13.1 miles of spectacular scenery
The Monterey Bay Half Marathon begins on Del Monte Avenue at Camino el Aguajito. Parking is available at the nearby Custom House Garages and there is shuttle service for those that park at Monterey Peninsula College or Del Monte Center (return shuttles as well). Runners are seeded into 12 start corrals located on both Del Monte Avenue and Figueroa Street. The elite women begin the race at 6:50 AM and the elite men at 6:59 AM. Corralled runners begin at 7 AM with a new corral starting every 2-3 minutes. Runners proceed north on Del Monte past Lake El Estero on the right and Window-on-the-Bay to the left.
The First Three Miles
Lake El Estero is a 45-acre multi-use recreational area that offers picnic space, a skateboard park, rental paddle boats, fishing and many other activities. It is also home to Dennis the Menace Park, a great place to take the kids. Window-on-the-Bay is a large landscaped expanse of green grass with groupings of bright flowers and native grasses. It serves as a stunning frame for the entire Monterey Bay.
After leaving the Lake El Estero area, runners proceed through the heart of historic downtown Monterey on Alvarado Street, one of the most popular thoroughfares in Monterey. Shops, many fine restaurants, movie theaters and lots of local color dominate this street.
From here, runners pass through the Custom House Tunnel and emerge to a view of beautiful boats in the marina. After turning onto Drake Street, they will pass by the Coast Guard Pier and San Carlos Park, eventually turning onto Cannery Row. Made famous by the novels of John Steinbeck, today’s Cannery Row is now home to many businesses, shops and restaurants. At the western end of Cannery Row is the world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, a must see if you are spending the weekend here. At the intersection with Ocean View Boulevard, runners again turn right. On their left is the American Tin Cannery that houses many outlet stores and is a great place for some pre-holiday shopping.
Running in Pacific Grove
Runners are now in the quaint town of Pacific Grove and proceed west on Ocean View Boulevard through beautiful residential neighborhoods. Pacific Grove is home to many bed & breakfasts and small, cozy inns. Consider lodging in PG (as the locals call it) for the weekend stay. Just prior to mile 4, runner’s will make a left hand turn onto Fountain Avenue and the largest hill on the course After about ¼ mile, runners make a right turn onto Lighthouse Ave for a short jaunt through downtown Pacific Grove. Known as both “Butterfly Town USA” and America’s “Last Home Town”, Pacific Grove has retained a charming, small town feel. After running a short distance down PG’s Lighthouse Avenue, runners will turn right just after the PG Post Office onto Central Avenue and then left onto 17th Street which will lead them to Lovers Point Park where they will rejoin Ocean View Blvd. At Lovers Point, runners will be treated to another band and lots of crowd support. Lovers Point features a sheltered beach, picnic areas, sand volleyball courts and great views of the entire Bay. There are several excellent hotels and restaurants in this area.
The stretch of coastline between Lover’s Point and Pt. Pinos offers an eclectic mix of quaint Victorians and mini mansions on the left and the Monterey Bay to the right. In the spring, the ground is covered in brilliant purple ice plant and the Bay is filled with sailboats and fishing boats. During the fall, expect to see the orange Aloe Vera in bloom. Whale-watching tours are available at Fisherman’s Wharf for the more adventuresome. As runners approach Point Pinos, the historic Point Pinos Lighthouse can be seen rising above the Pacific Grove Golf Links. This is a beautiful stretch of coastline with giant rock formations rising out of the ocean and lots of small sandy beaches and tide pools. During the fall months, it is not unusual for giant waves to crash against the shoreline, creating a mist of salty air. A walking path winds just above the ocean here, with frequent benches on which to rest and enjoy the incredible views.
Taiko Drummers will be playing at Asilomar Beach, a mecca for local surfers and one of the Peninsula’s two beaches where dogs run unfettered by leashes. The race turnaround will be in this area.
The Final Miles
After returning to Lovers Point, runners and walkers will get on the Recreation Trail which runs next to the ocean. At the Aquarium, they will once more travel on Cannery Row. Expect music and a large cheering gallery here. At Drake Street, the course will link back to the Recreation Trail for the final stretch to the finish at the Custom House Plaza.
There will be huge crowd support at the finish. After crossing the finish line, you will receive a unique ceramic finisher’s medallion, a mylar blanket for warmth (if weather conditions dictate) and a variety of post-race refreshments. There will also be cold Lagunitas beer (if over age 21) and hot minestrone soup in the Custom House Plaza area after exiting the food tent. Be sure to stick around for the awards ceremony and enjoy the many shops and restaurants located on adjacent Fisherman’s Wharf and Alvarado Street.