The Reno Tahoe Odyssey

I know I’ve commented on this relay race before in some of my earlier posts, so I figure I might give a quick recap on how awesome, exciting, and fun it is and why you should do it.

First off, The Reno Tahoe Odyssey (RTO) is a relay run on a 178 mile course around the Reno-Tahoe region.  It is the product of and premier running event of Race178, a local professional race production company headquartered in Reno, NV that was founded by Eric Lerude in 2005 during the inaugural RTO.  Since then, it has evolved to produce a variety of races throughout the Reno area and has successfully turned the RTO into one of the premier running events in Northern Nevada & California.

The structure of the relay typically consists of 12 runners running 3 legs each for a total of 36 segments in the 178 mile course.  Teams can and do have less than 12 runners, as I’ve witnessed both Juan De Oliva, a solo runner, and Charlie & Daniel Anderson, a team of two brothers, complete the course.  The course is pretty challenging just running 3 legs with the typical 12 runner structure, so witnessing and (in some parts) running by these guys was pretty amazing.

Photo Credit: Reno Gazette Journal
Photo Credit: Reno Gazette Journal

The course begins at Wingfield Park, an island park in the middle of the Truckee river in downtown Reno, which is also home to Reno’s Whitewater Park.  The loop course travels along the Truckee River towards Verdi and Truckee, making its way to the West shore of Lake Tahoe.  Runners then travel around the lake and down through part of the Carson City Valley, through the State’s capitol and historic Viriginia City back down into Reno.  The end of the course comes back through downtown Reno with a final finish in Reno’s Idlewild park for a post-race festival.  The race spans two days given the distance traveled and by the end of the race, a beer at the Finish Line Festival couldn’t sound much better.  There are also tons of food trucks, entertainment, and people to cheer you on at the festival, so the last push towards the finish line with your whole team feels even better.


The main premise of this run is to have fun.  From personal experience, most runners are not there to be absolutely competitive but to have a blast with friends, family, or co-workers.  Prizes are even offered to teams with the most spirit, best costumes, best team name, and best van decorations, among others.  This type of attitude is encouraged throughout the course with themed parties at exchange points and a bunch of other celebration shenanigans along the way.  Teams of all ages, backgrounds, and locations participate in the relay and you can sort of feel the excitement from everyone while you’re there.  Costumes and team themes are encouraged, so be prepared for a little bit of craziness and definitely some laughs.

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RTO 2014 – Eclectic Company at Virginia City exchange

I’ve had the pleasure of running with Eric Lerude in the past and you can tell he is really passionate about hosting each event produced by Race178.  It is even more noticeable in the way each run is organized, promoted, and run.  Therefore, I would highly encourage running this premier event that is offered in Reno and Lake Tahoe.

The 2015 relay is sadly already sold out since registration fills up fast each year, but you can still come down and support the runners on May 29-30, 2015 or even sign up as a volunteer.  Click here for volunteer sign ups or just cheer on some runners!

Why you should sign up for a running event

So, as I’m encouraging others to experience the various running events in and around the Reno Tahoe area, I’ve started to think to myself… why would you want to participate in a running event?  I mean, what motivates somebody to go out and run a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or even marathon?  Here is a quick rundown of some of the the reasons I participate in running events:

Photo Credit: CafePress
Photo Credit:

1. Motivation:  This may be true for others too, but if I am signed up for a run that I know is a few weeks down the road, I’m going to make sure I run so I’m ready for it.  If I’m not signed up for a run, even if it is just a 5k, I will let myself slack off and get out of shape.  I also don’t want to be that guy out there running who looks like he just hopped off the couch to run the race and needs someone to carry him to get water at the finish line.

2. Fat:  You’re going to lose it, which is typically a good thing.  Going hand in hand with the motivation deal is losing weight.  If I’m running constantly, I’m losing any unwanted pounds and overall, that just makes me a happy guy.  I also get to eat more and not feel guilty.

3.  Friends:  Believe it or not, you can meet a ton of cool people when you go out and run a race.  Everyone is out there doing the same run at the same time, and probably for some of the same reasons you are.  Most people at an event don’t care if you just started running or have been running your whole life, therefore you’re going to walk away with some type of encouragement, because that’s what it’s all about.  Whether it’s a high five or a slap on the booty, it just feels good.

If you want to get some really good friends, run a relay.  Nothing makes you get to know a person better than being stuck in a cramped van, sweaty, tired, and smelly.  I’ve met tons of people the day of a relay event and walked away knowing more about them than I probably would have ever cared to.  Running makes friends, relays make good friends.  Give it a try.

