> The 33rd Presentation > Special Interest > Big Sur's Mile Marker Project

Big Sur's Mile Marker Project

Big Sur's signature "cello" mile markers survived over two decades of runners, wild weather, and vehicle mishaps.  In celebration of the 25th presentation, race organizers decided it was time to replace them and commissioned Salinas muralist John Cerney to create a unique set of mile markers that would provide a humorous, motivating, and inspirational backdrop along the marathon course.

An acclaimed muralist, Cerney's artwork can best be described as "giant cut-out art," ordinarily viewed from the comfort of one's automobile.  Locally, he is best known for his series of field workers (each 18 feet tall) located in the agricultural fields in Salinas, CA.  Recently he completed a series of cannery workers located on the Coastal Recreation Trail above Cannery Row in Monterey, CA.

Below is a brief description and photo of each mile marker as well as information on the model and donor.  To view the full size image, click on the thumbnail picture.


Concept:  NO ONE enjoys the 3:00 AM (or earlier!) wakeup call that goes hand in hand with running Big Sur.  But heed the irritating cry of your alarm clock: you don't want to be in this "would be" runner's position and miss the bus to the start!

Model:  Thompson Lange, a Big Sur Board member and also the owner of Homescapes Carmel.  Thompson has run Big Sur many times, in addition to other marathons and ultra marathons.  He did oversleep his first Big Sur and barely managed to make the start, so his look of horror is based on actual experience.

Sponsor:  Brandman University (Chapman University System).  The President, James Doti, will be joining us this year as a participant in the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge.

Mile 1


Concept:  The Big Sur Marathon evolved from the vision, hard work and commitment of founder Bill Burleigh, who recognized the impact and envisioned the success of running 26.2 miles along Highway 1 between Big Sur and Carmel.  Bill's initial commitment and dedication is the reason that this marathon continues to be staged on the last Sunday in April since 1986.

Model:  Retired Judge Bill Burleigh currently divides his time between his home in Carmel Valley and his newly rebuilt home in Big Sur, following the aftermath of the 2008 Basin Fire.  In addition to being the original Chairman of the Board, Burleigh spent many years taking photos of the course on race day. His photos can be viewed at www.burleighphotography.com.

Sponsor:  Grizzled Vet Bill Fenley, who passed away in 2008.  He loved running the Marathon each year and will always be remembered as one of the few who came back every year.

Mile 2


Concept:  While you won't be ticketed for excess speed, Big Sur's downhill start sometimes gets folks running a bit faster than they should be at this early stage of the race.  Don't let a fast pace in the early miles result in a slow finish! Remember to stay steady and pace yourself in anticipation of the hills ahead.

Model:  Local developer and hotelier Denny Levett has been a Monterey Peninsula resident since 1978 and is a true local "personality" dedicated to offering and enhancing the hospitality of Carmel.  He owns several Carmel hotels including the Cypress Inn, which he has co-owned with actress Doris Day for more than 25 years.

Sponsor:  Carmel Boutique Inns invite Big Sur participants to make their race weekend unforgettable with a stay in charming Carmel-By-The-Sea.

Mile 3


Concept:  Don't you just hate it when nature calls, the porta-potty suddenly appears...and then you stand outside and wait..and wait...and wait.  While our runners hopefully won't be lined up with paper and coffee in hand, "patience" is still your mantra.

Model:  Mike Banda, owner of Golden State Portables..  Mike is not a runner, but he does understand the needs of runners and is a long time supporter of Big Sur Marathon events.

Sponsor:  Golden State Portables, who is helping us achieve green certification by providing recycled paper as well as the environmentally "bio-pack" that serves as a sanitizing agent.

Mile 4


Concept:  Once runners leave the safety of Big Sur's majestic redwoods just past Molera State Park, they emerge into open space where they will soon discover if it's going to be one of those windy years...

Model:  Mike Dove is a world ranked senior runner, a veteran of numerous Big Surs, course record holder in the men's 55-59 age group, the "founder" of Big Sur's JUST RUN youth fitness program, and a Big Sur board member. 

Sponsor:  The Wednesday Night Laundry Runners, the Monterey Peninsula's local running club that boasts a membership of 275 runners. Many of them will be running one event or another at this year's Big Sur.

