In the early ’70s, I was involved in a running group with several other San Diego Track Club (SDTC) members. This was a few years before the so-called “running boom.” Back then, the Mission Bay Marathon was the primary race in town: the only sports drink was “ERG” (which stands for “Electrolyte Replacement with Glucose”)… also called Gookin Aid – a garage product concocted by Bill Gookin, a local high school chemistry teacher, masters runner, and member of the San Diego Track Club. Bill also organized most of the local runs, often making up the course just before the start. The San Diego Track club was involved with nearly all the races back then, and most local races were small by today’s standards.
Around the end of 1973, my little group started throwing around the idea of staging a half-marathon in Coronado. My principal collaborators were Kaj Johansen, a UCSD medical center resident, Dennis Kasischke from the SDTC, Frank Bozanich, a USMC Captain, and Jeff Rigdon, a former runner for both NAU and Coronado High School.
The inaugural race in 1974 started at the Coronado Woman’s Club on the strand, followed Glorietta Blvd to the turn-around at the Coronado Bridge, then followed the perimeter of Coronado to make a loop around the hospital. The route was then run in the opposite direction back to the Woman’s Club, where it finished.
After the 1977 event, the race had become so large that we had to change the course because it impacted the parade staging and traffic flow. From 1978 to 1986 we used a route with two starting lines between F and G and Fifth and Sixth streets. The two lines merged at Glorietta Boulevard, crossed Orange, then followed Ocean Boulevard to the North Island Naval Base at about the five-mile mark. There was a turn-around on the base at about the nine-mile mark, then the course returned to Sunset Park, where it took a sharp left and finished at Sixth and Coronado near the old elementary school.
After 1986, there was no longer access to the Naval Base, so the race fell on hard times. Still, it persisted and is now (at least for now) a 12k race with a shorter 5k option.
The current race director, Easy Day Sports, has more info on the history of the race since 1986.
– George Green
Coronado Half Marathon Founder
Coronado Islander head Cross Country Coach