SOLEDAD — Hundreds of runners and walkers will take to South County backroads on Saturday to take part in the eighth annual Salinas Valley Half Marathon the will start at the Soledad Mission and finish at Pessagno Winery on 1645 River Road. Last year the race did not take place due to bad air quality due to the devastated Soberanes Fire.
In the women’s elite division 2015 champion Monica Joe Gilmore of Aromas will be a favorite and enters the race with a predicted time of 1:28. Challenging Gilmore will be Brandi Hobson of Salinas and Rachel Shimabukuro of Salinas.
In the men’s elite division 22-year-old Watsonville resident Justin Carrancho has the top predicted time of 1:10 for the 13.1 mile course that travels along the hillsides of South County. Jesus Campos of Fresno and King City High School alumni will try to stay close to Carrancho as his predicted time is 1:15. Andrew Martinez, a 19-year-old resident of Soledad, Jonathan Saldana of Salinas, and 19-year-old Jaime Garcia of Greenfield will attempt to be part of the lead pack of runners. Campos, Martinez, and Garcia all ran for Hartnell College in Salinas.
Campos is a past winner of the Big Sur Marathon. Eduardo Orozco of King City and Jose Ruiz of Hollister have predicted times 1:20 going into Saturday’s race. Orozco was a standout distance runner at King City High School and Hartnell College.
Due to traffic the day of the race, the course route will be controlled from 6 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
An awards presentation will take place at 10 a.m. at Pessagno Winery to the top placers in 14 age groups.
All finishers will receive a medal for completing the race.