4.  Swag:  When you participate in a running event, you have the opportunity to get some cool s***.   I probably have TOO many running shirts for each of the races I’ve done, but I still get giddy to see what new one they’re going to give out.  Sometimes, even now, I run a race just for the simple reason that I know I’m going to get some good FREE stuff at the race expo the day before.  Even more so if I’m looking to add to my collection of running medals.  This next weekend, I’m stoked for the Leprechaun Race in Midtown Reno because it’s an amazing 5k run, but I’m even more excited for the awesome Pilsner glass I will get when I beat the Leprechaun.  So the point here is, running swag is cool, it’s better when it’s free, and the best if you can poor beer into it.

Reno Tahoe Odyssey Relay Medal Photo Credit:
Reno Tahoe Odyssey Relay Medal
Photo Credit:

5.  Fundraising:  You have the chance to support a worthy cause when you sign up for a running event.  Whether you’re participating in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k to support breast cancer or the Spring Forward for Autism 5k to support autism research, you know you’re out there helping a cause.  So you’re doing something for yourself while doing something for others…. double bonus if you ask me.

6.  Stress Management:  I love running because it gives me some time to think about something else than the normal daily struggles of life.  I tend to zone out when I’m overwhelmed anyway, so running is a good technique for me.  If I’m signed up for a race, it’s even better because I have a goal to work for other than the usual stuff I have to deal with.

These are just some of the reasons I participate in running events, but it’s definitely unique for everyone.  Feel free to comment and share yours too.

Rancho San Rafael Park & Evans Creek Trail

This weekend was another beauty in the Reno area with unusually warm temperatures.  In fact, the high got up to about 68 degrees, which is just a little bit ridiculous for March. However, it was a nice day for my Saturday run and I was able to get an early start, so it didn’t turn out to be too hot.

Rancho San Rafael Park
Photo Credit: James Ripsom

I decided to run a familiar route up in Rancho San Rafael Park and also run a portion of the Evans Canyon Loop.  I used to run through the park a lot and up the Evan Canyon Loop trail, but hadn’t been there in forever, so in an effort to get out of the rutt I’ve been in lately with my running routes, it was definitely time for some new scenery.   The park is a former ranch that is now a recreation area managed by Washoe County.  Some of the highlights of the park include various recreation facilities, picnic areas, a museum, botannical gardens, and a dog running area.  It is on the corner of North McCarran Blvd and Sierra Street within walking distance of the University of Nevada, Reno.

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Photo Credit: James Ripsom

My favorite thing about the park is the fact that it incorporates so many different running/walking paths throughout the area, while also having easy accessibility to some more challenging trail runs.  The trails are accessible through a convenient tunnel that travels below  McCarran Blvd, with the Evans Creek Trail, Evans Canyon Loop, and a Nature Trail all extending into the base of the hills on the Northern side of the park.  A quick guide for all of these trails and loop trails is shown here.

Photo Credit: James Ripsom
Photo Credit: James Ripsom

I decided to make my own 5 mile route and incorporate pieces of the South Park Loop, Arboretrum Loop, Pasture Loop, Evans Creek Trail, and Evans Canyon Loop.  I recommend running through at least a portion of the Arboretrum loop, especially in the summer time, as it is a very peaceful and beautiful part of the park to run through.  It also feeds nicely into the Evans Creek trail that follows the tunnel under McCarran Blvd and north towards the Evans Canyon Loop.  This part of the run is the more challenging area as there is a pretty steep grade up the hill, but once you get there, it is well worth it to see the view of the university and downtown Reno.  I made it a little more interesting and ran all the way to the “N” too after running the entire Evans Canyon Loop trail.

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Photo Credit: James Ripsom

In the case that you really like this area, it is also the start of the Silver State 50/50, and half marathon course.  I’ve run the half marathon race for this event in the past and I would highly recommend it if you like a challenging trail run with some good uphill and a fast downhill.

It’s also the spot for the Great Reno Balloon Race!  So you can get a run in AND see some baloons!  (what?  no way, baloons?).

Here’s a little better view of what the park looks like when everything isn’t dead… It’s a beautiful area most of the time, but comparing a late dry winter run to the view you would get during normal spring or summer conditions is probably much better.

Photo Credit: Ping Huang
Photo Credit:
Ping Huang

What’s you favorite part of the park?

