by Anil Rao, Bay Area Ridge Trail Board Member
In 2020, a few of my friends and I decided to join the TOGETHERelay, an open-course trail race organized by Pacific Coast Trail Runs. The route circumnavigated all 390 miles of the Ridge Trail, which you could complete over a period of nine months. Despite being a native of the Bay Area and a part of its running community for about 20 years, I had no idea what this entailed, or how beautiful the entire Ridge Trail system was.
Soon after completing the race, my team and I had renewed energy to share these wonderful trails with our friends. We also developed an immense appreciation for the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council and the work behind building this network of trail systems across many parks, counties, and open space preserves.
So, we created an informal group called Friends of Ridge Trail with the mission of sharing these trails with our running network, raising awareness for Ridge Trail and hosting runs to benefit the Ridge Trail as well.
The TOGETHERelay race had been divided into 70 segments and among all of them, one of our favorites was the 25K section from Samuel P. Taylor State Park to Lucas Valley Open Space Preserve. We were surprised to find that there were no runs planned on these trails, so in October 2021 we decided to organize a small trail run there. We called it the North Marin Ridge Run, and on February 19th, 2022 we hosted the inaugural event with two distances: 25K and 50K.
All around, the event was a success! We had phenomenal support from our friends at Shades Strava Club, both as runners and volunteers, and had two sweepers to make sure all 25 runners were accounted for. Aid stations coordinated by Kiran Krishnamuthy were very well stocked and Avinash Jain was waiting to welcome the runners at the finish line. Also awaiting the runners at the finish line was a packet of Ridge Trail swag including a bandana, t-shirt, and sticker, as well as warm home-cooked food including Spicy Indian Rice (a.k.a bisi bele baath) and chicken noodle soup. Because the course was not marked and runners had to use printed turn-by-turn or GPX directions, there were a few missed turns, so a few runners ended up with a few more miles for their money! All of the race fees were donated to the Ridge Trail to support trail building and expanded access to the outdoors.
The runners loved the small setup of the race, which provided them the opportunity to catch up with their friends, share future plans and even form new friendships. We learned a lot through this experience and are looking forward to hosting another run in 2023, when we'll create a bigger run and make an even bigger impact for Ridge Trail.