Race Recap – 2016 Carlsbad Marathon. Part I – The Race

Summary: Good event. There are long periods of mild uphill climb and the ocean view was worth the price of admission.

Key Information

Race Name The Tri-Cities Medical Center Carlsbad Marathon & Half
Location Carlsbad, California
Elevation Profile The first 9 miles are uphill at a 0.6% grade.
Race Type
Out and back.
Organization Excellent
Terrain Street
Water Stations Sufficient
Highlights Lots of miles along  the Pacific ocean
Other Events Half marathon
Good for Beginners? Yes

There were  7 minutes of transition from having no awareness of the Carlsbad Marathon to receiving the email confirming my registration.

The summer prior to running the race, SugarMagnolia (Sugar for short) posted on social media that she had signed up for the 2016 Carlsbad Marathon. I was shocked because her first marathon ten plus years ago was a horrid experience and she swore off  the 26.2 mile distance (with actual swear words) .  I immediately went to the race website with the intention to calendar the day, so I could come down and support her along the route.  Next thing, I texting Sugar to ask if it would be OK to run alongside her for the race and then boom, there we were standing  out on the streets of Carlsbad at an unholy hour on a January morning.  For your reference, Sugar’s race recap is here.


Elevation Profile

Elevation Profile.  Grade of 0.6% through Mile 9.

The Course

The most important thing to know about this race is that that elevation profile looks much worse than it actually is.  Miles 6 to 9 are a mild climb, but the rest of the race is as straight forward as marathons go.

The temperature was about 45F at race start.  I started out some thermal Nike tights, a long sleeved running shirt, hat and gloves.   By the time I hit the ocean and the sun came up I knew I was over dressed.   I yanked up my sleeves, packed away the gloves and hat and was just a tad warm the rest of the day.   If I were to run this race again, I would do it in shorts and a light long-sleeve shirt and just be cold for the first hour.

On the way to the Ocean

The race starts inland and then runs through Carlsbad down to the ocean then head south along Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). The ocean in the morning was absolutely beautiful.


At mile 5, the marathoners make a turn up Palomar Airport Road and take on an up hill climb. The three miles leading up to mile 9 are at 1.6% grade.   It’s nothing daunting, but it’s not to be taken lightly either.

After the turn around near Camino Real, there is a short hill to climb, then it’s down hill most of the way back to PCH.   At that point, we joined the half marathoners who were chugging southbound along the coast.

There are some very gradual rolling hills along the coast. Nothing daunting.   The thing that I was not ready for was the half-marathon turn around which happened a ways before the turn around for the marathoners.   The race thinned out at that point, which made things a little more difficult for me mentally.   After the marathoner turn-around it was an 8 mile run back to the start, most of it back to the ocean.

This was a great race and probably one of the few I would repeat.  I would definitely want to run the half, just because it is such a fun and beautiful race.

My Experience

Part II to follow.

Number 7 in the books!
Race Recap – 2016 Carlsbad Marathon. Part I – The Race

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