Overall Rating
Overall Rating (9 Reviews)
4.2
(9 Ratings)(9 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
3.4
SCENERY
4.3
PRODUCTION
4.6
SWAG
4.1
Prepare yourself for an epic adventure through California’s award winning wine region. The Healdsburg Half Marathon journey starts in historical downtown Healdsburg, CA located only one hour north of San Francisco. The first mile runs through the residential area of Healdsburg past 100 year old homes and quaint streets. Just … MORE
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Recent reviews

    Bettejh1 FIRST-TIMER '18

    There are many good reviews here which I read a few times before running the Healdsburg Half (HH). I'll repeat what another reviewer noted: this is NOT the Destination Races … MORE

    There are many good reviews here which I read a few times before running the Healdsburg Half (HH). I’ll repeat what another reviewer noted: this is NOT the Destination Races half marathon; that is at the end of October.
    The HH was a good excuse for a girls’ trip to Sonoma, plus I needed a race to kick off the fall that was not too easy (as in not down-hill) and would give a good indication of the quality of my summer training.
    HH has very few flat areas; you are running short, rolling “hills” or a couple long inclines followed by some lower grade downhill. It is not an easy race to plan paces for. I had written up a pace plan that started with easy 9:20 pace and progressed down to 8:40 pace for a sub-2 hour finish. Within the first half mile I threw that plan out. With the frequency of rollers, I realized I’d be better off slowing increasing the overall mile paces, but within each mile I took the ups a bit conservatively and the downs strong. It was kind of fun, gauging that effort while trying to keep check on average mile pace.
    Around mile 8 the road gets rough as you move off a well-paved road to a vineyard road for about a mile. At about 9.5 there is a pretty long incline; it is longer than it appears at first. I train on long inclines, so this did not seem so bad but I imagine if you don’t run many hills or inclines, this could be daunting. Since what goes up mus come down, you will get to make up whatever time you need. There is another (2nd longest incline) right after that.
    There is a lot of canting in the second half of the race; if you have IT band issues or over-pronate, you will feel these. I was concerned and tried to stay near the edge of the road when the tangent wasn’t too far off it.
    You are moved off the road less than a mile from the finish onto to a hike/bike trail (asphalt) to the finish. It felt long but was a nice way to finish.
    The second half of the HH is the toughest half, so I am pretty happy I had a negative split, even if it was only a minute difference!
    There is ABSOLUTELY no spectator support on this course. Zero. Nada. Once you take off you are on a course that runs through vineyards in the morning, often running on a road with traffic on the other side. At no time did I feel it was unsafe, but there is no place for spectators to stand; in 13 miles I saw 2 signs held up for encouragement.
    Even the finish is very small….
    Here’s something though: earlier reviews of this race mentioned bottle stopper medals and shirts and chicken and rice at the finish.
    I got a medal that looks like it could be from any year (no date) and is small and plain. I am not a medal collector; I don’t care about the size. However, this was nothing like they must have given out in years past. There was no shirt; we received a hat at packet pick up.
    I got the feeling this race may be losing attendance and the lack of remarkable “swag” reinforced that feeling….too bad because it is a well thought-out course.
    I also want to mention the Age Groups are 10-year, as of this year. I checked and all previous years it was 5 year divisions… sad for me! It is tough to make a good time that would have put me 2nd AG if it were 5-year AG instead of 10th place with a lot of runners 9 and 10 years my junior. Next year, look out! I’ll be the baby in my new AG!
    There was a “wine and beer festival” at the end, with 3 wineries and 2 beer booths. I never saw food, but there was a food truck. My bib had a breakfast tab, but unless I was supposed to use it at the food truck, I only saw the usual fruit/muffin/bagel table…and I did not need a tag to partake. There was a company pouring their INCREDIBLE chocolate milk, which made my day! I drank enough for a couple people.
    I really enjoyed the race: the course, early start, the weather and the quiet countryside enough to make it an annual event if it continues. It is a great weekend to get away with your pals, run, drink wine and eat. You can shop as much as you like, because you will NOT be bringing home tons of swag!!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    2
    My Media

