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Crazy California Rain Has Damaged Big Sur Bridge—But Won’t Affect Marathon

But the famous bridge closure necessitates a new runner drop-off site.

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Early demolition work at the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge. Photo courtesy of CalTrans.

The recent storms that have wreaked havoc on California’s Highway 1 this winter will not affect the popular Big Sur International Marathon.

Multiple mudslides, shoulder collapses and irreversible structural damage to the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge are all significant issues. The marathon start line, however, is a half mile north of the road closure, allowing the iconic race to be held as planned.

“This has been a very difficult year for the residents and businesses in Big Sur and our marathon is highly aware of the hardships created along the coast,” said Doug Thurston, race director of the nonprofit Big Sur International Marathon. “We have been working closely with the Big Sur community to be sensitive to their needs, while still providing the world-class experience our entrants expect.”

Big Sur Marathon Will Go On

The various merchants and residents of the Big Sur community have collectively stated their support for the race to go on. Jeanette Kenworthy, General Manager of Glen Oaks Motel and the Big Sur Roadhouse said, “We are fully supportive of the Big Sur Marathon moving forward and are happy to assist in any way we can. It will bring much needed revenue to the area as well as a feeling of stability for not only the loyal marathon runners but for the community as well.”

The marathon team has been working closely with leadership from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the California State Parks Department to discuss operational changes for race day. Each year, around 90 buses transport runners from the Monterey Peninsula to the start line, passing over the Pfeiffer Bridge to turn around farther south in a wide space at Nepenthe Restaurant. This year, because the bridge is out, the turnaround will be moved to Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Park where runners will exit and walk to the start line approximately a half mile down the road.

“We met with the marathon team and determined that this would be the best option for the bus turnaround,” said John De Luca, Sector Superintendent for Big Sur State Parks. “Since most of the State Parks in the area will still be closed to the public, this should work well for their needs on race day.”

No changes are anticipated for the other distances.

Named as one of the world’s top destination races, the Big Sur International Marathon draws runners from all 50 states and more than two dozen countries.  The Big Sur Marathon organization is also setting up a fundraising page for race participants and others to voluntarily contribute to the Big Sur relief, via the Coast Property Owners Association. The CPOA is a 501(c) 3 organization with local knowledge and boots-on-the-ground experience with distributing individual grants to those affected by the last three major fires in Big Sur and now the winter storms of 2017.