Hunter Creek Trail

Photo Credit: Danny Damiani
Photo Credit:
Danny Damiani

Getting into the trail running spirit, I thought I would share one of the trails around Reno that I think is somewhat unknown but deserves a strong recommendation:  The Hunter Creek Trail.  Relatively unknown to even me until recently , the Hunter Creek trail is a beautiful 5.6 mile, out and back route at the foot of the Sierras.  From its namesake, the trail follows the slopes of Hunter Creek Canyon just on the city limits West of Reno.  It is primarily a hiking trail, but is open to anyone up to the running challenge and allows dogs and even horses.

This trail is rated as moderate to difficult for hikers.  Therefore, if you’re looking to attempt this as a first for trail running, I would probably try something else.  There is a fairly consistent climb up the first 2.2 miles of the trail, which can get some pretty fit people breathing hard when they’re just hiking it, so this is a definite “no-no” on my beginners list (if I had one).  However, taking the plunge for running it is well worth it.  It features some pretty landscapes and follows Hunter Creek making it a pleasant, but challenging route.

Getting to the trail is also pretty easy.  Taking I-80 East to the North McCarran Blvd Exit, you will go south on McCarran Blvd and make a right on Mayberrry Road.  You will then turn left on to Plateau Road, make a right on Woodchuck Drive, and follow it until it dead ends at a roundabout.  The trailhead features a decent number of parking spots (if you get there early), picnic tables, and restroom facilities.  (here’s a map if reading my directions was just painful)

Photo Credit: Reno Gazette Journal
Photo Credit:
Reno Gazette Journal

My only experience with this trail has been in the winter time.  I know, you would think there would be a ton of snow, but the trail gets a ton of sunlight throughout the day and with a convenient location close to the city (only 10 mins away from downtown) it doesn’t have the typical snow levels you would associate with the Sierras.  I also happened to have gone in the weird “70 degree” Reno winter time-frame, so there definitely wasn’t much snow at all.  I would recommend getting a pretty early start though, as I have heard it can get pretty hot during the summer months for hikers as there isn’t much shade for the first couple of miles of the trail.  Starting out early, however, the trail is shaded by the mountains, so it makes for a nice cool run early in the day.

Photo Credit: James Ripsom
Photo Credit:
James Ripsom

The best part of this trail, in my opinion, is the fact that the last 1/2 mile or so winds through a nice little area of white fir and pine trees ending at an amazing 20 foot waterfall.  The waterfall is running year round and makes the steady incline to the top that much better. It’s a great place to relax before making the 2.6 mile run back down towards the trailhead.

There aren’t a lot of cons to this trail, but it is good to know that it is pretty narrow in some areas along the slopes of the canyon and can get pretty busy.  Therefore, I will reiterate that getting an early start is the best option if you would like to run it.  There are a pretty good number of hikers that like to enjoy the trail too, so you don’t want to be that jack*** that makes people jump out of the way when you’re running down it.  Also, it is very dog-friendly, so don’t forget you puppy friends!

If you’ve done this trail or want to in the future, feel free to comment and let me know what you think!

3rd Annual Leprechaun Chase

Photo credit:  Race178
Photo credit: Race178

Last year was the first year I participated in Race 178’s Annual Leprechaun Race.  I hadn’t thought much about participating in the race before then because I focused more on running longer distances and a 10k race was probably the shortest I would normally run, but I found this 5k race to be very fun and exciting.  This year will be the 3rd Annual Leprechaun Race and it will be held on Sunday, March 15th.  I guess if I had participated a year before I could call myself a Leprechaun Race veteran, so I missed out on the fancy credentials… but oh well.  There is a bagpiper to serenade you at the start line and the event definitely presents a great St. Patrick’s day theme with tons of people in costume, music, vendors, and prizes for age group winners.

Photo Credit:  Race 178
Photo Credit: Race 178

The race is located in Midtown Reno and begins and ends at the Discovery Museum at 490 South Center Street.  The race course brilliantly showcases one of Reno’s main St. Patrick’s day celebration venues, Wells Avenue, as well as the local eateries and bars of the Midtown District.   This Midtown area of Reno has definitely boomed the past several years and it is fun to run a nice 5k course through the heart of the area to see all of the new development.

The event is given the title “Leprechaun Race” not just for a catchy race title that happens to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day, but because you actually get to race a Leprechaun (a.k.a Lenny the Leprechaun) .  Well, he is not a REAL leprechaun (he was way too tall), but the cool thing here is that if you beat him, you win a prize.  *Spoiler Alert* you will win an awesome pilsner glass that you could enjoy your post race St. Patrick’s day beer in.  Therefore, there shouldn’t be any issues with motivation here if you plan to enjoy a St. Patty’s day beer anyway.