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    dongsoo REPEAT RUNNER '17

    Came back after a year off to see if I could better my time here... I couldn't! A beautiful, rolling course with a gradual uphill around mile 11 that dashed … MORE

    Came back after a year off to see if I could better my time here… I couldn’t! A beautiful, rolling course with a gradual uphill around mile 11 that dashed my dreams. One negative was having to deal with more cars driving (slowly) on the course when they were trying to get on the freeway – I don’t remember having this issue 2 years ago.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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    wonderjess FIRST-TIMER '16

    There are two 'Healdsburg Half Marathons,' and I think this one is the cheaper of the two. Honestly, someone else picked the race, and I gladly went along. Pre-race: registration … MORE

    There are two ‘Healdsburg Half Marathons,’ and I think this one is the cheaper of the two. Honestly, someone else picked the race, and I gladly went along.

    Pre-race: registration was super easy. Communication seemed just right. Packet pickup was in downtown Healdsburg – a couple tents for the race, and the Healdsburg Running Company had a tent set up. They did have cute stuff. We did packet pickup on Saturday. You also had the option to mail your bib or for race day pickup (but both those were for an additional fee).

    Race Production: off without a hitch. I think there were about 700 runners. Bountiful port-o-potties at the start and one the course. No hiccups.

    Course: It’s all road, some parts prettier than others, but you’re running secondary roads through wine country. It’s quite nice. There were some rollers, and a biggish climb at the end (around mile 9 or 10).

    Post-race: At the finish line, you pick up your beer or wine glass, and then there is food (rice and beans and chicken). There was beer, but I guess I didn’t have any. It was pretty festive. I think this race is part of a 3 part series, and series finishers got a bottle of wine.

    Misc: Healdsburg is adorable, but as I understand expensive. We stayed in nearby Geyersville, which had great restaurant options.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    Jen_L REPEAT RUNNER '16

    This was my second time running the "Run Wine Country" Healdsburg Half marathon. To amend my previous review: I think it's a really well-organized race, though I'm disappointed that it's … MORE

    This was my second time running the “Run Wine Country” Healdsburg Half marathon. To amend my previous review: I think it’s a really well-organized race, though I’m disappointed that it’s more expensive than it was 4 years ago…so register early! The course is gorgeous, though hilly. The two years I’ve run it, the weather has varied between cold and foggy, and warm and sunny. Obviously, the cold fog helps with running faster times, but then you don’t get the views. This is a fun race to do with friends. I highly recommend it!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    UKCathryn REPEAT RUNNER '16

    I ran this race in 2012 when I was new to running. It was my best ever race experience - I PR'd beyond my wildest dreams and loved every second. … MORE

    I ran this race in 2012 when I was new to running. It was my best ever race experience – I PR’d beyond my wildest dreams and loved every second. So this year I went back for more of the magic. Yeah, it didn’t work twice, but this remains an excellent race.
    Flawless organisation. A beautiful course. A cool wineglass (or pint glass) and massive wine-stopper medal. A decent t-shirt. Plenty of portapotties. Good aid stations. Measured exactly 13.1. A decent field (700) but never crowded. Food and drinks afterwards. Can’t be faulted.
    Bear in mind the course is much hillier than I remember. It’s definitely ‘undulating’ instead of ‘hilly’ but the climbs are significant, especially in the second half, and they wiped me out this time round. It was also much warmer this year, so the weather could go either way.
    But having said that…still a wonderful event which I wholeheartedly recommend.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    Angela REPEAT RUNNER '16

    It's important to note that there are two half marathons in Healdsburg in October that get referred to as the "Healdsburg Half Marathon." This one is put on by the … MORE

    It’s important to note that there are two half marathons in Healdsburg in October that get referred to as the “Healdsburg Half Marathon.” This one is put on by the group Run Wine Country/Events With Sole & generally happens in mid-October. The other one, whose official title is Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon, is put on by Destination Races (the same group that does NVM) & usually happens on the Saturday before Halloween & has kind of a costume theme. I have heard lots of great things about the other one but never run it because it is a) more expensive & b) happens on a day I generally want to be staying up late doing spooky things in SF.

