The OC Marathon – 20 Years Later and They Still Can’t Figure Out Parking?!

Seventy-four minutes. That’s how long it took to get out of the parking lot after the race. With gridlock straight out of Jacques Tati’s Trafic, or in that opening montage scene in LA Story, cars from every direction were jockeying for position in the lanes that supposedly lead out of the lots. Surprisingly few honking horns… but quite a few expletives hurled back and forth between motorists, between the motorists and the parking lot attendants, and to the sky itself in outrage.

It only take a few snafus, a few things to go wrong, for a race to turn from good to bad. I am still struggling with a hamstring injury… or some sort of injury in my back left leg. I suppose I should lay off the running, let it heal, and then try and get back into it… but I fear taking time off as I’m already struggling with maintaining anything approaching a level of fitness. I’ve thought about swimming but that seems impossible. The pool on my apartment complex’s roof is too small and shallow for anything more than a lunge or two to count as a lap… and the community pool in Florida is unheated (first world problems, no?). I guess I’m afraid if I did take time off I’d really lose the battle of the bulge that is my distending beer belly.

So I was already kinda struggling with the event before the start… and that struggle was compounded with rain before the starting gun. I had checked the forecast and figured with only a 30% chance before 6 AM I’d be fine… but the thing about 30% is that 3 times out of 10 (or I guess maybe 30 times out of 100), that means it’s gonna rain. And this was one of those times. Fortunately it did stop before the race proper, but I was a bit soaked in the opening miles.

All of this is to say that I didn’t take many photos, I didn’t rally to a PR or a BQ, and this race turned into just another line item on my running tally. It was fine as a run, with a number of hiccups internally. But the logistics were lousy at the end which may prompt a strongly worded email to the race organizers laying out the reasons I will probably not go back to their event in the future. This was their 20th anniversary of running their event, the 14th I think they said having the OC Fair and Event grounds as the parking area and finish fest. So this isn’t their first time having large crowds coming and going from the venue… and indeed, the grounds themselves MUST have parking exoduses in excess of this event on a fairly regular basis. I can only imagine there was a wrong decision made early in the parking egress that served as an original sin that could not be remedied or redeemed in the ensuing hours. Doesn’t excuse it, doesn’t make me feel any better. But I want to believe it wasn’t an intentional “screw those runners” moment. And yet… 14 years of doing it this way makes me wonder if there wasn’t some disgruntled parking attendant who decided to burn all their bridges on their last day, the flames of which engulfed us all on a fateful Sunday in May….

Photos along the way:

Along the water, circa mile 6.


As part of the John Wayne Cancer Foundation GRIT Team at Mile 9, they had this delightful flag — Run Pilgrim Run.

I regret not taking a photo beyond this alien marking a water stop.  The volunteers in honor of Cinco de Mayo had t-shirts with a sombrero wearing alien, holding a margarita, and the text: “Take Me To Your Finish Line.”

This bear beat me in the final half mile.

This is the exit chute… which should have been a warning about how much of a cluster of chaos the parking lot would be.  And yet I figured I wasn’t sticking around for the beer tent or band so should have been fine to just leave.  Now who’s the more foolish?  The organizers for designing such a mess or me for not realizing it was going to be a disaster?

I ran 26.2 miles and waited for 74 minutes to leave the parking lot and all I got was a t-shirt and this medal:

Whatever, right?  Just another day to run….