Speaking of beer, there will be a post-race beer garden at Ceol Irish Pub immediately following the race, if you want to get your St. Patrick’s day celebration started early.  The beer garden doesn’t have free beer, but you pretty much pass the celebration on your way into the finish line, so it’s just a quick walk or cool-down jog from the finish line at The Discovery Museum to your victory beer.

I hope everyone can make it there!  Feel free to share any thoughts from the event that you think will make a newbies first Leprechaun Race that much more special!

Photo credit: Race178
Photo credit: Race178

The Reno Truckee River Path

Truckee River PathSo with all the business at work this week, I didn’t have a chance to explore a new running trail, but it has been unbelievably sunny, warm, and beautiful in the Reno Tahoe area (which is slight depressing, since it’s February, and I want to see some snow this winter).  However, given the beautiful weather, I decided to run a nice favorite route of mine along the Truckee River Bike Path through downtown Reno.  A portion of the path can also be referred to as the Reno Downtown Riverwalk, with the entire length of the path at approximately 12 miles, following the banks of the Truckee River from Idlewild Park in Reno all the way to the Eastern end of the City of Sparks.  I modified my route a bit as the path actually extends West about four miles past Idlewild Park, all the way down to Mayberry Park, which is where I started my run.   Mayberry Park to Downtown Reno, approximately around Wingfield Park between the Arlington and Virginia Street bridges, is about the distance of a 10k (or 6.21 miles).  This is a great route to take if you want to get in shape for a 10k, but you can modify your run accordingly depending on what you’re in the mood for, as there are many places to enter and exit the trail.

  Crissie Caughlin Park     Truckee River

Quarter Mile MarkersStarting at Mayberry Park and running to downtown Reno, there isn’t a significant change in elevation and it is a very nice easy route to take for either solo runs, group runs, or even biking.  I don’t think I’ve ever run this route without seeing at least one other runner or a group of runners enjoying the same area.  It is also very well maintained and pet-friendly, which is something I definitely appreciate (reference my aversion to running with a bag of warm puppy poo from my previous post).  The path has 1/4 mile markers too, which are pretty nice if you like a visual indicator for your pace and you don’t run with a GPS device of some sort.

Downtown Reno Truckee River

This path is also incorporated into various running events that are put on throughout the year in Reno:

1) The start line of the Reno Tahoe Odyssey is actually in Wingfield park, where I ended my run, and takes the opposite direction going West towards Mayberry.  This relay is pretty amazing as it goes 178 miles around Lake Tahoe, Carson City, and Virginia City coming to an end on the same path at Idlewild Park.

2) The Downtown River Run hosted by Reno 5000 runs along this route as part of their Marathon, Half Marathon, and 10k events giving runners a great experience through Downtown Reno and all of the Truckee River path.

3) The Great Basin Brewery 4-person relay, a personal favorite of mine, also runs along this route from the Sparks Great Basin Brewery location to Mayberry Park and back.  I would try this relay if you like to have a post-run beer with your friends.

I hope everyone has a chance to try the Truckee River path at some point, whether it is in one of the events above or just on your own.  It definitely highlights Downtown Reno and the Truckee River, so for anyone that isn’t familiar with the area, I would recommend trying this running route before anything else.

If you have a favorite part of the River path you like to run, please feel free to comment and share.  Don’t forget to follow my blog for other upcoming run highlights in the Reno and Lake Tahoe area.

The Dog Friendly “Go-To” Run for NW Reno

To get the ball rolling on some great running ideas, I thought I would share one of my favorite “quick runs” in Reno, the Caughlin Ranch Trail.  Not to be confused with the Caughlin Ranch Hiking Trail, this running path is actually part of the paved pedestrian trails that are included within the Caughlin Ranch residential area.  There are a variety of different trails in this area, but I find the paved pedestrian paths the best for getting in a quick run on a weekday night and it’s a big plus that it is extremely dog-friendly.

Although I don’t actually live in the Caughlin Ranch neighborhood (even though that would be amazing, since it is definitely a beautiful area), it’s a short five minute drive for me.  Located at Caughlin Parkway, which is at the intersection of Plumb Lane and North McCarran Blvd in Northwest Reno, Caughlin Ranch stretches from the base of the Sierras all the way to the Truckee River.

