Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Big Time: USA Half Marathon Invitational

On the heels of hosting the first-ever half marathon with qualifying times, San Diego is poised to join the big leagues of running


Ken Nwadike Jr. is hoping to start the “Boston Marathon of half marathons” in San Diego. 

On November 21, he and his race production company, Superhero Events, are putting on the USA Half Marathon Invitational, the first-ever half marathon with qualifying times. That means runners need to have finished a previous race under a certain time to be eligible. Times vary by age and gender, and range from 1:45:00 to 2:30:00.

Nwadike hopes the race will put San Diego on the map for runners, eventually creating the same prestige associated with the Boston and New York City marathons.

“In San Diego we have so many great athletes, but in terms of [amateur] sports teams we’re lacking a bit,” says Nwadike, who began competitive running at Chula Vista High School. “It would be nice if we can create a well-known running event that San Diego can be proud of.”

For its first year, the race will cap at 5,000 runners, who will start downtown and circle through Balboa Park, Hillcrest, and Liberty Station. After a few years, Nwadike expects to tighten the qualifying times. He hopes that competition—both to land a spot and during the race—plus prize money for every age group instead of just for the overall winners, will earn the USA Half Marathon a spot on runners’ bucket lists.

“It’s like dangling a carrot in front of a participant who maybe in the past has just been along for the ride, participating just to finish,” he says.

The call for qualifying times is a decided shift from the increasing number of fun runs, color runs, mud runs, and costume runs that are open to the public.

“Those runs are great because they bring new participants to the endurance industry, but there should still be a balance between the fun side and the competitive side. That’s the only way to better ourselves as athletes.”

Already, the USA Half Marathon is becoming a marquee attraction, with runners from all 50 states and at least nine countries, including China, France, Kenya, and Eritrea, signed up to participate. Nwadike says he expects elite runners will join, and plans to announce the lineup soon. He’s also partnered with Merhawi Keflezighi, brother of San Diego running phenom Meb Keflezighi, to organize the race and has named the Meb Foundation its official charity.

Half and full marathons, like Rock ’n’ Roll and Carlsbad, are already a boon to San Diego’s economy, says Vince Vasquez, a senior policy analyst at the National University System Institute for Policy Research. According to his recent analysis, 134,000 people competed in local endurance events in 2013, which created about $64 million in economic output and supported 583 jobs. That’s about the same number of people who attend Comic-Con, and nearly half of its calculated economic impact.

“A certain percentage of participants are from outside the county and many actually are flying and bringing people with them, so they’re spending money on hotels, retail stores for food and drink, and all that adds up,” Vasquez says.

Given the year-round mild climate, Vasquez adds that San Diego is already an ideal location for these types of events. If the USA Half Marathon gains national recognition, he says that could make San Diego a formidable counterpart to the East Coast’s famed running events.

Boston, here we come.  

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

From the Archives: A Working Woman in 1950

More than 50 years ago, being a "career woman" meant jobs in art and modeling and an income for clothes and dinner parties

Trail of the Month: Carlsbad Aviara Trails

There's cool breezes off the lagoon in the summer months and side trails aplenty to lengthen your distance

Fall Fashion 2018: 6 Looks Inspired by the '80s

We're, like, totally wigging out over these bold colors, patterns, and details inspired by the raddest decade
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Best of San Diego Party 2018
  2. The Best of San Diego 2018
    We crown 103 winners in food, shopping, fitness, kids’ activities, and more
  3. Good Night, Cafe Chloe
    San Diego’s beloved French bistro is closing due to California’s unfair labor laws
  4. Javier Plascencia Eyes Barrio Logan
    The award-winning chef is all over Mexico, but looks to make a San Diego comeback
  5. Stop Killing Chloes
    How California is very knowingly killing the mom and pop restaurant
  6. A Sneak Peek at ‘The Heart of Rock & Roll’
    The Old Globe’s newest world-premiere musical promises a familiar soundtrack and all the good feels of an ’80s rom-com
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Vote Now for Your Orangetheory Winner!

Winners will be announced at our Sweat event on May 12

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags


Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants

Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants

AquaVie: 10 Reasons It’s Downtown’s Best Kept Secret

The best workout and spa getaway around? It’s actually right underneath your nose.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags