With a chill in the morning air, and the sun starting to peek around the surrounding mountains, the weather on Sunday, Nov. 6, was pure Malibu bliss for the scenic course that more than 1,600 runners were about to embark on.
The runners — hailing from near and far — gathered on Pacific Coast Highway, just north of Point Mugu beach for the eighth annual Malibu Half Marathon & 5K.
“This is our first half marathon,” said Emily Emshoff, 25, from Venice, Calif., who was running with Drew Hecht, also 25 and from Venice. “We’ve been looking for a good intro half marathon and chose this one.”
“You can’t beat it,” Hecht said. “It’s beautiful!” Both of their parents even flew in from Atlanta to cheer them on and soak in a little Southern California sun.
The course started just north of the iconic Mugu Rock and winded down PCH along the ocean toward Malibu. The half marathon turned around just before Neptune’s Net restaurant and County Line beach.
This year the event donated $5,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu. The Malibu High School girl’s varsity basketball team also used it as an opportunity to raise money for equipment and travel.
“I’m very passionate about supporting the community,” said Erica MacVittie, race director. “We may be organizing the event, but it belongs to the community.” The number of participants was nearly double compared to last year, she added. Businesses participating in the event included Saje Wellness, lululemon, LÄRABAR, TheBU Kombucha, Klean LA meal delivery and Rusnak BMW.
Warren Mullisen, 72, has been running since 1970 and has run every Los Angeles Marathon since the event began. He wasn’t out to set a personal best record on Sunday; rather, he was there to appreciate the scenery and do something he loves. “I consider this a way of life, not exercise,” said Mullisen, adding he would be happy to complete the half marathon in under two hours. “It’s beautiful here with the ocean. This is why we’re in California.”
At approximately 7:15 a.m., the starting gun sounded for the half marathon. In a thick cloud of dust, with sun filtering through, the runners headed south on PCH. At close to 7:30 a.m., the 5K group hit the course. Coming in at 19 minutes and 2 seconds, Kamilah Spears, 24, of Thousand Oaks, was the first woman in the 5K to cross the finish line. She ran in college at the University of California, San Diego and is an assistant cross country running coach at Thousand Oaks High School. “The hill was tough, but it was worth it because then you come back down the hill,” said Spears about the course.
Amelia Goudzwaard, 15, ran the 5K with members of the Malibu High School girl’s varsity basketball team. She completed the race in 28 minutes and 19 seconds. Goudzwaard and her teammates used the event to raise $1,000 to pay for equipment and an upcoming out-of-town tournament. “This was my first time running a 5K and I’ve never run 3.1 miles straight through before,” she said, winded but exhilarated. “It was such a great experience, especially running with my teammates.”
After most of the 5K runners crossed the finish line, anticipation started building for the first finisher of the half marathon. His name: Ismael Samano, 29, from Panorama City. His time: 1 hour, 9 minutes and 26 seconds. He’s an avid runner who has worked with a running coach for the past nine years. He does a variety of half marathons and full marathons throughout the year, including local events such as the Los Angeles Marathon and Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon.
“The run was great,” Samano said. “I love the view and the course.”
Cara Talty, 25 and from Los Angeles, was the first woman to finish the half marathon. Her time: 1 hour, 26 minutes and 28 seconds. She ran track and cross country while attending Clemson University in South Carolina, has run the New York marathon and qualified to run the Boston Marathon.
“My favorite part of the race was getting a ‘runner’s high’ at about the halfway point, but then around miles eight and nine I started to die a bit,” Talty said. “But then I got a surge, picked up again and finished.”