Chris Cloyd has worked tirelessly to make a reality out of the dream to bring a new, sustainable trail event to our area, which would be approachable to all level of runners. I sat down to dig deep into the evolution of the Pt Mariah Trail Marathon and all that it represents.
What were the main reasons that DPMR created the Pt Mariah Trail Marathon?
For years, our flagship race/event was the Castle Peak 100k. I loved that event (and raced it in its inaugural year), but the challenges of permitting and executing a point-to-point 100k grew to be beyond the reasonable grasp of a volunteer run club. When it became clear that that event would have to be “retired”, we brainstormed this new event to afford our membership and local trail community a new fun and accessible race in the Truckee/Tahoe region.
The course has some unique features, including a central aid station, a visit to a backcountry swing with views of Royal Gorge, and a looped course that works great for relay teams. Not to mention that there aren’t as many trail marathons… What drove these features and how did you come up with the location and course?
All of these features are wildly intentional, building on some of the things that appeal to us most about trail racing. The central aid station was designed in an effort to lessen the need for dozens of volunteers on race day, and to bring the entrants (and their friends and families who support them) together out on the course and afford more social interaction during the event. Our central aid station has great snacks, games, music, and – with over 200 folks in and out throughout the day – a real community vibe. The swing out at Point Mariah is special to us for a number of reasons. Routing the race out to Point Mariah is a hat tip to a dear friend of ours, and that part of course affords a view into one of the deepest river canyons in the American West. It’s a place worth visiting and – in my view – stopping for a minute to swing. Our race photographer will be out there to get a photo of all racers on the swing! The looped course was designed specifically to accommodate runners who love the idea of engaging with the event but aren’t as thrilled about running a full trail marathon. If you can manage 5-6 miles, you can join a team (or form your own!) and enjoy part of the course and a day of trail community out at the central aid station. I wanted to host an event that afforded everyone – regardless of your skill level/fitness/enthusiasm for long-distance running – a chance to get involved and spend time on trails with like-minded individuals. The idea of making the full course a marathon (vs a 50k or 50 miler) was also intended to lower the barrier to entry and get more people involved with the event.
I understand that a lot of the course runs on Native American land and DPMR has done some work to highlight this and honor the tribe. Could you explain this process and what has been done?
DPMR continues to do our best to honor Indigenous peoples and acknowledge that the land we hold our race on is the traditional homeland of the Washoe and Nisenan tribes. We are guests on their land. We’re grateful for the opportunity to bring runners out to this part of the world and to share in the enjoyment of this special place. We reached out to both tribes and continue to work with them to afford race entries to their members and share this event with them. It is our hope that this event helps bring people together and fosters a heightened respect for the land on which we all recreate.
I know that inclusivity on all levels has been a focus for the board for a number of years… What else has been done to promote inclusivity?
We built the event to allow folks to get involved in a number of different ways, regardless of ability level. Whether you want to run the full marathon, split it up with a partner (popular with parents of small children and dog owners, as one of you will always be at the aid station with your family while your partner is out running their loops), build a 5-person team (we had a group of 70+ year-olds finish the race as a team last year!), or simply come out and volunteer at the aid station or start/finish line there are plenty of ways to come engage with the event and spend time outside with our running community. All are welcome at the Point Mariah Trail Marathon.
We’re also partnering with ARC (Adventure Risk Challenge) and local high school cross country teams in an effort to get more youth involved. Each organization is hoping to field a team of 5 kids as a relay team, and ARC is even putting together a staff relay team to “race” their kids!
Last year was the first year DPMR held the Pt Mariah Marathon. Did you feel like people enjoyed the event? Were you happy with the event?
I sure hope everyone had a good time! Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and we had over 150 runners come out to enjoy the course. I was so happy with the event and beyond proud of the team effort to make it happen. We couldn’t have done it without the support of the DPMR community, and hours of energy volunteered by our Board of Directors.
Anything new for the race this year?
We’re making both the central aid station and the start/finish line even more fun. These are parties not to be missed! The course got a few minor tweaks to make navigation easier for runners as well.
How can people connect with others to run as a team?
If you’re on social media, check out the Donner Party Mountain Runners Facebook group.
Anything else you would like to mention to potential participants?
Don’t be shy about getting involved with this year’s event. If you want to run, there are options to get involved running as few as 5 miles or as many as 26.2. If you’re unable to run, we’d love your company at the race as a volunteer – come hang at the aid station, help out at the start/finish line, or get on course and course marshall for the racers! My biggest goal is to get as much of our trail community out in one place on August 5th as is possible. Come celebrate our sport and community with us!