Overall Rating
Overall Rating (96 Reviews)
4.3
(96 Ratings)  (96 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
3
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

    tappingturtle FIRST-TIMER '22

    OC Marathon runs such a smooth event. The energy and vibe were so positive, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience for my first race. MORE

    OC Marathon runs such a smooth event. The energy and vibe were so positive, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience for my first race.

    DIFFICULTY
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    5
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    clowry08 FIRST-TIMER '22

    First of all I got my bib sent to me which was ideal because of my work schedule. It was super easy and I just showed up on race morning! … MORE

    First of all I got my bib sent to me which was ideal because of my work schedule. It was super easy and I just showed up on race morning! Weather was great, I wore shorts and a sport bra. I never felt cold, but never felt super hot either. The scenery in the first half of the marathon was amazing!!! You pass by some beautiful real estate and the Pacific Ocean. The course had plenty of aid stations where both water and electrolytes were being handed out. The second part of the marathon was a bit more boring scenery, but that was ok because I was more focused on my pace, nutrition, breathing, and form. For the most part the course is flat with some small little rollers. I PRed by 6 minutes and got my New York qualifying time 🙂 Overall I loved this race and would definitely come back!

    DIFFICULTY
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    5
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    5
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    lisasrunning1 REPEAT RUNNER '22

    This race is awesome! Race coordinators did an amazing job. From the shuttles to the start line to volunteers on the course to the finish line party, it was a … MORE

    This race is awesome! Race coordinators did an amazing job. From the shuttles to the start line to volunteers on the course to the finish line party, it was a really fun course and environment. I will definitely run this race again! IG @lisasrunning

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    briannamueting REPEAT RUNNER '22

    I’ve been doing OC marathon since 2015. Two of them being the full, the rest all Half’s. This year I decided to run it with my 6 month old and … MORE

    I’ve been doing OC marathon since 2015. Two of them being the full, the rest all Half’s. This year I decided to run it with my 6 month old and he rocked it 😉
    Best scenery, best course, best finish line!
    Ive been trying to get all my friends to run it with me, so far I’ve done it with 3 of my best friends, all separate years.

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    lchrist5 FIRST-TIMER '22

    This was my first half marathon and longest mileage ever run in my life. The team at the OC Marathon did a great job making the day run smoothly and … MORE

    This was my first half marathon and longest mileage ever run in my life. The team at the OC Marathon did a great job making the day run smoothly and providing lots of information leading up to the event. I highly encourage future runners to hit the training runs provided by the OC Marathon as it was really helpful to get a feel for the day of route. Thanks for making my first half such a memorable experience!

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    bduren77 FIRST-TIMER '22

    While the course got very difficult for me around mile 8 as a first time half marathoner I will definitely be back to challenge myself again. MORE

    While the course got very difficult for me around mile 8 as a first time half marathoner I will definitely be back to challenge myself again.

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    4
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    rlgarcia05 REPEAT RUNNER '22

    I always enjoy the OC Half Marathon because the course is scenic and the organizers do a great job in putting on the event. I took the shuttles from the … MORE

    I always enjoy the OC Half Marathon because the course is scenic and the organizers do a great job in putting on the event.

    I took the shuttles from the Fairgrounds to the start line for the first time. This was a very smooth process with many buses lined up and an efficient process to get them loaded. The course is super scenic and the views of the ocean and back bay can’t be beat! With the race starting so early, there isn’t much in terms of course support through most of the race but those that are out there are appreciated.

    The post-race is always a good time – the post-race refreshments are good and then there is a good atmosphere with the vendors, band, and run clubs all in the fair area.

    Always a good time and definitely will be back in the future!

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    5

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    seagroves87 FIRST-TIMER '22

    I was living in LA in the spring of 2020 and was initially planning to do this race May 2020. I was really excited for this one as I used … MORE

