Run the USA: A Trail Running Calendar Roundup (Pork Chops And All)

My email inbox keeps tempting me to run away to the hills.

That’s because I’m on the mailing list of some trail running event sponsors and running-tour companies that are publicizing their 2011 schedules. The links to some of the race series are below. These event calendars inspire me so much that I took a detour this weekend to spend an extra overnight in Southern California for the sake of starting Sunday with a 10K cross-country race.

A corner of Olivas Adobe Park along the El Camino Real in Ventura, California, where I plan to run a 10K in the morning. (photo by vratsab via flickr)

I love the prospect of running through fields that I barely glimpse while driving by on the freeway.

Every race on these calendars presents an opportunity to take a detour and experience a little stretch of the country. If you plan to travel to a different region for business or vacation, then you might think about working one of these events into your itinerary. I inputted some on my calendar as wishful thinking.

Trail Runner Magazine’s 2011 Trophy Series starts in March, and their calendar is a great resource for learning about runs scheduled around the country. The series includes 139 races all across the U.S. and Canada, with distances from 5K through ultra. (They promote it as a series with prize incentives to do multiple events, but of course you can do just one if that’s all that fits your schedule.)

Just clicking through the links and surfing some of the sites—armchair running, you could call it—entertained and informed me about little-known happenings in states I have yet to visit. Take, for example, the Hillbilly Pork Chop Roundup in Arkansas. More than just a race, it combines running with obstacle-course skills such as mattress throwing, “the ultimate hillbilly show of skills!” according to the website. Check out Trail Runner’s calendar for more info.

Running single track on Oahu (photo by Scott Dunlap from

XTERRA’s Trail Run Series also blankets the country. They put on 50 or so races with a mission “to produce the most recognizable, enjoyable, root slipping, mud hopping, tree ducking, river crossing, hill climbing, dirt on your shirt, sweat in your eye trail runs this side of Grandma’s house!” Uh … OK … I’m not sure what Grandma’s house has to do with it unless it’s a reference to “over the river and through the woods,” but it sounds good to me!

The series culminates in a 21K/10K/5K championship on Oahu that I’ve wanted to do ever since reading Scott Dunlap’s race report on it.

A trail near Morro Bay, California, site of Pacific Coast Trail Run's Montaña de Oro event (photo courtesy PCTR's site).

Finally, my favorite home-grown outfit, Pacific Coast Trail Runs, has a more robust schedule than ever, with more than thirty events in the Bay Area’s wilderness and beyond. New this year is a Lake Tahoe series. Their events typically range in distance from 10K – 50K or longer. Morgan and I will head to California’s Central Coast in two weeks to do PCTR’s 25K/50K at Morro Bay and might end the year at a favorite Marin run they put on at Rodeo Beach.

How are you working some new running events into your schedule? Any recommendations on destinations?

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