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California 10/20 is ready and set to go

SOLANA BEACH — The race is on.

Solana Beach approved a special events permit at the Jan. 22 meeting, the final authorization needed for the U-T California 10/20, a 10-mile race featuring 20 bands that will take runners from the Del Mar Fairgrounds through Solana Beach and Encinitas and back.

Del Mar and Encinitas approved permits in 2012 for the Feb. 16 event, which has been in the works for about a year and a half.

Peter Douglass, a former Encinitas resident and president of Turnkey Operations, originally planned the event for February 2013, but Solana Beach council members asked him to put it off for a year until a major renovation project on a 2-mile stretch of Coast Highway 101 was complete.

Because of the race, which will begin at 7:30 a.m., parts of Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Via de la Valle and Coast Highway 101 will be completely shut down from 6:30 a.m. to no later than 11 a.m. Feb. 16, although Jimmy Durante should be fully reopened by 8:30 a.m.

Initial plans called for partial reopening of the roadways but the Sheriff’s Department expressed concerns. Streets will be closed to all vehicular traffic, including bicycles.

The course will take runners onto Jimmy Durante Boulevard going south.

They’ll turn around at the fire station, head west on Via de la Valle and go north on Coast Highway into Encinitas.

They’ll turn around about one-quarter mile north of Chesterfield Drive and return along the same route, entering the fairgrounds at the Solana Gate on Via de la Valle.

Music will start at each stage, placed at half-mile intervals, as the runners approach and end when the last runner passes. Bands are expected to play music at each stage for about an hour, although some will be longer.

Seven stages are planned in Del Mar, primarily on or adjacent to the fairgrounds. Four will feature bands playing at the start of the race. Two will have music at the end. The final headline band will feature former Eagles guitarist Don Felder.

Seven stages will also be set up in Solana Beach. On the west side of Coast Highway they will be in the grassy area in front of Mercado del Sol, at the corner of Dahlia Drive and in front of Java Depot.

On the return route on the east side of Coast Highway stages will be on the north end of the Coastal Rail Trail, at the Cliff Street bridge, at Dahlia Drive and across from Holiday Inn.

The remaining stages will be along Coast Highway in Encinitas, including one near the turnaround point.

The music will be amplified but only out about 200 feet, or the length of half a football field, Douglass said. Most bands are local.

Douglass said he planned to cap the event at 12,000 runners but so far only about 5,000 have registered.

“I had some sort of grander visions of bigger numbers,” he said, noting some of his other races debuted with more than 10,000 participants. “We’re not going to get to that number this year. I do believe we have potential to do that in future years.”

Douglass said about 30 percent of the runners are from outside the immediate area. He said he expects everything from average participants to “a stellar elite athlete field.” There is an $18,000 prize purse and the winner should finish in about 47 minutes, he said.

All participants were told they must complete the race in three hours.

Douglass has committed to donating at least $50,000 to the American Cancer Society and $30,000 to charities in the three host cities, with one third of the money going to each city.

So far beneficiaries are Del Mar Community Connections, Del Mar Village Association, the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy and Cardiff 101 Main Street.

Douglass said he is still working with Solana Beach nonprofits and expects to donate more than $10,000 to organizations in that city since the bulk of the impacts will be felt there.

Overall, Solana Beach council members support the event but had a few concerns.

They asked Douglass to send notices to everyone in the city, not just those near the event, as was originally planned.

“It sounds to me in some places it’s going to be a traffic nightmare,” Mayor Tom Campbell said. “I hope I’m wrong. … We want this noticed citywide.”

“This is a very exciting event,” Councilwoman Lesa Heebner said. “Thank you for bringing it to this area. … I think it is going to be a nice showcase for our city.”

“I think the event’s going to be outstanding,” Councilman Mike Nichols said. “I hope that it’s very successful for everyone’s who’s involved and that it becomes a regular thing here in Solana Beach. We just want to make sure it gets done right because if it doesn’t get done right we probably won’t be talking about this again because people will be upset.”