26.2 Miles or Bust: Marathons Within a One Hour Range of Ventura County

The marathon is a long-distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres (26 miles and 385 yards). Most of us marathoners refer to it as a 26.2 mile race. Let's put some perspective on that. We're talking roughly the distance from the Muvico Theater in Thousand Oaks to Downtown Ventura (Main St at California St).

Running USA estimates that in 2014, there were 550,637 marathon finishers in the United States, an all-time high, up from 541,000 in 2013. That equals about 14.4 million miles, not including the training miles to get there. That's a lot of running! There are over 1,200 marathons now throughout the country.

Until fairly recently, there were no marathons run on Ventura County soil. When I began running in the mid 1990s, the closest marathons to us were in Los Angeles, Santa Clarita and Culver City. Now there are marathons in Ventura, Ojai and Camarillo and Santa Barbara!

While it's fun to travel to faraway lands to run a marathon, there's something to be said for sleeping in your own bed, waking up early, and driving out to run a local marathon. So how about a rundown of local marathons within a one hour range of Ventura County!

Los Angeles Marathon (www.lamarathon.com)

  • Time of Year: A Sunday usually in early to mid-March
  • Course Description: The course route has changed a number of times over the years, but most recently the point to point "Stadium to the Sea" route from Dodger Stadium to the Santa Monica Pier has proved extraordinarily popular. The course takes you through sections of Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, West Los Angeles and Santa Monica. There are race day shuttles that take runners from Santa Monica to the start.
  • Other Events: 5K
  • Pricing: Registration starts at $180 for the 2016 event (up from $150 in 2014 and $170 in 2015)
  • Other: On a personal note, I set my personal best time on this course back in 1997. This is THE race to do if you enjoy lots of crowd support along the course.

Mountains to Beach Marathon (www.mountains2beachmarathon.com)

  • Time of Year: Late May; generally last Sunday of May.
  • Course Description: Formerly called Ojai 2 Ocean Marathon in 2011-2012. Changed to Mountains to Beach Marathon in 2013. Point to point course that starts with a 10K loop in Ojai, then 10 miles of bike path to the Ventura oceanfront, down the Ventura Keys to Marina Park and back to the Ventura Pier. Net downhill of 700 feet makes this a fast course, according to friends that have run it. The race currently gives free entries to men with a sub-2:45 and women with a sub-3:00 and half-price entries to men with a sub-3:00 and women with a sub-3:20.
  • Other Events: Half Marathon, 5K
  • Pricing: 2016 event starts at $111 (includes processing fee)

Ventura Marathon (www.venturamarathon.com)

  • Time of Year: The inaugural event was Sunday, September 8, 2013 and the 3rd annual event took place on 9/13/15
  • Course Description: This is a pancake flat course that takes you from the Ventura Pier, down Harbor Boulevard past the Ventura Harbor and Channel Islands Harbor to near the Hueneme Pier, then loops back to finish back at the Ventura Pier. The final one mile stretch is on the Ventura bike path. There were 778 finishers in 2015, down from 879 finishers in 2014, and compared to 670 in the inaugural event.
  • Other Events: Half marathon, 5K, kids fun run, bike rides.
  • Pricing: Pricing for 2015 event ranged from $100 to $140, depending on timing.
Finish line of the Inaugural Ventura Marathon on September 8, 2013

Finish line of the Inaugural Ventura Marathon on September 8, 2013

Santa Clarita Marathon (www.scmarathon.org)

  • Time of Year: Generally run on the 1st Sunday in November
  • Course Description: The course starts and finishes at the Valencia Town Center and has a number of out and back turns, mostly along bike paths. One of the more low key marathons in the area, with around 350 to 400 finishers.
  • Other Events: Half marathon, 5K, Kid K
  • Pricing: $90 in 2015 compared to $77 in 2014.

Camarillo Marathon (www.camarillomarathon.com)

  • Time of Year: Currently run on first non-New Year's Day Sunday of the year.
  • Course Description: The inaugural event in 2010 had some logistical issues but since then has been improved and the course is now a flat 2 loops in the southern, farmland portion of Camarillo. There were 185 finishers in the 2014 event.
  • Other Events: Half marathon, 5K
  • Pricing: Pricing for the 2016 event ranged from $75 early bird to $120.

Surfer's Point Marathon (www.surferspointmarathon.com)

  • Time of Year: 3rd annual event to take place November 15, 2015.
  • Course Description: Two loop course starting at Ventura Promenade Park along the ocean front boardwalk up, Historical Old Rincon Highway and the sloping Visa Del Mar ridge. There were 89 finishers in 2014, up from 77 in the inaugural event.
  • Other Events: Half marathon, 5K, 10K
  • Pricing: Started at $65 and increased incrementally to $120 before the event in 2015.

Just a little farther but still possible to commute to if you are an early riser:

Long Beach Marathon (www.runlongbeach.com)

  • Time of Year: Early to mid-October range on a Sunday
  • Course Description: I've run the Long Beach Marathon several times and it is probably the most twisty, turny course I've ever run, yet it is still a reasonably flat and fast course. It starts and finishers in the heart of downtown Long Beach near Shoreline Village. There are sections along the beach, then it turns inland, up and around Cal State Long Beach, and back to the finish.There were 2,353 finishers in 2015 vs 2,776 in 2014 and 2,898 in 2013.
  • Other Events: Half marathon is hugely popular
  • Pricing: Started at $99 for the 2015 race (unchanged from 2014)

Surf City Marathon (formerly Pacific Shoreline Marathon) (www.runsurfcity.com)

  • Time of Year: Generally run on the 1st Sunday of February
  • Course Description: Much of course runs on PCH, streets and bike paths in and around the Huntington Beach Pier with views of the Pacific Ocean.  This race generally sells out each year with between 2,000 and 2,500 participants.
  • Other Events: Half marathon
  • Pricing: $134 for 2016 race

OC Marathon (www.ocmarathon.com)

  • Time of Year: Generally takes place the first Sunday of May
  • Course Description: The marathon starts in Newport Beach, runs past Balboa Island in kind of a figure eight-ish pattern in Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and adjacent cities. The race generally has around 2,000 participants. The race finishes at the OC Fair and Event Center.
  • Other Events: Half marathon and 5K
  • Pricing: 2016 event is $90

Marathons No More

There was a Pasadena Marathon in recent years but organizers announced it has been cancelled.

Malibu Marathon was cancelled in 2014 and apparently is no more, though the half marathon sold out and is planned for 2015 (www.malibuintmarathon.com).

Organizers of the Santa Barbara International Marathon announced on 10/14/15 that the 7th annual event planned for 11/7 has been cancelled.

Looking for marathons around the world? My favorite place to find them is www.MarathonGuide.com. They do a great job of compiling a massive amount of information strictly about marathons.

CLICK HERE for other local races...5K, 10K, half marathon, etc. distances.

I've run over 30 marathons or so through the years and periodically babble on about my training, experiences and other random running and training related items THIS LINK.

And last but not least, here are 26.2 training tips for running your first marathon.