Overall Rating
Overall Rating (8 Reviews)
4.1
(8 Ratings)(8 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2.9
SCENERY
4.9
PRODUCTION
4
SWAG
3.6
With several distances to choose from, the Santa Cruz Half Marathon & 10K/5K unites locals and out-of-towners, newbies and seasoned athletes alike. Cap off your training journey with thousands of other passionate runners as you complete your 13.1-mile journey along scenic West Cliff Drive, through Wilder Ranch, all backed by … MORE
Local Weather (Mar 03)
2018 2017 2016 2015 2014
 
H (°F) 52 67 67 64 59
L (°F) 40 41 54 40 50
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Recent reviews

    roxy031 FIRST-TIMER '14

    I was injured while training for this race, so I didn't have high expectations for my performance. I actually was glad I had to run slowly because the course is … MORE

    I was injured while training for this race, so I didn’t have high expectations for my performance. I actually was glad I had to run slowly because the course is so beautiful! It was a foggy cool day and perfect for running 13.1 miles.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    Primadawn FIRST-TIMER '15

    Starting in front of the historic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, this course follows the local favorite running path along Cliff Street to Natural Bridges park, and then on to Wilder … MORE

    Starting in front of the historic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, this course follows the local favorite running path along Cliff Street to Natural Bridges park, and then on to Wilder Ranch, where the course turns to packed dirt trail. Here, you’re exhilarated by the majestic ocean views and, likely, some thrilling wildlife sightings from otters to dolphins or whales. The course returns to Cowell’s Beach, where you can continue your dash from the finish line straight into the cold Pacific. One course caution: you’re finishing your final .25 mile on a steep downhill, when I found it hardest to keep my feet under me. The finish gate is a sharp turn and transition from pavement to sand. This is where the race photographer will take your proud finish pic– try not to fall down, as I so ingloriously did!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    arandalynn REPEAT RUNNER '17

    This was my 5th year doing this SC race, 2 years of the 10k and 3 years of the half. Always such a beautiful course. Very well organized as always, … MORE

    This was my 5th year doing this SC race, 2 years of the 10k and 3 years of the half. Always such a beautiful course. Very well organized as always, with one minor complaint, which may be just me, I wish they would offer mailing bibs or more Santa Cruz bib pick up options. Loved that this year there was a slight change in the course when going into Wilder Ranch. The course is mainly pavement, with dirt/trail terrain going out to the bluffs in Wilder. The winter had been rough on the trail portion, but hazards were well marked. Lots of volunteers and medical support along the way. Overall just a wonderful race and this year had fabulous weather!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

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    escharmann Apr 12, 2017 at 4:13pm

    Thanks for the review! It's awesome that you found a great race that you are wanting to come back to every year! Keep on running! :)

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    arandalynn REPEAT RUNNER '16

    Love this local half marathon. Pretty mild terrain, beautiful view. Well marked, water stations well spaced, well organized. It is a good course for first timers. MORE

    Love this local half marathon. Pretty mild terrain, beautiful view. Well marked, water stations well spaced, well organized. It is a good course for first timers.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

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    amandasava REPEAT RUNNER '16

    I am always a sucker for beach races, not to mention any that are in Santa Cruz (go slugs!), but this one always has my heart. The race is beautiful … MORE

    I am always a sucker for beach races, not to mention any that are in Santa Cruz (go slugs!), but this one always has my heart. The race is beautiful and a bit challenging; the swag and after race eats are all good – mostly I love the scenery, the combination of streets and trails and, of course, finishing on the beach!

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

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    Profile photo of Mallory Hayes
    malloryhaire FIRST-TIMER '13

    Beautiful course. Mostly pavement running, but the views and crowd support are great! Perfect weather. Just enough hills to make it interesting, but not too tough. Definitely on my do-again … MORE

    Beautiful course. Mostly pavement running, but the views and crowd support are great! Perfect weather. Just enough hills to make it interesting, but not too tough. Definitely on my do-again list.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    ArnoldG FIRST-TIMER '15

    I like this race coz it will take you to the cliff for amazing & fantastic view of the ocean. Be ready to run off road, and some rolling hills. … MORE

    I like this race coz it will take you to the cliff for amazing & fantastic view of the ocean. Be ready to run off road, and some rolling hills. The only downside is you will be running side by side with runners on some part because of narrow trails which will put you slower specially when you have runners who are running side by side with their friends who never gives a damn care if their blocking the very narrow tracks. They need to be courteous and mindful if there are runners behind who wants to pass or running faster.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    PeteSinCA FIRST-TIMER '15

