Napa-to-Sonoma is the flagship event in the Wine Country Half Marathon Series. This popular race features a fast and scenic course starting at Cuvaison Carneros Winery and finishing in historic Sonoma Plaza in front of City Hall. The world-renowned Napa and Sonoma Valleys serve as the host of this event, offering the finest in wine country ambience and hospitality. Other activities are scheduled around the race, so bring family and friends and plan to stay and play! You’ll also meet new friends and running colleagues at this iconic event which draws from all fifty states and many foreign countries. This is not your typical running race, this is a lifestyle experience!
- Jen reviewed 8 months ago
I was really looking forward to this race. I got in via the second chance lottery because it was so popular and sold out before I could register on the first day. I flew in from Colorado and thought this would be a nice way to experience wine country.
Unfortunately, the race expo the day before was small and very few vendors. On the morning of the race, the drop off zone was a mess. It was not clear where the drop off point was, therefore cars started dropping runners wherever they wanted and clogged traffic because the runners then walked in the lane of the car exit to get to the start line. The start was delayed 10 minutes “due to congestion on the roads”. What we found out from other participants was that there were delays due to a shortage of buses shuttling people from Sonoma over to the start line.
With “butt burner hill” right after the start, it is imperative to release participants in waves. Instead, the entire hill was clogged by walkers who lined up in the 2:00 expected finish group and it was impossible to break from the pack until several miles into the course. At the water stations, I found myself taking 3 cups each time because the 5 oz cups that were poured were only one third full at best. Then, around mile 10 and again around 11, the police stopped the runners at two different intersections for about 90 seconds each to allow traffic to cross. People were getting frustrated. Ridiculous. If they are going to charge $175, I think the shirt should be a technical tee. I will not be participating again.
It just seemed like one of the races one should do – running through wine country that we have visited for over 20 years – what could be better! Getting into the race is quite the adventure! The first year, I tried the lottery with no luck. The next year was even more entertaining. The signup just happened to be on the same day we were driving from Park City Utah (home) to Moab for the Winter Sun 10K. Bruce drove as I tried to enter on my iPad as we drove by the Bookcliffs in Southern Utah – not very good reception through there! Needless to say, I didn’t get in. But, I made it in 2014! I am so glad I did. By then it was my 7th DR race – not bad for a girl from Utah! The weekend started with the Welcome Reception at Cuvaison Winery – the race start! Saw our DR friends and met new ones – the racers you meet are all so inspiring! Then, the big event – meeting Meb att the pre-race dinner! He is a treasure! So humble and so inspiring! The race exceeded my expectations! We ran through beautiful, rural Carneros Valley. It was stunning! Rolling hills (little ones) and beautiful vineyards. It was a perfect, foggy morning to run! I was inspired by all of the Team Challenge runners! And then there was the Guinness stop and the wine stop along the way! But, nothing prepared me for the finish – our flag flying high in front of the Sonoma Plaza!! This has to be on everyone’s bucket list of “Not to Miss” Half Marathons!
The one thing wrong with this race is that it’s too good! You’ll need to sign up quickly once registration opens. The course is fast with a few rolling hills. It’s exceptionally well organized, plenty of porta-potties at the start, along the course and at the finish. The wine festival after the race is really great in the lovely Sonoma City park. Although run in July, the morning starts are almost cool, if not even chilly.
The Race Director has done a great job in attracting top running celebrities (Ryan & Sara Hall, Dick Beardsley, Meb Keflezighi, Bart Yasso, Tesfaye Alemayehu, Sergio Reyes, Lauren Fleshman and many others) to run the race and/or speak at the Expo.
This is one of the top half’s in the country – don’t miss it!
i’ve run this race most years since i first ran it back in 2006 – it’s gotten a lot more popular over the years, and deservedly so. the course is great: there’s a short, steep uphill at the start but the rest of the race is gentle ups and downs, generally a pretty quick course. also beautiful, as you’re running through vineyards practically the entire race. the race is always well-organized, occasionally the mile markers are a little bit off, but not by too much, and there are plenty of water/electrolyte stations along the way. everything in the sonoma town square at the end is always great too – good recovery food/drink, plenty of free samples, and everybody loves all the wine (and lagunitas). last year was especially fun, as they got some american elites to come out and run (lauren fleshman, ryan and sara hall), and meb as the lead bike. highly recommended, and i’ll be back again this summer!