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Purisima Creek Redwoods

Trail Run

Event Reviews

"Hats off to you for a great run!!!  It was my first trail run and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The run was well organized and the runners I met were very friendly and courteous on the trail.  The aid stations were great and the volunteers were very helpful.  I will be measuring all future events I enter by this run and I have to say, you make it a tough act to follow.  The weather was perfect and the trail was absolutely beautiful.  I will definitely be back next year.

Thank you for all your hard work,  it was a great run!!! "

Thomas Wilcock

Arroyo Grande, CA

"WOW!  What a great event in an unutterably gorgeous place.  The race was well organized; the directors, volunteers and racers were so friendly.  I had a wonderful time in this race and found myself smiling (even laughing) on some of the lovely single-track.  Excellent, excellent job everyone!  It was my first experience in a race over 5k and won't be my last!!!  Thanks many times over."


Darci Spiker

San Luis Obispo, CA

Purisima Creek Redwoods Trail Run 50K (2/8/03) Trail Run Report

A Crystal Clear Day Above Half Moon Bay

By Gary Dudney

Pockets of redwood forest thriving in the cool fog drifting off the Pacific Ocean dot the Northern California coastline like a row of pearls. The Pacific Coast Trail Runs series makes excellent use of these treasures, especially in their first event of the year, the Purisima Creek Redwoods Trail Run 14, 33, and 50 Km, held in Huddart County Park in San Mateo County just above Half Moon Bay and only a long stones throw from San Francisco.

This second running of the event attracted a capacity crowd (68 runners for the 50 Km and over 100 runners for each of the shorter distances) that maxed out the race quota two days beforehand. Quite a feat for an early February race! But the course is an enchanting wonderland of deep redwood forest, rushing streams, coastal chaparral, ocean vistas, and blessed single track trails, an ultrarunner’s dreamland, so maybe the turnout was not so surprising.

What was surprising was the number of ultrarunning “youngsters” (runners in their twenties and early thirties) in the 50 Km event. And they were claiming many of the top spots, pushing their experienced elders around like a bunch of Clockwork Orange punks. Could it be we are seeing the sport drilling down into the younger demographics?

Actually, I was feeling a bit elderly, having apparently suffered a memory blowout. I was telling my running buddy on the drive up that I remembered the course as being fairly gentle, “no hills.” I later had to amend that to “Nothing but hills.” But in my defense let me add that the trail builders out here seem to have mastered the concept of switchbacks, so the constant elevation change was kept manageable. There were long gentle switchbacks, tight gnarly switchbacks, trail switchbacks, road switchbacks, switchback switchbacks, more curves than a pickup truck full of rattlesnakes.

The course also featured two long stretches through the redwoods in the later miles over a smooth single track trail that angled down ever so slightly and was covered with a softening layer of plant debris. The running here was heaven on earth, the slight downhill making it seem effortless to zoom through the lush forest full tilt boogie. I felt like I was riding a hang glider down and only tapping the ground lightly with my feet to make sure I wasn’t going airborne. Just this was well worth the price of admission.

Super aid stations (cut up sandwiches in a 50 Km!), perfect weather, loops and spurs that brought you into contact with other runners on the course shouting “Good job!”, soup and chili at the finish, and great hosts (Wendell and Sarah Spelt, co-race directors) made for a great experience and for plenty of grateful runners.

Part of the course passes over an old “skid road” called Richard’s Road that once provided the outlet for Richard’s sawmill built in 1853 to drain lumber out of the forest to feed the construction boom going on in San Francisco at the time. An occasional enormous tree trunk deep in the forest to this day recalls the oxen-drawn wagons that would haul the wood down to the ocean to be barged to San Francisco. But one of the old timers, James Huddart, a successful lumber merchant who had passed through an orphanage and a difficult childhood, wishing to help children in the future, had the foresight to preserve 900 acres of the forest as a public park. What a beautiful legacy this forest turned out to be, what a great place for ultrarunning.