Close to 200 long distance runners are expected to run in the 23rd Annual Shadow of the Giants 50K (31 mile) and 20K Fun Run in Fish Camp, starting at 7 a.m. Saturday, June 3.
Race Director Baz Hawley says runners come from all over the world for the love of running and the natural beauty of the area.
"We will have a runner from Australia this year and many out of state runners," Hawley said. "The runners are inspired by running amongst Giant Sequoias which are only found in two places in the country ... Nelder Grove and the Mariposa Grove, both right here in our back yard. Many or the participants will stay in the area for the weekend to visit Yosemite."
Race registration is $70 before May 27 or $90 on race day.
In addition to the Shadow of the Giants 50K, Hawley produces three other distance events with the help of Sierra Running Co.
The Bass Lake Vista 14k will start at 8 a.m. Saturday, June 23, seven miles up Sky Ranch Road off Highway 41. The Shadow of the Giants 18K will on Saturday, July 7 and the Fish Camp 15K is on July 21.
Entry fee for those three races is $35 in advance and $40 on race day.
All the races are at the 4,000 to 5,000 foot elevation
"I want runners to have a magic experience in the mountains away from the hot streets," Hawley said.
Hawley, 71, is originally from England and is well-known in Southern California for ultra-distance trail races he has promoted for close to 30 years.
As a young man he played professional soccer for a couple of years until a twisted left knee ended that career. After knee surgery, the surgeon told him he would never play soccer again and would be very limited with any other sporting activities.
Soon after Hawley began running and in 1975 he entered his first race -- a seven-mile event in Australia.
In 1984 he ran the Western States 100 in less than 24 hours, receiving the coveted silver belt buckle. It was the same year he organized his first ultra-distance trail event in Orange County. Since then, he has served as race director for 120 trail races in California.
After discovering all the trails in the Fish Camp area, he decided it would be a great location to do an ultra trail race. June 2, 1990, marked the first Shadow of the Giants 50K race held in Fish Camp.
"After 26 years of organizing races in Southern California, I felt it was time for runners in Central California to enjoy some new running adventures," Hawley said. "Many runners know about the long standing Shadow of the Giants race, but most do not know of the many other miles of mountain trails above Oakhurst and that's why I have added the other three events. I know people will enjoy the trails once they run them."
Hawley is a big advocate of trail running.
"In the woods, you see something different every 20 feet whether it's wildflowers or wild animals -- it's a great experience."
Hawley has completed four 100-mile races, 40 50-mile races and many 5k races.
All the race courses wind through portions of the Sierra National Forest between Oakhurst and Fish Camp at between 4,000 and 5,500 feet in elevation. All trails will be well marked and although aid stations will be spread out over each course, Hawley wants all the runners to be well hydrated before the run and suggests carrying water while on the course.
Hawley is still looking for additional business sponsors to help support the races and volunteers to help on race days.
Entry forms and race course maps are available at bigbaztrailraces.com.
Details: Baz Hawley, (559) 683-7420, e-mail email@example.com.