Train for a scenic, seaside run
If you’re looking for a scenic, flat course for a marathon in early October, check out the Long Beach International City Bank ICB Marathon, Half Marathon and its many events in California.
Nowhere else can a desert rat run a fast, flat marathon where 80 percent of the course is on or within sight of the ocean and where the half marathon is on 100 percent shoreline.
Held on October 9, this event starts and finishes in downtown Long Beach running along the beach path where you’ll marvel at the blue ocean, clean beaches, gentle surf and charming seaside communities. You run right to the bow of the Queen Mary ship and circle back around the Lighthouse of Rainbow Harbor and Long Beach pier.
At mile 10.5, the half-marathoners split off and circle back while, the marathoners continue on to appreciate the student-filled Cheer Alley of California State University. Once you finish, you’ll be treated to one of the best finish line festivals with lots of music, food and entertainment. Or you can take a nice dip in the ocean — just remember it’s the Pacific and the water is always cold.
I ran this race a couple of years ago and found the miles sped on by. The sound of the ocean, the chirping of the sea gulls and the bright blue sky made me feel more like a beach bum than a runner, and I still think of how pleasant my run was that day. The stress-free days before the race, I took advantage of eating at several seaside restaurants, enjoying coffee on the beach boardwalk, watching the swimmers from the pier and riding the trolley to different seaside locations.
For those taking the family along, the event also has a free kids one-mile run the day before where every participant gets a free entry in the Aquarium of the Pacific. The same day as the marathon at 6 a.m., those who would rather cycle than run can experience the marathon course on a bike. It’s a safe and fully closed course perfect for beginning and experienced cyclists. For those wanting a faster, shorter race, at 8:30 that morning is the Run Forrest Run 5K.
This is an easy destination run when you take one of the direct flights going from Phoenix or Tucson to Los Angeles. There, you catch a shuttle that takes you right to the event hotel and Expo area. Once in Long Beach, you can use the trolley to travel all around the city and down to Belmont Shore for $1.50 base fare or 50¢ for seniors. I took the trolley to go shopping in the quaint community of “The Shore,” had a nice lunch on the beach and came back in time to walk along the ocean by the Convention Center where the Expo is held.
Just writing this column makes me want to go back.