AVALON, Calif. – This year, the Catalina Island Conservancy combined two of its popular running events - the Eco Marathon and the Half Marathon - into one exciting event called the "Trail Venture" held on Nov. 8. The Conservancy's goal was to create a weekend that highlighted the Island's rugged beauty while providing an event with low impact on the land.
It worked! This year’s event drew 846 people, a substantial increase over the 499 who participated in 2013. The Eco Marathon also was just voted “Best Trail Race” by readers of Competitor magazine, which plans to publish the results of this year’s run in its January issue.
It was named “Best Island Run” by Runner's World magazine in 2012. It was also labeled as “the hardest race you will ever love.” These annual running events contribute to the local economy by bringing new people to Catalina, and they help support the Conservancy’s work of protecting and restoring the Island.
While management of distance events on Catalina Island has changed hands over the years, one thing has remained constant: The thrill of running through the Island’s rugged wilderness.
Ask Hans Albrecht, the man who started it all in 1974. Hans and friends needed a place to train for the strenuous Western States 100, and Hans selected Catalina. Hans thought it would be great to come 26 miles across the sea to run 26 miles on Catalina, according to ultra-marathoner Kent Holder, a friend of Albrecht who ran some of the Island’s earliest events.
It was under Hans’ management in 1978 that “the Catalina Marathon was born,” recalled Holder. The years have passed, but the unsurpassed beauty of Catalina Island has improved with the active management provided by the Conservancy.
On March 14, 2015, runners will return to the Island for the Catalina Island Marathon, which is the Conservancy’s other well-known running event. In 2012, the Weather Channel ranked the Catalina Island Marathon as No. 6 out of 15 of the “World's Toughest Marathons.”
This event also features the “Famous Catalina Island Tile” finisher's medal crafted by Catalina resident Robin Cassidy. In 2014, 922 people competed in the Catalina Island Marathon. We are hoping to top that number in 2015.
If you haven’t registered yet, please visit the “events” page on our website to learn more and to register. If you compete in both the Eco Marathon and the Catalina Island Marathon, you will be awarded the prized “Double Buffalo Medal.” So please join us, challenge yourself and experience Catalina’s wildlands!
To register for the March 14 marathon, please visit https://www.simpleracereg.com/forms/2015_Catalina_Island_Marathon/
By Christie Collins
Christie Collins is the Catalina Island Conservancy’s director of leases and special projects. For more information, please visit our website.
The Catalina Island Conservancy was formed in 1972 and is one of California’s oldest land trusts. Its mission is to be a responsible steward of its lands through a balance of conservation, education and recreation. The Conservancy protects the magnificent natural and cultural heritage of Santa Catalina Island, stewarding approximately 42,000 acres of land, 62 miles of rugged shoreline and more than 80 miles of trails. It operates the Airport in the Sky, Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden and two nature centers. Twenty miles from the mainland, the Island is home to more than 60 plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world. - Watch Video
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