Headwaters Trail Runs: 50K or 10K

Lauren Steinheimer
Shown in last year's Headwaters 10K race, Melanie Obst of Mount Shasta, bib number 40; Lee Ann Paul of Yreka, 54; Tim Ferris of Chico, 64; and Julie Titus of Mount Shasta, 52.

Whether you’re a masochistic mountain goat or a trail running newbie, Mount Shasta’s Headwaters Trail Runs have a course for you. The third annual Headwaters 50K and 10K trail races are scheduled for Aug. 22.

Registration fees will increase after Saturday, Aug. 8, so runners looking to save a few bucks can do so by signing up online via ultrasignup.com. In-person registration will be available Friday, Aug. 21 at The Fifth Season; the same place pre-registered runners can go to pick up their race packets.

There’s no cap on registration, and it will remain open until 15 minutes prior to the start of each race. That’s 7:45 a.m. for the 50K and 8:45 a.m. for the 10K.

Participants receive a technical t-shirt and finisher’s gift. Awards are given for the top three overall and top three in each age/sex group.

A portion of the proceeds from race registrations are donated to the Siskiyou Land Trust.

The race courses are the same as they have been the past two years, with the start/finish at the Lake Siskiyou campground marina.

Race director and ultramarathon champion Gerad Dean rates the difficulty of the 50K course as, “probably a four out of five compared to other ultramarathons.”

Factors he considered in his ranking include the elevation gain of about 5,500 feet, the technicality of the trails, and the amount of sun exposure on the majority of the course.

The 50K trail has five aid stations along the way as it loops through the mountains west of Lake Siskiyou. The aid stations will serve up a traditional trail race buffet, including fresh fruit, salty/fatty/sugary snacks, Hammer energy gels, electrolyte drinks, salt capsules and ice.

The route brings runners on a scenic ascent up Rainbow Ridge, across Wagon Creek, down some rocky forest roads, across the North Fork of the Sacramento River, and up several miles of the Sisson-Callahan trail.

Anyone interested in testing their legs on the 50K loop will have a great opportunity to do so a couple of weeks before the race. Dean is organizing two training runs that will cover about 90% of the 50K course over two days, Aug. 8 and 9. To join, meet at the North Shore day-use/boat ramp area at 9 a.m., where the training runs will start and finish on both days. They’ll run 16 miles on Saturday and 18 on Sunday.

“The 10K is great for those just getting into trail running as well as seasoned runners going for a PR,” Dean said.

The 10K race starts and finishes in the same location as the 50K, but stays on the Lake Siskiyou trail. He describes it as, “pretty easy, with about 250 feet of elevation gain.” The trail is mostly shaded and well maintained. One aid station will offer drinks at the halfway point.

In the past two years, about 50 to 60 runners participated in the 50K, and 60 to 90 in the 10K. Dean said most participants come from northern California and Oregon, but some have come from Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, New York and Massachusetts.

When asked what inspired him to start the Headwaters trail runs, Dean answered, “This is a pretty awesome place to run, and we have an active running community here. But [trail runners] had to go to Ashland or Weaverville to find a race. I wanted to bring people to this area and show what we’ve got.”

As in past years, the aid stations will be managed by local businesses and organizations. The High Divide aid station is manned by Shasta Mountain Guides, who are also lending support as one of the race sponsors. North Fork is taken care of by the Mount Shasta Ski Patrol, Rainbow Ridge by the Siskiyou Runners, and representatives of the local Boy Scouts manage the 10K aid station.

Local sponsors include: Shasta Mountain Guides, The Fifth Season, Berryvale, and Snow Creek Studios.

Dean said he is excited to have a new partnership with the nonprofit organization Ultra Medical Team, which will supply medics for each aid station.

Lake Sis Grille will provide a post-race feast for all 50K finishers, with a keg of recovery beer courtesy of Ninkasi Brewing.

Hammer Nutrition is providing race fuel, and Klean Kanteen and Smartwool will supply the prizes for top three finishers and age group winners.

Dean is still looking for volunteers to help out with positions such as manning aid stations, directing parking and assisting at the start/finish area. Anyone interested in helping out can reach him at: info@headwatersultra.com.

More information about the races can be found at the website http://www.headwatersultra.com/ and the regularly updated Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/HeadwatersUltra.