2014 Ventura Marathon and Beach Party Celebrate Record Success

In its second year, the Ventura Marathon and Beach Party reached record numbers, drawing over 3,200 participants from 34 states and nine countries.

Overall marathon winners were Dirian Lenin Bonilla who ran a 2:32:34 (5:49 per mile pace) and Bonnie Axman Keating who finished in 2:45:15 (6:18 pace).

The men’s half marathon was won by Westlake Village resident Sean Gildea who ran a 1:08:04 (5:12 pace.) The women’s half-marathon title was won by Allison Maxson in 1:15:57 (5:48 pace).

The 2014 event raised over $25,000 for local schools and charities including Pier Into The Future, the Humane Society of Ventura County, Autism Society Ventura County, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer, Max Cure Foundation, the Rotary Club of Ventura, and over one dozen local school groups and teams.

Race director Josh Spiker was particularly excited about the event's support of local charities and programs and gives thanks to the over 700 volunteers that made the event such a success.

The flat and fast course took runners and walkers through the cities of Ventura, Oxnard and Port Hueneme before culminating at the beachfront finish of the historic Ventura Pier.

The event included a full two-day beach party which featured over 60 vendors, food trucks, a beer garden by Firestone, seven live bands and various kids’ activities.

For more info or to check on updates about next year’s event, go to VenturaMarathon.com.

The event is managed by Vendurance Sports, a Ventura County-based running club and event management company aiming to bring high-quality, well-organized and affordable events to the region.

Ran a Decent Race, Meeting Expectations at Inaugural Ventura Marathon

In marathon running and other aspects of life, sometimes the most important thing is setting realistic expectations. Somehow I managed to set my mental expectations at today's Ventura Marathon in perfect alignment with my level of training. Worked like a charm.

One of the coolest marathon medals ever! A bottle opener! How cool is that!?Having done zero long runs on the roads the entire year, my expectations were set at "have fun and enjoy the race." You may ask, don't you usually enjoy your races? Well, to be honest, when I'm pushing my body to its limit in an "all out" race, I'm generally not enjoying it until after the race.

The race started at 7 a.m. at planned. Actually, I didn't even look at my watch, so it may not have been exactly 7 a.m., but there were no delays. Big plus! The weather was pretty much perfect! Overcast the entire race for me and temps around 65 to 70 degrees. There was just a very slight wind, which was perfect. And the course was extremely flat, without a lot of turns. The race was very well organized, there was police coverage at every major intersection, and the water stops were reasonably staffed on this out and back course. KUDOS to race organizer Josh Spiker! I think it was very well done!

Having a sore hamstring for months, my training has consisted of running, 35 to 45 miles per week, nothing speedy, nothing long, other than a 5K on July 20th and the Bulldog 25K on August 24th. No long runs the entire year and very little mileage on the roads. I cruised through today's marathon in 3 hours, 8 minutes, good for 2nd in my age group. If I hadn't taken a 1 minute porta-john stop

I went out fairly easy but still a bit too fast, with a 6:38 opening mile. There were both marathoners and half marathoners at the start, so it was hard to tell who you were running with. But my goal was to run at "keep a smile on your face" speed the entire race, so I ignored what people were doing around me. I was passed by dozens of runners over the first half of the race...faces that I got to see again later in the race.

My watch showed 34:02 at mile 5. I wasn't looking at my mile splits but a solid look female runner scooted by me and asked me. That's a about a 6:48 pace. Too fast. Then at mile 9 I realized I needed to make a pit stop. That's when I screwed up my watch timer but I think I had maintained that pace. But pit stops always seem to take a bit of wind out of my sails for a bit so I must have slowed, not to mention I lost about a minute of time. But I kept the smile on my face.

The turnaround was near the Hueneme Pier, where we ran in a large circular turnabout, then headed back to Ventura. This gave the runners the chance to see who was behind you, as well as ahead of you. My legs didn't feel particularly strong after the turnaround, but I slogged along, attempting to maintain a consistent pace.

Something clicked around mile 15 or so and I felt a sudden burst of smoothness in my stride. I believe it may have been some of the GU packets kicking in. I was just plodding along at a consistent pace, and so many familiar faces from the first 9 miles of the race appeared again. At the 20 mile mark there was no "Wall" this race. In fact, I was able to look at the 20 mile mark as the start of a 10K.

It worked. The stride was maintained without the soreness and death march feeling I anticipated, having run nowhere near this mileage on pavement all year. But I didn't start sprinting; I maintained and just gradually kicked it up a small notch. It wasn't until mile 23 that I felt comfortable kicking it up a few more notches, as targets appeared left and right.

The final half mile stretch of the race was along the Ventura beach path, which got a little crowded with pedestrians, but I managed to push myself through the final mile after passing my last duo of younger runners. The quads did begin freezing up this last stretch but I was close enough to the finish to push myself through the pain.

And...I finished. 3 hours, 8 minutes, 29 seconds. Exceeding my lowered expectations. And with a smile on my face.

Signed Up For the Inaugural Ventura Marathon This Sunday...But Should I Run It?

The Inaugural Ventura Marathon is this coming Sunday, September 8th. This 26.2 miler starts on Harbor Boulevard near the Ventura Pier and will take runners to the Port Hueneme pier and back. The course is roughly 95% on roads, included approximately 18 miles on Harbor Boulevard and the adjoining Channel Islands Boulevard as the course past Channel Islands Harbor to Surfside Drive near the Hueneme Pier.

A long time ago I signed up for the race, well before my latest spate of injuries, namely a hamstring issue, that has basically eliminated long runs from my training for quite some time. I could easily just skip the marathon or perhaps change over to the half marathon or 5K. I'm not in particular speedy shape and I have done very few runs of any distance on the roads, so running a full on marathon solely on roads is probably a bad call for me.

But, what can I say, I'm a stubborn runner. Although I have no delusions of a speedy time on the course, I'm intrigued by the fact that the course is flat as a pancake, with course elevation ranging from 20 feet to 56 feet (I suspect that must be the bridges on Channel Islands Boulevard). I can't remember a flatter course than this one other than the graham cracker flat Chicago Marathon.

While there are no 18, 20, 22 milers in my logbook this entire year, I do have a couple recent hilly 15.5 milers on the Bulldog 25K course in the last 6 weeks. So my legs are reasonably strong for climbing and descending hills on dirt trails, but I've done pretty much diddly squat on the roads. That could be a major problem for me lasting through the entire 26.2 miles on the hard pavement. I did do a 2 hour, 20 minute trail run on April 7th and about 17 miles in Hidden Valley on March 17th, but that was a long time ago. I will have to think carefully about my choice of shoes for this run. No racing flats for me this go-around.

So let's see how it goes for Sunday. Perhaps I'll run with my camera and just take it easy and have some fun.  The weather in theory could also be a factor as we are currently in a heat wave, but it is supposed to crescendo by Friday (two days from today), then taper off over the weekend...not to mention, this run should have ocean breezes much of the way.