JW's Running

The Unofficial Carrie and Julianne Half Marathon…Or the Cost of Running 13 Miles


Half marathons seem to be getting expensive.

For example:

Silicon Valley Half Marathon – $60

Big Sur Half Marathon – $85-$95

San Jose Rock N Roll Half Marathon – $85-$115

I realize that you’ll probably receive a finishers medal and shirt.  In some cases you will hear from bands along the course and have a fun expo to attend.  There may be balloons and great volunteers.  Maybe some good food once you cross the finish line.

However, these prices seem to be getting out of control.  It’s just 13-miles (says the endurance snob).  Perhaps we are too focused on the expos, the bands, and the spectacle, as opposed to the run.

What does this have to do with the “Unofficial Carrie and Julianne Half Marathon”?  I’ll tell you…

My frequent partner and I were going to run a trail half a couple weeks back.  However, when we realized it was $75, and we had just paid the $90 for NF Endurance Challenge 50 mile, we balked.  Seventy-five dollars for two hours of running vs. $90 for twelve hours of running…hmmm….

QuickSilver County Park - The Site of Our Trail "Half Marathon"

Instead, we met at the lovely QuickSilver County Park to run 13 miles on our own, for free.

What did we get for our money?

What didn’t we get?

I remember my first 13-mile race.  It was the Santa Cruz Half Marathon, which remains one of my all time favorites at that distance.

Location of the Santa Cruz Half Marathon - One Race Worth the Price of Admission

Register in advance, and it costs $45.  That feels a bit more reasonable to me.  You get a medal and t-shirt and the joy of racing along a gorgeous ocean course. After the run you can spend your day on the world famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk or at a cafe in Capitola.  Another nice one is the KP San Francisco Half Marathon, which takes place in February each year.  It’s simple, well organized, and half the course follows the ocean.  Cost $40-$50.  Beware, no finishers medals (at least this last year).

When 13-miles is the longest you’ve ever run, I think it’s worth some money to experience the thrill of the race.  When you are training for something longer, I think it’s worth the money to test your speed.

However, there are a lot of half marathons out there and you don’t need to spend a fortune. Know what you get when you plunk down the money.  Do you need an expo? Do you need bands? (If you’ve never done one with “bands at every mile”, realize you only hear each band for maybe one minute at most.  Over the course of say a two hour race, that’s 13 whole minutes of music.)  Maybe you just need a beautiful location with a course that will challenge you.  Do you want a t-shirt or a tech-shirt (there is a big difference).  And let’s be honest, a little bling once you finish never hurts.

As for the free Carrie and Julianne Unofficial Half Marathon, I am pleased to report that Carrie and Julianne won!  Yup, that’s right.  We tied for first place.  In fact, I’ll never forget crossing the “finish line” (parking lot/finish line, you say tomAto/I say tomato). I looked at my friend and said, “Hey, we won.” After laughing, Carrie said, “If we get two more people next year we will double our numbers.”  So come out to the Mockingbird Hill Lane Entrance of the QuickSilver County Park around 6:30AM-ish, the last weekend in August 2010.  Bring your own aid station and don’t expect medals or t-shirts.  Meet the defending champions/race ‘organizers’ and have a great run!  We will all go for Peet’s coffee afterwards, but it’s not included in the cost of admission.