The San Joaquin River Trail 50/50 Ultra Marathon will push runners to the limit, with competitors needing to watch every step they take come Nov. 15.
“This trail is unrelenting, you never get comfortable,” race director Nate Moore said. “Your terrain is changing with every step. You’re constantly engaged in what you’re doing. It’s that one second you’re not mindful where you’ll fall.”
Traversing a network of roads, paths and trails, the 50/50 — so named because trail runners have the option of taking on a 50-mile or 50K course (about 30 miles) — starts at the South Finegold Picnic Area at the end of Sky Harbour Road and connects with the San Joaquin River Trail before going across the gorge for nine miles and returning back the same way to the finish line. Trail runners in the 50K will turn around at the bridge in the San Joaquin River Gorge Management Area.
It is an overall elevation gain of 9,000 feet for those going 50 miles or about 5,500 feet for the 50K.
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“The elevation gain is hard, but it’s doable. I’ve seen people of all ages, shapes and sizes be successful,” Moore said. “It’s not constant running. It’s a mixture of hiking, too.”
This is the third footrace put on by Moore on the river trail. He worked with the trail council every step of the way to increase trail use. In March, Moore organized a half marathon and in September offered the 1-mile Pincushion Hill Climb.
“I thought it was crazy that I would run out there every single day and only see one person,” said Moore, 31 of Clovis. “It’s not that far away. How is there not a footrace out there? You can think that for so long and nothing is going to happen unless you do it. So what better way than to create these opportunities.”
To help maintain the integrity of the trails, Moore limits each event to 200 runners.
“This isn’t Woodward Park. You can’t run a race there every weekend,” he said. “But that’s also what makes this race so unique. Every time you go out there it’s never easy. It’s a challenge for everyone.”
“This is the first ultra trail run in the central Valley area but hopefully not the last,” Moore said.