LONG BEACH — September 29, 2021 — Next weekend, the City of Long Beach will play host to one of the most spectacular road races in Southern California: the annual Long Beach Marathon and Half Marathon. The environment figures to be electric when some 10,000-plus entrants are expected to lace up their running shoes.
Race weekend will feature the Aquarium of the Pacific 5K, 13.1-mile Half Marathon and a 20-mile Bike Tour fun ride. 2021 marks the 37th edition of the marathon after organizers kept the event rolling amidst the pandemic last year with a virtual run.
According to race director Natalia Mendez, there are plenty of precautions in store for runners to safely return to the streets for a live, in-person event.
“These past 18 months have certainly been challenging for everyone and we’re thrilled to be welcoming runners back to the start line and cheering them on in-person,” said Mendez. “Whether you’re running the marathon or watching or even just planning to be near the route, there is a lot you should know heading into race weekend.”
The ongoing pandemic will prompt a few precautions from public health officials. While the Health & Fitness Expo has been moved outside, it’s recommended for runners to wear masks when picking up their race packets. In addition, the Los Angeles County Health Department requires that all athletes provide proof of vaccination, or a negative Covid-19 test result to participate.
“Our goal is to try and make it as close to a normal experience as possible,” Mendez said. “While there will be some public health measures in place, to be out there running again is going to be very cool. Even before the exhilaration of race weekend, our participants have been saying on social media that just getting back to training was fun and motivating.”
As always, marathon weekend will begin Friday with packet pickup at the Long Beach Convention Center opening at noon. The running kicks off bright and early on Saturday with the Aquarium of the Pacific 5K, featuring a scenic, flat course that runs alongside Long Beach’s beautiful Rainbow Harbor.
The main event is Sunday when the marathon and 20-mile Bike Tour begin at 6:00 am on Shoreline Drive, followed by the half-marathon at 7:15 am. Runners will travel along the fast and flat course, which passes through many of the city’s eclectic neighborhoods.
Few marathons showcase their cities more effectively than Long Beach, taking athletes along the waterfront past the Lighthouse, Queen Mary, through Shoreline Village, around Belmont Shore toward Marine Stadium and through the campus of California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) where students, faculty and the school mascot Prospector Pete traditionally come out to support the runners.
The course then runs on Ocean Boulevard to the finish line on Shoreline Drive. Event weekend concludes with a post-race festival and beer garden adjacent to the oceanfront on Marina Green.
The return of the event should also provide a significant boost to the economy. According to a 2019 economic impact report, the marathon and related activities generated an estimated impact of over $4 million for the region, as well as more than $400,000 in charitable donations.
The race is an annual fall tradition for many in the community, who are looking forward to once again pounding the pavement. Some of the people most excited about returning are the marathon’s “Supreme Legacy Runners,” a group of individuals who have participated in all previous 36 iterations of the event. These runners represent the kaleidoscope of thousands of personal stories, goals and accomplishments that make up the fabric of the Long Beach community.
“The Long Beach Marathon is a festive event, and so much more than miles ran,” said Mendez. “Finishing a marathon or half-marathon is testament to the determination and passion of a person that will not be stopped from accomplishing their goals. This year’s race is going to be special. It’s a comeback celebration, not only for runners but the entire Long Beach community.”
While the 5k, Bike Tour and Marathon are sold-out, volunteer opportunities are still available, and people can also register for the half-marathon at RunLongBeach.com.
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