    Course description (First the good part): The out-and-back course for the Santa Cruz Half Marathon starts on Beach Street near the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, passes the Municipal Wharf, turns … MORE

    Course description (First the good part):
    The out-and-back course for the Santa Cruz Half Marathon starts on Beach Street near the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, passes the Municipal Wharf, turns onto and follows West Cliff Drive, turns a bit inland, and proceeds into Wilder Ranch State Park. There are a few short hills that are a little steep, but some one accustomed to flat road/street races wouldn’t be much hindered. The ocean views along West Cliff Drive are magnificent. The trails through Wilder Ranch go through tree groves and short uncultivated hills, and instead of a turn-around has a 1-2 mile loop that takes runners and walkers along the cliff above the shore. For beauty I’d rate this race close to a half marathon in San Francisco (see pictures!). If only for the course, I’d rate this race a must-do-at-least-once for SF Bay Area runners and walkers.

    Organization & Production (Now the not so good):
    I want to be careful as well as accurate, so some personal context. First, there are people who love to be critical and nit-picky. I don’t think I’m such a person. I far prefer and enjoy writing good things about good people, good products/services, and good organizations. Second, what follows has context – choices I made and my abilities. I will try to make these clear. Third, this is not my first race; I have had experiences with race organizers besides the organizer of this event, Firstwave Events. They are the background of my expectations. Finally, let me state up front: nothing that follows would have seriously hindered anyone’s participation in the race; I saw no compromises of safety.

    Beginning at the beginning … the set of webpages Firstwave has for this event is pretty complete. The one thing I think missing is an elevation profile. According to the hyperlink text, the USATF map to which it points is supposed to have an elevation profile. It does not. The course map on http://www.halfmarathons.net/course-map-santa-cruz-half-marathon/ has an elevation profile. Registering for the event was not memorable, so it was as easy as it should be. Firstwave also allowed registration at packet pick-up points, including on race day. About a week before the event, Firstwave sent a race instructions email, with pretty much all the info a race participant would want.

    I chose to do early packet pick-up. I live half an hour or more from Santa Cruz, so this was a welcome option. I got to the location about 10 minutes early, and there was already a small queue. No problem. Come pick-up start time, it didn’t. Some 15 minutes after the start time, 4-6 volunteers came walking in, and about 5 minutes later pick-up began. Not a huge problem, but not great, either. The packet was just the race bib. I think I understand why they did that – 3 different pick-up locations on 3 different days, and not wanting to schlep around lots of boxes of race T-shirts. That’s my guess, at least; it had consequences for me.

    Come race day, I followed the directions exactly, and got where I was supposed get without problem. But when I got there, the Beach Boardwalk parking lot, another choice I made, relying on the race instructions email, bit. The email stated that parking would be $12, and that’s how much I had with me. Unfortunately, 2-3 weeks before race day – and a week or more before the race instructions email was sent – the parking fee was raised to $15. I had to find street parking that didn’t have a parking meter. I know what happened, but seemingly no one at Firstwave double-checked the Beach Boardwalk website before sending the email.

    There was an adequate number of portacans in the start area, though half marathon runners had to be very careful so that start time didn’t come with them in line or inside a portacan. The portacans were located such that the lines were in the start area for all but the very fastest runners. That may have been dictated by the City of Santa Cruz. There were also several portacans at various points along the course.

    Along West Cliff Drive there were volunteers at every (every!) side street to be sure runners didn’t go off course. Aid stations were well staffed. Several were supposed to have GU gel packets. I didn’t see any GU, but maybe I just didn’t notice. All stations had water and Gatorade. Besides volunteers, streets were well marked with flour and with barricade signs or traffic cones; going off-course would have taken effort. Once on the park trails (about 1/3 of the course) the course was again well marked, and there were strategically placed volunteers where a wrong turn could be made. I also noticed several course monitors on bicycles, and even a couple of ambulances here and there. As a whole, course marking and management was excellent.

    The website states that the race is managed at a 15-minute-mile pace. That does not mean racers doing 16 minute miles will be picked up by sweepers. What it does mean is that aid stations may be running low, packing up, or closed, depending how much slower one is. I was a little faster that 16 minute miles and saw some packing, but stations still had water and Gatorade available. It also means that at some point late in the race the course will be shifted a few feet from West Cliff Drive itself onto a parallel walking path. Other than being a little closer to the ocean, this doesn’t hurt the race experience (if anything, it enhances it a little). There were other pedestrians on the path, but I wasn’t affected by them.

