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Big Sur Marathon Organizers Scramble For A Solution After A Section Of The Race Course Crumbled Into The Ocean

With the race just weeks away, organizers are saying it will go on, but are unsure of a solution for the damaged section of the course

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A section of the Big Sur Marathon course has crumbled into the ocean, leaving organizers scratching their heads as they try to urgently strategize a resolution with the event looming just weeks away.

The recent collapse involved a section of Highway 1 near Rocky Creek Bridge, officials of the Big Sur Marathon are urgently strategizing to address the situation before the scheduled race on April 28.

“As you can imagine, we have a variety of agendas,” Josh Priester told the Monterey Herald. “With only 25 days until the event.”

A final verdict is pending until at least April 10, but Priester emphasizes that no options, including maintaining the original course, have been dismissed. 

Traditionally, the marathon begins at Big Sur Station, with participants going along Highway 1 before finishing in Carmel.

Further assessment is underway by CalTrans, with Priester indicating a range of possibilities, though remaining cautious about divulging specifics at this point in time.

“CalTrans is still accessing everything,” Priester said to the Monterey Herald. “We are looking at a variety of options, including the race as it is. I would be hesitant, though, to say much more at this time.”

Currently, only one lane remains operational at the site of the collapse, which is just over half a mile from the iconic Bixby Bridge and accessible solely to road personnel.

Big Sur Marathon Organizers Scramble For A Solution After A Section Of The Race Course Crumbled Into The Ocean 1
Photo Credit: Nic Coury

This incident is similar to a 2011 occurrence that altered the course of the 38-year-old race—a landslide further south on Highway 1. Notably, the marathon was only canceled twice before, in 2020 and 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2011 race route was modified to an out-and-back course, starting and finishing at the Crossroads in Carmel, with a detour to Point Lobos State Park.

“That is a conversation we need to have with the State Parks,” Priester told the Monterey Herald. “We want to be able to collaborate with our agencies. Sometimes, courses have to change for a variety of reasons.”

Unlike the 2011 landslide, this recent incident occurred much closer to the finish line, which is reportedly causing additional challenges for course alterations. Nonetheless, Priester remains optimistic. 

“As of now, we’re still offering all races,” Priester said. “We have a great committee of support for the marathon. I feel it more than ever.”

Despite being renowned for its breathtaking scenery, Priester acknowledges that the marathon’s location also renders it susceptible to unpredictability.

Big Sur Marathon Organizers Scramble For A Solution After A Section Of The Race Course Crumbled Into The Ocean 2
Photo Credit: Nic Coury

“What makes the race so special and unique also makes it vulnerable,” Priester said to the Monterey Herald. “We have a great spot for these events. Sometimes Mother Nature does its thing.”

Race officials are updating the race website with updates on discussions with various parties, including CalTrans, California Highway Patrol, CAL FIRE, Monterey County Sheriff, and California State Parks, as they continue to search for the best solution.

“We’re working toward a great outcome for thousands of runners,” Priester said. “We want to be as transparent as much as we can. But we’re in holding pattern. We are optimistic the race will go on.”

Read the most recent race website update here:

Posted Thursday, April 4, 2024: “The Big Sur Marathon Foundation (BSMF) team has been working hard to gather information to determine the impact on our event, caused by the slip out near Rocky Creek Bridge.  We thank you for your continued patience. Barring any further inclement weather that impacts our event, BSMF is committed to planning and putting on a race for every distance on event weekend.  We continue to work closely with CalTrans, California Highway Patrol, and California State Parks to find a safe solution to conduct the race.  Our agency partners do understand that we need to provide our participants with updates and we will have another event announcement by 4pm on Wednesday, April 10th.”

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Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

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