Race Review

San Diego Holiday Half Marathon: Race Review

The San Diego Holiday Half Marathon taught me that I will probably avoid races in Southern California in future… not because it was bad, but because there’s not a lot of shade. And direct sunlight is not really my favorite thing when it comes to running 13 or so miles.

The good thing about the race is that it’s mostly downhill. There’s some uphill too, of course, but it’s a net downhill since it’s a point to point course that takes you down to the coast. An astute observer may notice when looking at exhibit A that you’re basically running east to west. And a more astute observer than I would realize that means the sun is shining on one side of your face for most of the run…


I didn’t like that part of the race. I also didn’t really like that we were running along the side of a freeway for a good portion of the course.

San Diego Zoo for San Diego Holiday Half Marathon

I did like the bling. I did like that I got to run this with a wonderful running friend of mine. And I really liked spending the day prior to the race wandering around the San Diego Zoo. That was awesome.

Overall, I would rate this race as ok. Not great, but not bad, either. That is, until we finished. Then, things took a turn for the Definitely-Not-Running-Again.

Because it’s a point to point race, runners have to hop shuttles from one end to the other. We stayed at the hotel where the race starts from — up in the hills. It was lovely to be able to wander right out my door down to the start — at what felt like a luxurious 7:15 am. However. Getting back to the hotel after the race was an absolute fiasco.

We finished around 10:30 am and immediately got in line for the shuttles. We then spent the next hour and a half sitting and standing on the side of the road (again, in direct sunlight) waiting for a shuttle to take us back to the hotel.

San Diego Holiday Half Marathon Elevation

Our check out was slotted for noon. I called from the shuttle line at 10:40, and they graciously bumped it back to 12:30. Then we waited. And waited. At 12:17 pm, we got off the shuttle, crossed two streets, had to have the housekeepers let us in because our keys had been deactivated, and frantically showered and packed up our stuff. We got out of that room in record time, and the front desk was reasonably gracious about it. We were out of the room by 12:45, and thankfully, they didn’t charge us for an extra night.

It was a most unpleasant way to finish a race. Though, if I think about it, I’ll still take that over the race where they ran out of medals

Shuttle fiasco aside, it was a pretty ok race. A good excuse for a trip to San Diego for sure. And now I know to avoid the San Diego airport like the plague! I was in my car, so I was in charge of pick up and drop off for my friend who flew in. If you didn’t know, at the San Diego airport passenger pick up and drop off are in the exact same place. (I shudder at the memory). Better to fly into LA and drive down. Probably cheaper, too.

Overall Assessment: Didn’t Love It, Didn’t Hate It

Time of Year: Mid December (12/15/2018)

Start Time: 7:30 am

Temperature: 57° at the start, upper-60°s by the finish

Size of Field: 3,000

Elevation Gain: 347 ft (according to Strava)

San Diego Holiday Half Marathon Medal 2018


  • Excuse to go to the San Diego Zoo! And see all the cute animals.
  • Nice, sparkly medal. I’m pro-glitter.
  • Downhill for the most part.
  • Decent weather. I’m not into sunny races, but at least it wasn’t very hot.
  • Really easy start if you stay in the race hotel.
  • Smaller field but not so small that they ran out of stuff.


  • TERRIBLE shuttle organization. Don’t plan to leave Saturday if you’re staying at a hotel. You will almost certainly miss your check out if you’re not a super-fast runner.
  • Point-to-point, so you have to deal with said terrible shuttle organization.
  • East-west course that leaves the sun on your left for most of the race.
  • Not a very scenic course. There are some nice parts toward the end, but the first many miles are along the side of a freeway.

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