About Mile 14, looking north.
About Mile 10, looking north.
The start (taken Saturday before the infrastructure was in place).
Big Sur is really a marvelous event. Ted will attest that my pictures do not do the scenery justice, and except for the start these were taken basically at random -- whenever I felt like stopping to jog a short stretch of the course to get a feel for it.
It is a grueling race. The elevation profile (below) about does it justice. The Hurricane Point climb in the middle is more or less four Heartbreak Hills in a row. The climbs in the second half are easy by comparison but brutal in their own right. You learn quickly to fear rounding bends in the road because around every other one a gale is blowing down some cleft in the mountain or off some ocean inlet.
But once aspirations of exceeding yourself are gone, sometime around Mile 6, the greatest hazard is the crick in your neck from craning to see some new sight or to hear some new sound.
Spectators are few -- the highway is closed to all but official race traffic -- so in the first miles descending the mountain to the coast you have a symphony of feet on the tarmac uninterrupted by the usual race-day noise. The event is large and includes several sub-categories, timed such that the marathoners, 21-milers, 10-milers, and 9-milers all can finish in the same 6 hours and permit the road to be re-opened by 1.
So you never break free of a crowd, which is annoying early on when you are feeling good and want that magical stretch of road to yourself, but is wonderful later when the walkers cheer the runners and the runners cheer the walkers and everybody pulls together to surmount that last hill you can see at Mile 25, which is every bit as much of a slap in the face as you might imagine its being.
Ted asks in an earlier comment what is the excuse for running in Big Sur 13 days after Boston. The answer is that there is no excuse. The reason last year was something like this (confession following): I would guess that in part I run marathons (rather than simply running on my own or with my co-bloggers) to be badder than the next Joe, and if you want to be badder than the next marathoner you have to run many marathons. The reason this year was that Boston is Boston and Big Sur is magic and I could not say no to either of them.