MIle 5


Concept:  The primary spectators along the marathon coast are not cheering throngs of people, but rather cows grazing in the lush pastures that frame the roadway.  Most seem a bit bewildered on marathon Sunday, but there are always several who are ready to go the distance.

Models:  Elsie and Midge, two happy California cows.  These benign bovines serve as our primary spectators for much of the course, and have been known to run alongside the marathoners, "mooing" their encouragement.

Sponsor:  KR Construction of Pacific Grove, CA is a locally owned and operated full service construction contracting company as well as an environmentally conscious builder.

Mile 6


Concept:  The military volunteer contingent from the Defense Language Institute in Monterey has long been the backbone of many of the Big Sur Marathon events. We have many military participants and many more would love to run our event, but their deployment in support of our nation prevents this. So, we're asking that you run a mile in support of our military!

Model:  SSGT Nate Janicek, an Arabic instructor at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA. 

Sponsor:  Greg Mislick, LtCol USMC (Ret), a Big Sur board member and director of the JUST RUN! Just Kids 3K. He teaches at the Peninsula's Naval Postgraduate School and is a runner of some reknown, with a marathon PR of 2:25.

Mile 7


Concept: A one time during a run, many have had to listen to another runner go on...and on...and on...

Models:  Buddy Sharp and Winli McAnally, members of the Big Sur Marathon's Board of Directors and avid runners.

Sponsor:  KSBW Channel 8/Central Coast ABC



Concept:  We've heard it many times..."the finish is just around the corner," you're "looking good," or "it's all downhill from here".  Look at the length of Pinocchio's nose...and believe what you want to believe!

Model:  Patie McCracken, local runner and longtime supporter of the the Big Sur Marathon.  Look for her on race day, she usually runs one of the events.

Sponsor:  Kimberly Livingston, M.D. an east coast runner who has participated in numerous Big Sur Marathons.

Mile 9


Concept:  Mile 10 marks the start of the ascent of the notorious Hurricane Point...550 feet of climb over 2 miles.  This tongue-in-cheek elevator operator offers a different way to get to the top...if it only worked!

Model:  Dr. Hugo Ferlito, DDS, the Chairman of Big Sur's Board of Directors, a Grizzled Vet of the Big Sur Marathon and an Ironman Triathlete.  Running an elevator is his night job.

Sponsor:  Dole Food Company, another of Big Sur's long time sponsors.  Look for their product in the food tent at the finish and enjoy!

Mile 10_V2


Concept:  Ok, you are halfway up Hurricane Point. Can it get worse? Judging by this guy you've still got a climb ahead of you.

Model:   Kevin Smith, the "Mayor" of Marathon Village and a Big Sur board member.  Kevin has run four Big Sur Marathons and also is a key volunteer in Big Sur's Half Marathon and Mud Run.  He is a mason by trade and married to a Big Sur staffer.

Sponsor:  Hayashi & Wayland of Salinas, CA. offers a unique collection of professional services to help manage your finances and plan for the future.  They also support several Relay teams at the marathon each year.

Mile 11


Concept:  When you reach the summit of Hurricane Point you'll feel like you've accomplished something HUGE (which you have)!  Maybe not quite like climbing Mt. Everest or crossing the finish line at the Olympics, but close.

Model: Blake Russell competed in the 2008 Olympic Marathon in Beijing and holds the honor of being the first American woman finisher.  A resident of Pacific Grove, CA, Russell can often be seen running on the roads and trails of the Monterey Peninsula.

Sponsor:  Mission Organics, now part of Earthbound Farm.  Otto Kramm, one of Mission's owners, has participated in numerous Big Sur events over the years.  He lives with his family in Spreckels, CA.

Mile 12


Concept:  Mile 13 means you've survived Hurricane Point and your arrival to Bixby Bridge is imminent.  This is a major highlight of the race and a time to photographically document your halfway point.  Marathon Foto will be at the far end of the bridge to take your picture, so remember to have your bib number showing...lift those legs...suck in that tummy...and SMILE!

