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 there are over 500,000 marathon finishers in the U.S. a year over the last three years. In 2012, the number of marathon finishers dropped as compared to 2011, but that was due to cancellation of the New York Marathon in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. In the last 20 years, the number of marathon finishers has doubled in the U.S.
That said, until fairly recently, there were no marathons run on Ventura County soil. When I began running in the mid 1990s, the closest marathons were in Los Angeles, Santa Clarita and Culver City. Now there are marathons in Ventura, Ojai and Camarillo as well as in nearby Malibu 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 to go 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 $150 for the 2014 event.
- 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: 2014 event is $94 plus $5.64 service fee.
Malibu Marathon (www.malibuintmarathon.com)
- Time of Year: Generally the 2nd Sunday in November.
- Course Description: Point to point course that starts at the Camarillo Airport, meanders through the Camarillo/Oxnard plain past Naval Base Ventura County to Pacific Coast Highway, on down to end at Zuma Beach. After you reach PCH, you get some awesome views of Pacific Ocean, but with that you get some headwinds and some challenging hills over the last 10K of the race as you make your way past Leo Carrillo. This two-time finisher says this is not a fast course, but it is a beautiful and challenging course. Sparse crowds so be prepared to run alone. There were 657 finishers in the 2012 event.
- Other Events: Half marathon, 1K kids run, SUPathlon (7 Miles Run; 6 Miles SUP)
- Pricing: Started at $109 for the 2013 event if you sign up early but then jumped to $145.
Santa Barbara Marathon (www.sbimarathon.com)
- Time of Year: Generally the 2nd Saturday in November, making this one of the few Saturday marathons in the area.
- Course Description: The course starts with a 10 mile loop in Goleta, then heads down mostly city streets to finish near the ocean at Santa Barbara City College. There are some fairly challenging hills over the last 7 miles of the course but a nice downhill finish along the ocean. I ran the inaugural race in 2009. In 2012 there were nearly 1,400 finishers.
- Other Events: Half marathon
- Pricing: $145 for the 2013 event.
Ventura Marathon (www.venturamarathon.com)
- Time of Year: The inaugural event was Sunday, September 8, 2013. No word yet on 2014 date.
- 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 670 finishers in the inaugural event.
- Other Events: Half marathon, 5K, kids fun run, bike rides.
- Pricing: Inaugural event pricing started at $80.
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. Around 350 to 400 finishers.
- Other Events: Half marathon, 5K, Kid K,
- Pricing: Only $77 for the 2013 event.
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 under 100 finishers in the 2012 event.
- Other Events: Half marathon, 5K
- Pricing: Pricing for the 2014 event started at $65 (early bird) and increases incrementally to $120 for last minute signups.
Surfer's Point Marathon (www.surferspointmarathon.com)
- Time of Year: Inaugural event planned for Sunday, November 17, 2013
- Course Description: Event website indicates 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. Same event organizer as Camarillo marathon.
- Other Events: Half marathon, 5K, 10K
- Pricing: Started at $65 and increases incrementally to $120 before the event.
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 with roughly 3,000 marathoners. 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.
- Other Events: Half marathon is hugely popular
- Pricing: Starts at $125 for the 2013 race.
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: A nice, even $114 plus $8.41 processing fee for the 2014 event.
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: 2014 event is $90 plus $6.85 processing fee.
There was a Pasadena Marathon in recent years but organizers announced it 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.