August 24th, 2016 – The Big Sur International Marathon has announced a series of exciting changes to its November event, the Half Marathon on Monterey Bay. These changes, which revolve around the race’s elite runner program, are designed to infuse some added excitement to race weekend on November 12-13.

Blake Russell, 2008 USA Olympic Marathoner, has agreed to take responsibility for coordinating the invited athlete program. The local resident and author of the Monterey Herald’s ‘Marathon Mom’ column, states: “My goal is to create an environment where half-marathon participants have an opportunity get to know the elites during race weekend. During my racing career, the races I enjoyed most were the ones where I got an opportunity to meet and interact with members of the local community. I intend to recreate that atmosphere in Monterey in November by providing opportunities for our participants to interact, ask questions, and get to know our elite field.”

In addition to bringing the athletes closer to the public, Russell and race organizers are implementing an “Equalizer” prize money bonus. Under this program, the elite and seeded women will start exactly nine minutes in front of the elite and seeded men’s field. Nine minutes is the average differential between men’s and women’s finishing times at the race over the last five years. The first person to cross the finish line will be receive the $5,000 bonus.

“This new program should produce a thrilling finish for race fans,” said race director Doug Thurston. “Imagine the lead woman trying to hold off a late charge from the men’s leader against the backdrop of the Monterey Bay. It should be very exciting.”

A third big change to the race is an increase to the prize purse. The Half Marathon on Monterey Bay has increased the total purse to $32,000, the largest-ever for a half marathon in the Western U.S. Prize money will be paid through eight places with $4,000 awarded for first place. Additionally, any new course record-setting performance will be awarded an additional $1,000 bonus. If an athlete has a great day and wins the race, wins the Equalizer bonus, and sets a new course record; he or she will be going home with $10,000.

“One of the best aspects of our race is that that it is one of the few races where participants get to see the action up front,” said Big Sur Marathon Board Chair John Mutty. “Because the course doubles back on itself, our runners get the chance to see who is winning and cheer them on. It’s one of the many unique features that make our Half Marathon so fun.”

“Our goal is to continue to improve the runner’s experience in all of our events” said Doug Thurston. “These changes are intended to make our half marathon of the most exciting races in California. Our runners will be able to share one of the most beautiful courses in the world while competing with and cheering for some of the best runners in the world. It should make for an unforgettable experience for all of our runners.”

The 2016 prize structure is as follows:

Equalizer Bonus: $5,000 (9-Minute differential)

Course Record Bonus: $1,000
Place Men Women

First $4,000 $4,000
Second $2,500 $2,500
Third $2,000 $2,000
Fourth $1,500 $1,500
Fifth $1,000 $1,000
Sixth $750 $750
Seventh $500 $500
Eighth $250 $250

The Half Marathon on Monterey Bay, now in its 14th year, is one of four race events under the umbrella of the Big Sur International Marathon organization. The 13.1 mile course is along a scenic waterfront route on the Monterey Bay and Pacific Ocean with more than a dozen music and cheer stations. A two-day Expo and 5K/3K events precede the race, and a race-day festive finish celebration includes music, food & beer, a recovery zone, race merchandise, an opportunity to connect with the elite athletes, and a full awards ceremony.

To register or to learn more about the Half Marathon on Monterey Bay, visit

About the Big Sur Marathon Organization:

The Big Sur Marathon (BSIM) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to producing beautiful running events that benefit the community. Currently their ‘family of events’ includes the Big Sur International Marathon (April), the Half Marathon on Monterey Bay (November), Run in the Name of Love 5K/2K (June) and the Salinas Valley Half Marathon (August). In addition, BSIM administers the award-winning JUST RUN® youth fitness program.

About Blake Russell:

Blake Russell, an American-born long distance runner originally from North Carolina, competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Marathon, placing 27th, the only American to finish. She is a five-time World Champion team member in cross country and track and field, a five-time National Champion of the road and cross country circuit, and a two-time marathon National Champion in 2003 and 2015. Now a resident of Pacific Grove, CA, Blake and her husband Jon have two children ages 5 and 7.