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On Your Mark, Get Set, Start With a Half

January 06, 1994|RICK VANDERKNYFF | Rick VanderKnyff is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to The Times Orange County Edition. and

If the Orange County Half Marathon is back, it must be time for the Southland's marathon season.

With each year, the 13.1-mile run becomes more of a traditional kickoff to the season. Last year, about 2,400 runners took part; when the event returns to Irvine on Sunday, organizers say, there will be at least 3,600 runners.

"We're four weeks before Long Beach and a couple of months before Los Angeles," said organizer Kim Westerbeck of Winslow Promotions, referring to the sites of Southern California's two biggest marathons. The timing of Sunday's event makes it a popular warm-up for long-distance runners.

This year, L.A. Marathon officials have designated Sunday's run an "official" warm-up for their own race, held each year on the first Sunday in March. The expected field in Irvine includes more than 1,000 inner-city youths training for the L.A. event.

"Our numbers are already 30% higher than they were last year at this time," Westerbeck said.

The course for the half marathon has changed slightly from last year, although it still follows the San Diego Creek bike trail for most of its length. It now starts and finishes at the Woodbridge Village Shopping Center, at Barranca Parkway and Lake Road in Irvine. There will be some climbing on the course, which winds through rolling hills.

The event also includes a separate run, the O.C. 5000, with a very flat and fast course. About 400 runners are expected, in addition to those running the half marathon.

Race-day registration will be offered. Also, participants can register from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday in the Center Court area of the shopping center. Some of the proceeds from the event will benefit the Woodbridge High School athletic program.

What: Orange County Half Marathon and O.C. 5000.

When: Saturday, Jan. 8, at 8 a.m. (race-day registration from 6:30 to 7:45 a.m.).

Where: Woodbridge Village Shopping Center, Irvine.

Whereabouts: From the San Diego (405) Freeway, exit at Culver Drive and head north. Turn right on Barranca Parkway, then right on Lake Road.

Wherewithal: $22 for half marathon, $20 for 5K (includes T-shirt).

Where to call: (714) 841-5883.

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