    **PRICES**
    Half Marathon: Before 5/1: $85, before 7/1: $90, before 9/1: $100, before 10/1: $110, after 10/1: $120, at Expo: $125
    5K: Before 10/1: $40, after 10/1: $50

    It makes me a little sad that this race (which was not super cheap to begin with) has gone up $10-$15 for the half marathon, but if you register super early it’s not awful. But man, I don’t know about $40 for a 5K.

    **DEADLINES/SELL OUT FACTOR**
    The half did not sell out in 2012 but apparently this year it did. Not sure when, though.

    **FIELD SIZE**
    700 finishers in the half, 206 in the 5K

    **THE EXPO**
    In the past the expo has been at the Kendall Jackson wine center with a smallish version of what you usually see at race expos (sunglasses, running clothes, reps from other races, local business, etc.) but this year it was in the start/finish area at Healdsburg City Hall & really just bib/shirt pickup & a table from Healdsburg Running Company. Since there wasn’t much to see or do there, turnover with parking was pretty fast & I was able to park right away just across the street, & got my bib & shirt in about five minutes, maybe less.

    **STAGING**
    The start and finish were across the street from the Healdsburg City Hall. In the City Hall parking lot was morning-of bib pickup, port-a-potties, water & Gatorade, post-race food, & the wine/beer tasting area.

    **THE COURSE**
    The half marathon course is a USATF certified loop that more or less follows mainly Dry Creek Road & W. Dry Creek Road. The start and finish were slightly different this year than in 2012 due to some road construction, but it wasn’t problematic at all. The last .75 mile or so before the finish actually ran along a very nice little path instead of on the road, which would have been too narrow for the start but was fine with people spread out at the finish.

    Like I said, this is not an *easy* course, & in fact is probably the most challenging half marathon course I’ve ever run, but it’s really gorgeous, weaving through pretty fall foliage with some lovely views of vineyards & wineries if you have the bandwidth to appreciate it. It’s all on paved roads with at least one lane blocked off, though be aware that the pavement is a bit chewed up certain places, and because a lot of it is in one lane, those who are bugged by canted roads might have trouble. No super SUPER bad hills, but many not-significant ones up and down; be prepared for short-to-medium rollers non-stop.

    I would call the course “partially shaded” as far as that goes. In 2012 it was a moot point since the race started a half hour earlier & we had cooler weather as well as mist & fog the whole time. This year it was still cool for wine country but full sun (60’s maybe?), so during the exposed stretches on the blacktop it definitely felt warmer than it was.

    It is worth noting that there are fewer aid stations on this course (only four) than most half marathons I’ve run, which I just think has to do with where on the road it’s practical to place them. I don’t think they’re sparse enough to be a problem, especially if you’re aware of it going in (I was totally fine grabbing one cup each of water & Gatorade at each stop), but those who want more should probably plan to carry a bottle. Aid stations were roughly at miles 3.1, 6.2, 8.9, and 10.5

    **SWAG**
    Logo tech shirt & finisher medal, plus your choice of a logo wine glass or pint glass. All bibs also came with a ticket for post-race food and a ticket for beer or wine tasting. (Don’t worry about your ID; your age is printed right on the bib. Which is weird.) Age group winners also get a free bottle of wine.

