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Highway 1 damage will not affect Big Sur Marathon course


CARMEL — The recent storms that have wreaked havoc on California’s Highway 1 this winter will not affect the 26.2-mile route of the April 30 Big Sur International Marathon.

Multiple mudslides, shoulder collapses and irreversible structural damage to the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge are all significant issues on the highway between the Big Sur Village south toward the San Luis Obispo County line. The marathon start line, however, is a half mile north of the road closure, allowing the iconic race to be held as planned.

“This has been a very difficult year for the residents and businesses in Big Sur and our marathon is highly aware of the hardships created along the coast,” said Doug Thurston, race director of the nonprofit Big Sur International Marathon. “We have been working closely with the Big Sur community to be sensitive to their needs, while still providing the world-class experience our entrants expect.”

The various merchants and residents of the Big Sur community have collectively stated their support for the race to go on.

Jeanette Kenworthy, general manager of Glen Oaks Motel and the Big Sur Roadhouse, said, “We are fully supportive of the Big Sur Marathon moving forward and are happy to assist in any way we can. It will bring much needed revenue to the area as well as a feeling of stability for not only the loyal marathon runners but for the community as well.”

Rick Aldinger, general manager of the Big Sur River Inn, echoed the sentiments: “For me, I think the Big Sur community needs something like the Marathon to give us some feeling of normalcy.”

Aldinger also mentioned the importance of the financial contributions from the Big Sur Marathon each year.

“This would be a huge loss for our non-profits at a time that their resources are being spread thin,” he said.

The marathon team has been working closely with leadership from the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) and the California State Parks Department to discuss operational changes for race day. Each year, some 90 buses transport runners from the Monterey Peninsula to the start line, passing over the Pfeiffer Bridge to turn around further south in a wide space at Nepenthe Restaurant.

This year, because the bridge is out, the turnaround will be moved to Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Park, where runners will exit and walk to the start line approximately a half mile down the road.

“We met with the marathon team and determined that this would be the best option for the bus turnaround,” said John De Luca, sector superintendent for Big Sur State Parks. “Since most of the state parks in the area will still be closed to the public, this should work well for their needs on race day.”

California State Parks also manages Andrew Molera State Park, start of the 21-Miler, which is a popular marathon event with power walkers and runners as well. No changes are anticipated here or for the additional race distances, including the marathon relay, 10.6-Miler, 12K and 5K.

Named as one of the world’s top “destination races,” the Big Sur International Marathon draws runners from all 50 states and more than two dozen countries. They spend multiple days in the community, sightseeing and taking advantage of the various attractions and offerings in Monterey County.