20,000 Runners Set For 19th Annual SDCCU OC Marathon Running Festival This Weekend
ORANGE COUNTY, California – May 3, 2023 – With its spectacular and quintessential Southern California ocean views, the SDCCU OC Marathon Running Festival is a distance runner’s paradise.
With some 1,500-plus clubs representing more than 200,000 members, the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) is the leader in supporting grassroots and community running organizations in the United States.
And for the next two years the two organizations will be joined at the hip. Come Sunday, the SDCCU Orange County Half Marathon will serve as the RRCA’s National Half Marathon Championship. Then in 2024, the SDCCU OC Marathon Running Festival will host the RRCA’s 66th annual three-day convention.
“The championship series is all about highlighting and supporting well-run community events and the SDCCU OC Marathon exemplifies that,” said Andy Smith, the RRCA’s program manager. “We are excited to have them serve as the national championship this year as a way to kick off a year of promoting and celebrating our conference next year. Where all our club leaders, race directors and members will come to Southern California, centered around the marathon as the focus-point race.”
Gary Kutscher, race director for Sunday’s SDCCU OC Marathon, said he couldn’t think of a better partnership.
“I am extremely proud that our half marathon was chosen to be the showcase of the RRCA’s half marathon championship in 2023,” said Kutscher, a 25-time marathon finisher. “And we’re very excited to be able to host the RRCA’s convention next year. One of our taglines is inspiring kids and adults to fitness, and the RRCA is empowering everyone to run. I think our two initiatives align perfectly.”
Marathon weekend in Orange County kicks off Friday, May 5 with the two-day OC Lifestyle and Fitness Expo at the OC Fair and Event Center. The free expo is open to the public from 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm where runners will be able to browse and sample the latest in running shoes, apparel and nutrition from over 75 vendors.
The Kids Run the OC “Final Mile” event will take place from 8 am to noon Saturday morning. Starting at 5:30 pm Saturday, runners will get the opportunity to run 3.1 miles just before the sun sets in the OC 5K – one of Southern California’s largest nighttime running events. Dedicated types who run the 5K and either the marathon or half marathon on Sunday will take home some extra bling with the coveted Combo Crush Medal.
The main events unfold Sunday morning, with the marathon kicking off at 5:30 am and the half marathon at 6:15 am. Both events start in front of the VEA Newport Beach, A Marriott Hotel & Spa adjacent to South Coast Plaza. Participants enjoy panoramic Ocean Views running through the beautiful coastal communities of Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Santa Ana before finishing at the OC Fair and Event Center.
Both the Road Runners Club of America and the SDCCU OC Marathon promote healthy lifestyles and reach out to youths. In 2022, RRCA issued more than $30,000 in grants to 37 youth running programs in 27 states.
“We try to touch on all aspects of running, support the sport, make sure it’s thriving at the local level,” said Smith.
The Kids Run the OC is a 10- to 12-week program that promotes an active and healthy lifestyle for kids to help prevent child obesity. During the program the kids run before, during or after school, accumulating 25.2 miles of exercise through fun and play activities.
On Saturday, more than 5,200 kids representing more than 100 schools will run their final mile to complete a marathon of running.
One feature to the Kids Run the OC is that leaders offer nutritional challenges to the youths. They might try drinking water instead of sodas for a week, eating baked chips instead of fried, sampling a fruit or vegetable they’ve never eaten.
“We’ve heard countless times from parents or coaches that entire families have been positively impacted by the nutritional challenges,” said Kutscher.
From 2:00 – 7:00 pm. Saturday, the Celebrate OC Festival will be celebrated in conjunction with the expo. Local bands will be jamming everything from punk to pop. Local restaurants and breweries will be on hand so visitors can sample food and drink. The latest in sports and fitness trends will also be on display.
As for marathon and half marathon, the number of participants is returning to pre-COVID days. The marathon is sold out with 2,650 runners. The half-marathon will push 9,600 entrants.
“The numbers tell me that people are now comfortable being around large groups and other endurance athletes,” said Kutscher. “They’re comfortable being in groups of 5,000 to 10,000 people.”
As for the RRCA putting on its national championship, Kutscher said, “We’re honored to have them. It really does showcase what we think is one of the most beautiful half marathons in the country. It lets us know we’re putting on a good event for the runners. We’re extremely proud of them selecting us for their race.”
The marathon and 5K are both sold-out and limited registrations remain for the half-marathon. For more information and a complete schedule of events, please visit OCmarathon.com.
About the RRCA
The Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) is the oldest and largest national association of running organizations and runners dedicated to empowering everyone to run since 1958. The RRCA champions the development and success of community-based running organizations that empower all people to participate in the sport of running in pursuit of enjoyment, health, well-being, and competition. Learn more at: www.rrca.org
About the SDCCU OC Marathon Running Festival
The 19th annual SDCCU (San Diego County Credit Union) OC Marathon Running Festival returns to the seaside streets of Orange County, California the weekend of May 5, 2022 – May 7 ,2023. The SDCCU OC Running Festival showcases three days of events, including the Kids Run the OC mile, the OC 5K at sunset on Saturday and Sunday’s marathon and Half Marathon. The race is a perfect destination event for runners, with the beaches, theme parks and near perfect weather. A free two-day OC Lifestyle & Fitness Expo at the OC Fair and Event Center kicks off race weekend, featuring fitness retailers, exhibits and interactive clinics. Over the history of the race, runners have raised more than $7.5 million for a variety of charities and non-profit organizations. For more information or to register for the race, visit http://www.OCmarathon.com.