    **IF YOU DECIDE TO RUN**
    – Register early & save yourself up to $40.
    – If you’re planning on getting accommodations in the area, do yourself a solid and a) book early, b) consider an AirBnB instead of a hotel, particularly if you’re with a group, & c) look in nearby towns like Geyserville, Santa Rosa, or Rohnert Park instead of Healdsburg proper, which can be rapishly expensive because wine tourism.
    – Ironically, although my time from 2012 is STILL my current PR, I can’t say it is a PR friendly course. I still love it and find the hills to be a fun challenge and think it’s a great, well-organized even, but I would not recommend putting all your PR eggs into this particular basket.
    – Plan for the sparse aid stations
    – Weather-wise, plan for anything from cold, wet fog to bright warm sun. Fall in wine country — you never know!

    **OVERALL ASSESSMENT**
    I wasn’t sure how my memories of this race would hold up, but I really enjoyed it. It’s quite well organized and my favorite size of fun local race. I kind of wished I was *actually* racing vs. just doing a long run, because powering up & down those hills is really just a blast, even if I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to do it at sub-1:40 again.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4
    My Media

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    M_Sohaskey Oct 11, 2016 at 8:30pm

    Awesome review Angela, it’s like “Everything you ever wanted to know about the Healdsburg Half but were afraid to ask.” How do you argue with post-race wine tastings? With its rolling hills this course sounds like the perfect training ground for CIM with its... well, rolling hills. Congrats on another successful race/training day and on collecting another race tee! You had to be excited about that... ;)

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    cbritter FIRST-TIMER '15

    This Destination Race (DR) race is the most beautiful course that will challenge you in your best race form. You will also find yourself taking in all of the amazing … MORE

    This Destination Race (DR) race is the most beautiful course that will challenge you in your best race form. You will also find yourself taking in all of the amazing vineyard landscapes in the early morning. The events associated with this race were amazing making new friends. I never knew that Bocci ball could be so competitive. ???? The is my third DR race and is my favorite event. Highly recommended.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    Bettejh1 Oct 15, 2018 at 9:59pm

    The Destination race is 2 weeks after this one.

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    Jen_L FIRST-TIMER '12

    This was my idea of a perfect race: gorgeous route through small wine country roads, cool weather, rolling hills (small enough to be runnable, yet big enough to keep things … MORE

    This was my idea of a perfect race: gorgeous route through small wine country roads, cool weather, rolling hills (small enough to be runnable, yet big enough to keep things interesting), medium-sized crowd, great post-race food and wine, and a nice wine glass to go with the winestopper medal! It was also pretty affordable, especially when compared to the other big wine country race organization (Destination Races). A few more reasons that this race holds a special place in my heart: I PR’ed, I ran it on my birthday, and I ran it with friends. Highly recommended!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    Angela FIRST-TIMER '12

    I ran this race in October 2012 and it's still one of my fondest racing experiences. The race is part of a series of fairly small wine country races ("Run … MORE

    I ran this race in October 2012 and it’s still one of my fondest racing experiences. The race is part of a series of fairly small wine country races (“Run Wine Country” — Windsor Green Half in May, Water to Wine Half in August, & Healdsburg), and they do a great job putting them on. Yes, there are a lot of hills on the course, but they’re sort of large and rolling rather than super steep, and for some reason that seems to have resulted in a lot of PRs for people I know who have run it (myself included–as of early 2015, that PR still stands). The age group awards are bottles of wine (though they gave me a non-alcoholic one for some reason–what the hell??) and if you run all three races in the series, you get a bottle for that as well. Also, nice medals and some of my favorite race shirts.

    It’s important to note that there are two half marathons in Healdsburg in October that get referred to as the “Healdsburg Half Marathon.” This one is put on by the group Events With Sole & generally happens in mid-October. The other one, whose official title is Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon, is put on by Destination Races & usually happens on the Saturday before Halloween & has kind of a costume theme. I have heard lots of great things about the other one & went back & forth between which one to run, but in the end I went with the Run Wine Country one because it was significantly cheaper.

    I loved this race & am really hoping to be able to run it again this year!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    2
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

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