Overall Rating
Overall Rating (260 Reviews)
4.5
(260 Ratings)(260 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2.5
SCENERY
4.3
PRODUCTION
4.4
SWAG
4.1
Surf, sun, run! Mild winter weather accompanied by miles of wide, sandy California beaches, as far as the eyes can see. 10 miles, to be exact – the longest stretch of uninterrupted beachfront anywhere on the West Coast – and home of the ideal winter marathon. HB’s long stretch of … MORE
Local Weather (Feb 04)
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L (°F) 56 44 54 47 50
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Recent reviews

    Profile photo of Mike Sohaskey
    Mike Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '17

    BOTTOM LINE: Surf City is classic SoCal – 19+ miles of the course (10 on the Pacific Coast Highway, another 9.5 on the beach path) are run along the coast … MORE

    BOTTOM LINE: Surf City is classic SoCal – 19+ miles of the course (10 on the Pacific Coast Highway, another 9.5 on the beach path) are run along the coast and within a few yards of the beach and ocean, with the remaining 7 miles run as a loop around Huntington Beach Central Park and its surrounding neighborhood. Unlike Big Sur, where you run high up on PCH overlooking the Pacific for 21 miles, at Surf City you’re at sea level pretty much the whole time (elevation gain/loss for the course is 269 ft/259 ft, with a minimum elevation of –3 ft). And while I’ve heard some runners admit to “beach fatigue” caused by the two out-and-backs that parallel the coastline, I’ll never argue with the opportunity to run within sight of the Pacific Ocean on a Hwy 1 that’s closed to traffic. It’s awesome. That said, I can understand how the half marathon might be considered the perfect distance for this race, since 10 miles of the course runs along PCH and back, without the extra out-and-back miles along the beach path that the marathoners run.

    True to its theme, the course featured live bands playing surf music, which was a cool feel-good touch. And though spectator support was predictably mellow (it’s SoCal, after all), around the park in particular exuberant kid volunteers greeted runners with boisterous cries and creative cheers such as “Hey runner, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, hey RUNNER! {clap clap, clap clap} hey RUNNER!”. I always appreciate spectators going the (pun ahead!) extra mile to give runners a psychological boost, since they could just as easily be doing anything else—like sleeping in.

    In the past couple of years, the weather for Surf City (which is always run on Super Bowl Sunday) has been sunny and overly warm, but this year’s race was absolutely perfect – cloudy and 50-something for the duration. Always a huge plus when the biggest variable of ‘em all works in your favor.

    PRODUCTION: Nearly flawless. Aside from the fact that Huntington Beach is tough to get to logistically (owing to its distance from any major freeway), an oversized tent right on the beach was the ideal venue for the pre-race expo. The wave start on race morning flowed smoothly, leading to plenty of elbow room within 100 yards of the start. Aid stations (which I largely bypassed) were very well organized and fully stocked with even more goodies than advertised. The CLIF Shot Energy Zone along PCH was particularly well marked with bright signage that could be seen well in advance. Not only that, but spectators along the route were handing out their own oranges and Clif Bloks. I didn’t pay much attention to the post-race munchies since I rarely eat after a race, but the chocolate milk, free Sam Adams Beer Garden and proximity to the Pacific Ocean convinced me to stick around for a while. No need to twist my arm…

    The lone exception to the flawless production was that somehow, mile 16 was 0.3 miles too long so that my Garmin – which up to that point had been amazingly in sync with the mile markers – read 16.3 miles when I hit the mile 16 marker. And since my final tally ended up at 26.5 miles, the next 10.2 miles were clearly spot-on as well. So unlike the typical marathon where my Garmin gradually falls behind the mile markers and finishes at around 26.4 miles, in this case the entire 0.3-mile discrepancy happened in one mile. No big deal to those of us who were running this as a chill training run, but I feel for anyone trying to qualify for Boston on Surf City’s flat, otherwise BQ-friendly course.

    SWAG: I love the classic Surf City logo and any swag that displays it. This year’s overly clever and artistic sneaker design notwithstanding, the long sleeve tech shirt is always a keeper, and as a bonus Surf City is one of the few races around that offers gender-specific shirts (I read a stat somewhere that only 4% of races offer gender-specific shirts). The medal is also eye-catching, a shiny gold souvenir the size of a coaster that smartly showcases the traditional wooden surfboard. Definitely worth running an extra 0.3 miles for. 😉

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4
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    Lorelei Mar 17, 2017 at 5:38pm

    Thanks for the review. I ran this last year and loved it.

