A challenge across the Bay Area’s most iconic trails

Battle of the Bay

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We have our winners!!

And that’s a wrap! Thanks to everyone who participated in our 2020 Battle of the Bay FKT Challenge! We loved seeing you all out there achieving new distances and new speeds. Congratulation to all and especially to those that conquored all of the routes. Check out their stories. Here are the final standings.

Please Donate to Wildfire Relief

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.

What is this?

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:

  • The Grand Slam: prize is awarded to any individual to complete all 8 routes throughout the competition
  • The Best of the Bay: the region that finishes with the highest number of the 16 FKTs (8 routes, male and female) at the end of the competition period on Dec 31
  • The Goats: The Goats: we’ll have four prizes (male and female) for the fastest combined time for: 1) all four long routes, and 2) all four short routes
  • The Backyard Explorers: that region that finishes with the highest number of segment completions regardless of time

Rules & Guidelines

  • You can attempt and submit as many segment times as you like. Get out there. Get after it.
  • All attempts at the route need to be run in the 5 months between August 1st and December 31th.
  • When you submit your first time, you sign up for your team (North Bay, South Bay/Peninsula, East Bay, San Francisco). We’re not going to hound you about legalities on which team you join. If you live in SF, but your heart and friends are in Marin, by all means join the North Bay. Once you submit your first segment and claim your team, that’s your team for the competition.
  • We prefer if you share a Strava link (or link from another appropriate app), but if you only use a Casio, put in your true time. We trust you. Please don’t betray that trust.
  • However, the total elapsed time is the time that you should submit, i.e. the time it took you to get from start to finish. Sorry Strava, but moving time isn’t real. And let’s all stop stopping our watches at the traffic lights. We’re still on a run and are only lying to ourselves ;-)
  • Tell us about how your new routes are going. On your social media posts, use the hashtag #battleofthebayFKT on your favourite photos or stories from the route.
  • Carry a mask/buff with you at all times. It’s common courtesy to pull your mask up as you encounter people on the trail. We’re all in this together. Let’s protect each other.
  • Feel free to join our Strava club to follow and chat with other participants.

The Routes

South Bay/Peninsula (short): Black Mountain Hill Climb

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.

As it stands, Megan Roche (45:57) and Lucas Matison (40:41) hold the CRs for the Black Mountain hill climb via Rhus Ridge (Strava, All Trails).

Start Location: At the TH parking lot on Rhus Ridge Road, by the Caretaker’s residence
Distance: 4.8 miles
Elevation Gain: ~2700ft

South Bay/Peninsula (long): South Bay Skyline

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

San Francisco (short): Castro to Mount Sutro Summit

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

San Francisco (long): Crosstown Trail

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.

As it stands, the current record holders are Corrine Malcolm (2:04:43) and Matt Lenehan (1:46:06). Here’s more links about the trail: FKT, All Trails, Strava.

Start Location: the start of the pier at Candlestick Point
Distance: 16.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1900ft

North Bay (short): Mount Tam Hill Climb

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.

As it stands, Marin’s YiOu Wang (38:30) and out-of-towner Jim Walmsley (30:38) have the Strava CRs (FKT boards).

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

North Bay (long): The Ninja Loop

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

East Bay (short): Diablo Hill Climb

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.

As it stands, Devon Yanko (1:28:08) and Yuri Gonzaga (1:13:52) hold the CRs for the Eagle-Diablo hill climb (Strava, All Trails).

Start Location: The trailhead gate at Mitchell Canyon Staging Area
Distance: 6.5 miles
Elevation Gain: ~3600ft

East Bay (long): East Bay Skyline Trail

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.

As it stands, Devon Yanko and Lucy Andrews share the women’s CR (5:28:51) and Paddy O’Leary holds the fastest male time (4:18:08) (Strava, FKT boards, All Trails).

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


Grand Slam

People who've done them all!

Name Team Routes Completed

Team Standings

The Best of the Bay: records held/team
The Backyard Explorers: total route completions/team

Team Attempts Records

Route Leaders

Current route leader for each segment

Route Gender Name Team Time