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Last update March 14, 2024
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Wild Wild West Marathon/50M/50K/10 Mile

1st Saturday in October, Lone Pine, CA, 6:00 AM Start.
App and info click on race name above
The third oldest marathon behind Pikes Peak and Catalina.

Don't let the 7th toughest marathon in the US rating scare you. Yes, it has some steep hills and high altitude, but the views of Mt. Whitney, Sierras and the Alabama Hills are well worth cruising this one - walk the ups and jog the flats and down hills. 2008 Event - How may steps does it take to finish the Wild Wild West Marathon? 63,019 according to Maria.

More than 400 movies and 1500 commercials have been shot in the Alabama Hills and surrounding area including Gunga Din, How The West Was Won and many Westerns. When you are in Lone Pine, be sure to visit the Museum of Western Film History at 701 S. Main St. as you enter Lone Pine. A lot of fun to see the old western movie star history and films which were shot along the Alabama Hills-- John Wayne, Roy Rogers, Clint Eastwood, Humphrey Bogart to name a few all made epic films along the course we run on. Worth the time.

Most first time runners do the 10 mile or just go for the camp out and road trip adventure. The Badwater ultra ends at the Whitney Portals which is also one of the marathon/50/50K aid stations at mile 8 and the highest altitude point in the race. The course profile map at right is on the 2006 finishers T-shirt.

The only real up hill is the first 2.5 miles which every one does. After coming down to around mile 4, the 10 mile splits off to the right and the longer distances to the left and up to the Portals. A shuttle van begins taking runners back to get their cars at 11AM going from the Lone Pine Park finish line to the start at Tuttle Creek.

Everyone starts at the same time at the Tuttle Creek Campground - 5200 ft. If you are slow, consider leaving an hour early - just let them know at the finish line. The first 3 miles are up, up, up along Tuttle Creek to the base of the Sierras not too far from the bottom of the snow line in most years. Then you go down into an arroyo and cross the creek by carefully balancing on a board. Up the other side of the arroyo and down hill to the 10 mile/marathon and 50K split at mile 4. Don't make a mistake like Larry Gothard did when he entered the 10 mile and did not realize he took the wrong turn at the split 'til he saw the 12 mile marker on the marathon. This became his first marathon. The 10 mile goes down hill in a sand wash and then turns back up hill 2.5 miles to the camp ground after passing through a wooded area.

The marathon, after the split, continues along the base of the Sierras passing over some more arroyos and 2 creek crossings to the Whitney Portals, the highest point - 6600 ft msl. There is an aid station about mile 5.5 with lots of goodies to get you up the next 2 mile climb including beer. After the Portals you have a looong downhill dropping over 2000 ft in 6 miles to the North end of the Alabama Hills and your last stream crossing.

The course winds through the hills and you could swear there are indians behind every rock and a stage coach about to round the bend. Hundreds of western movies have been filmed in these hills. The Mother Hill aid station at mile 17 has had tortilla chips and bean dip in the past and strange how good it tastes there. Prior to 2003, the marathon rejoined the wooded area of the 10 mile as you come out of the Alabama's. But now you don't have that last tough 2.5 miles up hill, and instead goes over a very scenic single track trail over the Alabama's on a horse trail down into Lone Pine. Most say it is just as hard although averaging down hill because of some steep uphills as you wind up and over some valley ridges. Some years when the marathon was in May, all the varied colored wild flowers were out. Once you cross over the LA Aquaduct you turn left for about a mile past some ranches and the last aid station. Two more right turns and down Hwy 395 to finish in the park.

Lone Pine is a 3.5 hour drive North up Hwy. 395 from Arcadia - Highways 210/5/14/395 or 210/15/395.

For lodging, you can stay in a motel in town or camp at the Tuttle Creek Campground - it used to be free, but now the BLM charges $5 per night. We have a lot of fun around the camp fire the night before (bring firewood). Plan on driving up Friday morning in order to get a good camp site close to the group. There are bathrooms but no drinking water so bring what ever you need for two nights. Showers are available at the Lone Pine High School for runners and there is a packet pickup and spaghetti feed Friday night there - most get there at 5 PM to schmooze with fellow trail runners they have not seen since the previous year. At the park finish, there is a shuttle that runs back to the camp ground every 45 minutes.

We have had all kinds of weather from hot to a thin layer of snow on the ground. 39-60 degrees at the start and 65-85 by noon. Just check the weather report before you leave and dress accordingly. Aid stations are every 3 miles and a single bottle pack with food and a camera are suggested for the marathon and ultra. All finishers receive a handmade clay medallion.
submitted by Tom O'Hara

John Radich comments on the 2015 race:

I just ran my 28th Wild Wild West 50km trail race in Lone Pine, CA. The race takes place along the scenic Alabama Hills paralleling the spectacular Eastern Sierras with majestic Mt Whitney towering above us at 14,492 ft. The course is run on sandy rocky trails turning into hilly dirt roads. Wild Wild West trail is the second oldest trail race in California with a colorful history of attracting elite runners to the first time marathon or ultra marathon runner.

We started at 6:00 am greeted with a beautiful sunrise peaking over the Sierras. The course is a long steep climb for two miles peaking at 6,500 ft. and long down hills and climbs back and down to the finish at Lone Pine Park. Temperatures were in mid-80's, (which is quite warm at 5,000 ft.!) runners encountered rattlesnakes and wind storms during the last five miles, testing any runner's mettle. We crossed over the Mt Whitney Road which is part of the last 13 miles of the Badwater 135 race course. The race has aid stops every 4-5 miles--oranges, bananas, pretzels, sport drinks...keeping hydrated being runners #1 priority.

Despite the sandy and rocky course, I had no blister issues; wearing trail gaiters kept the loose pebbles from sneaking inside my shoes. The heat and wind challenge your pace and running times, easy to get discouraged out there, you may be having a "bad patch", runners will give words of encouragement that you will work through it and do...quite inspiring helping first time 50km runners. It takes a lot of heart and perseverance to run this course; the spirit de corps of trail runners being quite strong and helping each other thus displaying the true character and camaraderie of our sport.

The first half of the race was tough for me to relax and focus mentally, finally finding a 'groove' I was able to lock it in to the finish, second place in my age division with a finishing time 6:42. With hundreds of races under my legs, each race still being unique with its own persona, humbled and honored I can run these ultra marathons, with the Wild Wild West 50km as a good prep training for the Badwater 135 Ultramarathon in July.
Happy trails,
John "JR" Radich

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