Aug. 19, 2018 – It was an early, overcast Sunday morning at the Cabrillo National Monument. The sun was close to rising behind the downtown San Diego cityscape, casting light and warmth onto the protected park land that typically sees no human life before 9 a.m. Yet on this summer morning, thousands of hearts were pumping on the far tip of the Point Loma peninsula, nerves were high and shuttles were driving in and out of the small monument entrance – it could only mean one thing. Suddenly, the loud friendly voice of Matthew Starkey came over the speakers – “Welcome to the 2018 America’s Finest City Half Marathon!”.
While temperatures had dropped after a particularly humid and warm summer, the morning started in the low 70’s and rose a few degrees throughout the morning. The sun came up at 6:14 a.m. and the starting gun went off 1 minute later. Everyone set off down the peninsula and with adrenaline rushing and elbows bumping, each person found their place and their groove as they settled into race mode.
The first mile privileged runners with a unique vantage point as they witnessed the sun’s rays peeking through the early morning clouds above the city. A rather magical and motivational send-off.
The second mile took runners past the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, a very picturesque yet poignant landmark that tends to stimulate diverse emotions. Race blogger Carlee McDot described the moment well when she wrote “I’ll be honest, I was worried that it would feel creepy, but it was awesome (and the perfect time to reflect on life when starting to get into the groove of the run).” Honoring the fallen and respecting the significance of the setting is a special experience that affects everyone differently, yet tends to evoke gratitude and reflection.
Things started to get quirky once runners exited the peninsula and made their way into the Point Loma neighborhoods where locals had set up a tequila station for those daring enough to take a shot at 7 a.m.!
Soon runners were at sea level as they passed mile-5 and ran towards the San Diego Airport and Harbor Island, where the views did not disappoint as runners looked out on Coronado, San Diego Bay and downtown San Diego.
Runners got their first cool down just before mile-8, where they had the option to go through the “Run Thru Rain Forest” set up every year by the OMBAC.
Mile-10 was full of fun and quirky distractions as runners passed the Star of India and entered the downtown area.
The amazing folks at the OMBAC once again set up another run through water attraction at the “Margaritaville Body Wash” as well as offered racers mini sliders – a memorable mid-run snack that won the favor of many runners!
When asked if runners indulged in the burgers, the majority of responses were “yes!”.
As runners made their way through downtown, they mentally prepared for what was ahead: the mile-12 hill up 6th Avenue!
Once the hill was conquered, the final 1.1 mile stretch took runners through Balboa Park and down into their long awaited destination: THE FINISH LINE!
The finish line was full of beaming smiles, arms in the air, breaths of relief and life long memories being made as Rudy Novotny welcomed everyone home. The feelings of accomplishment, pride and joy were so prevalent they were nearly palpable.
For one couple, crossing the finish line wasn’t enough and they began a whole new journey on the other side!
The final stop for the AFC runners was the Finish Line Festival, where nothing short of celebration, high-fives, cheering and general merriment was found. Those 21 and up headed to the Ballast Point beer garden where they had a delicious trio of beers to choose from (Session, IPA or Ale). Rubio’s chips and guacamole were also available to snack on as runners relaxed in the grassy shade.
Live music, local vendors and fun photo booth opportunities were enjoyed by all. Those who earned a Triple Crown Championship medal wore their double and triple bling proudly, and the “clinging” sound of the medals could be heard in the parking lot as people made their way to their cars.
There seemed to be far more good than bad to report (in fact none really, other than the heat!) and comments and reviews have been incredibly positive and heart warming.
The race organizers want to express a giant THANK YOU to all of the amazing volunteers who helped make the 2018 race experience so wonderful! Also much gratitude to the city officials, local law enforcement, medical aids and Race Guards that contributed to the safety and success of the runners!
We are incredibly proud of each finisher and beyond grateful to those who chose to run AFC! Registration is open for 2019, and while it may feel strange to plan that far ahead, the opening prices are a really spectacular deal. Plus, let’s be honest – you know you want to do it again next year! And we’d love to have ‘ya.
CONGRATULATIONS 2018 AFC FINISHERS!
SEE YOU IN 2019!
Your Girls at In Motion