California is the most populous state in the USA, and the third largest area-wise. Its geography ranges from the Pacific coast to the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the east, to the Mojave desert areas in the southeast, and the Redwood-Douglas fir forests in the northwest. Almost 40% of the state of California is covered by forest, making it a perfect spot to hold a few trail ultras. We have several events to take a sneak peak at this week, but nearly half of them will come from The Golden State.
Now that we have played up the great state of California, how ironic that we begin this week with a look at the 22nd annual HAT Run (9:00 AM, Saturday March 20 in Susquehanna State Park, Maryland). As of March 9 there were a whopping 529 registered entrants for this event. The course is mostly single track trail with a mix of open fields, dirt road and some paved road. There is a starting loop of 3.6 miles followed by two identical loops of 13.7 miles. The four stream crossings can be challenging depending on the water level. In 2009, Matt Woods took first place (3:56:22), with Frank Leitner (4:03:16), Yassine Diboun (4:05:22) and Glen Redpath (4:05:38) following. Tasha Clearman (4:53:28) won on the women’s side, with Kimberly Drake (4:56:23) taking second. [Read Bryon’s 2008 HAT Run race report.]
On to the California events…well, not just yet. The Lt. J.C. Stone 50k UltraMarathon (March 20 in North Park, Pennsylvania) is run in memory of Lt. Joseph Charles Stone and all of the brave soldiers who have fought for the USA. The challenging (but very runnable) course starts at the North Park Boat House with a short out and back, then proceeds to six 5-mile loops around scenic North Park Lake. The course is on an asphalt running trail that follows the shoreline of North Park Lake.
Ok, for real, to Cali we go, beginning with the Rucky Chucky Roundabout 50k Run/50k Relay (8:00 AM, March 20 in Foresthill, California). If your Western States 100 entry dreams have been shattered, you can still “race” part of the WS 100 course – the Rucky Chucky course goes from Foresthill following the Western States course to Rucky Chucky and before heading back to Foresthill. Last year’s men’s and women’s champs were Andy Anderson (4:18:04) and Rena Schumann (6:00:29).
We simply can’t focus on running in California without mentioning a Pacific Coast Trail Runs event, and we’ve got one in the Pirates Cove Trail Run (50k, 30k, 20k and 8k events at 8:30 AM on Saturday in Rodeo Beach, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California). Enjoy vistas of the Pacific Coast as you climb Coastal Trail to Wolf Ridge. The 8k course returns to Rodeo Beach along the Miwok Trail. The 20k, 30k and 50k events take a scenic tour of the spectacular Marin Headlands with views of Tiburon, San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge (bring your camera). The 50k has 5,980 feet of elevation gain. The 50k course records are held by Victor Ballesteros (3:59:23 in 2007) and Caitlin Smith (4:09:57 in 2009).
The Diablo Trails Challenge (50k, Half Marathon, 10k and 5k events on Saturday in Walnut Creek, California) provides distances suitable for everyone from those hitting the trail for the first time to experienced ultra-runners. A portion of the entry fees for this event will be donated to Save Mount Diablo, an organization that has worked to preserve and increase the open space on and around Mount Diablo for over 38 years. The 50k is a point-to-point run starting at Round Valley Regional Preserve, following the Diablo Trail through Morgan Territory Regional Preserve, Mount Diablo State Park and finishing in Castle Rock Park.
We complete our tour of California with the inaugural Oriflamme 50k (7:00 AM on Saturday in Anza Borrego State Park, San Diego, California). This out-and-back course begins at the Sunrise Trailhead parking area and follows the Pacific Crest Trail North to Mason Valley Truck Trail, where runners begin their descent down Oriflamme Canyon into the desert. At the base of Oriflamme Canyon, runners will turn onto the California Riding & Hiking Trail, Crossing S2 and then proceeding through Box Canyon into Blair Valley and the turn-around point.
Saying good-bye to California, we head nearby to the Pacific Rim One Day Run (pdf) (9:00 AM, Sunday in Longview, Washington). This event is held on a one mile loop on the banks of Lake Sacajawea on a surface that is mostly gravel pathway with some sidewalk surface paved with concrete.
Also taking place in Washington State is the Chuckanut Mountain 50k (8:00 AM, Saturday in Fairhaven, Wasington), which is now under the direction of Krissy Moehl. The 2010 edition is dedicated to Dave Terry (1961-2009). [Read iRF’s collection of Dave Terry Tributes and Memories.] “Chuckanut was a special race for Dave and I think he liked the present course that Richard and I designed more than we did! The technical trails, the mud, the long climbs and descents on gravel roads, and the 10k flat out and back on the crushed rock path ALL matched Dave’s versatile running skills. I remember him writing me a thank-you note, which he concluded (after we had muttered about some course changes) : It’s a classic….don’t ever change it!” – Race Founder Doug McKeever.
Chuckanut 50k was founded by McKeever and Richard West in 1993. McKeever and West “retired” in 2002, prompting Moehl (who participated in the 2000 event as her first ultra) to ensure that the event would continue. Moehl is now hosting the new race website, and has teamed up with training partner Ellen Parker as co-RDs. Aaron Heidt’s 2009 win (3:53:56) is the course record. In fact, the top 6 fastest times here all come out of the 2009 running – Heidt, Greg Crowther (4:01:05), Hal Koerner (4:02:18), Peter Ellis (4:05:21), Adam Lint (4:07:46) and Michael Havrda (4:09:59). The women’s course record was also set in 2009, by Ellie Greenwood (4:34:23).