Overall Rating
Overall Rating (85 Reviews)
4.3
(85 Ratings)  (85 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
3.1
SCENERY
4.1
PRODUCTION
4.3
SWAG
3.9
The OC Marathon Course will start in front of our Official Start Line Hotel, the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa just south of Santa Barbara Drive. You will run through the beautiful coastal communities of Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Santa Ana finishing off at the OC Fair and … MORE
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Recent reviews

    greenrunner FIRST-TIMER '21

    OC Half Marathon runs from Fashion Island in Newport Beach, through Corona Del Mar, onto the Pacific Coast Hwy, past Balboa Island, along the cliffs of the Back Bay, through … MORE

    OC Half Marathon runs from Fashion Island in Newport Beach, through Corona Del Mar, onto the Pacific Coast Hwy, past Balboa Island, along the cliffs of the Back Bay, through the neighborhoods on the way to finish at the OC Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, California. This was my first half after doing many 5Ks, 6Ks, and a number of biking events. Usually this is held in the spring but 2021 was November. Weather was good for running – overcast w/ slight breezes. The lead up to the event included numerous emails and live Facebook shows sharing race information and sponsors. Packet pickup is at a two day event Friday & Saturday before the Sunday run (no race day p/u). Pick up was crowded but lines moved well. Swag included tech t-shirt and a nice long sleeve pullover. Finisher medal is well designed and has some heft to it. I did not do the 5K Saturday, but that would get you an extra shirt, medal, plus a unique third ‘Combo Crush’ medal. If you are from out of the area or want to avoid traffic hassles early Sunday, the Best Western Newport Mesa is right across from the finish line, a 10 min walk. Vendor festival included several gear booths, other race event sign ups, and fuel vendors. They provide school buses to the start since most parking is at the finish line at the Fairgrounds. There were well over 30 buses moving like clockwork to get runners to the start about 10 minute ride. At the start you are corralled into one of 6 groups based on your estimated time when you registered. It seemed to be all on the honor system on race day. I didn’t see anyone checking or asking runners to leave earlier corrals. Start time was 6am and corral 1 left on time. I was in #4 and we started about 14 minutes later. There were 4,723 finishers – this race + the full marathon has seen 3X that number in the past, so to me, I never felt crowded on the course and was able to run my own race, my own pace at any point. The views of the ocean, bays, boats and multi-million dollar homes are nice distractions to look at along the way. Overall I enjoyed the course. Net downhill elevation but there are some decent, but not too long, hills. Runkeeper registered 439 feet of elevation gain over the 13.1miles. Little to no spectators along the start. Sporadic watchers for most of the run until you got into the neighborhood and the last couple miles. After stations seemed plentiful. They were supposed to have Gatorade, but the different options were not well communicated. Finish line at the fairgrounds was line with cheering spectators and race photographers. They captured several angles at the finish, solo closeups, wider shots with the finish banner and crowd. It funneled into getting your medal and then numerous booths to fill provided bags with chocolate milk, bananas, fruit cups, protein bars and more. Race bib had a free beer coupon. In general the finish area seemed crowded, but there were still areas where you could find to stretch out. There were also a number of event backdrops for your group and selfie pics. The event provided free race tracking. There were a couple updates along the course, but in general runner locations were estimated from these check in points. Overall I was excited to experience this event as my first half marathon and there were no aspects of the run that disappointed.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

    1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

    M_Sohaskey Nov 09, 2021 at 11:40pm

    Congrats on your first half marathon, Andy! And thanks for the excellent review. I'd agree that the smaller field size on Sunday was perfect for running your own pace. Hopefully… MORE

    Congrats on your first half marathon, Andy! And thanks for the excellent review. I'd agree that the smaller field size on Sunday was perfect for running your own pace. Hopefully this is your first of many halfs, since SoCal has so many fun race weekends happening year round... and we'd love to help you find some of them right here on RaceRaves. Keep running strong! LESS

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    M_Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '21

    (Note: Because it fell on the same busy weekend as the nearby Los Angeles Marathon this year, the OC opted to cancel its marathon distance and focus instead on the … MORE

    (Note: Because it fell on the same busy weekend as the nearby Los Angeles Marathon this year, the OC opted to cancel its marathon distance and focus instead on the half marathon for 2021.)

