Well organized. Smaller event. Fastest course I have ever run. Nice scenery along the course and beautiful finish along the beach. My favorite marathon in Southern California. It was the Malibu Marathon but it is no longer. Much better event than LA or OC Marathon or Surf City.
Take it easy the first 10K. The first 2.8 is uphill and then the downhill begins. No need to rush it. There is plenty of race left once you get into a good pace for the long downhill.
Definitely recommend staying in Ojai as close to the start line as possible.
By W Clark about 2016
I preferred the old course, which was mostly on the bike path. I'm not much for running near traffic. The new course has some definite fast sections but also a few uphill sections that threw my friends and me for a loop (I was nursing an injured calf so wanted to take it easy) and some rough, uneven road. The map posted on the website didn't correctly convey the course changes. Still a good mid-size BQ/PR race in decent weather and well organized. My husband ran the half and PR'd. Ventura in May is a nice, low key vacation destination.
Run conservatively in the opening miles. I started off with a friend near the 3:45 group as I was uneasy about my calf and didn't know the course. This conservative start paid off for me and I was able to run a negative split (finish time 3:31 and change).
Stay at the Best Western or Country Inn and Suites. They're both walking distance to the shuttles and finish and much cheaper than the host hotel. We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites in 2016 and we had a better experience than buddies did in their pricier hotel. It's clean with friendly service, free parking, and a good free breakfast. There are some great little restaurants in the area for carbing up such as Ferarro's and Cafe Fiore. As far as the race goes, plan to take an early shuttle because as the race has grown, the baggage drop has become more hectic and the potty lines can become long.
By RL about 2014
Great gentle downhill course for 20 miles... last 10K mostly flat. However, southern cal in May is not necessarily cool, even with a finish by the beach.
There's a half-mile uphill early in the run, so it's not *all* downhill. Paved bike path for most of the run means maneuvering around other runners at times.
Sleep in Ventura.. shuttle will take you to start line in the morning.
By SPM about 2012
Great moderately downhill course most along a bike-path, good surface, intimate feel with a limit of a 1,000 marathon runners. Friendly volunteers and size of field meant family could get close to finish at Ventura to cheer me on. Suggest the organizers consider the National Anthem at the start.
I followed my plan and ran hard for first 21 miles and then hung on for a PR 12 minutes faster than my previous best. Only challenge was at mile 21 the course passes within a block of the finish and then goes away for 2.5 miles before looping back and it was tough to run away from the finish at that point and see other runners coming the other way.