San Luis Obispo running race draws participants from all over the world; Washington team makes podium

By Cherish Whyte


Team “SLO Run” takes it easy after finishing the 7th Annual SLO Marathon and Half. From left, Chris Whyte, Renee Lucarelli, Carrie Horton, Cherish Whyte and Dana Cannon.

San Luis Obispo is a gorgeous location for a running race. Its heat and hilly terrain, however, can be grueling for novice runners. So, this year, for the 7th Annual SLO Marathon and Half on April 29, event organizer Race SLO added relays to its lineup.

According to local television station KSBY, the event drew more than 3,500 people from 38 states and 7 countries.

Our team, “SLO Run,” comprised of both seasoned and novice runners, represented Washington state. For the half-marathon relay runners, the first leg drew the short end of the stick! The first leg was advertised as 8.2 miles, while the second leg was only 4.9 miles. Not only were first-leggers running the bulk of the distance, but they also endured the steepest elevation gain of approximately 625 feet. The end result was a challenging course for part of our team, paired with a relatively easy route for teammates just starting to develop a love of running.

The temperature on race morning was near perfect at high-50s, low-60s, with light wind. Historic Madonna Inn was our start and end point. The scenic course took runners past landmark Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, the Railroad District, and Islay Street’s Victorian cottages.

Leg-two runners, including myself, waited for timing-chip handoff at Islay Park. My husband, Chris Whyte, tackled leg one in 1:07:43. I managed a time of 40:09, which was good enough to end up on the podium! We took first place in the co-ed half-marathon relay. Teammates Renee Lucarelli and Dana Cannon took 4th in the female half-marathon relay, and our esteemed trainer and coach Carrie Horton easily cruised to a sub-two-hour finish in the half marathon.

“SLO Run” will be back next year!

Early bird registration for the 8th Annual SLO Marathon, Half and Relay Races — taking place April 27-28, 2019 — is now open. Early-bird pricing runs through May 6, 2018. Register here.


The SLO Marathon and Half course takes runners through historic downtown San Luis Obispo, with its landmark Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, founded in 1772.


Historic Madonna Inn was the start and finish for the 7th Annual SLO Marathon and Half.


Dramatic Cerro San Luis framed the festival grounds at Madonna Inn.


Our “SLO Run” team captain Carrie Horton finishes the half marathon in just under two hours. Phillip Reid of San Luis Obispo was the first person to cross the half-marathon finish line, setting a new course record of 1:07:29.


Cherish and Chris Whyte of Sammamish, Wash., win first place in the inaugural SLO Half-Marathon Relay on April 29.


First-place loot for SLO Marathon and Half Relay participants included an engraved cowbell, medal and bottle of Edna Valley chardonnay.

SLO RunCherish Whyte is a freelance writer based in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and Sammamish, Wash. She loves running, hiking, climbing, skiing and traveling.