Overall Rating
Overall Rating (2 Reviews)
4
(2 Ratings)  (2 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2.5
SCENERY
5
PRODUCTION
4
SWAG
3.5
The Avalon Benefit 50 Mile/50K Run is the oldest Ultra Trail Run in California with the 50 Mile run entering its 41st year. The 50K joined the party three years ago and instantly became a California classic in trail running traversing all of the same trails that the older run … MORE
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Recent reviews

    daniel FIRST-TIMER '22

    This was my first 50 mile ultra and my second ultra marathon ever. As far as 50 mile ultras go, it is an easy course in that it is all … MORE

    This was my first 50 mile ultra and my second ultra marathon ever. As far as 50 mile ultras go, it is an easy course in that it is all fire road and (poorly) paved road and the elevation gain is *only* 6800. This is not an easy race, but it an easy race compared to other 50 milers, which feature technical terrain and often higher elevation gain. I would say that while it is an *easy* first 50 miler, it might not be for everyone if you prefer running on technical single track.

    Despite living in Long Beach, this was my first time to Santa Catalina Island. Getting there was pretty easy. I took the Catalina Express out of Long Beach and got an AirBNB with some friends who were also running the race.

    Check in was quick and straight forward. There was not a ton of pre-race communication, but it was fine. There was no sort of expo like what you may find at larger marathons, but I am starting to see this is the case for ultras in general.

    The race organizers offered an option 1 hour early start for the 50 milers and also allowed the 50 km runners to start an hour early at the regular 50 miler start. The course began in the dark and was pretty well marked with glow sticks leading up a climb to Airport Road. This was the only part of the race that was kind of technical and more akin to double track trail.

    Once the sun rose, the views were stunning. The entire island is beautiful and runners are treated to jaw dropping view after jaw dropping view. The island is also known for it’s herds of buffalo and other wildlife. I was unfortunate and didn’t see any, but many other runners did and I heard that sometimes the buffalo are even walking up or down the roads the runners are on. I did see some eagles and hawks, but that was about it in terms of wildlife. Either way, I give the scenery a perfect score. It is hard to beat.

    The only real complaints I have revolve around course marking and aid stations. First off, I found course marking to be lacking. While the race course is pretty straight forward and the organizers made an effort to place arrows to point runners in the right direction, the signs right after the 50k/50mile split were placed somewhat ambiguously and I ended up running up to some random guy’s RV who had a giant wooden sign that said “Gear Drop.” I thought that was were our drop bags were, but apparently it was just some random camper. No idea why he had that sign. That just seems like an obvious place to mark “Wrong Way.”

    Secondly, I want to say that I am super grateful and appreciative of the aid station volunteers. They rock. However, the aid stations seemed a little bit lacking to me. Perhaps I was just spoiled by the amazing aid stations at my first 50k which had tons of food options, but most of these aid stations only had potatoes, pretzels, fruit, and candy. They also had water and electrolyte mix. I guess my real complaint is because in the latter half, the last 3 aid stations were a bit lacking for me. One of them had a ton of meat options and liquor shots. I mainly try to eat vegan and would have loved some salted potatoes, but all they had that was veggie friendly was some cinnamon roll cake thing. I was just not feeling sweets by then. Then the last two aid stations seemed to only have oranges, bananas, and chocolate by the time I got there. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. I am very grateful for what they did have and the volunteers. I just really wanted something with more carbs like potatoes or peanut butter sandwiches. In general I give the course support a 3/5. It wasn’t bad, but it was also not amazing. It was just fine.

    The only actually negative experience I had had to do with the Catalina Island Company tour vehicles. I understand that that’s how they make a living, but between miles 35-45, the tour vehicles were just zooming past all the runners and blowing up clouds of dirt. I would understand if it was inevitable, but it wasn’t. Plenty of fire department, sheriff, and some personal vehicles passed us and none kicked up clouds of dirt. I think the RD should bring up this valid complaint to the tour company. Not cool. It sure does not make me want to go back on a family trip.

    Lastly, the race swag was pretty great. The medals were wooden and pretty neat. I enjoyed the simple design. I also liked the race shirt they gave out. It was a technical long sleeve. A lot of race shirts I never end up using again, but this is a really good one.

    In summary, this is a great first 50 miler. The scenery is beautiful throughout and the course is relatively easy, but this is still a tough race. The last 20 miles were tough for me and I felt like I got the full ultra experience. Descending into town and turning onto the finish line was a magical experience. I would recommend this course, the 50k or 50 miler to anyone for a first ultra.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    My Report
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    The Avalon 50K/50M is a benefit run on Catalina Island in Southern California. It benefits the Avalon Lions Club and the many programs they support. The course is mostly on … MORE

    The Avalon 50K/50M is a benefit run on Catalina Island in Southern California. It benefits the Avalon Lions Club and the many programs they support. The course is mostly on fire roads with about 10 miles of paved road (5 miles on the ridge and the last 3 miles descending to the finish). The 50K has about 4500 ft in elevation gain, and is quite runnable. It’s quite exposed (not much shade), but the breeze from the ocean kept things cool in the morning. It got a little warm later in the day when we were running in the interior. This is a great way to explore the island. The potential to see buffalo and foxes is there but, sadly, I did not see them. The aid stations had the usual trail race food (oranges, bananas, baked potatoes & salt; one aid station had bison burger) and drinks (water, electrolytes, Coke, ginger ale, etc). It’s a cupless race (great for the environment!); they sell reusable cups during bib pick up. The views are spectacular! Race swag includes a woodallion medal and a long-sleeved tech shirt (unisex). We suggested to the Lions Club that maybe they should have gear for sale next time (like Catalina Island branded merchandise). Finish line food was like the aid station fare (no beer), but there are lots of restaurants in Avalon to go to after the race for food and drinks. Race finishes by the pier.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3
    My Media

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    M_Sohaskey Jan 23, 2018 at 6:24pm

    Congrats Peach! Wow, you're knocking out tough ultras these days like they ain't no thing. Sorry for the lack of bison this time, though the upside is that now you'll… MORE

    Congrats Peach! Wow, you're knocking out tough ultras these days like they ain't no thing. Sorry for the lack of bison this time, though the upside is that now you'll have to come back and run again :) And 10 miles of paved road is quite a lot for a 31-mile race, glad at least it was broken up and not all at once. Catalina is a glaring hole in my running résumé, so I'd love to join you sometime and earn my first woodallion. Thanks for the awesome recap, and nice photo of the harbor! LESS

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