    BOTTOM LINE: There’s a lot to love about OC Marathon Weekend, most of all the race itself. The half marathon course is fast and smooth, with a net downhill (elevation gain of 295 ft & loss of 405 ft, according to my Garmin), beautiful views of Newport Bay, and some of the nicest, most well-maintained roads you’ll ever run. Course highlights include a speedy downhill mile on MacArthur Blvd in mile 2–3 with the Pacific Ocean stretching to the horizon ahead of you, several early miles through affluent Corona del Mar that showcase the magnificent waterfront homes along Bayside Drive, and exhilarating mid-race views across Newport Harbor and the Back Bay. Plus, the finish line venue at the OC Fair & Event Center offers ample parking along with plenty of space for finishers & their families, running club tents and sponsor booths. And this year’s post-race performers, ‘80s cover band/fan favorite Flashback Heart Attack, always bring a nostalgic good time wherever they go.

    Like many of the best urban races, the OC provided a detailed online Runner/Spectator Guide before the race that featured an overview of race weekend including course maps, road closures, spectator viewing, start/finish line information, and sponsor shout-outs. Very helpful, and particularly for support crew hoping to cheer on their runners along the course.

    Credit to the pacers from A Snail’s Pace (a local retailer & running club), who did a spot-on job of motivating their charges while also sharing frequent nuggets of wisdom re: hills, hydration, pacing, etc. I ran most of the race with the 1:45 pace group, despite not having trained at a sub-8:00/mile pace in months; thanks in part to their encouragement, I managed to hang on for a 1:44:23 finish, my fastest half marathon in 3½ years.

    (Oh, and kudos to the humorist in mile 8 who chalked a large, rightward-pointing arrow on the sidewalk with the words “SHORT CUT” below it, which pointed to an offshoot pathway with a clear “do not cross” line and the message “NO CHEATING!” chalked across it. 😆)

    In a normal year (which hopefully 2022 will be 🤞), the OC is held on the first weekend in May as the second of three races in the Beach Cities Challenge, the others being Surf City in Feb and Long Beach in Oct. Having now run all three half marathons as well as the latter two marathons, I can vouch for the fact that the trifecta is well worth doing. And if you ever have questions about any of the three races, feel free to reply to this review and I’m happy to help.

    For SoCal natives and traveling runners alike, the OC Half Marathon comes highly recommended if you’re eyeing a personal best or simply want to enjoy a top-notch 13.1. And while this year’s race may have been many small steps for this man, it was one giant leap for post-pandemic normalcy. 🙌

    PRODUCTION: From pre-race expo to post-race party, OC Weekend is a polished, professional event. The expo is well laid-out indoors at the OC Fair & Event Center, and although there’s a $10 parking fee for the fairgrounds, there’s also plenty of free parking after hours at Costa Mesa City Hall across the street (along with electric vehicle charging stations). Race day itself was nearly seamless, the only semi-hiccup being what previous reviewers have noted, namely the challenge of start-line parking and runner drop-off at Fashion Island. Though runner drop-off information is included in the online Runner/Spectator Guide shared before the race (see above), navigating the flow of traffic & road closures live on race morning is a different ballgame. At any rate, more signage around Fashion Island would go a long way toward alleviating confusion and sparing the poor traffic officers having to yell “KEEP MOVING, DON’T STOP!” at drivers who’d paused by the side of the road at what was ostensibly the runner drop-off spot. (Pro tip: If you’re driving to the start, take Jamboree Rd to PCH to Avocado Ave to 360 San Miguel Dr, where you’ll find plenty of parking followed by a short walk to the start line).

    Other than that, the day was a pitch-perfect production, from the high-energy start & finish lines (thanks to race announcer Fitz Koehler, who was in midseason voice), to the well-spaced aid stations with volunteers who clearly announced what was in each tiny cup (water or Gatorade), to the spacious post-race layout at the OC Fair & Event Center. By the time you exit the OC Fairgrounds with a smile on your face and sporting your attractive blue-and-orange swag (of course, I’m partial to that color scheme 💙🧡), you’ll fully appreciate the expertise and attention to detail that the OC Marathon team and its terrific volunteer corps bring to race weekend.

    SWAG: This is a race that definitely don’t skimp on the swag. Apparel-wise, all half marathoners received 1) a stylish, heavyweight white quarter-zip pullover with the OC Marathon logo on the lapel and blue sublimated side panels featuring a palm tree theme; and 2) a separate—and similarly stylish—short-sleeve blue tech tee with “FINISHER” printed on back, even though many folks chose to poke fate in the eye by wearing it during the race. Both are high-quality and decidedly above average on the comfort scale. Then of course there’s my favorite part—the shield-shaped finisher medal, which in this case is a hefty keepsake sporting a colorful ribbon and “OC 13.1” logo along with 3D sculpted palm trees. Very SoCal in its own distinctive way, which isn’t easy given that the OC must compete with Long Beach and Surf City, two other excellent Beach Cities races that are all within 25 miles of each other, to carve out its own unique identity. That said, if my own experience and the other reviews here on RaceRaves are any indication, the OC more than holds its own on the crowded SoCal race calendar.

