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Promoter to delay 10/20 race

SOLANA BEACH — After discussing a proposal to host a 10-mile run that would close Coast Highway 101 on a Sunday morning next February, Solana Beach City Council deemed the event a good idea at a bad time. 

An approximately 2-mile stretch of the roadway is currently undergoing major construction, with the improvements slated for completion in September or October of 2013.

“What would it do to you if we waited a year?” Councilwoman Lesa Heebner asked following a presentation at the Aug. 22 meeting by Rick Kozlowski, who is helping to produce the event.

The answer, as it turns out, is that it will give promoter Peter Douglass more time to create a better race. He said he plans to re-present the proposal to Solana Beach and the other two host cities — Del Mar and Encinitas — at their September council meetings with a new date for sometime in 2014.

“Ultimately the mayor and City Council of Solana Beach are doing us a big favor,” said Douglass, president of Turnkey Operations and co-creator of San Diego’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.

“Sure we’re giving up on 2013, but what they’re asking us to do is going to make it a better event,” he said. “They are much wiser than the stupid promoter who’s trying to put this together.”

Douglass approached the city several months ago requesting approval to hold the California 10/20, a 10-mile run along Highway 101 that would start and end at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, beginning at 7:30 a.m. Feb. 17, 2013, during Presidents Day weekend.

He said he was aware of the improvement project but believed it would be at a phase in February that it wouldn’t interfere with the route.

“That still may be the case,” he said. “We want to have the same race so with a longer marketing and production cycle we can do it better.”

Douglass said the event is expected to attract about 8,000 to 10,000 participants. Runners will exit onto Jimmy Durante Boulevard going south, turn around at the fire station, head west on Via de la Valle, then go north on Highway 101 until they reach Manchester Avenue in Encinitas.

They’ll turn around at the Cardiff Kook statue and return along the same path, entering the fairgrounds at the Solana Gate on Via de la Valle.

In a worst-case scenario, the 101 would be closed in both directions through Solana Beach from about 7 to 11 a.m.

“My initial thought was, ‘Is this really the right year to be doing this for the first time?’” Councilman Mike Nichols said, noting that residents complained about a 30-minute shutdown at 9 a.m. for the city’s 25th anniversary parade last summer.

“There’s a lot of people who feel there’s a lot going on right now and why do we need to add more to the construction activities,” he said.

The route will include 20 stages for bands — hence, the name — about a half mile apart. Six are planned in Solana Beach.

Kozlowski, who coordinates the annual Solana Beach triathlon, said the bands will be limited to three to six members on 12-by-15 stages that are about 2 feet high. The music will be amplified but only out to about 200 feet.

Each band will play for about 45 minutes, primarily to motivate the athletes, he said, starting as the first runner approaches and stopping when the last one goes by.

The speakers are faced toward the athletes so “basically the runners absorb a lot of the sound that comes off of them,” he said.

“I’m having a hard time buying all of that,” Councilman Tom Campbell said.

“I have a real concern about noise impacts,” he said. “We’ve had lots of experience with amplified sound — big bands, small bands. Sunday morning it could be a real problem.”

The race will be similar to the Austin 10/20, which is managed by Turnkey and held annually in Texas in April. Kozlowski described that event as “extremely successful.”

Most recently it drew nearly 8,000 runners, with 10 percent from out of town and one-third who came from at least two hours away. More than 800 local hotel rooms were booked.

Turnkey has budgeted $30,000 to be split evenly between the three host cities for nonprofit organizations. Kozlowski said the company has committed to donating to the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy to help fund its purchase of the Gateway property, which is along the race course at the northeast end of Solana Beach.

Council members agreed it was an appropriate recipient but all had issues with the allocation of funds.

“Our residential community is going to be more impacted than Del Mar because they’re really not on Del Mar streets,” Campbell said. Because the Encinitas leg is primarily along restaurant row before the businesses open “it’s not really going to impact them that much,” he said.

“There was a recognition which city had the most impact,” Solana Beach City Manager David Ott said. “It’s Solana Beach.”

Kozlowski said he suggested a larger percentage of the donation go to Solana Beach. “To the best of my understanding that is going to happen,” he said.

“The concept is good,” Campbell said. “It’s a healthy event but I have some significant concerns about the impact on the community.

“I would like to have feedback from those impacted before making a decision,” he added.

Council members asked Douglass to host a community open house for residents and local business owners.

“I think this could be a real signature event for our three communities,” Councilman Dave Roberts said. “I don’t want to have a bad first start.

“We want to do this right,” he said. “It fits the image that we want but we’ve got to look out for the quality of life.”

Douglass said he definitely will hold an open house as soon as possible. “It is a necessary step and a good step,” he said, adding that he has already received positive feedback from many in the community.

Douglass said his modified proposal will include a new race date of Feb. 16, 2014.

At the Aug. 22 Solana Beach meeting, council authorized staff to continue discussions with Turnkey. Encinitas council members gave similar approval at their meeting the same night. Del Mar officials opted to wait for the outcome of the Solana Beach discussion before putting the item on their agenda.

“This would be such an amazing opportunity for the city Solana Beach,” said Rudy Novotny, a professional race announcer and former Del Mar resident who now lives in Carlsbad. He has worked Disney half marathons, as well as those in Los Angeles, Orange County, Big Sur, Carlsbad and elsewhere throughout the country.

“I can’t tell you how many thousand miles I’ve run on 101 thinking about what an amazing venue this would be and what a fantastic way to showcase your community,” he said. “The inconveniences and impacts are temporary but the pride involved in the production and participation of something like this is forever.”