Big Blue Adventure gears up for busy 2019 season

As the snow from this past season continues to melt, the Truckee-Tahoe area’s running trails are again being exposed, signaling the start of racing season in the region.

From family-oriented fun runs to the grueling Tahoe 200 Endurance Run, the area supports dozens of races each year attracting some of the top athletes from around the globe.

Tahoe’s premier race organizers, Big Blue Adventure, will kick off the Tahoe Trail Running Series on Sunday, June 2, with the annual Truckee Running Festival. The event features the Waddle Ranch Half Marathon, the Legacy 10K, and Legacy 5K which raises funds for Girls on the Run — Sierras, a youth development program that seeks to develop skills to help girls navigate their worlds and establish a lifetime appreciation for health and fitness.

“That’s their largest fundraiser for them for the season,” said Director of Operations Bryan Rickards. “It’s a great way to kick off our season, to help out with a great cause.”

Big Blue Adventure will feature a different event nearly every weekend from June through September, including a new race on July 14, the Big Chief 50K Trail Run.

“It’s the day after the Tahoe Trail 100K, so it’s actually utilizing about 80% of that same course,” said Rickards. “It starts and finishes at Northstar and will utilize a lot of the new Big Chief Trail, hence the name … it’s utilizing a majority of that trail within the course, and then coming back into Northstar, it’s going to utilize some new single-track trail.

“It’s just cool to pull together a single-loop 50K. That’s kind of what’s most desirable, people don’t want to do multiple loops or out and backs.”

The Truckee Trails Foundations worked with the U.S. Forest Service and Northstar California on the 7-mile trail, which connects the southern tip of the Sawtooth Trail down to Watson Lake and the Tahoe Rim Trail. Work on the trail was completed last fall.

One of Big Blue Adventure’s most popular events, the Marlette 50K Trail Run, held Aug. 11, will serve as the Road Runners Club of America Western Region Ultra Marathon Championship.

“We’re excited to have the RRCA championships back this year,” said Rickards. “They are going to be aligned with four of our events this year with the Western Regional Championship culminating at the Marlette 50K.”

Other changes to Big Blue Adventure’s calendar this season include moving the XTERRA Tahoe City event to June 29, in order to take advantage of better weather and warmer water temperatures in Lake Tahoe. Big Blue Adventure also removed the Truckee Marathon from its lineup this year.

“That’s a big change for us,” said Rickards. “We’re just going to do the half (marathon), and in addition to that, we’re going to have a 5K as well and a kids’ race.”

The event will also be moved up to Aug. 4, from it’s usual date in September. The marathon, according to Rickards, was canceled this year due to logistics and major road crossings along the route.

“It’s a really hard course to put together, and we’re finding that to do the race we wanted we’d have to make some bigger changes,” said Rickards. “We just couldn’t do them this year, but down the road we might bring it back.”

Aside from trail running events, Big Blue Adventure puts on a number of competitions, including triathlons, swimming, cycling, and other events.

“In general our trail races have gained a tremendous amount of momentum over the last three years,” said Rickards. “Out of all the growth in the company, the trail races are really taking off. We’re super excited again about having the Tahoe Trail Running Series take forefront within the area. Salomon is back on as a main sponsor for the series this year.”

2019 running season at a glance

Other major races to hit the area this year include the 15th annual Reno-Tahoe Odyssey Relay Run Adventure on May 31; the Broken Arrow Skyrace at Squaw Valley on June 21; the original 100-mile ultramarathon race, the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run on June 29; the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs on July 20; the Castle Peak 100K on Aug. 18, which is the signature race of the Donner Party Mountain Runners; Destination Trail’s Tahoe 200 Endurance Run on Sept. 13; and the Lake Tahoe Marathon on Oct. 11.

Also new this year will be the Tahoe Trail 10K, which will be put on by Spartan Race. The race will come to Squaw Valley on Sept. 28, and will coincide with the Spartan World Championship. Unlike Spartan’s usual obstacle races, the Tahoe Trail 10K won’t feature any man-made obstacles.

“It’s going to be another set of eyes on Tahoe and getting trail running on the forefront,” said Rickards. “We’re interested to see how that plays out for them, because we get a lot of Spartan athletes that train for Spartan that come up and do our races.”

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at

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