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California > Santa Cruz Mountains 10K, 21K, 29K & 50K
Santa Cruz, CA  •  Sunday, September 25, 2011  •  Course Map

Home to centuries-old groves of redwood trees -- some of which are believed to be as much as 1,800 years old -- as well as more than 30 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails that wind through forests filled with ponderosa pine and mixed varieties of evergreens, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park plays host in the early fall to the sixth annual running of the Santa Cruz Mountains trail race.

Runners can choose from any of four race distances: the 21K (which is roughly equivalent to the half marathon distance) as well as the 10K, 29K or 50K run. All four races feature out-and-back courses that start and finish in Harvey West Park near the southern tip of Henry Cowell Redwoods Park, and then wind their way northward into the park along a series of trails with names like the Lookout Trail, Spring Trail, Rincon Trail, Big Rock Hole Trail and the River Trail.

The half marathon follows all of these trails northward through the park, crossing the San Lorenzo River about half-way between the mile 3 and mile 4 markers, where runners will then climb the route's biggest hill, scaling some 550 feet up between the low point at the river and the peak elevation of the 21K course, between the mile 4 and mile 5 markers. Once runners make it past the mile 5 point, the course starts heading downhill again until they reach the halfway turnaround point at the aid station at the northern end of the park.

The views through the forests and up along the mountain ridges are truly spectacular, organizers add, as the course offers up wide, expansive looks out onto the waters of Monterey Bay in the distance, as well as plenty of stretches through densely wooded forests past trees that are hundreds of years old, many of which reach 10 or 15 feet in diameter and stretch nearly 300 feet into the sky. The course alternates the more forested areas with stretches that cross mountain streams and take runners through wide-open meadows as well.

As you might expect with such a challenging trail race, the size of the field is relatively small, as just over 150 runners crossed the finish line in all four races combined in 2010, including 37 runners in the half marathon distance (21K) alone. The scheduled starting time for the half marathon race is 8:40 AM, and runners should pay close attention to the ribbons that mark the trail through the park -- if you don't see the specially colored ribbons for your race for 3 to 4 minutes, organizers add, it's likely you are off course and you'll need to retrace your steps to rejoin the race route.

Race Weather & Climate

Nestled along the coast of Monterey Bay in Northern California, just over 30 miles south of San Jose, Santa Cruz typically sees September temperatures that average between 76°F and 52°F, while rainfall is rare this time of year, averaging less than half an inch for the month. On the day of the race (Sept. 25), the average high is 75°F and the average low is 51°F.

Course Map

View the race route map for the Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Half Marathon


$35 for the half marathon


To reserve your spot in any of the race distances at the early fall 2011 running of the Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Run, register online at the event website.

Official Race Website


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SEE ALSO: 12-, 16- and 20-Week Half Marathon Training Plans
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