Avenue of the Giants Marathon – May the 4th be with you

Ever since visiting Redwood National Park a few years ago, I’ve wanted to run the Avenue of the Giants Marathon. This year, on May 5th, the day after Star Wars day, I finally got to.

If you aren’t familiar with the Avenue of the Giants, it’s a road in Northern California that weaves through some old growth Redwoods – the really big, really old trees that NorCal is famous for. They are beautiful You may also remember them these trees from the Ewok scenes on Endor in Star Wars; they filmed those very close to where this race took place.

I drove up the day before to pick up my packet and get situated. I stayed with my friend Austin at a motel / campsite about 45 minutes south of the race. It was very cute – secluded in the woods between the road and a river (which I definitely took a dip in when I arrived).

Race morning was perfect running conditions – a little chilly but not freezing. The first part of the course was an out-and-back half marathon, and I fell into step with a couple of women who were running about the same pace – Jordan and Karen. Jordan and I ended up running the first half of the race together – it was fun to get to make a new friend on the course.

Jordan and I running amongst Giants

The second half of the race was an out-and-back as well, along a different road. This part of the course was shared with the half marathoners, so I got to see Austin on his way to the finish. I also saw Karen again briefly too! This part of the course is the more famous stretch – if you’ve driven along Avenue of the Giants, you’ve probably seen this part – it’s right near the visitor center.

Trees everywhere

I finished in 3:47 – not bad, considering the rolling hills on the course, and that I’d had a pretty rough and sleep-deprived couple of weeks at work leading up to the race. Karen, Jordan, and I had a quick celebration before parting ways.

Image may contain: 3 people, including Karen Bird and Lisa Donchak, people smiling, people standing, shorts, sky, outdoor and nature
Karen and I at the finish

I didn’t bring my phone, so I don’t have useful splits to share. I had my watch but wasn’t really watching the time. It was nice to run without a phone – those monsters are getting bigger and bigger.

Hardware
Tall trees

Overall, this course was probably top five for me for scenery, and I loved how intimate it felt. Couldn’t have asked for a better race day.

 

 

 

Austin and I at the finish

 

Austin and I headed back to the hotel to shower, then grabbed some pizza on the way back to civilization. It’s so amazing to live so close to such a gorgeous part of the world – a very fun weekend jaunt.

Tree huggers. Pretty sure we walked into poison oak for this photo.

As a reminder, I have a discount code for the San Francisco Marathon – use “AMBOLISA25” at https://www.thesfmarathon.com/ for 25% off. 

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