San Luis Obispo Marathon & Half Marathon

Sunday, May 1, 2016 • San Luis Obispo, CA • Course Map

If you’ve ever taken a drive along California’s Highway 101, perhaps better known as the Pacific Coast Highway or the “P.C.H.”, then you’re probably familiar with exactly the kind of scenery you’ll find in coastal California towns like San Luis Obispo — huge, rolling green hills and mountains overlooking the rocky Pacific coastline, with bridges that span the canyons along the coast and wineries and vineyards tucked into the hills just beyond the edge of the land.

Runners will get to see all of that and more at the San Luis Obispo Marathon & Half Marathon, which are run on Sunday, following the 5K, Kids Quarter Mile and Fun Run on Saturday.

Both the half marathon and the full marathon are set to follow point-to-point courses that start downtown at San Luis Obispo High School and finish just outside the city along Highway 101, in the basin of the nearby Cerro San Luis (or “San Luis Mountain”), one of the chain of nine mountains that stretch between Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo known as the “Nine Sisters.”

In between the starting line and the race finish, runners will get to take in some of the city’s most well-known sights — including the city’s historic Fremont Theater, whose Art Deco style architecture dates all the way back to 1942, and the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, which was built back in 1772 and is one of the many historic missions built along the central California coast.

After the first three miles through downtown, runners then head east toward Johnson Avenue, where they’ll turn right and head south out of town, in the direction of the Edna Valley, known for its wineries and vineyards.

The middle portion of the half marathon features a long, straightaway out-and-back stretch along Johnson Avenue and Orcutt Road, which leads all the way south to the turnaround point just past the mile 7 marker, near Baileyana Winery.

All throughout these middle miles of the race, the blocks and neighborhoods of the city give way to the wide-open hills around San Luis Obispo, and the rows of grapes lining the vineyard fields leading up to Baileyana.

After runners make the turn between miles 7 and 8, they then head north back up along Orcutt Road to the intersection with Johnson Avenue, and turn left to stay on Orcutt.

The race course leaves the roadway a little more than halfway between Johnson and Highway 227, as runners turn right to head onto the paved railroad recreation trail that leads back into downtown, past the San Luis Obispo Baseball Stadium all the way to the city’s Amtrak station.

A stretch through a few blocks in the city is followed by a left turn onto Islay Street, which begins the home stretch of the half marathon.

A scene from the Edna Valley Winery near San Luis Obispo, California. (Photo by Anita Ritenour/flickr)

A scene from the Edna Valley Winery near San Luis Obispo, California. (Photo by Anita Ritenour/flickr)

The final couple of miles lead runners west from downtown out toward the hills and open space just west of Highway 101, along Marsh Street in the direction of the city’s historic Madonna Inn, which overlooks San Luis Obispo.

Runners finish the race along 101 in the shadow of the inn as well as Cerro San Luis, which they’ll be able to see in the distance.

Race Weather & Climate

Nestled along the central California coastline, roughly halfway between San Francisco to the north and Los Angeles to the south, San Luis Obispo typically sees largely mild to warm weather and typically little rainfall in May, a month that has brought record temperatures as low as 34ºF (in 1990) and as high as 102ºF (in 2000).

On race day (May 1), the average low is 46ºF and the average high is 72ºF.

Past Results

Course Map

See the race route map for the San Luis Obispo Half Marathon here.

Starting Time

  • 6:00 AM – full marathon
  • 6:45 AM – half marathon


  • $90 for the half marathon, if registered by October 31, 2015
  • $95 between November 1 – December 31
  • $105 between January 1 – February 29, 2016
  • $110 after March 1


To reserve your spot in the 2016 running of the San Luis Obispo Marathon, Half Marathon, Quarter Mile, Fun Run or 5K race, register online at here.

Official Race Website

Facebook Conversations

Ever run in the San Luis Obispo Half Marathon? Share your impressions here, or post your review in the Comments below.

See more races in: May, California

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