I took a quick flight down to Los Angeles/Malibu for my ninth race in the Trail Runner Magazine Trophy Series (www.trailrunnermag.com). The race took place in Malibu Creek State Park, just a few miles north of Calabasas (about an hour drive from LAX). The race started early, so I stayed at the Comfort Inn in Calabasas just a few miles south (very nice, and if you ask for $117/night, they will give it to you). Be sure to bring $8 extra to get into the park too.
There was a 4 mile and 14 mile option in this race, the first of five races in a SoCal Trail Race Series. I was impressed with the large turnout for the 14 mile race - my guess was around 250 participants. The course made its way along the river for a few miles and quickly climbed up 2400' ft on the Bulldog Trail where you are greeted by gorgeous views and a 90 degree heat at 7am. As you broke through the clouds, you could see runners all along the ridgetop. On the right, the fog burned off the Pacific Ocean...and on the left, the smog built up in the Valley just as fast. The last half mile cut through the filming set for M.A.S.H....overall a classic LA trail run.
Sal Bautista quickly turned it into a one man race out front, and we didn't see him again until the end (his brother won the 4 mile as well). Sal ran the whole course in racing flats, and put nearly ten minutes between him and the next finisher before he headed downhill. The next pack included Dale Reicheneder (a local favorite), Willie Stewart (an amazing runner/triathlete who just happens to have only one arm...but don't even think that gives you an advantage) , and Robert Brown (my 007 vibe pal from the UK) who ended up finishing 2, 3, 4 in that order. Robert had flown in from Heathrow TWO HOURS before the race, so I think he was off his game a bit, but not enough for most of us to hang with him. Willie was amazing, per usual, dizzying us with his fast leg turnover and ear-to-ear smile. Anissa Seguin made a strong finish for the women, charging the Bulldog Trail incline as easy as a backyard jog, and finished a very strong fifth overall. I finished 8th. All in all, a very fast crew of runners. If you're coming to LA, better bring your A game.
The post-race food and drink was plentiful, and I have never seen so much raffle shwag. I think just about everybody left with something from soy coffee to Camelpaks and running shoes. And thanks to the early start time, everyone was done by 10am. I would strongly suggest this race.