First things first though: distance and difficulty.  I wouldn’t rate this path as very difficult, but more of one of the beautiful Caughlin Ranch at the Topplaces to run that isn’t too far out of the way. Starting at the entrance of the Caughlin Ranch residential neighborhood on Caughlin Parkway, you are able to park at Caughlin Crossing, which is the first cross street you come to.  You will immediately find signs designating the pedestrian paths.  Beginning at this spot, it is approximately 1.75 miles to the top of the paved path for a round trip run of about 3.5 miles.  It is a gradual incline to the top with a bit of a steep hill at the very end.  However, the path is amazingly well maintained and there is beautiful scenery along the way that makes you hardly notice the incline on the way up.  You are able to see most of Northwest Reno once you get to the top of the paved path, so a little victory feeling with a beautiful view is definitely the way to go.  If you are training for a long run, this route is also relatively short and incorporates some hills as well.  The distance of the run can also vary depending on whether or not you want to start at this same spot.  There are a ton of trails in this area, some merging with the Steamboat Trail or following down to the Truckee River, so it isn’t an all-encompassing option when you decide to give it a try.

Caughlin Ranch Pet Waste StationsThe best thing about the path, especially for all you dog lovers out there, is how
accommodating it is for your canine friend(s).  I mean, the trail has a nice little creek that crisscrosses throughout the duration of the path, just in case your puppy gets thirsty and there are plenty of dog waste stations.

This is particularly exciting for me, because although I’m fond of holding on to a bag of warm puppy poo while I am running, it is beyond words how nice it is to have a trash can available every 50-100 feet.  You can definitely tell that people like to keep this path nice for everyone to use and its refreshing to see how well kept it is.

If you have the chance to enjoy this quaint running path through the Caughlin Ranch area, please share below.  It would be great to hear what you have to think too!

Running and the Team Meme

If running has, or ever will, become part of your life, understanding what it is that makes it so special is definitely important.  I get a lot out of running, whether it is from just staying active or just having the peace of mind that comes with being alone with my thoughts and removed from all of life’s normal problems.  Running, in a sense, has always been very personal for me and provides a great deal of energy and satisfaction.  Recently dawning on me, though, is how I can relate to others through running.  The ability to relate to other people that share a similar interest in running and being able to share experiences adds more excitement and ultimately a lot more meaning.  For me, it comes down to the simple fact that it’s much nicer to share a beer with a group of people that are just as tired and sweaty as you are after a long run.

Fortunately, growing up in the Reno and Lake Tahoe area I’m lucky that there are a ton of events and organizations that inspire running comradery and help share resources to make running an experience for everyone to enjoy.   There are training groups like NSET (Northern Sierra Endurance Training) Reno Running and Fitness, and Silver State Striders that help build personalized fitness coaching programs. Then there are organizations that coordinate running events throughout the region such as Race178, which organizes the Reno Tahoe Odyssey, and Reno 5000 which hosts there annual Running Series including the Downtown River Run.   Knowing that all of these great organizations and events are out there when living or even visiting the area is difficult, which is why I want to be able to promote a place to share running events and stories.

During my short time running, I have tried to participate in pretty much every event in or around the Reno and Lake Tahoe region.  Whether it has been a 5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon, team relay, or fun run, each of the events I have run have been memorable in their own special way.    I wouldn’t say I am a running expert by any means, but when it comes to knowing what events are in the Reno/Tahoe area, I certainly have a pretty lengthy resume.  I’m also not trying to say that I know EVERYTHING there is to know about running in the area, so I will try and highlight some of my favorites as they come up, but I hope to hear suggestions from anyone that’s interested.

Why run Reno Tahoe?

As an accountant, I sit at a desk all day, so in order to keep from getting a little pudgy around the edges, incorporating some type of physical activity in my life is a must.  I decided a while back before college that running was probably the best thing for me to keep in shape.  I used to play football in high school and was part of the Track & Field team, so incorporating running into a weekly routine didn’t seem too daunting of task.  Besides, endurance wasn’t ever an issue for me and it felt sort of nice to mix things up from just running back and forth or in circles around a track. Running has since evolved for me from the necessary evil of keeping in shape to somewhat of an obsession.  I don’t run to boast some sort of persona that I am an all pro marathoner or feel some intense passion from encouraging others.  I run simply because it is enjoyable and something personal for me. I have run 6 marathons, more than 15 half marathons, and participated in a number of relay events.  Most of which, have been in the Reno or Lake Tahoe area, which is where I grew up.  I have come to appreciate the beauty of running in this area and enjoy the vast amount of running trails, paths, events, and running groups the community has to offer.  Whether I am participating in a local 10k through downtown Reno, running the Lake Tahoe marathon, or just going out on a Saturday morning jog with my dogs, there is always a new route or trail to explore.  My goal is to share these amazing running routes and events with other interested runners and give a little insight on what Reno and Lake Tahoe have to offer as running communities. I hope you enjoy my blog!