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    Mike Sohaskey Mar 17, 2017 at 6:57pm

    And as a VIP, if I remember correctly! Good call on your part Lorelei, this would have been a great race to go VIP – awesome venue, awesome weather, and Huntington Beach is kinda my happy place. :)

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    Erik FIRST-TIMER '12

    This race is a good one for those starting out. The course is relatively flat and has good support. I think my main not so thrilled about it point is, … MORE

    This race is a good one for those starting out. The course is relatively flat and has good support. I think my main not so thrilled about it point is, you are on PCH for so long and it doubles on itself, so you get to see PCH twice.
    But I did really enjoy all the support and swag and after race party they had. I also really like that it is part of the Beach Cities Challenge (complete Surf City, OC, and Long Beach within a years time and you qualify).

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    2
    SWAG
    4

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    MadisonMan FIRST-TIMER '17

    1. Great location and easy to get to on race morning. 2. Hilton Hotel is right across the street and very convenient for race day. 3. Pace Teams sponsored by … MORE

    1. Great location and easy to get to on race morning.
    2. Hilton Hotel is right across the street and very convenient for race day.
    3. Pace Teams sponsored by Clif Bar are the best I have ever been part of.
    4. Super race to start the year.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    melinda REPEAT RUNNER '17

    Flat race. View of the ocean the majority is the race. Great support on the course. Race is a mental challenge. Mile 16 you are almost back to the start/finish … MORE

    Flat race. View of the ocean the majority is the race. Great support on the course. Race is a mental challenge. Mile 16 you are almost back to the start/finish line but take a right hand turn onto the bike path for final 10 miles. Mile markers are often off between 19 – 21. I run it annually and love the ease of getting in and out of the area as well.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    Claudia REPEAT RUNNER '17

    I always love the race course, amount of water stations, volunteers, and organization! Been doing it for 4 years and will continue doing it as long as I can! MORE

    I always love the race course, amount of water stations, volunteers, and organization! Been doing it for 4 years and will continue doing it as long as I can!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    Ben W. FIRST-TIMER '17

    This race was great! Support along the course was phenomenal and the swag is top notch! Only complaint would be the "wave" start wasn't organized properly, but minor blip on … MORE

    This race was great! Support along the course was phenomenal and the swag is top notch! Only complaint would be the “wave” start wasn’t organized properly, but minor blip on the radar. Had a blast!

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    Kristina REPEAT RUNNER '17

    This race is well supported and there are people cheering throughout. The scenery along PCH is the best! The medal is always beautiful and the long sleeved race shirts are … MORE

    This race is well supported and there are people cheering throughout. The scenery along PCH is the best! The medal is always beautiful and the long sleeved race shirts are my favorite.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    Elisa REPEAT RUNNER '17

    This was my 8th half marathon but my first time running the Surf City. Let me just say, the course was BEAUTIFUL! Running up and down PCH made for a … MORE

    This was my 8th half marathon but my first time running the Surf City. Let me just say, the course was BEAUTIFUL! Running up and down PCH made for a fast and flat course! I injured my knee at Mile 9 but was determined to finish. As I limped along the last few miles, SOOOO many volunteers asked if I was alright and if I needed help! It was great knowing that I was in good hands if I needed assistance! Oh, last but not least, the finish line bling is GORGEOUS! One of my favorite medals!

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    Pamzie REPEAT RUNNER '17

    This is my third time running the half marathon. I had a great time running with friends. This always seems to be a tune up race for me to get … MORE

    This is my third time running the half marathon. I had a great time running with friends. This always seems to be a tune up race for me to get back at it after the holiday binge, so I’m not trying to PR. The weather is always nice. The expo is easy. My criticism would be that they should have a bigger beer tent area and allow people other than runners in. My husband likes to come cheer me on and I tend to skip the beer because he cannot join me. This year I left him at home and had my beers with runner friends and the were a lot of lonely runners in there.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
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    olau FIRST-TIMER '17

    The good: 1. Very huge and hefty medal with a great design. Now i want to add magnetic tape on some other medals so I can stick them up on … MORE

    The good:
    1. Very huge and hefty medal with a great design. Now i want to add magnetic tape on some other medals so I can stick them up on my fridge.

    2. Easy free parking at beach and a good excuse to warm up and cool down with a 15-20 minute walk.

    3. Wave start and good gap between the half and full.

    4. Nice long sleeve shirt and shopping bag which I can use for grocery shopping.

    5. Ample beach potties along the route.

    6. The emergency blanket was a plus for the walk back to the parking lot especially in the cool overcast weather

    Improvements:

    1. The aid stations are needed during the toughest stretch (18-21) and more Biofreeze spray volunteers needed earlier in the race. And the gel stations need to be spaced out instead of jammed in the middle stations only. The stations also should be on one side like at most races so people who don’t want to stop can just run through without running into a crowd.

