Published in the September 17-30, 2014 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Paul Rakitin

Paul Rakitin

Paul Rakitin

Are you looking for a challenge? Our wonderful city has its own half and full distance marathon race for runners who want to really test their bodies and minds. The Morgan Hill Marathon (including a half marathon) is now in its fifth year and will be held Sunday, Nov. 2. Runners come from across America to participate in our annual marathon.

The course begins at the Centennial Recreation Center and winds immediately through the valley’s rural landscape, taking runners past several of the area’s best wineries. The athletes continue down Uvas Road where they tread through seemingly endless rolling hills and make their way past both the Uvas and Chesbro reservoirs. They eventually come back through downtown Morgan Hill and then down Monterey Road where the runners finish near the starting line back at the CRC. The fall season provides near perfect racing conditions in most parts of the country and especially in the South County.

Created by residents Greg and Debbie Richards of Racemine and SVE Timing, the marathons provide a very scenic yet strenuous course for any runner willing to take them on. With a background in the software industry and using state-of-the-art timing equipment, Racemine has quickly grown to be the timing and event organizer for almost 100 races a year. As the largest timing company in California, Racemine provides local and international races with immediate results and athlete tracking for both running and triathlon events.

The Morgan Hill Marathon is certified and sanctioned by USA Track and Field and is also a Boston qualifier. The entire event also boasts a 5K and Kids Run course. The race itself averages about 2,000 participants and has its own lifestyle expo and packet pickup at the CRC. The Morgan Hill Marathon also helps promote fundraising for the Mini Mermaid Running Club and its local chapter based out of San Martin Gwinn Elementary School. The running club helps build positive habits through teaching the benefits of exercise and healthy living for school-aged children.

With no lottery system established like with many of the larger marathons, smaller crowds, breathtaking scenery and an awesome local vibe, the Morgan Hill Half and Full Marathons make for a perfect race. The race volunteers for this event are amazing as they encourage runners past their aid stations and hand out drinks while offering a friendly smile. Even if you don’t have plans to run any of the events and you happen to be in the area, please stop by the expo or simply root your neighbors and participants on as they stride by your neck of the woods.

No matter how you measure it, the marathon distance of 26.2 miles, 26 miles and 385 yards or 42 kilometers, is a long way to run. The marathon can evoke many emotions for both veteran and new runners alike. The highs can be exhilarating and the lows down right miserable — all within just a few short or long grueling hours.

The average American marathon finishing time is about four and a half hours. Every year about 500,000 runners take on this challenge in races across the country. Some events reach as many as 50,000 participants. As residents of beautiful and sunny California we are very lucky to hold the most marathons on average than any other state. And Morgan Hill can be proud to hold each fall one of the Golden State’s best marathons.