    I was living in LA in the spring of 2020 and was initially planning to do this race May 2020. I was really excited for this one as I used to live in OC. So when the pandemic canceled all my spring race plans in 2020, this was the one I was most disappointed to not get to run before I moved out of California. I did run it virtually in 2020 to get my Beach City medal but I decided to come back and run it in-person this year. Packet pick-up is either Friday or Saturday at the OC Fair grounds in Costa Mesa. Very large, convenient area for packet pick-up. However you do have to pay $10 for parking both for the expo and on race day. It was a very nice expo especially for a not huge race. My only complaint about packet pick-up is you had to sign a paper waiver and 2 if you were also doing a 5K. Seemed like a waste of paper, it would be better to do it electronically although I don’t know all the rules so maybe it is unavoidable. There were plenty of copies at the expo if you didn’t print it before hand. You then got bib and T-shirt. Bibs were assigned before hand and were nice and personalized. The T-shirt is tech. I really like the design but I am disappointed it is white as I usually don’t run in white but may make an exception for this shirt. The expo also had vendors where you could buy race gear or supplies, other race companies, some samples of things like energy drinks, etc. Race morning was extremely early but extremely well-organized for a point to point race. The race starts in Fashion Island in Newport Beach and ends at the Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Newport Beach which is kind of inbetween the start and finish. For the race I parked at the finish which is recommended and took the shuttle. The only downside is you have to get up really early as the race starts a 6:15. You get a recommend shuttle start time which is generally around 5am. Other than having to pay $10 again, parking was extremely easy at the Fairgrounds. There were plenty of shuttles with very little waiting and also some porta-potties at the Fairgrounds. The shuttle dropped you off at Fashion Island. There were also porta potties and a bag check there. For the start of the race you are assigned a corral based on pace. There were 6 corrals. There was a few minute pause between each corral which spread runners out nicely. The race course is beautiful. You run mostly in Newport Beach past beautiful beach views and beautiful mansions. The first 6 miles are net downhill and quite fast and just lovely running. The race advertises itself as net downhill and fast and while it is true it is net downhill. The downhill is all in the first half and the second half is rolling hills so I didn’t think it was quite as fast as advertised but it’d definitely not a hard course. At around mile 6.5 there is the only significant hill of the race. The rest is rolling hills and they are all pretty minor. There is a pretty section through a nature preserve but the course is a little tighter there so it was hard to pass people. The end in Costa Mesa isn’t quite as scenic as Newport but the Fairgrounds are a great place for a finish festival. The course was very easy to follow. There were mile markers and plenty of aid stations. There were aid stations every mile for the last 4 miles or so. All aid stations had water. Every other aid station had gatorade and one of the aid stations had gels. There were porta potties by most of them. One minor critique is the aid stations were a little slow. Not sure what could be done to fix that and it wasn’t terrible. I just occasionally lost a couple seconds waiting for someone to fill a cup. This also isn’t a super spectator filled course. There were definitely some spectators and the ones out were great. I kind of knew it would be like this just how Newport is set up which a lot of the houses on cliffs and further from the streets. There is a nice finish arch with a finisher chute after where you get your medal and snacks. My finishing time was fine. I was hoping to be a little faster but as I said the course wasn’t quite as fast as advertised with the rolling hills at the end and it was also a bit humid which slowed me down a little. Snacks included bananas, clif bars, fruit cups and a few other treats. The medal is really nice. It was also very well labeled where to get your challenge medals. I got a second medal for also doing the 5K. There is a nice outdoor area for the finish festival with an 80s cover band and I even got to meet Mike and Katie in person!. Overall this was a great event with just a few minor hiccups. Of all the halfs I’ve done in Southern California this is probably my favorite course though I do think Surf City is a bit faster if you really want to PR or BQ. This is definitely one I would recommend to 50 staters. Plus it is a very fun area to visit and an excuse to go to Disneyland. Even though it is across the country I may come back and do it again.

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    M_Sohaskey May 04, 2022 at 5:37pm

    Yes, do come back any time! So great to meet in person at last, and glad you finally got a chance to run the OC, it really is a beautiful… MORE

    Yes, do come back any time! So great to meet in person at last, and glad you finally got a chance to run the OC, it really is a beautiful course. Safe travels, keep running well, and fingers crossed we meet again before your next visit to California! LESS

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    hyakusho FIRST-TIMER '22

    early start (530a) but a fun, flat and largely scenic course--esp for the first 13.1. The production was outstanding and the whole event felt like the organizers had their act … MORE

    early start (530a) but a fun, flat and largely scenic course–esp for the first 13.1. The production was outstanding and the whole event felt like the organizers had their act together. great course/race for first-timers!

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    seagroves87 FIRST-TIMER '22

    I usually try to run the 5K before a race if it fits in my travel plans and it is always interesting to see how they vary, Some (such as … MORE

    I usually try to run the 5K before a race if it fits in my travel plans and it is always interesting to see how they vary, Some (such as the Miami 5K) are great races on their own with as much care as the longer races while others are clearly an afterthought with the focus more on the long races. I feel kind of bad saying this given how great the Sunday half marathon was but this 5K was clearly an afterthought. One thing I love is the 5K is at 5pm on Saturday so you can travel Saturday morning and still do the race. It also starts and ends at the Fairgrounds so you might as well do it since you have to pick up your swag there anyways. One negative about the 5pm start is it makes eating difficult. I flew into LAX Saturday morning and went to my favorite vegan burger place Monty’s Good burger (which I would highly recommend under any other condition) and ate a huge, greasy meal which did not sit well with me during the 5K…oh well. For the 5K you get your packet at the expo and then line up and run it. The start was extremely congested. We were packed like sardines. I get the pandemic is winding down but I have liked not being packed like sardines and this race really needed wave starts. The course was incredibly mediocre and incredibly crowded. It was mostly just through the fairgrounds, a bit on a college campus next to the fairgrounds and there was a section that was literally just through a parking lot. This was the least scenic course I have done in OC. To be fair I completely understand why you would have a course like this to avoid street closures but again it really needed a wave start. The course was super tight and there was the worst mixing of people of different paces I have every seen. I started in the mid-back as I knew I’d be a little slow and mostly ran ~12 min/mile pace and there were both super fast runners and slow walkers lined up next to me. I am not judging others by their pace it’s just there were literal log jams at tight sections where we all had to walk and you had to be careful not to hit anyone. I would definitely recommend splitting this race into 3 waves or something to help spread us out. We did pass by some cute farm animals at the end which I liked and the medal was very nice for a 5K. My time was really slow because I had to walk 1/4 mile in the middle due to stomach cramps lol. Even though it was a mediocre race the most important parts of the race such as the course being accurately measured and marked were there. As you have to pick up your packet anyways, if you are doing the half or full you might as well do this race but if you are looking for a stand-alone 5K there are definitely better ones.

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    rpancholy FIRST-TIMER '22

    It is a well organized race, the expo was great, and volunteers along the course were very helpful. It was interesting to run past Fashion Island, then run along the … MORE

    It is a well organized race, the expo was great, and volunteers along the course were very helpful. It was interesting to run past Fashion Island, then run along the beautiful oceanside, run through a trail for a while, and end the race in Costa Mesa. The staff at the finish line were very helpful and supportive in answering my questions.

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    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.

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    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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    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.

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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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    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.

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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.

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    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

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  1. Races
  2. OC Marathon Running Festival