Running for health and exercise is virtuous, but sometimes you just want to pin on a bib number and race against hundreds of others. Here’s our weekly best bet for races of various lengths and surfaces.
Redding Marathon/Sun Dial 5K
When: 8 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 17
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Where: Start: Shasta Dam (shuttle from finish at Sun Dial Bridge)
Cost: $90 (marathon); $20 (5K)
Reason to run: Distance runners love point-to-point marathons (see: CIM) and this one takes you from Shasta Dam along paved trails hugging the Sacramento River, over three bridges before finishing at the Sun Dial Bridge. Ryan Kaiser of Bend, Ore., won 2015’s race with a 2:38:51.
Pacifica Foothills Trail Run 30K, Half-Marathon/10K
When: 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 16
Where: South Walnut Grove Picnic Area, San Pedro Valley Park, Pacifica
Reason to Run: There are some big climbs at these races, including the slog up to Montara Mountain peak. The 30K has 4,300 feet in elevation gain and even the 10K isn’t easy (1,200 feet gain).
Jed Smith Ultra Classic 50-Mile, 50K, 30K, Half Marathon
When: 7:30 a.m. Feb. 6
Where: American River Parkway, Watt Avenue access
Cost: $70 (50-mile); $60 (50K); $45 (30K); $40 (half-marathon)
Reason to Run: It’s not a trail ultra nor a road ultra. It’s a parkway ultra, run on both crushed granite and asphalt and a few dirt paths. If you want to compete against the really speedy runners, try the 50-mile.