SLO Marathon recap: Race sees growth in its third year back

jscroggin@thetribunenews.comApril 28, 2014 

Growth in participation for the SLO Marathon has slowed, but the more than 3,400 participants and those who came out to cheer them on were treated to an event that appears to be streamlined after its third year on the scene.

The race was resurrected in 2012 after a 26-year hiatus, and after a 30 percent growth rate from the first running to last year, event director Heather Hellman said numbers were up between 5 percent and 10 percent in 2014.

Results showed 661 entries in Sunday’s marathon and 2,232 in the concurrent half marathon. On Saturday, 517 runners competed in the 5K.

“We’d like it to be even bigger than this,” Hellman said. “It took us a few years to get everything going, but everything is kind of running like clockwork now.

“Logistics have been improved upon year after year, and we’ll keep improving; I think it’ll just get bigger and better.”

Arroyo Grande couple Joe and Kara Thorne each finished first in the men’s and women’s half marathon. In the 26.2-mile marathon, Ryan Neely and Kimberly O’Donnell, a dating couple from Walnut Creek, each finished first.

On their first trip to the area, Neely and O’Donnell said they’d definitely be back to hike some trails. Joe Thorne, originally from Georgia, said he couldn’t believe more people haven’t found out about San Luis Obispo.

Kara Thorne, a Central Coast native, praised the marathon for providing exposure.

“It definitely brings the community together and brings people from out of town to the area, which is fantastic for local companies,” Thorne said. “It just shows how awesome a community San Luis Obispo is.”

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