    Probably my biggest disappointment was T-shirt pick-up, which was after finishing. I wasn’t the very last to finish, but I was in the last 10% of finishers. I went straight to the T-shirt tables – didn’t get water, didn’t get a bagel, didn’t collect $200. They were out of my size. They were out of the next size larger. I took a men’s Large, so I would have a race T-shirt, but was pretty sure it wouldn’t fit. It doesn’t: not around my too substantial gut; not my broad shoulders (which I cannot change); not my longish torso. This bothered me, and still does. I registered well in advance, but because I’m a walker, men who registered late, on pick-up days, and on race day – but were a bit faster – got all the XL T-shirts, the size I paid for when I registered. Men who finished after me and wanted XL or XXL had the same disappointment. This race was my third with Firstwave Events. One of those also had T-shirt pick-up at the finish, and there too they were out of my requested size; the next size larger was available and was fine. All in all, this was poor planning and organization! And Firstwave’s loss of advertising, since I wear race T-shirts to the gym and out on trails between races.

    Swag & Goodies:
    The finish line is on the beach on the other side of (i.e. north of) the Municipal Wharf, 50 or 100 yards from the start. An announcer called out finishers by name, and there was bottled water and sports drink in ice water filled tubs right by the finish. There were also several tables with bananas, bagels, cream cheese, and protein bars (that I can remember). Late finishers were not skimped.

    How was the swag? The bib is very nice, with a picture of a hotel that is visible from the start area. The hotel that might be a local icon, but I would have preferred something more scenic. There is also a saying across the bottom about the nicest views being from running shoes, but it has a typo (the 2014 Jungle Run bib, also a Firstwave event, had the date wrong, so I sense a pattern). The medal and ribbon are very nice, with a surfer theme. Both depict a VW bus with a surfboard, plus the race name and date and the words, “half marathon finisher”. It’s on par with the quality of the finishers’ medals from Rock ‘n’ Roll or Brazen Racing. The T-shirt front has artwork similar to that of the medal (see picture with T-shirt, medal and bib), except it lists all three distances. The back is blank – not even the logos of the race sponsors (or the organizers!). A couple of runners I saw were wearing the 2014 SCHM T-shirt, which was on par with the 2014 Jungle Run T-shirt, one of my favorites among the race T-shirts I have. The 2015 SCHM T-shirt is good; the 2014 SCHM T-shirt is somewhere between excellent and amazing.

    My Results & Opinion of the Race:
    So, the bottom line question: would I do this race again? I have to give a qualified answer. I would not do the Santa Cruz Half Marathon again soon if it is organized by Firstwave Events. I plan to do two more events this year organized by Firstwave, the Jungle Run and the Morgan Hill Half Marathon. They are part of the Bay Area Running Series, for which there is a special medal for completing at least 3 of the 4 events. So where I’m concerned, Firstwave will have 2 opportunities this year to show me they’ve tightened up their organizing. If they do, I would consider again doing the Santa Cruz Half Marathon and/or the Jungle Run (which is held in Los Gatos, very near where I live). The SF Bay Area has a good number of excellent race organizers, and even more well-organized “indy” races. So I won’t lack choices.

    My finish time was not a PR, but I was happy with it – I didn’t have any mea goofas, nor was I a slacker.

    Addendum: I contacted Firstwave by Facebook and email. I was hoping to get a T-shirt that fits, obviously, but more importantly, some assurance that Firstwave recognized the problem with their process and would adjust/change it. I didn’t succeed in the latter, as best I can tell. After a couple of responses, Firstwave has been silent. I’ll be doing two Firstwave events this year. The next one hands out T-shirts at the finish, so I’ll soon see if they have increased their allowance for late registrants. UPDATING THIS: the Jungle Run, for which I was already registered, was cancelled, due to the start/finish venue being unavailable. Between this and being given but ~6 weeks notice, fair or unfair (on my part), I’m done with Firstwave’s events. I requested a refund rather than a registration for the 2016 Jungle Run. I received the refund check some 6 weeks later..

    Realistically, this issue is one that might only be experienced by really slow racers, like me. Handing out T-shirts pre-race, guaranteeing those who register before a certain date their chosen T-shirt type and size would avoid this problem and encourage early registration. Firstwave does that with the Morgan Hill Marathon and Half Marathon.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    2
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3
    My Media

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