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    My Media

    3 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

    seagroves87 Nov 09, 2021 at 5:16am

    Great Review! I'm now even more looking forward to my long awaited return to Southern California to run this race! Are you going to be there in 2022?

    Great Review! I'm now even more looking forward to my long awaited return to Southern California to run this race! Are you going to be there in 2022?

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    M_Sohaskey Nov 09, 2021 at 2:06pm

    Thanks, hope it's helpful as you plan for next year! Unfortunately I'll probably have to miss race weekend in May 😢, since it's looking like we'll be up north for… MORE

    Thanks, hope it's helpful as you plan for next year! Unfortunately I'll probably have to miss race weekend in May 😢, since it's looking like we'll be up north for the 50th Vancouver Marathon that same weekend. But if those plans fall through, we'll definitely try to join you in the OC. You've chosen well, and you'll enjoy the weekend running the OC Combo Crush. And we'll find a way to meet up soon! LESS

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    dlu975 REPEAT RUNNER '21

    This is one of the most beautiful races in my repertoire. The weather was perfect. The Marriott hotel is under construction, but the rooms on the side of the race … MORE

    This is one of the most beautiful races in my repertoire. The weather was perfect. The Marriott hotel is under construction, but the rooms on the side of the race start were available. Once again, good water stations, good swag, good shuttles. All in all it feels great to be back :)))

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    rbrajevich REPEAT RUNNER '19

    Love this race. Have run it now 4 or 5 times. Very scenic and lots of course variation. First 6 miles are very fast so be ready to switch gears … MORE

    Love this race. Have run it now 4 or 5 times. Very scenic and lots of course variation. First 6 miles are very fast so be ready to switch gears after 6. There are some hills but the course is net downhill overall.

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    dana.0212 REPEAT RUNNER '19

    I truly love this race - I always have so much fun on this course/route. The weather is always great and I've always had great company. The race is well … MORE

    I truly love this race – I always have so much fun on this course/route. The weather is always great and I’ve always had great company. The race is well organized, lots of parking at the OC fair grounds, lots of buses to shuttle runners to the start. I’ve never run into any problems while participating in this race.

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    RunKMacRun REPEAT RUNNER '19

    This is a member of the Beach Cities Challenge. If you do the 5k on Saturday and run the half or full Sunday you can also earn the OC Crush … MORE

    This is a member of the Beach Cities Challenge. If you do the 5k on Saturday and run the half or full Sunday you can also earn the OC Crush Combo medal. Mostly flat course with a few medium hills in the middle at a big one at the end. Great finish line. Point to point. I prefer parking at the finish and taking the bus to the start.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
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    3
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    3
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    3

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    RunKMacRun REPEAT RUNNER '19

    This is the first race in the OC Crush Combo Challenge. Run this 5K on Saturday night and the half or full on Sunday. Cute small race. Lots of people … MORE

    This is the first race in the OC Crush Combo Challenge. Run this 5K on Saturday night and the half or full on Sunday. Cute small race. Lots of people dress up for this as it sometimes falls on Cinco de Mayo or May 4th (May the 4th Be with You).

    DIFFICULTY
    2
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    3
    SCENERY
    2
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    3

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    bbkins52185 REPEAT RUNNER '19

    This race has made some serious improvements over the years and this year was flawless. The expo was top notch and never crowded, buses were on time and moved through … MORE

    This race has made some serious improvements over the years and this year was flawless. The expo was top notch and never crowded, buses were on time and moved through the line very quickly, finish party was spectacular, and the medals are always high quality. Race starts super early which makes for perfect weather.

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    5
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    jlohan75 FIRST-TIMER '19

    This course has great support and is very well organized. Make sure to pack as many gels as you need, they were only available at one station with chews available … MORE

    This course has great support and is very well organized. Make sure to pack as many gels as you need, they were only available at one station with chews available at another. Humidity in the morning may make you sweat more than you think. Pack extra salt if needed and be well hydrated.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    dlu975 REPEAT RUNNER '19

    I am a repeat runner and love this race. The scenery is beautiful, the weather is consistently perfect, and the swag is on point. I, as usual, recorded the entire … MORE

    I am a repeat runner and love this race. The scenery is beautiful, the weather is consistently perfect, and the swag is on point. I, as usual, recorded the entire race with my chesty/gopro/gimbal. Click on the link to see the full race. See you next year.

