home |

Big Sur Land Trust's Race for Open Space

The Race for Open Space is a fun trail run/walk that promotes healthy outdoor recreation in connection to our local landscapes while raising funds to support our work in the community. You can register as a fundraising or non-fundraising participant, and you can also register to fundraise without participating in the race. All race participants will receive post-race refreshments, a chance to win some great raffle prizes, and an event-themed race bib and medal (while supplies last).

When: April
(This trail race takes place in April each year. Visit race website link below for details.)

Location: California, United States
Nearby City: Salinas

Event 1:
Race Length: 10 km (6.2 mi)
Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet (+177 ft/mi)
Elevation Loss: 1,100 feet (-177 ft/mi)
High Point: 713 feet
Low Point: 148 feet
75% dirt trails, 25% dirt roads, 0% paved
Event 2:
Race Length: 5 km (3.1 mi)
Elevation Gain: 550 feet (+177 ft/mi)
Elevation Loss: 550 feet (-177 ft/mi)
High Point: 693 feet
Low Point: 148 feet
50% dirt trails, 50% dirt roads, 0% paved
Event 3:
Race Length: 2.5 km (1.6 mi)
Elevation Gain: 40 feet (+25 ft/mi)
Elevation Loss: 40 feet (-25 ft/mi)
High Point: 188 feet
Low Point: 148 feet
0% dirt trails, 100% dirt roads, 0% paved
Additional Information

Website URL: https://secure.qgiv.com/event/raceforopenspace2020... (opens new window)
Race Director: bigsurlandtrust
Phone: 831-625-5523 x 114

Maybe it's a trail nestled deep in a redwood forest. Maybe it's a ridge overlooking the ocean. Maybe it's an oak woodland that fills with wildflowers during the springtime. Maybe it's a quiet garden patch in the middle of a bustling city.

Wherever it may be, it's the land you love: the land that you return to time and time again to hike, run, walk, play, read, nap, hang out with friends and family. It's your treasured place, a land that cares for your wellbeing and that of your loved ones. It represents the health and vitality of your community and of future generations.

This year at the Race for Open Space, Big Sur Land Trust calls you to run in the name of conservation. Run to inspire others to care about the places that are special to you. Run to bring nature back into our urban areas. Run for the lands you love.

Marks Ranch has a rich history, having been originally settled by Benjamin and Nisene Marks in 1890. Suddenly widowed, Nisene raised chickens to support her family, eventually building one of the largest egg ranches in California. During the Race for Open Space, you will pass several historic structures that were used by the Marks Family during their ranching days. These include Grandpa's House, the Hacienda, an Incubator House, an Egg Pond, and the Dance Hall.

In addition to its historical importance, Marks Ranch provides a vital wildlife corridor between the Sierra de Salinas and Fort Ord conservation lands, a significant regional connection. Deer and small mammals, as well as coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions find habitat on the property. Open grasslands provide excellent foraging opportunities for a variety of songbirds and raptors. California quail and turkeys also make their home on the ranch. Amazingly, Marks Ranch is also home to 90 species of wildflowers!

Marks Ranch was originally donated by the last family member to St. John's College in 1982 to build a west coast campus, leaving instructions that the last piece of the Marks family legacy would remain in its natural state and offer educational programs. In 2003, St. John's signed a 28-year option with a development company to build over 500 home sites on the property. However, the local community strongly opposed teh development and the County did not grant the zoning change. In 2004, Big Sur Land Trust worked with St. John's to secure a 3-year option to buy the property in order to protect the ranch's rich history (both natural and socio-cultural).

Big Sur Land Trust purchased the 816-acre Marks Ranch property in 2007. Most of this land, especially the back country, has been transferred to Toro County Park. Big Sur Land Trust retains the front 73 acres of the ranch, except Grandpa's House. You might see cow paddies on the land--that's because Big Sur Land Trust maintains a 600-acre conservation grazing lease on the property. Big Sur Land Trust also hosts Youth Outdoor Programs at Marks Ranch during the Fall and Spring school semesters.

Come run, walk, and explore the majesty of the ranch on one of the following trail options:

2.5K (8:40am): The 2.5K is an easy, relatively flat loop that takes you across the main access road of the Marks Ranch property, winding through pastoral oak woodlands and meadows. You will pass by and near historic structures and points of interest including the hacienda, incubator house, dance hall, egg pond, and Grandpa’s House. This is the perfect trail for beginners and families with young children to connect with the land, as well as for folks who prefer an easier run. Because it is a mostly-flat course, it is also a good choice for people who may not have trained for a trail run before but are interested in getting out on the land and experiencing what it could be like. Though the road is unpaved and it certainly would not be easy to do, it is also possible to push a stroller on this course. We had a superstar mom do this during our inaugural 2018 event as well as a hero who pushed his friend's child during the 2019 event so that the mother could race. If you have little ones and are up for a challenge and a great workout, we would encourage you to register for this course!

5K (8:20am): This trail takes you through the gently-sloping Avalon Flats into oak woodlands and past historic structures. You'll climb the steep Robert V. and Patricia M. Brown Overlook trail, a moderately strenuous loop through meadows with a spectacular hilltop view. This is a difficult 5K course because all of the nearly 550 feet of elevational gain happen right at the beginning of the loop. This course is also longer than a true 5K course, measuring 3.5 miles instead of 3.1. The breathtaking panorama of the entire Marks Ranch and Salinas Valley makes the trek uphill worth the effort. Annie Conneau, a member of the Wednesday Nigh Laundry Runners, ran this course for us at a 13:54/mi pace. Her impression: "Challenging but rewarding! That view is worth any elevation! Most trail runners expect inclines but the novice 5ker should be prepared for a 'somewhat challenging trek'." Mark Moehling, also of the Wednesday Night Laundry Runners and a marathon runner, ran this course for us at an 8:00/mi pace. His overall impression: "Lots of climbing but worth it for the views at the top. The nice downhill finish felt great. Really unique place to run and explore!"

10K (8:00am): This rugged course crosses through most of the many habitats represented at Marks Ranch, including oak savannas, canyon forests, and grassy meadows laden with wildflowers during the spring. Steep uphill climbs are rewarded with sweeping vistas of Salinas and the Gabilan mountain range. Some parts of the course are more technical that others, especially a steep single-track switchback connecting the 5K loop to the rest of the 10K course. This is a difficult 10K course due to the intensity and number of hills you will conquer. This course consists of the 5K course loop plus an additional lollipop loop. Your reward awaits you in the last couple of miles on this course, marked by delightful downhills and a flat finish. Morgan Ivens-Duran, a member of the Wednesday Night Laundry Runners and a marathon runner, tested this course for us at an 11:00/mi pace. Her overall impression: "Beautiful course, with gradual hills punctuated by the occasional 'ooph!' incline." Many participants who ran this course in April 2019 mentioned that the scenery and wildflowers, especially the fields of lupines, made the difficult elevations worth the effort.

Note: We love your four-legged friends as much as you do, but unfortunately Marks Ranch is not a dog-friendly property.



Race Reports For Big Sur Land Trust's Race for Open Space

Race Reports

To add your own race report, . To add a new trail race, .

See an error? Does this race need an update? Please contact us using the feedback form .

Submitted On: 1/09/2020
By: bigsurlandtrust (Race Director)



All California Trail Races