Disclaimer: I received a comp race entry into the Santa Rosa Half 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 think we can all agree that 2020 was an eerily quiet year for racing given the global pandemic. My list of races went from 13 down to 4 that were actually able to be held in person. Coming into 2021 I was eager to not only run the races I had already signed up for, but to enrich my experience by trying new races. The Santa Rosa Marathon seemed like a wonderful opportunity to not only try a new course, but also check off another state on my list.
The Santa Rosa Marathon offered not only the traditional half and full marathon options on Sunday, but also a 5k and 10k option on Saturday to make it a true running weekend! I had initially just signed up for the half marathon but I figured since this was my first time running in California wine country I may as well run the 5k too. I’m glad I decided to sign up for the 5k because it was a great warm-up for Sunday’s half marathon.
I arrived in Santa Rosa on Friday to give myself plenty of time to get settled in and explore the area. After checking into my hotel I went to packet pick-up which was quick and well organized. What swag did I receive for running the 5k and half marathon, you ask? Get ready, because it’s pretty awesome! For the 5k I received a 1/4 zip pullover in a beautiful burgundy color, an insulated tumbler (for my wine of course!), and a beautiful medal. On top of that awesome swag I also received a performance running jacket, bottle of wine, and another beautiful medal for the half marathon. I made the mistake of taking a small carry-on only, it was a tight squeeze getting all of that swag home!
Saturday morning was a little toasty with temps in the 70’s and there was a slight haze in the air from the surrounding wildfires, although thankfully I don’t think that impacted me too much. Upon arriving at the start line in downtown Santa Rosa, the excitement of the other runners was palpable. For many, this was their first in person race in nearly a year and a half! Everyone was smiling as they were stretching and warming up for the 5k. The 10k race started two hours prior and it was fun to cheer on some of the finishers as we were waiting to start our race. The 5k started promptly at 9am and curved through downtown for about a quarter mile before jumping on the Santa Rosa Creek Trail. It was a quick out and back and there was amazing support both from the volunteers and spectators cheering us on. After finishing the 5k, there was an after-party with a DJ playing some fun, upbeat music and every runner over 21 received a complimentary drink from Hen House Brewing.
Sunday morning had a nice crisp, chill in the air which is perfect running weather in my opinion. The race was held in the same location in downtown Santa Rosa and the same excitement was in the air. The course ran a bit further through downtown before merging onto the Santa Rosa Creek Trail again. The first part of the course was partially shaded, which provided a much needed reprieve from the sun. It was beautiful running along the trial and the Prince Memorial Greenway, especially around the halfway point as the scenery changed to vineyards and cows grazing in pastures (I love cows!). At the halfway point we crossed over a bridge and made our way back towards downtown. It was definitely starting to heat up at that point and the sun was breaking through a bit more. It was apparent that the race organizers are well versed in taking care of their runners as they had kiddy pools with cold water and washcloths setup at some of the aid stations to handout. That was such a lifesaver for me as I’ve been extra sensitive to heat this year, so being able to have a cold washcloth to place on my forehead, neck, and wrists for a few minutes helped immensely! Again, not only were the volunteers absolutely amazing, the spectator support along the course and at the finish line was much appreciated! While I wasn’t able to break 2 hours on this race, I finished with 2:05:46 which I was happy with. This is a Boston Marathon qualifying race and I definitely think it’s a great race for those chasing Boston as it is a relatively flat, fast course. There was another after-party held and I had an opportunity to meet a few other runners. I also received a bonus bottle of wine, which was a plus!
This race was extra special to me as it was my first time meeting some of my fellow BibRave Pros! Prior to the race I met up with Beth and Fallon who I connect with on Instagram, so it was really neat to meet them in person. The comradery amongst the BibRave Pros is one of the things that I love most about being a part of the team, everyone is so supportive!
Overall I had a great time exploring the Santa Rosa area, including Bodega Bay on the coast, and running both races. For anyone looking for a flat, fast course in California I highly recommend this race!