Thursday, October 06, 2005

The First Annual Auburn Marathon

As I mentioned last week, I’ve found a great way to get in some good “long and slow mileage” on the trails without getting bored. Volunteer for a race! They always need folks to help mark trails and clean up at the end (ie, “long and slow mileage”), and you get to watch everyone start, finish, and have a great time. I have really enjoyed volunteering, and getting to know the other volunteers.

The Auburn Marathon was particularly fun because it was the first trail marathon in Auburn, CA, a location well-known for it’s scenic and challenging trails (read – Western States 100, Way Too Cool 50k, World’s Toughest Half Ironman, etc.). The canyon country in this area is gorgeous and full of gold rush history, so it's a great place to race. But doing an ultra/half Ironman is not for everyone, so when Redwood Trails put on a race in Auburn with marathon, ½ marathon, 9-mile, and 5k distances, many new trail lovers had a chance to come out and enjoy these historic trails. Not that the course was easy – even the 9-milers had to climb the dreaded “Goat Hill” all the way from the American River (my guess, about a 17-18 degree incline). Todd Mordhorst from the Auburn Journal summed up the race very well, so I copied it below (courtesy of Auburn Journal).

(Awesome belt buckle design for the Auburn Marathon; image courtesy of Redwood Trails)

For volunteering, I mostly did “trail marking” with Drs’ David Dreyfuss and Cynthia Moore. That means I was one of the people that ran/biked the course and hung up the orange ribbon before the race (and picked it up afterwards). It was a lot of fun trying to figure out where one could get lost and hanging the most appropriate sign (“wrong way” with a huge X is a popular and effective one for me personally). I probably hung way too much ribbon, but I know what it’s like to get lost out there. ;oP I don’t think any racers got lost this time, but we did have one person follow the marathon course accidentally, doubling her anticipated race length. But Roseann Favela pulled through and ran her first marathon! Nice job, Roseann!

The Auburn Marathon also won the “best schwag” award from Runner’s World with their combo belt buckle, well-designed t-shirt, and a vial of locally-panned gold. The belt buckles were a huge hit (and went to EVERY finisher), and the vials of gold became a favorite “take home to the kiddies” trophy. Given the positive response, I have no doubt this race will have well beyond 200 racers next year.

- SD

Auburn Marathon runs into history

Fink, Ure cruise to victories at inaugural trail marathon, which draws nearly 200 runners

By: Todd Mordhorst, Journal Sports EditorSunday, October 2, 2005 11:36 PM PDT

Some came to get a taste of the Western States Trail, some wanted to compete for prizes and get in brisk run and others were attracted by the complimentary gifts. Nearly 200 runners lined up Saturday morning for the first-ever Auburn Marathon and the event did not disappoint. The Auburn Marathon actually included a full marathon, a half-marathon, a nine-mile route, and a five-kilometer run, giving participants plenty of options.

Add the Auburn Marathon to the ever-growing list of successful endurance events in the area.

"To see the enthusiasm at the end of the race - these people were jumping out of their pants," said race director Eric Gould. "They got to experience the trail, the course was really well marked and we got lucky with the weather. We'll be back again next year."

Lincoln resident Michael Fink, running in what he said was his first marathon, ran to a blazing time of 3 hours, 18 minutes, 31 seconds to win the marathon."I had to do a check to make sure he did the entire course," Gould said, referring to Fink's outstanding time. "We looked at his tag and at first we thought he was a half-marathoner. He finished about 15 minutes before we expected anyone to finish this course. We were really taken by surprise."

(Michael Fink, here crossing No Hands Bridge, sets a course record marathon time at the Auburn Marathon; photo courtesy of Ben Fertado, Auburn Journal)

Fink finished more than 17 minutes ahead of Brad Lael, who took second. Tina Ure, a Placer High graduate now living in Mt. Shasta, was the first woman across the line, clocking in at 4:18:26. Ure, who ascended Mt. Shasta on foot last year, was the eighth overall finisher. Karalee Morris was second on the women's side and ninth overall.In the half-marathon, Gerell Elliot was the first to cross the line with a time of 1:45:29, edging Andrew Jacobson by just under three minutes. Kim Kortz was the top finisher in the women's half-marathon in 2:15:34, just ahead of second place Brenda Travers.

In the nine-mile version of the event, Andrew Schwaab claimed the top prize in 1:12:20 while Maurisa Rodriguez was second and the top female finisher, clocking in at 1:31:33. In the 5K, Western States veteran John Trent, of Reno, finished first with a time of 21:58. Pete McKesson crossed the line second, just ahead of Sandra McKesson, who took first among females. Every finisher - there were 80 in the marathon alone - took home an assortment of prizes that was awarded "Best Schwag" by Runner's World magazine before the event even took place. Gold belt buckles were awarded to each finisher along with a vial of locally mined gold. The race T-shirts featured emblems with the belt buckle. Gould said the unique gifts were very well received.

"The belt buckle and the gold were the real different things that people responded to," Gould said. "A lot of people really liked the gold, which was worth about $5 retail." Gould, who works for Redwood Trails which organized the Auburn Marathon, said he hopes to grow the event to around 500 participants and said it may draw that many as soon as next year.

Redwood Trails, based in Redwood City, puts on outdoors events all over Northern California with the goal of getting people out to enjoy nature.

"I wanted to put on a race that brought people out to the trail," Gould said of the Auburn Marathon. "About a third of the runners Saturday were running their first marathon and we had a lot of local people. A lot of people are intimidated by the trail, so we wanted to provide the entry level stuff so people can get into trail running without doing an ultra."


  1. I ran the 1/2 marathon and really enjoyed the race. I hope it doesn't get too big next year! Half the fun was that it felt like a really well run local race. And yes, the shwag was awesome!

    Your markings were great. Thanks to Eric, David, Cynthia and everyone else for coming up to our neck of the woods and doing a great race. We will see you next year!

  2. The belt buckle were the best part!!! There's a link on the redwood trails web site if you want to see. Great design.

  3. Scott -

    I didn't get lost, so thanks for your markeings. There were some long stretches without ribbons, but there was no other place to go so that was okay. I had a really good time. I ran the half. Goat hill was tough, but after seeing all the steep canyon area, it seemed fitting.

    I will be back next year for sure. I'm going to try and do the whole marathon. Thansk,Sandie

  4. Too funny! I just read about this race in RW recently and thought the gold swag was too cool! Sounds like a LOT of fun!

  5. Scott - when you mark a trail, how do you know when to put the mile markers down so they are accurate?

    Thanks for the mile markers at the Auburn 1/2. It's really helpful for pacing and not everybody does it.

    - Aaron


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