Friday, October 27, 2006

Article about BS half in Salinas Californian

Runners take to the coast
Half marathon is Sunday
The Salinas Californian
October 27, 2006

This Sunday's Big Sur Half Marathon is expected to attract 4,500 participants, the most since it began in 2003.

The event calls on entrants to run, jog or walk along a 13.1-mile stretch of the Monterey Peninsula.

Participants take part in the 7 am. contest for a variety of reasons. Some will use the race to help get ready for next month's New York City Marathon. Others will use it as a measuring stick to prepare for April's Big Sur International Marathon. And some will just enjoy the peninsula as they walk.

"We're expecting the usual enthusiastic crowd," said Franca Gargiulo, director of media relations with the marathon.

Coordinators with the Big Sur International Marathon created the half marathon event four years ago because the full marathon event, a 26.2-mile run along with various other running and walking events, continued to sell out at a rapid pace. Sunday's half-marathon also has sold out.

"The numbers have grown every year," Gargiulo said. "There are a lot more walkers, a lot of baby boomers that are injured but still want to be in it. And more people are getting into fitness."

Some of Sunday's competitors took part in last weekend's Chicago Marathon or the Baltimore Half Marathon earlier this month, although Gargiulo said she doesn't know how many.

Steve Sundell of Redwood City is last year's men's champion, winning the race in 1 hour, 5 minutes, 20 seconds. Marina's Heather Hanscom won the women's title with a run of 1:17:24.

Among this year's female challengers is Pacific Grove professional triathlete Alexis Waddell, a runner-up in 2004. Former Olympians Jen Rhines and Katie O'Neill are also slated to participate.

Ibrahim Limo, a Kenyan who trains in Cary, N.C., and who won the men's division last year, is a scheduled participant. In 2004, Limo won the Big Sur International Marathon . Another participant originally from Kenya, Richard Kimeli of Albuquerque, N.M., has a personal half-marathon record time of 1:03:15, which would have bested Sundell's time last year by two minutes.

With a mostly flat course, runners won't have to worry about steep hills. It begins at Del Monte and Tyler streets in Monterey and goes toward Lake El Estero. The course continues along the coast toward Lover's Point in Pacific Grove. The course then runs through parts of downtown Pacific Grove before going back to Monterey. The finish line is the Custom House Plaza on Fisherman's Wharf.

Weather won not be a problem (although Gargiulo said runners would come even if it was raining, as it did two years ago); temperatures are expected to be in the mid 50s at the start of the race. No rain is expected.

"Runners should be aware of exhaustion," Garguilo said. "Slow down and enjoy the course. Take it easy and have a good time."

Along with the half marathon, there's a 10-mile walk and 5-kilometer run that takes place at the same time.

The men's and women's winners earn $2,000; the top eight men and women all receive money. An extra $1,000 is awarded to the runner that breaks the course record in his or her gender.

Contact Glenn Cravens at

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