Magical Blimp Hangar and leprechaun Costumes – Tustin Hangar Half Inaugural Race is off to a Successful Start

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Photo Credit: Anthony Wang Photography

(Photo Credits: Anthony Wang Photography. thanks for letting me share your photos Anthony!! )

Race days always stress me out. Even tho Tustin Hangar Half is my 12th half marathon since I started running last year, the idea of race and the stress around that is still the same for me. With my unstructured training, and  constant injuries, each run I manage to finish is an achievement. I usually get to see race finish time for fellow runners from past race results, but being inaugural race, I didn’t have any of that for Tustin Hangar Half,  so in a way I couldn’t prepare my mind with what to expect at the race. For Tustin Hangar, my goal was simple,to run, run well, and to run well enough not to trigger any injuries in calves or IT Band. I managed to do exactly that. I am pretty sure I had an extra minute of speed in me, but I am happy with my finish time of 1:40:22! If I tried a little faster, it would have tested my blessing, and I could have been hurt and back to rest again. I will never know!

I was very curious to find out the crowd this race would attract being an inaugural race, and I was expecting to see around 3 to 4 thousand, as this race resembles more close to Laguna Hills Memorial Day Half which is in their 18th year, attracting around 3113 people last year. I don’t quite see Tustin Hangar Half as Long Beach or SurfCity yet, (Both attract around 9 to 10,000 a year).  Total turn out for Tustin Hangar Half Race was 3, 176 people. This is a huge success being the first year. With the spectators and such I would say the crowd could have been close to 4500 to 5000 people! Its a pretty good turn out for an inaugural race, which took place in an unassuming town like Tustin.  I could see Tustin Blimp Hangar had a lot to do with this huge turn out, and also I think the previous race ‘Leprechaun Leap’ has something to do with this turn out too. Leprechaun Leap 5k used to attract about 1300 people a year and I think most of the crowd came back for the 5k, as the 5k had about 2,345 people. The Half Marathon did indeed bring out some serious runners to the course. With 831 runners, I think its a pretty good inaugural half. Both Snail’s Pace, and South Coast Road Runners were present, and I saw lot of Leprechaun costumes  on the course. Even tho the race directors want to distance themselves from the past Leprechaun Leap theme of this race, I do think its pretty charming that these runners were there! A race isn’t really that much fun without people in costume, and the 5k really needs the Leprechaun crowd!  The more the merrier!

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Photo Credit – Anthony Wang Photography

The race day was perfect, with foggy morning, over cast , and not too hot, not too cold weather! Running inside the Blimp Hangar made me feel so little in front of the giant building. I wish I had taken my cell phone to take a photo! It was beautiful. As long the race stick to the theme of Tustin Hangar,I think this race is on its way to make the top 10 of any destination races in the USA!.

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Photo Credit: oakleyoc@instagram

The course was well marked, well measured(they didn’t skimp on the distance like Surfcity 10 or Renegade Santa Run, so we all ended up running the actual distance of 13.1 and plus some more – so sorry – no surprise PRs!). It was pretty cute the Renegade Race director Jonathan Pauley took charge of leading the runners with his bicycle. Goes to prove my statement that , it is a small town race, and it really is charming and its going to be its strength. We got to run through Tustin Ranch Road, and into the Auto Mall in Tustin, and Old Town Tustin. It wasn’t a bad course, but once you run past the Tustin District, there was not a lot to look at. Hopefully, in the future, they can consider adding some entertainment aspect to few key miles similar to Rock N Roll races to keep it interesting. I also think the start/finish line could have had ‘Tustin Hangar’ as its backdrop, so we could have all had finish line photos with the Hangars in the background. I don’t think it was positioned that way, but I have to wait for my race photos!

The medals were cute. Nice and shiny and captured the essence of Tustin Hangars beautifully. There was a 100,000$ prize money for anyone that breaks the current half marathon world record, but the fast racers present on the course were our local Snail’s and SCRR runners, in their 40s, so no one broke the world record this year. Hopefully if the offer still stands next year, this might attract a new group of runners from around the world.

The race start/finish line was at the mall – Tustin District, which is known for their inefficient parking strucutre, but being early morning, and just the runners, so we had tons of parking and it was pretty easy there! To me personally, this was such a perfect race, as its like  just few miles from my house!  I had to ditch the San Diego Half Marathon which was on the same day to choose this race and I am glad Tustin Hangar Half lived up to its hype and made it a memorable day for me! I also hope they add a beer garden next year. A race without beer garden is like cake without icing. Not quite the same! Even SD races are catching up to beer garden, so there is no reason for Tustin not to follow the suite! WIth so many local breweries , I think we really need it!

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Photo Credit: Anthony Wang Photography

All in all, this was a beautiful race, which is not super crazy. With the world famous Tustin Hangars being part of the course and the 100,000$ offer if it were to continue into next year – is going to make this race a popular race in SoCal! Atleast for now, its going to be a new tradition in OC to mark our calendars for this race every year! I hope Tustin Chamber of Commerce comes back with next year’s date soon! Congrats to the race team at Renegade and Tustin Chamber of Commerce, and all the volunteers for a very successful race! Looking forward to next year!

My Wish list for next year:

  1. Being a renegade race, I hope tustin Chamber of commerce works with the race group to figure a way to make it part of a challenge series. I could see  Tustin Hangar Half (march) + Laguna Hills Memorial Day Half (may) + Dino Dash (November) – as a challenge series so this gives the non-coastal city challenge series similar to Beach Cities or triple crown challenges. (they can get this started already for this year! Laguna HIlls is right around the corner and laguna hills could use some Tustin Hangar Half crowd there!)
  2. Beer Garden please! We have so many local breweries, and having a beer garden will elevate this race. I can always walk around the expo, but a beer garden gives us runners an excuse to – to drink and recarb, but to catch up with fellow runners about the race. This is what motivates lot of us to come back next year.
  3. Course entertainment. Need to bring out people/spectators on race day at several businesses. Identify key businesses on the course, and see if they offer deals for race day. There were few stretches of course, we had no one cheering us 😦
  4. Official ambassador programme, to get the word out! We tried out best, but Tustin Hangars kind of spoke for themselves, but I would still like to have more people added to the ambassador programme to get the word out!

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