets back from the main street, the Seacrest Inn. Very comfortable and quiet. Getting back to LAX – we reserved our seats on the ferry, which is also a beautiful ride back to the coast, and an easy cab ride to the airport.

    Catalina doesn’t hit the “high season” for another month or so, so a March race was perfect. The weather was beautiful; cool and crisp in the morning and sunny all day. Warmed up in the afternoons but it was very pleasant. Make sure you get out and walk around the town, get ice cream by the beach, great restaurants abound in such a small place.

    Race expo was small and simple. They do a night-before talk about the course which is helpful. It’s a challenging elevation profile, with lots of ups and downs and then a major up-up-up. It’s all nicely graded dirt roads, nothing technical other than the elevation itself. I wore road shoes with gaiters and it was perfect. The very end of the race you’re on pavement.

    Getting to the start. There are a couple of ways to do it, but the easiest way from Avalon is to take the ferry (there are bathrooms on board) which goes to Two Harbors where you walk a short distance to the start. There is an early start option as well. There are so many runners that have run this marathon for years and years, it’s incredible. It’s almost a cult race. You get a little date bar that can be hung off of a race pin. Some runners had them on their hats and the chain of bars was like 20+ long. Incredible devotion to this race!

    Anyway, the course runs past meadows, valleys, and of course, hills. We saw bison not even a mile in. All of the climbs are well worth it, as the vistas are breathtaking. The downhills are fast and the last three-ish are downhill and then flat on pavement heading into Avalon. The finish line is surprisingly festive, and you can kick your shoes off and walk right into the Pacific.

    The t-shirt: unlike most races, you don’t get the t-shirt until you cross the finish line, which is kind of neat. It was an awesome black long-sleeve tech tee with vibrant logos on it. One of my favorites that I still wear. The “medal” is actually a hand-made ceramic tile on a ribbon, and changes each year. It’s very cool and very unique.

    My overall assessment: absolutely one of my favorite races. I suggest carrying a hydration pack. Even though there are aid stations, the course isn’t shaded so it was nice to have my own water. I also carried my phone to take photos and was glad to have done so. It’s not a race I ran for speed, but rather for joy. Soak up this event, talk to the other runners too. It’s one of the only races were I had headphones, but didn’t once use them. It was too beautiful of a day, too beautiful of a course, and the other runners were so friendly. Enjoy it!!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

    Was this review helpful?

    Please login to reply to this review.

     
    Profile photo of Laura Martinez
    rbigwheel FIRST-TIMER '17

    What an experience. The island was so green and beautiful, I thought I was in Hawaii. 5am ferry ride went smoothly. You can start your race early if you want. … MORE

    What an experience. The island was so green and beautiful, I thought I was in Hawaii. 5am ferry ride went smoothly. You can start your race early if you want. We chose to start at the official start time. Many people did start at 6:30am with the walkers. The course is mostly all fire road. HILLS and more hills. Did I say HILLS? The recent rain did a number on some of the trails, large ruts. My partner rolled her ankle in a deep bison foot print. We did not see any wild life except a cute little fox at mile 24. The glorious aid stations were a blessing. The adult volunteers were amazing! They knew what I needed before I did. The young adults volunteering need some guidance on how to help. It did get very hot out there in the interior of the island. there is very little shade along the course. No cell service until around mile 20. Once you hit mile 23, oh man, it was so fun to fly down that hill to the finish. Having your name and city announced as you ran in was fun, spotlight on you! Great overall experience as my first marathon. #GoBigOrGoHome

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4
    My Media

    2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

    Please login to reply to this review.

     
    Profile photo of Regina McWhirter
    ReginaMcw FIRST-TIMER '17

    Although the weather may say in the 60's in Avalon do not let that sway your race gear attire as you start in Two Harbors and for most of the … MORE

    Although the weather may say in the 60’s in Avalon do not let that sway your race gear attire as you start in Two Harbors and for most of the day you are way above the cloud cover. It was hot with no shade for most of the day, which is how I became sunburned and a bit overheated.
    Food and fluid were plentiful. Best thing which took me by total surprise were the pieces of baked potato next to a plate of salt at mile 18 ? and the only area with ice cold water what a difference that made.
    This was my first trail run and the beginning was what I expected, but then the trail turned into a wide dirt Jeep road for a long time which would not have been that bad except that there were vehicles coming at you kicking up dirt and I was too tired to hide my mouth in my shirt to keep all the dust away that kicked up.
    You run the last mile down a paved road into town and you feel like a star with the crowd cheering for you in bith sides of the road. That was way cool!
    I read from another reviewer that they received a picture frame at the finish…I didn’t get one. ? But the finisher’s long sleeved technical shirt was great. They did have pizza and more fluids at the end as well.
    Make SURE you put your name/bib number on your bag as others had some trouble retrieving their belongings at the finish as the volunteer made them tell him exactly what was in the bag making sure that it was actually that person’s bag. Be like me and write your name on duct tape in your bag, no troubles!
    During this I was telling myself “never again” and now that its been 2 days I’m thinking “perhaps again,” especially knowing now what to expect!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

    2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

    Mike Sohaskey Mar 27, 2017 at 10:33pm

    YAY, congrats on conquering your first trail race, Regina! Talk about jumping right into the deep end, 26.2 miles of Catalina's heat & hills is no joke, especially with vehicles kicking up dirt around you. But then the island's views are the real payoff, so sounds like it all balanced out. Great choice for your first run on dirt – hopefully "perhaps again" becomes "definitely again" and we meet in Catalina soon, since I'm hoping to run either this November or next March. Thanks for a great review!

