HUNINGTON BEACH, CA – September 11, 2021 – On a sun-splashed morning, thousands of runners hit the Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach as the Surf City Marathon and Half Marathon celebrated its 25th running. And what a celebration it was with touching, human-interest stories unfolding across the course.
Dorothy Strand, all of 81 years young, jogged her way through the half-marathon, continuing her streak of being the only athlete to run all 25 races. Strand crossed the finish line in just over 4 hours, 20 minutes surrounded by members of her California Cruisers/642 running team.
In the marathon, Sean McQuaid was second across the finish line but first in spectators’ hearts. Running with Team Hoyt, McQuaid pushed 18-year-old Cormac Evans the entire 26.2 miles. Evans suffers from cerebral palsy along with other physical challenges.
In the women’s marathon, experience, not youth, was served. Newport Beach’s Michelle Jacobsen not only won the race in 2 hours, 53 minutes, 45 seconds, but broke 3 hours for the first time. Not bad for a 43-year-old.
Jacobsen had limited her training to indoors on a treadmill before joining a local running team the past two months.
“I was just trying to run sub 3 (hours),” said Jacobsen. “This is completely unbelievable. I’m in shock.”
The men’s winner was an out-of-towner, Ben Winfield of Newcastle, Wash., who crossed the tape in 2:47:29. Winfield eclipsed his previous personal best by nearly 15 minutes and gave the thousands of spectators who lined the coast props.
“The atmosphere was absolutely incredible,” said Winfield. “I didn’t expect so many people to be cheering me on. I didn’t have to do anything. It was so encouraging, all the support along the course. Just amazing. There were people congratulating me, telling me to hold strong.”
There was another heart-tugging story unfolding with another local runner. Less than four months after undergoing brain surgery, Huntington Beach’s Tiffany Costello finished the half marathon. Costello is a world-class runner, having qualified for the 2020 U.S. Marathon Trials the first time she ran the distance.
To be healthy, to be back running, and to be pursuing her passion again left Costello filled with joy.
“Oh my God, I’m so grateful,” said Costello. “I’m so happy and grateful to be where I am. I know those last two miles hurt but all in an outstanding way. It was absolutely beautiful running along the ocean, looking at the beach, the waves. I’m so grateful not just to run this race but to call this my hometown.”
Men’s half-marathon winner Sid Vaughn is from Baton Rouge, La., and loved the seaside setting finishing with a time of 1:06:53.
“I’m a southerner but I knew about the PCH and how beautiful it is. To run along the palm trees, beside the ocean, just beautiful,” said Vaughn.
England’s Rosie Edwards who lives in Phoenix, Arizona won the women’s half-marathon in 1:16:18. The top 5K runner was Hunter Bliss of San Diego, who place first overall with a time of 15:25.
The race fell on the 20th anniversary and the atmosphere was patriotic with a huge American flag hanging from a crane at the start line, a moment of silence and multiple flyovers during the race.
The Surf City Marathon and Half Marathon returns to its traditional first Sunday of February date next year, with the 26th edition scheduled for February 6, 2022. For complete results, photos and more, visit www.RunSurfCity.com.