    2. There are very narrow lanes for the marathon runners and a bit dangerous when bicyclists whiz by. Added an additional half mile from having to go around runners.

    3. More separators are needed so the half marathoners don’t crowd up during their middle miles.

    4. Feel bad for the people who needed to wait an hour for their beer after the race.

    5. The thrice out and back loops was a bit boring

    It’d be a great race if the organizers put as much thought into the little details and logistics as they do in designing their medals. After 20 years, you’d think they would have all those details ironed out.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3

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    JoeyChaCha714 FIRST-TIMER '17

    It is a race I will definitely be running again! Well organized and beautiful course! It was my first time running Surf City and it will be my new hometown … MORE

    It is a race I will definitely be running again! Well organized and beautiful course! It was my first time running Surf City and it will be my new hometown race.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    Profile photo of NikkiRunsPCH
    NikkiRunsPCH FIRST-TIMER '17

    The race was very well organized from the email updates to the finish line party, no detail was missed. The Race Expo was fantastic, tons of vendors handing out samples … MORE

    The race was very well organized from the email updates to the finish line party, no detail was missed. The Race Expo was fantastic, tons of vendors handing out samples of fantastic samples that were pre-race friendly to eat. Parking for the expo was free and right in the parking lot next to the expo. The race course was beautiful right from the start. I was upfront and able to see everything from the beginning, as a marathoner we started earlier (1 hr 15 minutes earlier) than the half and it made for a nice start without the congestion of runners at the start. The energy from all the spectators was amazing, they were all along the course. There was plenty of water, energy drinks, food, energy bars, gels, gummies, fruit, etc. along the race, I never wondered when the next water station would be. The porta potties were plenty too, plus when you are running the marathon and running the last few miles along the beach path, there are public restrooms all along the path. The volunteers were amazing and very supportive along the course, it was fantastic to have cheer squads all along the course, not to mention the thousands of people out and cheering you on, it was amazing! My friend who was at the finish line waiting for me said she was amazed at how emotional it was as people crossed the finish line, the energy from the crowd was fantastic! It’s a beautiful course, over half of the marathon is run along the Pacific Coast Highway.
    The medal is fantastic, huge and heavy and has all my runner and non-runner friends jealous 🙂 The finisher shirt is another great swag item and is beautifully designed. There is a fun Surf City reusable tote bag that you get with your race packet from the Race Expo too, that can help hold all the awesome goodies you receive from the expo.
    The finish line was lined with refreshments and food, which was much needed and greatly appreciated!
    The beer garden was great too, though I was too hungry to try and have a beer, so I opted for food first.
    You can purchase plenty of race swag at the Race Expo that is going on Friday through Sunday, which you will want to grab a pretty 26.2 Surf City sticker for your car. I purchased the finisher jacket too and I have received nothing but wonderful compliments about it.
    Overall, I will be participating in this race every year now because I had such a wonderful time this year and loved how organized and put together everything was. Run Surf City Marathon- see you in 2018!! I hope you to see you all there too!

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    Mike Sohaskey Mar 22, 2017 at 3:27pm

    Wow, I ran the race this year and you got me excited about it all over again! Congrats and amazing review Nikki, great to hear you'll now be making Surf City an annual winter pilgrimage, such a perfect spot for an early February race. Here's hoping plenty of other East Coast and Midwestern runners read this and decide to join you in Huntington Beach. Hope to see you there next year!

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    Laura REPEAT RUNNER '17

    Beautiful course, awesome medal! One of my favorite repeat races! The weather does play an important role. Last year it got quite warm, but this year the weather was perfect … MORE

    Beautiful course, awesome medal! One of my favorite repeat races! The weather does play an important role. Last year it got quite warm, but this year the weather was perfect running weather! I will be back!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    Jay FIRST-TIMER '17

    Great race. I have been running all distances from 8km to 50km for over 30 years. I run about 10 races per year. This race ranks as one of the … MORE

    Great race. I have been running all distances from 8km to 50km for over 30 years. I run about 10 races per year. This race ranks as one of the best races I have run. Pre-race information was clear and concise, expo had a good variety of exhibitors, course officials were great, aid stations were at the right places and were very enthusiastic , post race activities were great.
    Suggestions: (1) mats that record each runner should be at the furthest turnaround points on each leg to ensure each finisher completed the whole course; (2) post race meeting points should be made available so runners and their cheering crew can meet-up easily after the race, (3) plastic bags should be available to runners to carry post race nourishment i.e. bananas, oranges, water, chocolate milk.
    I will be back !!!

