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This month's featured race is the Shadow of the Giants 50K (typically about 33 miles, actually), which starts and finishes at Fish Camp, California, just two miles south of Yosemite National Park. The race, now in it's 24th year, combines a modestly difficult 33-mile run with a 20-km fun run. It's a very low key, old-school extravaganza, befitting the personality of Race Director Baz Hawley. Hawley, a pioneering ultra runner who first ran the Western States 100 in 1981, is an Englishman who lived for many years in Australia and has managed to combine the most endearing qualities of both cultures.
The run features mostly high quality dirt roads and trails, with a 1.2-mile tour of the Nelder Grove at about mile 20, a stand of 3000-year-old giant redwoods that have to been seen to be believed. Some of the trees have diameters exceeding 30 feet! Many runners call a halt to their racing and simply walk this amazing stretch of trail, mouths mostly agape, and then resume the race when they leave the grove. With most of the running at about the 5000-foot level and several long climbs, this is not an easy event, but the good footing and typically ideal weather makes for a pleasant run and it wouldn't qualify as a highly demanding 50K either, with a total climb of about 3800 feet. Many runners have used this race as a first ultra.
For more info, e-mail Race Director Baz Hawley at: email@example.com. Sign up online at http://www.race360.com/ultrarun/races/detail.asp?eventid=12412
Below left, altitude profile from 2012 race. Note that this route was a bit shorter and easier than the normal course, and was altered due to high snow levels last year.
Photos from the race, courtesy of Mark Haymond.
Photo below: Race Director, raconteur extraordinare, and bon vivant Baz Hawley claims to have been evicted from both the United Kingdom and Australia. The mug shot is a send-up (we think!) and somehow we in the USA got to be the lucky recipient of his presence.