Runner's Footprints

Runner's Footprints

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Top 10 Trail Ultras

The human psyche functions strongly when we look forward to something. Whatever that may be for you, I invite you to follow it with small steps each day. The world is changing everyday and the event industry will be adapting in the future. I share below my favorite 10 ultras in the trails I am grateful to have experienced. Reflecting on our progress helps shape our vision for the future: what goal do you want to set for yourself this fall/winter? Motivation comes and goes. Inspiration for a greater purpose is what keeps us going. Let's get inspired for what we can do.

10. OTHTC Desert 50K
Date: Early December
Location: Ridgecrest, CA
Typical Temps: 50/80F
Gain: 2500'

A small feeling event with SoCal local trail runners looking to squeeze in one more fast trail ultra before the end of the year. With minimal gain, this 50K is great for beginners, first timers, or the avid looking for a fast 50K. Course mixed with service road, single track, and sporadic sandy spots. Three time finisher as top 3 females. 

9. Avalon Marathons, 50K, 50 Mile
Date: mid-January
Location: Catalina Island, CA
Typical Temps: 50/80F
Gain: 4500'

A great way to stay motivated through the holidays is to plan a nearby island vacation to kick off the new year with friends. Running almost every Catalina Marathon hosted, Avalon 50K brings me back five years for the friendships and clients I have trained through the years. Course is mostly service road with majority of gain within the first four miles then rolls through the island gently until the last harsh three miles downhill on asphalt. The race has grown to a few hundred each year. A great way to kick off your year and this one helps me stay on top of my training through the holidays to bring a test in progress placing in top women each year. 

8. Bishop 50K, 50M, 100K
Date: early June
Location: Bishop, CA
Typical Temps: 50/80F
Gain: 5500' up to 8000' altitude 

Had the honor to coach 20 runners for this event, most as their first ultra. Get ready for anything from service road, single track, heat, altitude, to a technical finish that will be probably longer than the prescribed distance. All of my athletes did amazing and I am happy to support a local race with a hard working RD, Tom. The icing on the cake: won first female overall leading some of my fastest (sub 3-hour) road marathoners, Ferdinel and Duvan, to their first 50K.

7. Harding Hustle 50K
Date: July
Location: Santa Ana Mountains, CA
Typical Temps: 80-100F
Gain: 3500' up to 5600' altitude

Summer heat is a given. Challenge yourself in a mixture of service road and single track to climb some gorgeous vistas in SoCal. Exposed landscape, this one will test your heat tolerance and tenacity. Finished 4th Female Overall in this toasty one. 
6. Bryce Canyon Half, 50K, 100M
Date: June
Location: Hatch, UT
Typical Temps: 30-80F
Gain: 5300'

A great excuse for a road trip and visit everything in between. As a gift to my little brother for graduating college, we went on a week long trip to Bryce, Zion, and Vegas-- suffering must be included. While I did the 50K and he did the half, we car camped and endured the summer heat to see some gorgeous terrain. A must do, even more than once. 

5. Caballo Blanco 50K, 50M
Date: February
Location: Copper Canyons, MX
Typical Temps: 70-100F
Gain: 7000'

The Tarahumara culture is absolutely inspiring. They run through the scorching heat within these canyons in sandals, cultural dresses for women, and jeans for men to endure the absolute toughest conditions not as training but as a way of life. It was an honor to run side by side, experience, and see what I did. Trek into the depths to see how far down you can dig into your soul. This race was it. 2nd Female Overall taking home a cash prize I donated. I would do it again in a heartbeat. 

4. Antelope Canyon 55K 50M, 100M
Date: March
Location: Page, AZ
Typical Temps: 40-60F
Gain: 3700', SAND

One of the most magnificent places to see. From Horseshoe Bend to the sand colored canyons, you will be mesmerized on every turn and challenged as you trudge through sand for about 48 miles out of the 50. I'm grateful for what I saw and know that our beautiful Earth deserves respect. 

3. Speedgoat 50K
Date: July
Location: Snowbird Ski Resort, UT
Typical Temps: 50-80F
Gain: 15,000' up to 11000' altitude 

Claimed as the most challenging 50K in North America , I would say in the world given its gain in 34 miles. It packs a punch in quad crushing pain and landscape to view for miles on end. I feared this one for awhile-- with the push of some avid 100 mile friends, I look the plunge and committed training for it. The fear of doing something I was absolutely afraid of propelled me to give one of my best trail performances beating both of my 100M friends who run regularly 3-hour road marathons. There is something special about doing something you are really afraid of. The RD, Karl Metlzer, is a hard ass and there's a reason for it. 

2. Transrockies 120M
Date: August
Location: Colorado Rockies, CO
Typical Temps: 30-80F
Gain: 20,000' up to 13000' altitude 

I've traveled to half the US states and 27 countries; Colorado remains one of my favorite mountain feels. This was my first stage race and kicked off the mental acceptance that I may be a stronger mountain runner than I acknowledged. There is a 3 day and 6 day event. The RD, Kevin Houda, really looks out for all his runners so this will be the ultimate "adult summer camp" that you won't forget. 7th female overall after a strong competitive field with past Olympians. Want to hike the entire thing? You definitely can, as all levels are completing this event. 

1. Hardrock 100M
Date: July
Location: San Juan National Forest, CO
Typical Temps: 30-90F, hail, heat, anything
Gain: 34000' gain up to 14K altitude several times

If you're a seasoned ultra runner, you know this one. The bucket list for any ultra veteran to suffer the extreme majesty with over 60K gain/loss probably in the most mesmerizing terrain the US has to offer. I was honored to pace at HR100 2017 and hope to return in 2020 if it doesn't get cancelled or postponed. A heart clenching experience to see veteran 100 milers grind out the most pain possible. Dream big they say. Definitely, yes. 

*** What am I currently training for? If you are following me on strava, I'm currently moving 2-3 times/day in mini training sessions for sanity, faster recovery, and progress for the fall. Join me in this journey to look forward to challenging ourselves into something absolutely extreme for clarity, cleansing, and liberation of one's own inhibitions. Below you can find a short documentary clip about Ultra X Mexico and lists of my other favorites. Stay daydreaming. 

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