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    Christine FIRST-TIMER '17

    I was really appreciative of the shuttles to and from the race. This was such an asset as parking can be tight. I was uneasy about the start time (feels … MORE

    I was really appreciative of the shuttles to and from the race. This was such an asset as parking can be tight.

    I was uneasy about the start time (feels too late in the morning for my own personal tastes) but the waves worked out really well and the weather was perfect.

    Overall, this felt like a really relaxing race. The course is smooth, the scenery is lovely, and the people are great. Really well organized and they kept runners on top of everything with updates.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    redpriestown REPEAT RUNNER '17

    First off - this race is mostly flat and is fun to run. I think they did a much better job than last year. Last year I was pretty frustrated … MORE

    First off – this race is mostly flat and is fun to run. I think they did a much better job than last year. Last year I was pretty frustrated with the race as a whole. The expo had very narrow aisles which made it difficult to maneuver around. Add to that the strict security making you flow one direction and it became a whole ordeal if you accidentally missed an area to pick up your legacy shirt or something. During last year’s race, they don’t police the starting corrals, and I spent the first several miles stuck behind runners who should have started at the back of the pack and were clogging up the course.

    This year was totally different. The aisles at the expo were much wider which made getting around that much easier. Whereas they didn’t police the corrals to make sure people started where they should, they did do smaller (and thus more) waves to thin things out. I wound up being in the 3rd wave (when based on their online description I should’ve been in the first wave based on where I lined up by bib number), but with the smaller waves, there was much less crowding the first few miles. In fact, I had probably found a good placement within the first mile.

    For those of you who haven’t run it before — the views are definitely nice, but you don’t see the ocean the whole time. Actually for much of the long stretch, you’re slightly below the beach parking lot.

    Also, for those considering the marathon – I can’t imagine doing that. It’s essentially an out and back twice. There are other full marathons that I think provide more scenery. At least this one is relatively flat. Plus lets you feel better gorging at the Superbowl parties.

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    2
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    4
    SCENERY
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    2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

    Mike Sohaskey Mar 22, 2017 at 3:30pm

    Glad they listened and improved on last year's event, Preston. I also appreciated the wave starts this year, since I was able to get out in the open and settle into a rhythm quickly. And I think I'm one of the few folks who actually enjoys running back and forth along the coast, I'm easily entertained that way. :) Thanks for the great review, glad the race lived up to expectations this year, and hope to see you at Long Beach in October!

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    Susie REPEAT RUNNER '17

    The race is for everyone! I walk a lot of races now and usually am in last place without many at my same pace. Surf City is for all types … MORE

    The race is for everyone! I walk a lot of races now and usually am in last place without many at my same pace. Surf City is for all types of runners walkers big, small, young, old, disabled, competitive. Even if you’re slower there seems to always be competition within reach. The crew and volunteers were professional and motivating. I love this race!!!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    MFernandez FIRST-TIMER '17

    Just RUN... don't compete with anybody....enjoy everything from the scenery....the smile of the volunteers and you being there... ! In no time you'll be at the finish line... see you … MORE

    Just RUN… don’t compete with anybody….enjoy everything from the scenery….the smile of the volunteers and you being there… ! In no time you’ll be at the finish line… see you guyz soon…

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3
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    G. Peter Khem FIRST-TIMER '17

    The course itself is a great course for all runners. It has a mixture of hills, inclines and declines and also great scenery. For a day at the beach, the … MORE

    The course itself is a great course for all runners. It has a mixture of hills, inclines and declines and also great scenery. For a day at the beach, the weather was perfect. You get to run along the coast and also enjoy the beautiful weather. What other course can let you run the historic Pacific Coast Highway! Will definitely do this race again!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    Chris FIRST-TIMER '17

    Very well organized (and publicized) event. Love the Beach Cities Challenge, of which this race is a part of. Event Expo was awesome. Easy to navigate, well staffed. Great vendors, … MORE

    Very well organized (and publicized) event.
    Love the Beach Cities Challenge, of which this race is a part of.
    Event Expo was awesome. Easy to navigate, well staffed. Great vendors, generous with freebies.
    Can’t ask for a better venue along PCH in Huntington Beach. Would have liked sunny weather, but overcast & mid-60’s at run time was perfect conditions.
    Course is relatively flat, one area the barricading squeezed runners down quite a bit creating a bottleneck, lasted for ~1/4 mile. Not sure even why it was there but minor annoyance.
    Highly recommend.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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