Wildfires have been ravaging our wilderness area and wild urban interface regions across Northern California and beyond. Thousands of people have been evacuated from or even lost their homes, and aren’t sure when they’ll be able to return. Even here in the Bay Area, our beloved Big Basin and our route, the Skyline to Sea, succumbed to one of the fires and it will take a long time for it to recover.
As the air clears and we return to enjoying our other outdoor spaces on the Battle of the Bay circuit, we ask you to please consider donating a set amount for every route you tackle. Here are two funds that are doing great work to help families impacted by the fires across Norcal.
We ask you to pick a set amount (maybe the cost of a race entry: $10, $50, $100, whatever you’re able to spare) and each time you finish one of our BOTB routes, donate that amount to one of these organizations.
In these challenging times of COVID-19, we’ve seen a lot of our goal races cancelled across the Bay Area and beyond. But with this lapse in travelling and a race schedule, we have an opportunity. Let’s get out to explore our own spectacular backyard and parts of the Bay Area we don’t usually run. And hey, there’s no harm in making a little team competition out of it, right?
So we present to you “The Battle of the Bay FKT Challenge”. From Aug 1-Dec 31, the four regions of the Bay Area will battle it out for the fastest times across several beautiful Bay Area running routes. Each region (San Francisco, East Bay, North Bay, South Bay/Peninsula) has one short (<10 miles) & one long segment (>10 miles).
Come the end of December, we’ll have prizes for the following categories from our supporters GU Energy Labs, San Francisco Running Company and Equator Coffees:
Some of the toughest climbs are the runnable ones. This route starts on slightly climbing single track through woods and chaparral, but for the final mile, it grinds you up the steepest section of fire road. You’ll enjoy sweeping vistas of the South Bay and up the peninsula to San Francisco, if you’re still lucid.
Start Location: At the TH parking lot on Rhus Ridge Road, by the Caretaker’s residence
Distance: 4.8 miles
Elevation Gain: ~2700ft
Unfortunately the CZU Lightning Complex fires destroyed many of the trails in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, so the original Skyline to Sea route will be out of commission for the timebeing (All Trails). However, we encourage you to try our alternate route, The South Bay Skyline, and also to donate if you can to the Fire Relief charities we mentioned above.
The new South Bay/Peninsula long course is one that will particularly whet the appetite of the ultrarunners around. We came across the South Bay Skyline route when Jordi Moncada ran it a few years back (Jordi’s Strava) - still the only evidence found of a finish on the route is his 2018 finish in 6:38. Running from the Sunnyvale Mountain TH (south end) to the Kings Mountain Fire Station (north end), this 34 mile route follows trails crossing over and back along Skyline Boulevard. It hits classic trails like the Skyline Trail, Saratoga Gap Trail and the Bay Area Ridge Trail, and runs through State Parks and Open Space Preserves such as Castle Rock, Long Ridge, Skyline Ridge, Russian Ridge, Windy Hill, Wunderlich and others. Though it does have a few road sections, the longest one being from mile 22-25, the route overall seems to be a great mix of fireroad, single track and road. With supposedly 8000ft of climbing and almost 9000ft of descent. Could be a doozy. Heres the GAIA link for your gpx desires.
P.S. We’ll proceed with the statement that the only evidence we have of someone doing the whole route is Jordi’s Strava run above, but that means this one could be even more of an adventure. We’re not going to get too sticky if people accidentally run on parallel trails (just don’t rip the piss too much and take the 35 the whole way). And as far as I can see, all of this route is either public parks or road. Please correct me if you see something amiss.
Start Location: The South Bay Skyline route begins at the Sunnyvale Mountain TH and finished at the Kings Mountain Fire Station
Distance: 34 miles
Elevation Gain: ~6000-8000ft
Running from the Rainbow Flag on Market Street to the top of the iconic Mount Sutro, this route mixes the relentless 17th street climb and the Historic Trail singletrack through the blissful eucalyptus forest of Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve. Be careful at the top, the route’s not over until you reach the park bench. For good measure, pop over to Sutro Tower and Twin Peaks on your cooldown to see some great city panoramas.
As it stands, THE Laura Green (18:53) and her honorary son Paddy O’Leary (14:03) have the Strava CRs.
Start Location: Pink Triangle Park at the bottom of 17th Street
Distance: 1.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 700ft
The Crosstown Trail is a 17-mile route connecting San Francisco neighborhoods, open spaces, and other major trails. It runs from Candlestick Point in the southeast corner of the city to Lands End in the northwest corner. With a great mixture of trails, stairs and city streets, this is a gem of a route on the Bay Area running scene. To find out exact route details, go to https://crosstowntrail.org. And when you do the route, make sure to give @crosstowntrail a shoutout on Instagram.
Start Location: the start of the pier at Candlestick Point
Distance: 16.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1900ft
The pride and joy of Marin mountain runners - The Mount Tam Hill Climb. The road, the rut, the switchbacks and the scramble all bring their own unique pain to this route. We would recommend checking this one off early in the morning. A sunrise over an Karl the Fog inversion is a sight to behold. And a quick tip for you. You may want to scope out the scramble. It has been the thorn of many a CR attempt.
Start Location: Start at the clock tower by the Mill Valley Depot. Don’t stop your watch til you touch the East Peak door.
Distance: 3.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 2500ft
This route’s tradition goes back several years to when a few ultra-runners decided to sneak in a trail run into the early morning hours before working in the city (hence the Ninja). This route hits many of the best trails in southern Marin and as you move around, you’ll have spectacular views of the city, the ocean and Mount Tamalpais.
As it stands, Devon Yanko (1:24:40) and Matt Leach (1:11:16) have the Strava CRs.
Start Location: Start at the (west) Parking Lot on the Marin side of the Golden Gate Bridge
Distance: 11.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 2100ft
Mount Diablo. A burly and beautiful beast of a mountain. This route takes you on the north side of Diablo on lovely sustained single track over Eagle Peak, Bald Ridge, Prospector’s Gap to the summit. After your CR attempt, coast down Juniper trail and Meridian Ridge fireroad for a 13 mile round trip, or if you’re feeling spicy, tag on North Peak and Olympia Peak for the 4 peaks of Diablo.
Start Location: The trailhead gate at Mitchell Canyon Staging Area
Distance: 6.5 miles
Elevation Gain: ~3600ft
The longest of our routes and one of the most under-rated, yet iconic gems of Northern California. The East Bay Skyline National Trail traverses the ridge line above the coastal mountains situated to the east of Richmond, Berkeley and Oakland; and ends in Castro Valley. It goes entirely through the East Bay Regional Park system; Wildcat Canyon, Tilden, Sibley, Huckleberry, Redwood and the two Chabot parks. This is the eastern portion of the yet-to-be-completed Bay Area Ridge Trail. For added fun, why not take the BART public transport to the start and from the finish. It’ll just cost you an extra few street miles.
Start Location: The sign outside the Wildcat Canyon Staging Area (north to south), or Proctor Staging Area (south to north)
Distance: 32 miles
Elevation Gain: ~5500ft
Current route leader for each segment
The Best of the Bay: records held/team
The Backyard Explorers: total route completions/team
People who've done them all!
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