It is the weekend before the 114th running of the Boston Marathon (Monday, April 19), and most of the running world’s eyes are sure to be affixed on Boston for the “world’s oldest and most prestigious annual marathon”. Before we tune in to Monday’s Boston Marathon, shouldn’t we reflect on some significant historical events that occurred on April 17th or 18th, like, for instance, Jennie Garth’s marriage to Dan Clark (April 17, 1994), or the day the Phillies came back from a 12-1 deficit against the Chicago Cubs to win 18-16 in 10 innings on the strength of Mike Schmidt’s 4 consecutive at bats with a home run (April 17, 1976 – that was for you Trail Goat), or the birthday of Frances Bean Cobain, daughter of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love (April 18, 1992), or, one of our favorites, the day that David Lee Roth was arrested in New York for purchasing marijuana for $10 (April 18, 1993). Nah, let’s just run some ultras, and here are a few that you might choose from for the weekend of Saturday, April 17 and Sunday, April 18.
We begin in Fruita, Colorado with the Desert R.A.T.S. Trailrunning Festival (5, 10, 25 and 50 mile trail races). This is a challenging course. The 25-mile race is a single loop connecting the desert trails of Kokopelli’s and adjacent trails, with rolling elevations between 4,500 and 5,400 feet, and over 4,000 feet of climbing per loop. Five aid stations are located at about 5-mile intervals. The 50-mile race, of course, repeats the 25-mile course, but in the opposite direction. 50-milers must complete the first 25-mile loop in 6 and 1/2 hours, with an overall cut-off at 12 hours.
From Colorado we head to Lake Hughes, California and the 18th annual Leona Divide 50 Mile Run. The course has changed a bit this year from prior years with the addition of some scenic miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. The first 10 miles are run on groomed fireroads with some climbing. Next, runners connect up with the Pacific Crest Trail and run out to connect up with fire road 7N23. A hard right turn leads to 2.5 miles of solid downhill to the turn-around (at mile 29.5). Runners then head back up the fireroad and reconnect with the Pacific Crest Trail for a return trip to aid station #10 (mile 46.1), then it is down to the finish line.
This race has some rules, our favorite being “no whining or complaining please…if you are not happy for any reason find another race to do next year.” In the 2009 edition, Benjamin Berkowitz (6:47:08) held on to beat Kevin Sullivan (6:49:09) by a mere 2 minutes. Krissy Moehl (7:25:37) took top honors for the women, with Michelle Barton (8:14:53) taking 2nd.
Finally, after a few weeks off, Pacific Coast Trail Runs brings us another one of their spectacular events, this one being the Skyline to the Sea Trail Run (Marathon and 50k). The popular Skyline to the Sea Trail runs from the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains at Saratoga Gap through Big Basin Redwoods State Park, the oldest State park in California (dating back to 1902), and ends at the Pacific Ocean at Waddell Beach, traveling through tall redwoods and high chaparral along the way. The course has about 3,000 feet of elevation gain and 5,580 feet of elevation loss. Leor Pantilat (3:38:05) and Caitlin Smith (4:17:54) were the top finishers from 2009.
There are several other events that might pique your interest this weekend, including the Ouachita Trail 50 (Little Rock, Arkansas), Ruth Anderson Ultras (San Francisco, California) and the WSU 100k (Pullman, Washington).
Anyone running on one of our featured races (or another one) – let us know, and have a great weekend!