Model:  Cesar Pina is a volunteer for the Marathon, working closely with Kevin Smith, his real life co-worker.  The presence of so many runners inspired Cesar, and he finished his first Big Sur Half Marathon in November 2009 and his first Big Sur Marathon in 2012.  His family also volunteers race weekend.

Sponsor:  Marathon Foto has been the official photographer for Big Sur Marathon events for over a decade.  They will be at several points along the course, so remember to smile when you see them...the resulting photo will delight you!

Mile 13

MILE 13.1

Concept:  You've been hearing the haunting tones from a Yamaha Grand Piano since reaching the summit of Hurricane Point.  As you descend from the top, the music drifts over the water and fills the air, and you exult in the fact that you are halfway through the marathon! Savor this wonderful moment as you cross Bixby Bridge!

Model: Michael Martinez is the successor and heir to Big Sur's "Grand Piano Man" Jonathan Lee who passed away in 2004.  Michael's superb talent will delight you as you reach this milestone in your marathon journey.

Sponsor:  Gatorade is a proud sponsor of all our events and the official energy drink for our runners and walkers.  Don't rely on just water...drink Gatorade to replace your electrolytes and other essential minerals.  Run safe!

Mile 13.1


Concept:  Face it, we just can't all be one of those Kenyan-esque runners who make fast look easy!  But there's nothing wrong with dreaming!

Model:  Mary Akor of Los Angeles, CA, and Steven Muange of Albuequerque, NM, posed for this shot one day before the 2009 Big Sur Half Marathon...and then both went on to win the event!

Sponsor:  Homescapes Carmel and Homescapes Home & Garden are locally owned by Big Sur Board member Thompson Lange and his brother Beau. Homescapes offers a lifestyle store with plants, orchids and furnishings from around the world.

Mile 14


Concept:  Need some morale boosting at this stage in the race?  With 11 miles left, these two cheerleaders will lift your spirits!

Model:  Deborah and Simon Rothhouse, past owners of the Treadmill.  Both are avid running enthusiasts and long time supporters of the local running community and the Big Sur Marathon.  Be sure to drop by the store in the Crossroads Carmel.

Sponsor:  Treadmill, a speciality running store located in Carmel where all the locals shop. 

Mile 15


Concept:  Listen to the angel, don't wind up saying "the devil made me do it!"  This runner is at the point in the marathon where it would be so easy to just...let...it all go away.  Hang tough!

Model:  Ingrid Aquino of Seaside, CA is a woman of many talents and abilities.  A marathoner, world traveler, massage therapist and huge supporter of the running community, Ingrid usually listens to her inner "angel."

Sponsor:  Gloria and Sonny Dake of Salinas, CA.  Gloria maintained her Grizzled Vet status until several years ago, but still participates in other BSIM events.  The Big Sur Marathon salutes Gloria for all she has done for the running community over the past several decades.

Mile 16


Concept:  Aid stations are great spots to stop, drink some Gatorade, eat a banana and, well, rest a bit. Our volunteers, however, have a different goal for you...and that is to get back out on the road, finish the race and achieve your dream.  Their support and encouragement is invaluable to our events.

Model:  Sallie Armstrong is our volunteer and Keith Severson our runner needing a bit of encouragement to get back on track with his run.  Sallie's son and daughter-in-law are both involved with the Marathon organization and Keith has run the marathon many times.

Sponsor:  Graniterock of Watsonville, CA has been providing the construction industry with quality materials and products.  Their motto is "Yes, we will" when asked to meet your special product and service needs.  They are also a long time sponsor of the Big Sur Marathon.

Mile 17


Concept:  We only hope this icy cold brew is still on the mile marker by the end of the race! Just be patient and use this as an incentive...we'll have plenty of Michelob Ultra waiting for you at the finish.

Model: Henry Gong of Salinas, CA a long time marathoner and Big Sur participant.  A former owner of the Star Market in Salinas, he is now retired and enjoying his family.

Sponsor:  Henry Gong of Salinas, CA. He's never been a bartender but could have fooled us!

Mile 18


Concept:  By mile 19, things are starting to get a bit difficult for most marathoners.  The hills and wind have taken a toll, legs are aching and motivation is waning.  Look deep into this hypnotist's eyes and listen to what he's saying.  Running a marathon is as much mental as physical, after all.

