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An annual 6-mile running race along the beach from Morro Bay to Cayucos in California

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Rock to Pier: For When You're Tired of Pounding the Pavement

  • Jul 14, 2009
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And now I get to share with you a list of things I learned the hard way at the Brian Waterbury Memorial Rock to Pier race on July 11. It sounds like a great idea: Organize a 6-mile race along the sand at low tide. But for a paid event, there wasn’t enough emphasis on the word “organize.”

It was a bad sign when the woman at the registration table said, “If you’re lucky, you can find some safety pins on that table over there.” It appeared they ran out of a key item to attach your race number to your shirt — 20 minutes before the race started.

Tip #1: Bring your own safety pins.

Race organizers can’t control everything, like the weather.  The photo of Morro Rock to the left looks nothing like where I ran this weekend — even though it’s the same beach. The morning was so foggy that you couldn’t even see the rock from the starting line — even though it was towering over us. The fog even obscured the Cayucos Pier so much that by the tine it came into view, it was almost too late to sprint.

Tip #2: Wear some sort of garmin or pedometer if you want to be able to pace yourself. Even if there wasn’t fog, there were no mile markers. The posters at the start line said there would be water stations at 2 miles and 4 miles. At 23 minutes, I figured I’d definitely missed the 2-mile water station or perhaps it wasn’t there. I think I saw a water station somewhere around the 4th mile, but it was so far off the course in the soft sand that I didn’t see a single person taking the 50-yard detour to get water.

Tip #3: Don’t count on the water stations.

I loved leaping across the puddles along the shoreline; listening to the waves; and maneuvering through the slippery kelp bed that washed ashore. The next day I looked up the results online to see my final time, which I wanted to compare to my 2006 time. Unfortunately, my name was not in the results. There was no evidence that I ran the race. I’d even washed the sand layer off the backs of my legs.

Tip #4: Make sure you know how to attach the disposable timing chip (PDF). Apparently, it should be a big loopy D-shape protuding from your shoe and not flattened in any way.

The race does get points for: a great course; the no T-shirt cheaper registration option; trying to use technology to reduce human error in scorekeeping; offering a breakfast at Morro Rock after the race; finisher ribbons for everyone! And it's a great race for people who fear getting lost because as long as the ocean is on your left, you're still going the right way.

It's a beautiful place to run, even on a foggy day. And afterwards you can wander along the beach to cool down and enjoy the tidepools. Just don't hold it to a high standard of race execution and you'll have a great time.

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July 14, 2009
Wow...sounds like a rough one. Morro Bay is so gorgeous and I'm like you, I like to run in the wake and splash through the puddles. It must've been frustrating to work that hard and not have your number recorded, sorry to hear that! Thanks for the tips...I'll have to pass them onto my friend who lives up there.
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Running, Race, 10k, Rock To Pier, Morro Bay, Cayucos


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