***Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Ventura Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!***
I don’t even know where to start with this. Since being accepted as a BibRave Pro ambassador traveling to different areas for races has been a fun experience. Nothing beats combining a race and a vacation all into one jam packed weekend. Therefore when the opportunity came about to run the Ventura Marathon in Ventura, California I had to jump on this opportunity. I’ve never been to Cali so this was the perfect excuse.
The Ventura Marathon offers several races, a 5k/Half/Full, as well as a Bike rides, an adventure obstacle course race, kids run and a K9 run as well.
I convinced a friend to go with me, even though she’s not a runner, because I wanted to do more than just run a race. We flew into LAX early Saturday morning, as this was a Sunday race, and immediately drove up to Ventura. The rental car lady was able to give us directions to get us started and it was pretty much a straight shot.
The expo was easy to find as you can’t miss a giant finish sign as well as tents set up on the beach. The website stated that there were free parking garages around town, but I didn’t bother to search. We opted for the parking garage nearby which wasn’t the best idea. The parking garage used a ticket system and honestly it had no idea when the lot was full. There simply were not enough spots. We got lucky with Georgio being small and was able to fit a spot that just opened up.
The expo was nice, it had your typical vendor tents, merchandise tents, live music, as well as a beautiful view of the pier. Now. I will say that more signage was needed to show were you actually get your packet from. If you came from the parking garage like I did, you only saw the first set of vendors and one sign saying “packing pick up” and arrow pointing in a direction. Following said arrow made you believe that you were leaving the expo, not going to the other side. Another sign on the chain link fence there would’ve been helpful. I circled around several times and ended up asking someone for help.
Packet pick up was a breeze. Get in the line according to your bib number, there were no lines by the way, show you ID and get your bag of goodies. The end. If you were unable to make it you had two options. Send a friend with a copy of your ID, or pay extra for same day pick up.
The bag was actually a reusable bag with the bib, shirt, snacks, and a Ventura Marathon hat. My hat has been confiscated by family members so it is not pictured.
We opted not to stay in Ventura due to higher hotel costs and we really didn’t want to be stuck in Ventura for the whole weekend as this was also a vacation. We got a hotel north of LA in Woodland hills and I had an early alarm to hit the road by 4:45.
It was an easy drive up, about 45 minutes, and it took me a while to figure out exactly where to park and ended up parking in a FREE parking garage using the directions posted on the website at about 5:35ish.
It was a short walk to the start, maybe a ¼ of a mile, maybe more, and there were plenty of runners to keep you company. I met a fellow California native who was running her first half marathon and opted to do this one as her first as she has heard great things about the course, including the flatness.
I met up with the other Pros running, Abbie again, as well as Haley and her boyfriend. I must say, meeting new runners from different areas is so much fun because you get to hear their stories and it’s just all around fun making new friends.
Race: You lined up according to your pace group and it was a wave start to avoid congestion. It was a beautiful dark start and at some point I managed to miss the sunrise over the ocean. Oh well, you can’t win them all. The beginning mile was along a paved road that was right next to the coast, but did not provide a coastal view. At about mile two you enter in a residential neighborhood which I LOVED. I imagine that to natives that this isn’t a big deal, but for me I though the neighborhood was adorable was exactly how I pictured a California beach town.
Finish Line: ALL THE SNACKS. Not food, but SNACKS. I LOVE snacks. I was happy and stuffed my face. It was well organized, clean, and efficient. Vendors were back at their tents and the beer garden was open offering a local brew. I personally don’t drink beer so I skipped out on this. Instead I drank my Go-go squeeze and took pictures of my medal and called my facetimed my mama.
Overall: It was a well-organized race with free pictures. The course was accurate, clearly marked, and it did have a beautiful start and finish. The race let the runners choose swag via facebook voting so it was nice to feel as if I had a hand in the picking the swag I received. I will be 100% honest and say that I did expect to see more of the beach/water while running due to the location of the race. Especially with this being an out and back course it would’ve been nice to have more active scenery versus grass.