Model:  Larry Wilson, a long time supporter and participant of the Big Sur Marathon.  He not only runs the marathon most years, but comes down two weeks prior to run the last 10 miles of the Board of Director's Run.

Sponsor:  Larry Wilson of San Mateo, CA

Mile 19


Concept:  Most marathoners have probably encountered the "wall" somewhere around mile 20...that great barrier that does its best to stop you in your tracks.  The trick is learning how to break through it.  Our marathoner here looks to be struggling...but we know YOU'LL find a way to get past it. Heed the message of the hypnotist at mile 19.

Model:  Local runner Gerry Reynolds of Salinas who is no stranger to the Big Sur course.  Look around you at mile 20 this year...some of you will see Gerry, and hopefully he won't be hitting the wall!

Sponsor:  Turtle Bay Taqueria, located in downtown Monterey and locally owned by Big Sur board member Jefferson Seay, who is in charge of hospitality for the Marathon.  Jefferson has run the marathon many times as well, with a Big Sur PR of 2:54 and the honor of being the first Monterey County finisher in 1998. 

mile 20


Concept:  Those of you with kids (or memories of trips with your parents) can relate to this scenario.  And around mile 21, you'll be asking the same question.

Model:  Hannah and Will Kastner are the children of the former Race Director Wally Kastner.

Sponsor:  A.W. Shucks Oyster Bar located in Carmel-By-The-Sea. Stop by and enjoy a delicious pre- or post-race meal.  Offerings include award-winning clam chowder and oysters, as well as burgers, sandwiches and salads.  Ocean Avenue and San Carlos Street.

Mile 21


Concept:  Our firefighters were crucial to the containment of the Big Sur Basin fire of 2008, which nearly destroyed Big Sur.  

Model:  Dan Hamilton, a local firefighter with the Cypress Fire Brigade who is also a Big Sur Board member in charge of what else...putting the mile markers out on the course on race day.

Sponsor:  Wayne and Judee Richey, long time Big Sur Board members.  Wayne is currently the Chairman of the Board, and Judee helps with transportation on race day.

Mile 22


Concept:  While we know that it's fun to walk with a group, we ask that walkers observe "race etiquette" by staying left and walking no more than two abreast.  Our runners will thank you!

Model:  Sandra Pèpe, Amy Love and Rich Pèpe.  Sandra is an annual participant in the 10.6-Miler, Amy Love is in charge of the marathon's VIP tent, and Rich Pèpe is the owner of Little Napoli and Vino Napoli.

Sponsor:  PÈPES Little Napoli of Carmel, a long time sponsor of the Big Sur Marathon.  If you're looking for a great pre- or post-race meal, this is the place to go!

Mile 23


  Well known running icon and "Chief Running Officer" of Runner's World magazine, as well as long time friend and participant of the Big Sur Marathon, Bart Yasso encourages and praises runners for going the distance, despite the pain.

Model:  Bart Yasso of Bethlehem, PA and just about anywhere else in the country on any given day.

Sponsor:  Runner's World magazine who has been a major sponsor and supporter of Big Sur Marathon events since the late 1980's.  They recently named us as one of the top three marathons in the country as well as the best destination marathon.

Mile 24


Concept:  This "Doomsayer" needs to lighten up! You may be feeling a bit down at this point, but with the finish just over a mile away, the end to your race is just over the next hill. 

Model:  Pat Brennand of Salinas, CA, a schoolteacher at Gonzales High. He's been a member of the artist's (John Cerney) relay team on many occasions and is actually a lighthearted, really funny guy.

Sponsor:  Bill Burleigh, founder and original Board Chairman of the Big Sur Marathon.  Some found this marker on the dark side...fortunately Bill's great sense of humor came to the rescue!

Mile 25


Concept:  You'll be singing too when you reach mile 26 on the Carmel River Bridge!

Models:  Who better than the "girls" in the Big Sur Office? Meet Chris and Julie (top row, left to right) and Susan and Sally (bottom row, left to right).  Their hard work throughout the year helped get you to the start and now they will greet you at the finish.

Sponsor:  Sally and Kevin Smith, who have been involved with the Marathon the past 21 years as runners, board members and staff.

Mile 26