CARMEL, California -- He'd hoped for a finish time that would qualify to run the Boston Marathon, but Hurricane Point was a heartbreaker for Seaman Charles Quick, a Sailor assigned to the Center for Information Dominance Unit at Presidio of Monterey.

Quick was among dozens of military-affiliated runners registered for the 2016 Big Sur International Marathon and several shorter races that took place April 24.

Sweeping views along Highway 1, which have given Big Sur its reputation as one of the country's most scenic marathons, worked against runners as stiff ocean winds nearly blew them off the course, dashing hopes of a strong finish for many.

"I try to have a sense of humor about it," Quick said. "I was on Hurricane Ride, yelling: 'Why do they call this Hurricane Point?' The wind was blowing so hard, no one could hear me," he said.

Many military runners who took part in the marathon said part of the art of preparing for a 26.2 mile race is learning to accept setbacks along the way.

"I'll be happy just to finish," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Natalie Walton, an Academic Training Advisor for students assigned to the 319th Training Squadron.

Walton ran the Big Sur marathon on a whim while studying Chinese at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in 2008, without much prior training.

"I thought it was really pretty, and really long. But I said, 'if I do another marathon, I'll do this one," she said.

Several years and three children later, she laced up sneakers on feet that had suffered from bone spurs and plantar fasciitis in recent weeks, just five months after giving birth to her youngest child.

Walton routinely runs half-marathons, triathlons, and perform daily functional fitness workouts to stay fit. But she said marathons are a distance she runs to finish, not to win.

"I'm mostly competitive, just with myself. I want to be better than I was yesterday," she said.

She advised first-time marathoners to listen to their body, and take setbacks in stride.

"I'd like to beat my last time," she said. "It would be fun to beat it, but the goal it's really just something to keep me focused.

"You don't give up. You get up the next day, and try again," she said.

There are almost as many reasons to run the Big Sur marathon as there are runners.
"I run for fun," said Army Maj. Alden Gilroy, 229th Military Intelligence Bn. "I've never done the same race twice."

Gilroy is studying Pashto at DLIFLC, and said preparing to run Big Sur was a way to maintain his physical fitness during language training, but his reason for running the marathon is the view.
"It's one of the most gorgeous runs in America," he said.

The race draws runners from all over the world, and many international runners cross the finish line carrying the flags of their home country.

Before the race, Gilroy said he planned to carry the American flag for the entire 26.2 mile route.
He made it, though managing it in the heaviest winds proved challenging.

"I thought my flag pole would snap in half. So I braced the wood in the middle of the flag and kept going," he said.

Why run the Big International Marathon Sur?

"Why not?" said Army Pfc. Angela Niven, 229th Military Intelligence Bn.

She volunteered at the 2015 marathon, and that inspired her to register for the 2016 race.

"As long as I'm here, I might as well take advantage of the opportunity," she said.

Niven is an accomplished runner. She ran the Army 10-Miler as part of the DLIFLC team in October. But her running career had humble beginnings, as a young mom without easy access to child care.

"It was too hard to go to the gym, so I got a jogging stroller and some shoes," she said. "You're limited by what, the road around you?

"There are no limits," she said.