Californians are spoiled. Especially when it comes to running. We have the beaches, mountain trails, and many opportunities for every day adventures into the wilderness. The landscape is extremely diverse. Meaning, in under a 30 minute drive, I can either choose from: running at the beach (in the sand or on the boardwalk), around town, at the track, or on a trail tucked into the mountains. In San Francisco, there are some places that you can run on a trail that’s right on the coast. I ran a portion of it once, and ended up stopping around twenty times so I could take a picture. I also once ran on the beach in Malibu, and found so many sand dollars that my pockets were overflowing. Scenic is hardly a descriptive enough word to describe what it’s like running in California. There is nothing more spectacular than being at the top of a mountain and being able to see for miles and miles in each direction.
The weather is dreamy.
Most of the time, it’s perfect outside. The temperature stays more or less between 65- and 80-degrees all year round. It never seems to get too hot or cold. Many of us have never really experienced that chill-you-to-your-bones sort of cold. Or, the melt eggs on the sidewalk-it’s-so-hot-outside kind of days. Unless, of course, they have had the luxury of being in the south during the middle of the summer or in the north-east during the winters. I never even knew the word humidity until I walked right through it getting off an airplane in Houston during the middle of July. Whenever I forget how lucky I am, I remind myself it could always be worse.
The air is full of peace and tranquility.
If California were a state of mind, it would be laid back and relaxed. It seems like Californians tend to take each day in and often just go with the flow. In contrast, I’ve run in the busy and fast-paced New York City a few times. Before I visited, I had envisioned some epic adventure where I was a badass running through the streets of lower Manhattan. To be honest, after doing so, I feel lucky to be alive. The Central Park Loop was spectacular of course, but the busy streets left me more terrified of oncoming traffic than being the star of my own action movie. It was a different kind of flow than I was used to. For me, I prefer the peaceful scenic trails compared to the busy city streets.
Lots of other runners and I think they might all be nice!
I love runners from California. They are almost all friendly, talkative and excited about exploring new trails. They have an appreciation for the mountains as much as they do for the beautiful beach paths. Whenever I’m out on a run, I always make it a point to smile and wave at the people as I go by. More times than not, I get a smile and a nod back :) The word community is central to many runners in California, we often spend our weekends gathering together, going on long runs, then basking in the sun drinking a specialty brew and talking about our adventures.
Possibly the best races in the US!
Western States 100, Leona Divide 50/50, Badwater, The Big Sur International Marathon, Angeles Crest 100 and The San Francisco Marathon. Need I say more? Some of the most beautiful, challenging, and scenic courses exist in California. There are more mud runs in California than any other state. People travel from all over the world to run on the trails in California. I once said to a friend from out of state, “I need to find new places to run. I’m sick of the beach.” “I can’t believe you just said that,” they said. “‘I’m sick of the beach’, you know what I’m sick of? 100 degree heat every day!” I went out that day for my morning run at the beach and really let the beauty of it soak in.
We have a lot, but we don’t have it all.
Salty asked me if there were any things about running in California that I don’t like. I sat for a minute, pondering the question to myself. The answer was almost embarrassing: I don’t like when it’s not perfect. Like I said earlier, Californians are spoiled. When it gets above 80 degrees, I become a baby and start complaining. Rain? Sometimes it’s fun. But more times than not, it just makes me want to curl up with a good book. We have such amazing weather so often that I think it can hinder our resiliency if we ever desire to travel to other states or climates for races. For example, one of my big dreams is to run the Leadville 100. Leadville takes place in Colorado, and it is at an extremely high elevation. I have very little opportunity to train in high elevation in Southern California. I’ve heard of people investing in tent-like chambers that mimic altitude, so that their bodies can adjust to the altitude differences for upcoming races. Famous Ultrarunner, Tony Krupicka, chose Boulder, Colorado as his mecca for trail running. Bozeman, Colorado Springs, and Ashland, North Carolina are also considered to be some of the top train running towns in America. While there might be better places on paper, I’ll stick with California.
I’ve done a lot of talking about why I love California. I definitely believe that there are other beautiful trails, road runs, and scenery in the rest of the states (and countries, for our international readers!). So, Salty readers, where are your favorite places to run?