The Avenue of the Giants Half Marathon

May 8, 2022

It was two and a half years ago, at perhaps the peak of my running shape, that I signed up for the 2020 Avenue of the Giants marathon. When the pandemic shut down the world that spring, my training stopped, and eventually, health issues stopped me completely. Determined to make 2022 a bounce-back year, I began training for the 2022 edition. By the end of March, my body revolted. On April 1, I made the decision to drop from what would have been my fourth marathon to the half marathon. Disappointed but way more relaxed, I made my way into Humboldt County for the 50 anniversary of the Ave, as the locals call it.

Because of the remoteness of the marathon, I rented an RV for two days. The wife and I left late Friday afternoon, stopped for the night in Crescent City, then drove nearly five hours down Highway 101 to the start of the Avenue of the Giants, an incredible eight-mile road through the redwoods. Renting the RV was the absolute best thing I could do because it was like taking our house on the road with us. We also stopped at an RV park in Myers Flat on Saturday night, a beautiful campground. Yes, look at me camping at a campground, something I vowed I would never do. 

Sunday morning, I woke up early, drove the RV to the starting line, and did my usual pre-run routine. By 8:15, I made my way to the start and was blown away. There were more than 2,000 runners lined up for the start of the half marathon and 10K. Stationed near the back, once the gun went off, I had to maneuver through the walkers and slower runners, over the 101 overpass, and then a sharp descent onto the Ave. Light quickly became dark, and I found myself engulfed by the giant trees surrounding me. My plan was to do a negative split (run the second part of the run faster than the first). Adrenaline had me running faster than I wanted to for the first four miles. Unbeknownst to me, the first six miles were a steady climb toward Myers Flat. At the turn-around, after shooting a Gu, I felt a great surge as I descended toward the finish. Running along the road, I notice glass and mirrors on the side of the road as cars drove too close to trees. Every tree that was near the side of the road had corpses of mirrors and glass scattered around it. The last six miles of the Ave were incredible. Besides a significant hill at Mile 12, I had no issues running to the finish. I came in at 2:26, a good time and about four minutes faster than my intended goal (2:30). The Ave may be a one-and-done, but the experience was something I will savor for a lifetime!


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