18,000 runners race the rain for 28th annual Huntington Beach tradition

Huntington Beach, CA – Feb. 4, 2024 – The National Weather Service predicted a rainstorm of epic proportions to hit Southern California on Sunday. There were evacuation warnings and potential life-threatening damages. But for the 18,000 runners who showed up in the pre-dawn hours for the 28th Surf City USA Marathon and Half Marathon presented by 361° in Huntington Beach, Mother Nature cooperated.

The skies stayed dry and it turned into a morning of celebration; the winning runners hitting the tape in both the marathon and half-marathon were all first-time winners.

Maybe no one enjoyed the day more than women’s half-marathon winner Gabrielle Yatauro. Yatauro grew up in Huntington Beach, attending Edison High School, barely two miles from the race start across from the beautiful Waterfront Beach Resort, a Hilton Hotel.

“Because I grew up here, this is my hometown,” said Yatauro, who now lives in New York, where she attended graduate school at Columbia. “Up and down the boardwalk was practically where I grew a love of running. This was perfect.”

Yatauro covered the 13.1-mile, out-and-back course up and down Pacific Coast Highway in 1 hour, 17 minutes, 58 seconds. Elizabeth Camy took second in 1:18:30.

Regarding winning her first half-marathon, Yatauro said, “It was definitely a goal, for sure. It’s fast and long. You have a balance of speed and endurance.”

n the men’s half marathon, 23-year-old Esteban Prado earned the win in 1:08:04. Isaak Morales finished second in 1:09:13.

“Going out was pretty smooth, no wind,” said Prado. “Coming back (into a slight headwind), you just had to dig down, really push to the finish line.”

The spectacular oceanfront views – the surf, sand, swaying palm trees – served as a siren, luring Prado to the tape. Said the 13.1-mile winner, “(Seeing) the real nice beach views, it was almost like you were there (at the finish line).”

Women’s marathon winner Teresa Rokos was almost literally speechless after coming home first in 3:03:22.

“I feel really freaking tired, but really proud,” said Rokos. She was running her second marathon, the first two years ago at the Long Beach Marathon.

Rokos is a USC medical student and personifies the long-distance runner’s discipline. Logging training runs before her hospital shifts required “a lot of runs at 4:30, 5 a.m.,” she said. “I had a tough week of work at the hospital. My legs were a little more tired.”

Regarding the 26.2-mile layout, Rokos said, “It’s such a beautiful course. You’re distracted by the gorgeous sky over the ocean the whole time. It’s really nice, fairly flat and beautiful pavement. And the support from all the volunteers was awesome.”

Osvaldo Cerda won the men’s marathon in 2:32:33.

“It’s spectator friendly,” Cerda said of the out-and-back course. “Everybody, when you’re passing by, cheers you on. That really helps. We got lucky (with the weather). The fog cleared up, you could see the ocean, the bike riders. It was just a fun course.”

A Huntington Beach local, Elijah Orr, placed second in 2:33:18.

“I love to represent this city,” said Orr. “This course is amazing. The people here, the fans are always amazing. I love coming here and showing out for my hometown.”

Matthew Walker won the men’s 5K in 15:37. Ariel Melendez was the women’s winner, in 18:18.

The finish line vibe featured runners sipping their favorite beverages at the Michelob ULTRA Beer Garden. Classic surf rock tunes topped the playlist with the sand and surf as a backdrop.

The American Cancer Society was the event’s lead charity partner. The unspoken stars of the day were the blue-clad Team DetermiNation runners, who raised more than $40,000 for ACS.

For complete results, photos and more visit http://www.RunSurfCity.com.