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Sarah Lavender Smith November 18, 2011 TWEET COMMENTS 0

Running through the Range of Light - Page 2

The Eastern Sierra's active race calendar ranges from a low-key winter trail series to the area's signature ultra, Bishop High Sierra Ultramarathons in May.

Kozak has competed in countless ultras across California and holds the 50-mile course record (7:06) at Bishop High Sierra Ultramarathons (see below).

Q&A with Jeff Kozak

Mammoth has developed a reputation as a training ground for elite-level distance runners. How has that affected the Eastern Sierra's trail-running scene?

Andrew Kastor, Deena's husband, has had a huge impact on the local running community with his creation of the High Sierra Striders running club. High-profile road runners expounding the virtues of trail running in their training programs is a big plus, but the main reason trail running is growing in this area is it's countless, unbelievable trails.

Is there a real trail-running "community"?

There are a few hardcore trail runners doing their own thing, but there is a cohesive running community. The High Sierra Striders based out of Mammoth is one hub, and Sage To Summit in Bishop is another. Each supports the other and its events.

What's the thing you do called "run and bag" all about?

"Run and bag" combines running and peak bagging. Many peaks in the Sierra have fairly easy Class-2 to-3 routes, so you can summit in your running shoes even if there is very little rock climber in your repertoire. And you can throw in a biking component for a "bike and run and bag" adventure.

One of my favorite routes is to road bike from Bishop at 4200 feet up to South Lake [22 miles, 5500-foot ascent], run to Bishop Pass at 12,000 feet [six miles], then scramble the final 2000 feet of vertical to Mount Agassiz's summit. It's a great long training day and doesn't exclusively trash your running muscles.

Why is the Bishop High Sierra Ultra your favorite race?

Race weekend always has a family reunion feel that culminates with some quality post-race beer drinking and conversation. Watching the alpenglow sunrise on the towering Sierra Crest on the long, relentless climb up the rough and rocky, dirt road that defines this race always evokes a deep sense of awe. I think of the Sierra as my spiritual mountain range, and, every May, this race confirms that feeling.

 

Best Races

  • Bishop High Sierra Ultramarathons 100K, 50-Mile, 50K and 20-Mile, May 21, 2011, Bishop, California. Run mostly on dirt roads and short sections of singletrack; much of the 100K and 50-Mile courses climb above 7000 feet. The race's website (www.bhs50.com) warns: "The race is exposed, dry and high!"
  • Moeben Ultra 50K and 25K at Mammoth Mountain, September 17, 2011, Mammoth Lakes, California. Runners follow hiking and biking trails to reach the 11,000-foot summit of Mammoth Mountain for 360-degree views of the Eastern Sierra. (www.highsierrastriders.org/Ultra.html)
  • Wild Wild West 50K, Marathon and 10-Mile, May 6, 2011, Lone Pine, California. About 60 miles south of Bishop and just west of Death Valley, this race runs on dirt roads and singletrack through foothills near Mount Whitney. If the course looks eerily familiar, maybe that's because you saw one of the many Westerns filmed here. (www.lonepinechamber.org/wildwildwestmarathoninformation.html)
  • Sage to Summit Winter Trail Race Series 10K and Half Marathon, varying dates November 2011 through April 2012, near Bishop, California. This series has a homegrown feel. (www.sagetosummit.com/events.html)


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