America's Finest City Half Marathon
18 August 2019
America's Finest City Half Marathon is an annual road running event over the half marathon distance 21.0975 kilometres (13.1094 mi) which is held in mid-August on the streets of San Diego, California. ("America's Finest City" is the official nickname of the city of San Diego. The race was inaugurated in 1978 and has been held every year since then. By 1985, more than 6000 professional and amateur runners were taking part in the race each year. Both men and women are able to enter into the half marathon and shorter 5 kilometer fun run. The race starts at the historic Cabrillo National Monument, where participants are required to take a shuttle bus from the finish area (there is no private vehicle or pedestrian access to the start). From there, the course takes runners past the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, through quaint Point Loma neighborhoods, into the very scenic San Diego Bay taking runners onto Harbor Island, past The Star of India, through downtown San Diego and finally into Balboa Park where the race finishes in front of the Hall of Champions. The race is used to raise money for the American Lung Association and in its first fourteen years of existence it had cumulatively raised US$1.7 million for the non-profit organization. The race was sponsored by the Home Federal Bank in the 1980s and early 1990s. The organizers endured financial difficulties in 1992 after the loss of its title sponsor. The race remained popular, however, and the following year over five thousand runners took part; among them was television host Oprah Winfrey, running under the pseudonym "Bobbi Jo Jenkins" and accompanied by a bodyguard, a trainer, and a video crew. At the 33rd edition in 2010, the half marathon and 5K races attracted an international field of almost 10,000 runners and the event had raised $3.8 million for non-profit organizations. That year, Ethiopian training partners Ezkyas Sisay and Belaynesh Zemedkun topped the men's and women's fields respectively.
The course of the half marathon has a point-to-point format. It starts on the Point Loma Peninsula next to the Cabrillo National Monument – some 300 feet (91 m) above sea-level. The course heads north and descends towards San Diego Bay. Turning eastwards onto North Harbor Drive, the race enters a flat straight around the five mile (8 km) mark. After looping around Harbor Island the course heads south, passing near the Star of India museum ship and San Diego Broadway. It traces a path northwards at this point, heading along Sixth Avenue and Laurel Street on its way to Downtown San Diego. The race finishing point is Pan American Plaza in Balboa Park.
The 39th Annual America's Finest City Half Marathon is run on a fast, scenic, point-to-point course. The race starts at the historic Cabrillo National Monument at the tip of Point Loma with its world-renowned vistas of San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean, follows scenic San Diego Bay and Harbor Island along the Embarcadero to the Star of India, winds through downtown San Diego and finishes in beautiful Balboa Park.