The dog days of summer running and riding season commences on Monday, July 4 with the Mountain Runners’ 32nd annual run and walk, a huge celebration that attracts more than 4,000 participants each year to the town of Mount Shasta.
While the 5-mile run is the headline race, the majority of participants take part in the 2-mile fun walk on a course lined with offerings from about 25 eateries and about three dozen entertainers, ranging from belly dancers to opera singers to cheerleaders.
“The real uniqueness of the event is the 2-mile surrealistic walk,” said Dr. Jim Parker, the race director.
According to Parker, the Independence Day event draws two separate crowds: families and people of all ages who stroll along the 2-mile course, and more serious athletes who race for time and position in the 5-miler.
“It’s two groups – one is enjoying itself, and the other is suffering,” Parker said with a laugh. Either way, he said, “It’s a wonderful way to start the celebration of our country’s birthday.”
Registration is right on track, as about 2,500 people signed up in advance. Parker, a Mount Shasta physician who has helped organize the Fourth of July event since the outset, expects to see at least 1,000 more people register at the armory or at race central in downtown on Saturday and Sunday. A final group of about 600 usually enters on race morning. Even those who don’t sign the dotted line until Monday morning will get a T-shirt.
All runners and walkers start in downtown on Mt. Shasta Boulevard at 8:30 a.m. The awards ceremony and a big raffle ticket drawing – with a top prize of a 2011 Kia Soul – is scheduled for 10:30. Once that’s all done, the Fourth of July parade marches through downtown. Then people either hang out in town or start heading to Lake Siskiyou, the location for fireworks later in the evening.
Proceeds from the Mountain Runners event go toward downtown Mount Shasta improvements, which over the years have included extensive landscaping, new street lighting, a clock and a new park – features that both the town’s residents and visitors enjoy all year.
To learn more, visit the event website, www.mtshastarunners.com.
While the Mount Shasta event is by far the largest race in the region on Independence Day, it is not the only one. There is a 10K and 2-miler in Ashland, Oregon, on a new, traffic-free route this year. Only little farther north, Eagle Point, Oregon hosts its own 5K race and 1-mile fun run. In addition, the Chico Running Club’s annual Independence Day 5K speeds through lower Bidwell Park well before the sun gets high in the sky.
Other events upcoming in the region:
• July 9: Top of the State Run, Weed. Part of the town’s annual Carnivale Days, these low-key 5- and 2-mile runs follow rural paved and dirt roads.
• July 16: Britt Woods Firehouse Run, Jacksonville, Oregon. This longtime event on the hilly trails of Britt Woods is the only handicapped race of which I know in the region. Modeled on the world famous Dipsea in Marin County, participants start the 10K Firehouse Run based on their age and gender. As the organizers state, “Our race greatly favors the young and old, and females over males.” Because the young studs start as much as 22 minutes after the first participants, nearly anyone can win. There are also less competitive races of 4.3 and 1.9 miles, and a 100-yard dash for young children.
• July 16: Fall River Century bike ride, Fall River Mills. A favorite of skinny-tire cyclists who enjoy lightly traveled, scenic but hilly country roads, this event offers the usual 100-mile century as well as a double-metric (200K) route, a metric century (100K), and a 25-miler.
• July 20: Dam Fast 5K run series, Chico. This monthly, Wednesday evening series uses the same 5K loop through lower Bidwell Park for each of four races. Series winners are based on who lowers their time the most from the first event to the last. The other races are set for August 17, September 21 and October 19. There’s also a similar series at Lake Oroville Dam (hence the name) that began in June.
• July 23: 12 and 6 Hours of Humboldt mountain bike race, Arcata. Hardcore mountain bikers know the drill of Team Bigfoot events like this one. The once-around-the-clock race is for solo crazies and teams of two to four riders each. The 6-hour event is strictly for solo riders. The idea is to complete the hilly, technical, 9-mile loop through Redwood Park and Arcata Community Forest as many times as possible.
• July 26: Sunset Through the Trees run series, Redding area. The annual series continues to evolve with races ranging from a new 1-mile dash to a couple events that are a shade more than 5 miles long. A total of nine races compose this year’s series, which awards points toward an overall championship. In years past, the majority of races were on unpaved trails. Harder surfaces dominate this year, as only three events are primarily or partly on the dirt. The series starts with its traditional 4.3- and 2-mile races on the Sacramento River bike path and the arboretum loop. Other events are scheduled for Tuesday evenings August 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, and September 6. The new 1-mile is on Friday evening, August 5. The Moonlight Madness event at Shasta Dam returns on Saturday night, August 20.
• August 6: Round Valley Run/Walk, Greenville. Now in its 29th year, this 5.4-mile trail race around Round Valley Lake serves as a fundraiser for a community nonprofit organization and as a good excuse to spend the weekend in scenic Plumas County. There are also a 1.5-mile race for kids 11 to 17 years old, a 200-yarder for younger children, and a 2-mile walk.
• August 6: Mount Ashland Hill Climb, Ashland, Oregon. You might find it difficult to believe, but this absurdly difficult, all-uphill, half-marathon filled weeks ago. If you didn’t get into the field, you’re welcome to cheer on the runners (er, hikers) and to put this one on your masochism list for next year.
• August 7: Summit Century bike ride, Mount Shasta. Here’s a road ride that not only bills itself as tougher than the infamous Death Ride, but has a course to back up the claim. The Super Century covers 139 miles and features 16,500 feet of climbing with three summits at more than 6,000 feet in elevation, and one at the old ski bowl (elevation 7,730 feet). If that sounds like a little much, choose from the 100-mile Summit Century, 55-mile metric century and a 30-mile half-metric that still has nearly 2,000 feet of climbing.
Paul Shigley is a freelance journalist based in Western Shasta County, CA, and thinks guys with ratty shorts and bad eyesight should get an additional five minutes at the Firehouse 10K. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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