Saturday, April 27, 2019 • Los Gatos, CA • Course Map
With 26 miles of hiking, walking and running trails that wind through its more than 17,000 acres, the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve just south of Los Gatos offers a challenging run over a combination of park fire roads and dirt trails for the 6th annual running of the Sierra Azul Trail Challenge.
The course for the race follows an out-and-back route that the organizers describe as “one of the toughest runs out there,” a 6.55-mile run out from the starting line near the eastern edge of the preserve on Hicks Road, all the way to the aid station at the half-way turnaround point, and back again.
Along the way, runners will experience several steep hills and a steep overall elevation gain from the start to the half-way point, from about 1,400 feet above sea level at the start to about 3,000 feet at race’s peak elevation near the turnaround.
Along the way, runners will encounter a range of environments and terrain conditions, as the preserve varies from wide-open grasslands to densely wooded oak forests, and from hard and rocky chapparal shrub lands to deep ravines and riparian areas, where creeks and streams cut through the forest.
Runners will make their way through the preserve along the Woods and Bay Area Ridge trails, and they’ll be able to see the peak of 3,486-ft.-high Mount Umunhum off in the distance as they run the trails out and back to the finish line.
The Sierra Azul Preserve is divided into three zones or areas — the Kennedy-Limekin Area, which is the most popular of the three, in addition to the Cathedral Oaks and Mount Umunhum areas.
As they run along the Woods Trail between the start and the turnaround point, runners will be trekking through the Kennedy-Limekin Area, which stretches all the way from the race starting line to the St. Joseph’s Hill Open Space Preserve, all the way near the western edge of the park.
Because there is no parking available near the starting line area on Hicks Road, shuttle bus transportation will be provided at Venture Church, which lies further south along Hicks Road.
Runners also are asked to be mindful of their impact on the forest and the trails as they run the race, and to spread themselves out into smaller groups during the run to minimize their impact.
Race Weather & Climate
Located in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains of the San Francisco Bay Area, just over 10 miles southwest of San Jose, Los Gatos typically sees mild to moderately cool weather in April, a month that has seen record temperatures here as low as 30 degrees (in 1967) and as high as 96 degrees (in 1981).
On race day (April 27), the average low is 46ºF and the average high is 73ºF.
- 2018 Sierra Azul Trail Challenge Results
- 2017 Sierra Azul Trail Challenge Results
- 2016 Sierra Azul Trail Challenge Results
- 2014 Sierra Azul Trail Challenge Results
- $55 and up for the half marathon
- $95 and up for the 50K
- $95 and up for the full marathon
- $70 and up for the 18.8-mile
- $45 and up for the 10K
- $40 and up for the 5K
To reserve your spot in any of the race distances at the 2019 running of Los Gatos’s Sierra Azul Trail Challenge, register online at Active.com here.
Official Race Website
Ever run in the Sierra Azul Trail Challenge? Share your impressions here, or post your review in the Comments below.