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This is my third time doing the Brian Waterbury Memorial Run, which offers a 1/2 marathon and 6 mile fun run. The vibe of any even starts with packet pickup and this one starts off on the right foot. Packet pickup runs very smoothly and has extremely friendly staff, including the race director. They have 2 computers to check in 1/2 marathon athletes and many more to check in 6 mile athletes. Bib numbers are assigned when checking in so if you would like group numbers to coordinate be sure to check in together. Make sure you get in the right line, they do not always correct you if you mistakenly get in a 6 mile line instead of a 1/2 marathon line. The swag for this 1/2 marathon includes event specific color bib, unisex tech shirt, hat, and backpack. At the finish line you receive a finisher’s medal, popsicle, and breakfast. Every year this event has a new local animal theme. This year was a stingray!

The past two years I’ve done the rock to pier 6 mile fun run. It starts at Morro Rock and ends at Cayucos Pier, all on packed sand which makes for a very quick run. The event has buses to transport you back, or you can walk back, or stay in Cayucos like we do! The 1/2 marathon turns around at Cayucos Pier which leaves you missing 1.1 miles. To make up the distance you are sent to trudge through about 1/6 mile of soft sand before reaching an asphalt looped path, then back through the soft sand. You finally finish at the start line. Other than the short soft sand section this is a very fast run. I enjoy this race enough that I come back every year.

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Sand….if you haven’t raced on sand before it is worth pausing and questioning if it is right for you. Some chronic running issues are alleviated on soft sand, while others are intensified. Just before doing this run in 2014 I was recovering from a pinched nerve in my lower back. I couldn’t even run 2 miles on concrete or asphalt without pain. Prior to leaving Fresno I made peace with the fact I would just enjoy the beach and walk the 6 miles. This was NOT worth seriously injuring myself over. 6 miles later…no pain! I ran the whole 6 miles. In general ailments that are caused by pounding or pressure, like my pinched nerve, will do well on packed sand. Ailments caused by extension like shin splits will be worse. Also be sure to listen to your body if this is your first time running on sand, the cant can cause some strain on your IT, calves, and ankles.

The hardest part of this run is you can see the turn around or finish line the entire time. For this reason I do not recommend this as a first half marathon. For the mental aspect of the run I highly recommend focusing on things closer like rock formations in the ocean, on the sand, shells near by, and Dolphins at times, instead of focusing on the pier or finish arch that never seems to get any closer as long as your looking at them. Yes, in 2014 we had Dolphins in sight for most of the run!

I hope you can join me at this race next year!

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