News.bytes Extra, issue 178 - 10/13/04

Nearly 500 runners take on first Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon

Event is a qualifier for Boston Marathon.

Nearly 500 distance runners converged on the Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail in Lassen County on Sunday, Oct. 10, for the first Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon. Organizers reported that 268 competitors ran in the full 26-mile marathon, 176 ran the 13-mile half marathon, 13 competed in the 5K race and 29 ran the 10K course.

The event was a qualifying race for the famous Boston Marathon.

Racers were enthusiastic about the scenic beauty of the course, the flat terrain and the stable running surface.

Below, runners brave sunrise temperatures in the 20's as they begin the Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon in the forest near Westwood at the west end of the trail.
Runners begin the marathon

Standout runners in the event included Chris Zieman, the top American finisher in the 2004 Boston Marathon, and Scott Jurek, six-time winner of the Western States 100, a 100-mile cross country race from Squaw Valley to Auburn over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Both were enthusiastic about the event. Zieman finished third with a time of 2:50.03 ( a six-minute 23-second per-mile pace). Jurek finished sixth, with a time of 2:56.44. One blind competitor completed the marathon course in about seven hours.

The event was organized by Eric Gould of Redwood Trails, an organization based in Redwood City, Calif.

The Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail is jointly managed by the BLM's Eagle Lake Field Office and the Lassen National Forest. It is a Rails to Trails conversion, following the route of the old Fernley and Lassen Railroad that operated from the early 1900s until 1956. Southern Pacific Railroad abandoned the line in 1978, and the BLM led local efforts to develop the recreational trail. Today it is used by runners, walkers, mountain bike riders and equestrians.

Below: An hour later, runners step along the railroad tracks at the Susanville end of the trail for the start of the half-marathon.

Starters of the half-marathon

Below, runners head toward the Susan River Canyon, where the historic section of railroad tracks ends and the trail begins its meandering course along the scenic Susan River.
runners along the historic railroad tracks

Below, the pack of marathon runners had thinned to small groups at the 24-mile mark.
small groups left at 24-mile mark

An enthusiastic crowd cheers finishers
Above, the cheers of an enthusiastic crowd greeted race finishers at the BLM Hobo Camp Day Use Area.

News.bytes, issue 178