Hidden Gem NorCal Races

(please note: this post focuses on NorCal trail runs only).

If you’re like most ultra and trail runners, you’ve already planned your goal races for 2012.  They may be classics like Miwok, Western States or (newly classic) The North Face 50.  But how about sprinkling in some fun shorter races?  I have run quite a few around here (SF Bay Area) and thought I might provide some recommendations. These are all pretty under-the-radar type races and likely not to sell out any time soon. So join the party!

My favorite trail in Tilden. Buttery single track near the top of Volmer Peak. Expansive Bay views (incl. GG Bridge, SF, Alcatraz, etc.) to the left.

Grizzly Peak Marathon

These are my home trails here in Berkeley (Tilden Park).  What I love about Tilden is the variety of trails: shady single track, technical trails, wide open fire roads, views of Golden Gate Bridge…whatever your want, Tilden’s got it.  This race does a nice job showing off Tilden’s variety.  I ran the marathon version of it a couple of years ago and hope to return in 2013. I’m pretty sure that, on a good day, I could run this sub-4 hours. It would have to be a really good day though.

Auburn Trail Runs (June 2)
I suffered badly here a couple of years ago on one of those 100 degree days in Auburn and spent over 7 hours completing the 34 mile course.  What’s neat about this race (other than the very small size) is that you get to run the the last few miles of the Western States course. Cross iconic No Hand Bridge without having to run Western States (very hard) let alone get into Western States (impossible).

The beautiful (and tough!) French Trail. (c) Ian Sharman http://sharmanian.blogspot.com/

Cinderella Runs (May 12 and August 18, 2012)

Part of the Coastal Trail Runs Series, this race comes in four distances (50k, Marathon, Half-Marathon and 10k). This race is not particularly difficult, but if you haven’t run the French Trail, then you haven’t enjoyed East Bay Trails at their finest.  Several steep climbs among beautiful Redwood trees make this trail an absolute treasure.  There are other races that traverse these trails, but Wendell and Leng have come up with the best combination of trails to run in the Oakland hills. Oh, and beware the Cinderella trail: It’s a brutal downhill to finish of the race.

  • What are your favorite ‘under the radar’ races?
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