Over 2,000 runners participated in the Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach. (Photo by Colleen Huston)

By Colleen Huston, staff writer

Running a marathon in California has its perks: warm weather, sandy beaches and encouraging fans. That was the case, at least, for those participating in the Surf City USA Marathon and Half Marathon on Feb. 6.

Over 2,000 people raced on the Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach, Calif. Unlike the Los Angeles Marathon, this course stretched across miles of ocean views. The trail even goes follows a cemented path through the beaches. A typical full marathon lasts for 26.2 miles, while a half marathon is 13.1 miles. For those looking to see the city without the fearful tourist calories, marathons are a healthy attraction.

The Surf City Marathon seemed to attract a variety of joggers for both races, ranging in age and body type.

Thousands of family, friends and loved ones lined the course to cheer on the runners. Some held signs with encouraging words. Others put on their running shoes and ran alongside those looking discouraged. Others simply clapped on the sidelines and chanted supportive words.

Yorba Linda resident Heather Good stood on the side of the 25th mile with a large sign that read “Go Momma!” Good’s mother is a regular marathoner and the two have become her consistent sideline fans.

“This is her annual marathon she does,” Good said. “Normally she runs to raise money for cystic fibrosis, but this one is just for her.”

Her mother enjoys marathons around the country as well as international runs.

“I just went to Edinburgh with my mom for a marathon in Scotland. She ran the full [marathon] there,” Good said.

Although Good and Barboa had been standing for an hour, they cheered for the rest of the participants until their participant raced by.

Los Angeles resident Ben Smith participated in the half marathon and finished with enough time to join the cheering crowd.

“I ran by myself,” said Smith, who hit a new personal record of one hour and 29 minutes. “This is a fun race and it is easy to stay motivated while you’re running.”

Seeing the runners persevere, even if they were in pain, was inspirational. Many on the sidelines were brought to tears by the sight.  In fact, it inspired me to begin training for the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon in San Diego this summer.  It was amazing to be a part of the event, even if I only cheered.

For those interested in watching or participating in a future marathon, the 2011 Honda Los Angeles Marathon will be held on March 20. This marathon promises a L.A. landmark every mile, starting at Dodger Stadium and ending at Santa Monica beach. The 2011 Pasadena Marathon starts May 20 in Old Pasadena, traveling past the iconic Pasadena City Hall.