NorCal Trail Run Options (Update 3)

If you’re reading this, then there is about 98.7% chance that you know about all the goings-on in the Bay Area trail running community.  I thought this might be a good time to outline all the different trail race options that us Bay Area residents are so fortunate to have. For each series, I tried to pull two or three race reports from people I respect.

Bay Area Ultra Runners

As John M. points out in the comments, this is oldest of the Bay Area race organizers.  Many classics such as Miwok 100k, Ohlone Wilderness 50k and Quad Dipsea are organized by this group.  (With the exception of Lake Sonoma 50 mile, these races are also all part of the PA/USATF schedule listed below.)

Brazen Racing

I have yet to run a Brazen Racing event, but they are getting nothing but rave reviews.  The races tend to be half-marathon/10k/5k distances with some variation (notably the Diablo Trails Challenge 50k).

Coastal Trail Runs

It may not seem like it, but Coastal has been around for over two years now.  I’ve been running many their races since the series’ inception.  They are always professional and work hard to care for all runners’ needs.  Sometimes the turn out for races is small, but, watch out!: Coastal is definitely growing.


Envirosports has been around forever.  You’ll find a different scene here than at any of the other organizers.  There tend to be more trail run newbies, which can be refreshing. I have run two of their races, and while their aid stations aren’t my favorite, Envirosports is always a good back up option in my opinion.

Fleet Feet Sacramento

On a recommendation by Tri-Karen-Tri, I am including Fleet Feet Sacramento’s races.  This is a mix of trail and road runs.


Julie Fingar has a superb reputation as a RD and an impressive line-up of classic ultras in Northern California.  I haven’t run any of her races, but Dick Collins, which is run on my backyard trails, is #1 of my race bucket list right now.  (Note, there is some overlap with the PA/USATF calendar listed below).


There are many, many classic races on the calendar for PA/USATF.  And while they haven’t released the 2012 calendar, it will likely look very similar to 2011. This list includes many

Troy’s California Trail Runs

This race series is actually new to the scene as of last year.  I really like the variety of courses that they advertise, especially those deeper in the Sierra, such as the Echo Summit Trail Challenge.  Look for me at one of these runs in 2012!

This group is out of Sacramento and generally runs low-key races in the Sacramento area and the Sierra Nevada Foothills.  I have really enjoyed their races in the past.  The low key atmosphere is much to my liking. Their annual Lake of the Sky runs are very high on my to-do list.

Update: In very tragic news, RD Robert Mathis and his wife died after getting struck by a vehicle while crossing a street.  I did not know Robert well, but he was always kind in the few interactions I had with him.  May Robert and his wife rest in piece.


I won’t say much here.  If you’re looking for facts, read Scott’s summary.  If you’re looking for drama, check out the comment section of that blog post.

All in all, us Bay Area runners are blessed with so many trail race options.  As someone who moved here from the East Coast, I have not forgotten how wonderful that is.

Enjoy the trails!

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9 Responses to NorCal Trail Run Options (Update 3)

  1. eric says:

    True, it’s easy to take for granted what a great deal we have going on, despite the drama.

    I’ll just add one more company: Troy’s California Trail Runs. I’ve never run one of his events, but I’ve been to them, and they seem low key and old-school.

    Eric Schranz

  2. ScottD says:

    It’s pretty cool that most of these organizers also have a “Series”, where you can compete all year long by racing one or more of their events (CTR,, PA/USATF, etc.).

    Add to this all the triathlons, adventure races, road races, cyclocross, mountain bike, century rides/fondos, Muddy Buddy, etc. – we’ve got it good!

  3. karen says:

    NorCalUltras is also a pretty good outfit. FF Sacramento also is putting on at least one dedicated trail race series as well as 3 individual trail races in the auburn/cool/cameron park area.

  4. John Nguyen says:

    We are very lucky to be running in an area where we can run year round on fantastic trails with awesome weather! I’m new to your blog, but we probably crossed paths once or twice on the trails. You’re apparently running with the faster kids! I’ve also been dealing with a less common injury with small tear in the soleus. Maybe our injuries have more in common, now that I think about it. Small tears in muscle fibers cause a buildup of scar tissue, which leads to added friction and inflammation. Massage therapy helps break down the scar tissue, but its still prone to re-injury and inflammation, especially without proper rest (which is clearly hard for ultra runners). What worked for me last year was going to a well known podiatrist (Amol Saxena) in Palo Alto, and having him treat it with Extracorporeal Soundwave Therapy (ESWT). I had tried other chiropractic techniques like ART, Graston, and Myopulse/Acuscope, but my injury responded best to this ESWT which basically blasts the scar tissue with ultrasonic sound waves to break it down. I ran most of 2011 with zero pain, but recently felt twinges in my problems area, so I’m heading back for more ESWT…

    Anyway, glad to “meet” you! And we’ll definitely have to chat sometime at a local race! Your blog is pretty cool. I read your RR on last year’s NF 50, where you killed it with a 9:03! Dude, and you’re saying you’re not a talented runner! You might have worked pretty hard to get there, but I’d say you awakened some sweet God-given running talent! Looking forward to meeting you in the new year! Happy New Year!

  5. Somehow you leave out the Bay Area Ultra Runners who, dating back to 1982, are the original trail race organizing group and put on most of the significant trail races in the Bay Area, including:

    Miwok 100K
    Quad Dipsea
    Ohlone Wilderness 50K
    Lake Sonoma 50
    Tamalpa Headlands 50K

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