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Surf City USA marathon marred by rain

February 3, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
About 1,000 runners faced rain in Sunday's 12th annual Surf City USA Marathon in Huntington Beach, billed by organizers as the state's largest oceanfront running event. The 26-mile, 385-yard race started on Pacific Coast Highway to a sound track of the Beach Boys and is led by lifeguard vehicles and classic "woody" surf sedans. Much of the race takes place on a beachfront running path, but the course also includes the famed Huntington Beach Pier, the Bolsa Chica Wetlands and Central Park.

Continuing with the surfing theme, finishers received a surfboard-shaped medal.

The Surf City USA Marathon was rated among the nation's top five marathon experiences by the magazine Marathon and Beyond.

"The race attracts high-caliber, professional runners. However, it also brings in the runners that just want to get out there and have fun," defending women's champion Nadia Noorzai said. "The combination makes the race truly authentic."

Two other races will be held in conjunction with marathon. About 13,000 runners have registered for a 13.1-mile half-marathon and about 2,000 for a five-kilometer run, according to organizers.

The three races combined draw runners from all 50 states and 15 foreign countries.

The race was formally known as the Pacific Shoreline Marathon, but renamed in May in an attempt to more closely align with Huntington Beach's unique surf culture.

For the third consecutive year, the race served as a fundraiser for The Free Wheelchair Mission, an Irvine-based Christian nonprofit organization that provides wheelchairs for the physically disabled poor in developing countries.

More than $650,000 is expected to be raised as runners and others solicit donations used to build specially engineered wheelchairs and deliver them around the world.

"There are few opportunities to make such a significant impact on so many lives," Marathon General Manager Amy Tomchak said. "Running for those who can't is a great way to make the race more meaningful for everyone involved."

 

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