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Spectator Sports & Events

Spectator Sports and Events

Monterey County plays host to several world-class spectator sporting events each year, drawing visitors and competitors from all over the world. For golf fans, there's the AT&T's star-studded celebrity golf tournament. If car racing is more your speed, check out the Indy cars and other racing events at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca. Salinas plays host to an annual air show featuring military precision-flight squadrons and showcases bronco-bustin' cowboys at the Rodeo. Finally, if sheer determination and human willpower is what you're after, check out the world-class runners puffing down 26 miles on Highway One in what's been consistently called the Best Marathon in North America. Read on for details.

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Big Sur International Marathon
California Rodeo
California International Airshow
Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am

February 2-8, 2004

Tiger Woods and Kevin Costner, Mark O'Meara and Bill Murray. What does this foursome have in common? Each February, they are among the biggest draws for both locals and visitors alike at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament. Featuring an all-star line-up of both pros and celebrities, this annual golf tournament is as much fun for serious duffers as it is autograph-seekers and star gazers.

Originally started by crooner Bing Crosby in 1937, this tournament has evolved over the decades into one of the most prestigious stops on the PGA Tour. Run almost entirely by volunteers—many of whom work year-round—the tournament is also one of the Peninsula's largest fundraisers, doling out a whopping four million dollars to local non-profits and other youth-oriented charities each year. For more information, please call 800-541-9091; tickets sell out fast as soon as the all-star line-up is announced.

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Big Sur International Marathon

April 25, 2004

It's 26.1 miles of some of the most beautiful coastline in the entire world. But the elite athletes competing in the Big Sur International Marathon don't have time to stop and enjoy the view - they're too busy slogging north on Highway One toward the finish line and the prize money.

Named the Best Marathon in North America, the Big Sur International Marathon continues to sell out earlier and earlier each year, and as a major destination marathon, draws entrants from all over the world. Set along one of the most breathtaking courses in the world, this spectacular road race also gets high marks for its degree of difficulty.

Over 3,000 athletes begin this race on Highway One in Big Sur and finish in Carmel at Rio Road. Along the way, runners wind their way through majestic redwoods and past Pacific Ocean views. Classical music - including a grand piano poised on Bixby Bridge - greets marathoners at each turn, providing inspiration that has been likened to a spiritual experience.

For those who can't imagine running a full marathon, there are several other events, including a 21-mile PowerWalk, a 10-mile Walk, a five-person Marathon Relay, and a 5K race to compete in. Each year, the non-profit marathon board of directors donates $100,000 to local charities - half of it to those in the Big Sur area.

The Big Sur International Marathon is held the last Sunday of April each year. For more information, please call 831-625-6226.

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California Rodeo

July 15-18, 2004 at the Salinas Sports Complex

Each July, the Wild West comes alive with the California Rodeo, Salinas. One of the most prestigious stops on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) circuit, the Rodeo (locally pronounced ro-day-oh) attracts more than 1,000 top-ranked professional cowboys and cowgirls competing for $250,000 in prize money annually. An outgrowth of the Spanish ranchero days when the semi-wild herds of cattle were gathered for branding, ear-marking and castration, the word rodeo is Spanish for "round-up." Today, the Salinas stop is the largest rodeo in the state, and includes the traditional events like barrel racing, bareback and saddle-bronc riding, bull-dogging, calf roping and steer wrestling.

Other-fun filled family events during the Rodeo's Big Week include the Chili Cook-off, an evening of cowboy poetry, the annual Kiddie Kapers Parade, and the daily Horse Parade. For more information, please call 831-757-2951.

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California International Air Show

October 2-3, 2004, Salinas

Blue AngelsEach autumn, the skies above Salinas come alive with the sights and sounds of the California International Air Show. Shows regularly feature top-notch military precision flying teams performing both formation flying and solo routines. Other past highlights of the three-day show have included:

  • The death-defying aerobatic stunts of Sean D. Tucker, flying in the world's most highly modified performance biplane, the Oracle Challenger Special
  • The amazing F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter
  • Eddie Andreni in the Stearman's solo and wing-walking act
  • Manfred Radius, "the king of glider aerobatics"
  • And an incredible fireworks show

  • Tickets can be ordered online at www.tickets.com. Or, for more information, please call 831-757-2951.

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    Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca


    Experience the thrill of world-class motorcycle and auto racing in the heart of Monterey County. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is home to the popular NASCAR Challenge and the Honda International Superbike Classic. Racing enthusiasts flock here by the tens of thousands each year to watch professional drivers scream through the hairpin turns at top speeds.

    The 2004 Racing Season includes the Road & Track Invitationalon May 1-2; the Honda Superbike Classic, held on July 9-11; the 31st Annual Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races on August 13-15; the Grand Prix of Monterey on September 10-12; and the Fry's Electronics Sports Car Championships on October 15-17.
    Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is recognized as one of the greatest road-race courses in the U.S. Call 800-327-SECA for tickets and event schedule.

    If road bikes and mountain bikes are more your speed, you will want to make plans to attend the Sea Otter Classic, held in 2003 on April 15-18. This popular cylcing festival features professional bicyclists ripping around the Laguna Seca track or maneuvering its tricky off-road course. On May 15-16, the teams participating in the 24 Hours of Adrenalin mountain-bike relay take over the hills and dales around the park with some dare-devil night riding.

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