    DIFFICULTY
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    5
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    thehoppr FIRST-TIMER '19

    It is a fun race well done and with every detail thought about and executed. Can’t wait to do it again next year. Only area that could be better is … MORE

    It is a fun race well done and with every detail thought about and executed. Can’t wait to do it again next year. Only area that could be better is swag…a shirt is great but everything else was just advertising

    DIFFICULTY
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    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    1

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    crcoffin88redo FIRST-TIMER '19

    It’s a very long run and it’s not easy, but I think it was well worth it. It’s very nice that they give our water along the way. It’s definitely … MORE

    It’s a very long run and it’s not easy, but I think it was well worth it. It’s very nice that they give our water along the way. It’s definitely something you want to prepare for.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    Bobby098 FIRST-TIMER '19

    You will meet lots of people and not just normal people, fun encouraging people! There is porter potties at every mile so do not worry about having to use the … MORE

    You will meet lots of people and not just normal people, fun encouraging people! There is porter potties at every mile so do not worry about having to use the restroom! The porter potties are also clean because I too had to use a porter potty during my run. There is a lot of water and sports drinks given out so do not worry about not having water!

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    rlgarcia05 REPEAT RUNNER '19

    Great local race! Parking at the start line is easily navigated with shuttles available after the race to get back to your car. The views of the ocean through Corona … MORE

    Great local race! Parking at the start line is easily navigated with shuttles available after the race to get back to your car. The views of the ocean through Corona del Mar and Newport Beach are beautiful. The support on course is lacking although the existing support is placed well on the most challenging sections of the course. The aid stations were well supported and there were plenty of porta-potties at each once you pass mile 6. Overall, a great event!

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    5

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    cbevington FIRST-TIMER '19

    Well run race with great views! However, all the good views were at the beginning when I could've used them more when I was struggling in the back half. Only … MORE

    Well run race with great views! However, all the good views were at the beginning when I could’ve used them more when I was struggling in the back half. Only a couple of small hills, so definately a do-able first course. I would absolutely recommend this race to any marathon runner.

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    4
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    5
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    4
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    2

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    lancenull REPEAT RUNNER '19

    Great race with multiple distance options. Ample parking at either end (point to point race.) Part of the Beach Cities Series, and other "Combo/Multi race" medals are available. Good on … MORE

    Great race with multiple distance options.
    Ample parking at either end (point to point race.)
    Part of the Beach Cities Series, and other “Combo/Multi race” medals are available.
    Good on course support and aid stations.
    Beautiful views at several points along the race.
    Decent post race food, including chocolate milk.

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    peacockrunner FIRST-TIMER '19

    Great race! The course, swag, food, race shirt, post race, announcers, EVERYTHING was fantastic! I highly recommend this race! The Saturday kids races were amazing to witness and the 5K … MORE

    Great race! The course, swag, food, race shirt, post race, announcers, EVERYTHING was fantastic! I highly recommend this race!
    The Saturday kids races were amazing to witness and the 5K was also very exciting and well done. That challenge medal was amazing!

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    KelliKO REPEAT RUNNER '19

    I have run this race three times now. The first time I did it I hated it. Partially because I was stuck in the parking lot for two hours trying … MORE

    I have run this race three times now. The first time I did it I hated it. Partially because I was stuck in the parking lot for two hours trying to get home after the race. I didn’t have any trouble this year, so that seems to have been fixed. There is also a killer hill at mile 12, which is not my idea of a fun way to finish. But I have grown to like this race. The views are beautiful, even when you are just running through a green area or the very nice residential areas. The beach view is great of course. The course support is pretty good and the race is run very smoothly. I always participate in the Beach Cities challenge, so I get a lot of bling. I like how they have also added a challenge with San Francisco. The course is somewhat challenging with rolling hills, but not impossible. I would recommend this race.

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    Ali6184 REPEAT RUNNER '19

    The aid stations were excellent. The volunteers gave water and electrolytes. The medals were awesome, and unique and cold be placed under the pillow. The most unique aspect of the … MORE

    The aid stations were excellent. The volunteers gave water and electrolytes. The medals were awesome, and unique and cold be placed under the pillow. The most unique aspect of the race was the entertainment on the course and after the race. The race could be improved with more information for runners who want to bring their own nutrition to the run. The race would be fine for friends to run.

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    Bettejh1 FIRST-TIMER '12

    They know how to organize a race; it went smoothly and the course was well laid out. It was cool to run through CDM, pretty area. I run Back Bay … MORE

    They know how to organize a race; it went smoothly and the course was well laid out. It was cool to run through CDM, pretty area. I run Back Bay often, either alone or with one or 2 people, so it was interesting to see so many people on “my” route. I’m happy to have run it, but I prefer to try different/new races.

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  1. Races
  2. OC Marathon Running Festival