    Please login to reply to this review.

     
    Profile photo of Angela Holder
    runnergirl8 REPEAT RUNNER '17

    This was my third time running the Catalina Marathon. I will never grow tired of this race. It is a difficult course, very scenic and perfect for any ability level. … MORE

    This was my third time running the Catalina Marathon.
    I will never grow tired of this race. It is a difficult course, very scenic and
    perfect for any ability level.

    They offer an early start for walkers or runners who need extra time and have the most scenic views of any course I have ever been on.
    The course takes you from one end of the island to the other. Two Harbors to Avalon!

    Aid stations are spread out every mile to three miles apart and are stocked with all kinds of goodies. The medal is a tile art made right on Catalina island and your shirt says finisher. Which will mean a lot once you complete this race.The folks are Spectrum Sports are very friendly and helpful if you have questions or concerns.

    This year we received a picture frame to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the race.

    You get to see all sides of the island and some really beautiful parts in between. I highly recommend this race. If you are looking for a first time or 50th trail race. This is a perfect race for you.

    I live in Long Beach, Ca and on a clear day we can see Catalina while running. Sometimes I stop and look at the length of the island and think to myself….I ran from one end to other. What a huge accomplishment and something you will never forget!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

    2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

    Please login to reply to this review.

     
    Profile photo of Katherine Csorba
    Katsmeow REPEAT RUNNER '17

    Difficult, challenging uphill course in beautiful back country of Catalina. One can not plan on a fast time because of uncertain trail conditions and the 4500 ft elevation gain. The … MORE

    Difficult, challenging uphill course in beautiful back country of Catalina. One can not plan on a fast time because of uncertain trail conditions and the 4500 ft elevation gain. The views are awesome and peaceful, almost spiritual energy of the race and its participants make this race a must do! You might just find yourself addicted to the race!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

    1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

    Please login to reply to this review.

     
    Profile photo of Faith MORRIS
    peonysnail REPEAT RUNNER '16

    I have run this race ten times and want to do it again. Unless you are a super competitive/fast runner, don't worry about your time - just enjoy the scenery, … MORE

    I have run this race ten times and want to do it again. Unless you are a super competitive/fast runner, don’t worry about your time – just enjoy the scenery, camaraderie and the ambiance of a weekend in Catalina. Weather can be anything from hot and sunny to a hailstorm. Last four miles are downhill, which is all your legs can do at that point. A must do!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

    Was this review helpful?

    Please login to reply to this review.

     
    Profile photo of Angela Holder
    runnergirl8 FIRST-TIMER '14

    If you are going to do a trail marathon so this one! This is a really unique race that start in Two Harbors and ends in Avalon. With any luck … MORE

    If you are going to do a trail marathon so this one! This is a really unique race that start in Two Harbors and ends in Avalon. With any luck you may be see a few Bison during the early hours of the race.

    One you depart the ferry in Two Harbors you have just a short amount of time to get ready and over to the start line. Spectrum Sports does allow early starts for walkers so that you will have more than 8 hours to complete the course. You quickly start climbing mountains and running down trails that do not look like trails once the race begins. After you finally pass Little Harbor and make your way into Middle Ranch you have several miles of kind of flat maintained dirt road to run. Once you reach Pump House Hill that is where all the challenges really begin and of course those are the last 6 or so miles of the race. The bright side is the last 3 miles is all down hill! ( just watch your step on the loose gravel )

    The aide stations are simply outstanding. They are stocked with everything you can imagine from gummy M&M’s too bacon and watermelon. Lots of Coke on the course and home baked Cookies! It’s hard not to linger for awhile and talk to everyone.

    Once you reach the finish line you receive the best medal around because it is so unique. A resident on the island makes hand made island tile art. It is very delicate but OH SO BEAUTIFUL.

    What I love most about the race is that you do not receive your shirt until you cross the finish line. They give out an awesome long sleeve tech shirt that says finisher on it. The only thing I wish they would change is adding the elevation chart to the back of the shirt again.

    I would and do recommend this race to everyone. It is a lot of fun and very scenic. Trail races are the best races because everyone is so friendly and other runners support you while running. It is very different than a street race and something more people should experience.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4
    My Media

    Was this review helpful?

    Please login to reply to this review.