Foothill Flyers Race Reviews
Last update Jan. 25, 2022

Calico trail 30K/50K

4th Sunday in January, Calico Ghost Town, NE of Barstow CA, 7:00 AM Start.

Race info click here. Register: click on link above or contact Andy Ziemer at (760) 281-4649 or email

calico 50K 2013

Calico according to John Radich in 2013:
With temperatures in the low 40's and windy blustery conditions Edgar Zaralejo and myself took the challenging course with a 30km and 50km distance to run. 175 runners were entered. Edgar Zarzalejo entering the 30km in which he finished an impressive 10th overall, nice job Edgar! A prelude to his upcoming first ultra in May, the Wild Wild West 50km. Runners start and finish at the Historic Calico Ghost Town, looping through the rustic and spectacular scenery of Calico desert mountain ranges rich with colorful California mining history. Respect to the always popular Ridgecrest 30km/50km, Calico Trail race is considerably more challenging with more elevation climb, the last 3 miles spiked with rolling hills and one last climb to the finish that works the tar out of you, can't forget mentioning rocky and descending 'butt sliding' Odessa Canyon at 23 miles. See the video a runner took as she decended the canyon. Discovery Trails delivers a great race, well marked, great aid stations with awesome volunteers who braved the cold for us were the real hero's. I was happy to return to Calico Trail Race 2013, having the flu last year kept me away. Looking for a fun and challenging trail race for next year? I highly recommend the Calico Trail Race.

The first part of the course meanders past may old mines on jeep roads.

The fun begins after the first 30K/50K split around mile 12-13 with some rocky rain rutted canyons.

Calico 50K according to John Radich in 2005:

Usually you do not know what to expect from a first year race. This is all common among runners. "How well it be organized? Will it be well marked?" Having just recently recently finished the Calico 50km trail run on the 16th of January, I can honestly say this race is a winner and offers much from my running experience. This would be my very first time to Calico.

Calico Ghost Town, founded in 1881, is a historic silver mining town 10 miles north of Barstow, (140 miles North of Los Angeles) California. Purchased in 1950 by Walter Knott of Knott's berry Farm, the town was restored to it's glory of the richest silver strike of the 1800's. In 1890 the world value of silver dropped. Fortunately for the town of Calico, rich deposits of borax were discovered in the Calico Mountains. Walter Knott donated the town of Calico to the the county of San Bernardino in 1967. Since then, it has been a county regional park, preserving a glorious history.

The race begins a 7am, a chilly 38 degrees greets the runners. The race begins in the middle of the Calico Ghost Town and where we would do a long 31 mile loop and finish back where we began. 83 ultra runners are greeted to a beautiful pink sunrise. Due to the cancellation of Avalon 50, there was an influx of runners into this race. The first 4 miles are rather boring, we are running along a paved road and eventually come onto the dirt road which is well marked. Soon we are running into the beautiful rustic Calico Mountains and the course now a gentle grade, steepens. The dirt road was no doubt used by over road vehicles and 4 wheeling people but yet runnable and yet rocky in places which tested your concentration and mettle. Soft sandy spots from the rains sometimes made a challenge for footing. The air was clean, crisp, some of us runners noticed a unique smell of the area, perhaps due to all the rains.

Jeff Robbins, a long time and well respected ultra runner who I have known for years and Vernon Morris who has been a top 10 finisher in the Pikes Peak marathon several times and local champion cross country coach, both took the time to set this race up for the runner. Being runners themselves, they knew what was needed and wanted to create this race and make it work. The further miles I ran in this race, the more I began to appreciate the area and the challenge Calico 50km were giving us runners.

The aid stations were great, the volunteers were all very enthusiastic to service the runners. Many of them have never been involved in a race such as this. The aid station food was great, you had everything you needed, you were treated like "royalty" at each aid station." How could you run 31 miles?- I don't drive that far!" were some of the comments we heard from the volunteers along with their cheers and whata way to go. Quite uplifting to hear from these local folks.

Runners do spread out on this course which I liked, the "wide open" adventure running made it more appealing for me. The highest point we reached was 3,800 feet and then a sudden long steep grade greets you, your quads and knees quit suddenly. The course really toughens up after 18 miles. Hills then laced with steep down hills, one nasty slippery rocky canyon section tested my wits, short decent which seemed like miles, there I slipped on the loose rocks as if they were marbles and almost went head over the trail. A type of prickly cactus saved my fall but I felt like a "pin cushion" as I tried to pull the stinging needles out from my bloody legs and arms. Luckily no serious damage, I picked up pace knowing I was in a decent position and moving pretty well on 2 hours of sleep.

It never became that warm, almost perfect running conditions. The last 3 miles of the Calico 50km are a real "mental tease" to the runner. Rolling steep and short hills, they keep coming at you, up, down, up down. We even run through an old mining cave where silver was once plentiful. Finally you see Calico Ghost Town, the cars in the parking lot below and think to yourself you got it whipped, your on that final stretch. Not true! We loop back out and come down the parking lot and finish the last mile on a climb that makes you yell and really dig deep to finish this last tiring section. Tourist are looking oddly at us not knowing there is a race going on. The finish was really unique, you cross the ribbon chute right down town Calico. A mocked gunfight takes place, for a moment I thought I was really back in the old west.

Fellow Flyer and ultra runner extraordinare Hal Chiasson finished in a sterling 6 hours for a 1st place finish in his age division. Hal was awarded an "Official Calico Painted saw" as his trophy.
Legendary ultra runner Bill Dickey, friend of many years (lost track on how many now!) mentor to me and many of us also finished strongly. Yours truly finished 3rd in my age group-those 50 year olds are tough to keep up with these days! President Mark Ryne was there with us in spirit, a NASA space project prevented Mark from be with us at Calico, "hey Mark, gotta do this one next year"!

Calico 50km will be around for a long time. Many kudos to Jeff and Vernon for their great work and many of the unsung hero's who made this race happen. A lot of good team work and coordination involved. Good work guys! It won't surprise me that next years Calico 50km entry will double. The Calico 50km was a success and a challenge and really fun to run. Keep Calico 50km on your list for next year. I certainly will!

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