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Trail Review: El Moro Canyon, Crystal Cove State Park, CA

Trails: 16 named trails

Miles of Trails: Around 17 miles total

Cost: $15 for an All Day Parking Pass


It’s a tradition in my wife’s family that we go to Newport Beach, CA for a week each summer, and it’s been that way as long as I’ve known her (going on 13 years now). After welcoming a new baby into our family just a month before the scheduled trip in 2011 we were unable to go last year, but the year before was my first trip to Newport Beach as a runner. In fact, it was only my 2nd or 3rd week of running, and I bought my first pair of “minimal” shoes while I was there (Nike Free 3.0s). During my stay on the beach, I ran the boardwalk a total of three times for a grand total of maybe 10 miles my entire vacation. Being a much stronger runner than I was then, and having discovered trail running as well, I was determined to not spend all my time running a concrete boardwalk that never turns, ascends, or descends. I was sure that there had to be some great trails in a place as beautiful as Orange County, so I set to work searching for some online and stumbled into Orange County Trail Runners, who graciously has a map on their website with great trails all over the area.

A look at the canyon’s hills from the parking lot

What I found was Crystal Cove State Park, and more specifically, El Moro Canyon, which is just across the PCH from the oceanside park. The two areas of the park really couldn’t be more different. The oceanside park has several miles of flat-ish trails winding through scenic oceanfront vegetation, tide pools, and beachside cliffs. Across the street there are canyons, river trails, bluffs, and ridges waiting, along with picturesque vistas as you run towards the ocean. Unlike the oceanside trails though, they come with a price: the trails can consist of some very tough climbs, with a low-point of around 50 ft above sea level and a high-point nearing 1100 ft.

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By on July 4, 2012 in Trail Running

Moonlight Madness 30K

Race Name: Desert Dash Moonlight Madness 30K

Date: November 12, 2011

Distance: 30K

Footwear: New Balance MT-101

Time: 4:11:18

So where do you start when you write about the most difficult, but also most fun, race one has run to this point of one’s life?

Let me start by saying that previous to this race, I enjoyed running trails. Unfortunately, running “trails” within running distance (or a short drive) of my house mostly consists of running dirt roads and Jeep trails through the desert. Having said that, I believe I can now say that I LOVE running trails, having spent about 4 hours on mostly singletrack trails winding through Cottonwood Valley on the southwest side of the Las Vegas Valley. As long as I can talk some runner friends into joining me for some runs, I will absolutely be running these trails in the future; especially since they are only a 10- to 15-minute drive from my house.

Okay, back to the race. Traditionally, this race has been held solely as “Moonlight Madness” by Desert Dash, a local running group/race organizer. However, this year was the beginning of the Day and Night series, allowing runners to choose between running a 5K, 10K, half marathon or 30K in the morning or at night (or both!). Since I had missed the previous Moonlight Madness Half Marathon in May due to my IT-band injury, I never even considered running the morning races. The day before the race, as I was picking up my packet, I started questioning the decision of running 18.6 miles in the dark on trails I had never set foot on previously. Why? As of packet pickup, I was the sole registrant for the nighttime 30K. Yep. Me, myself, and I, along with almost 19-miles of trails in the middle of the desert in the dark. What could possibly go wrong?

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By on November 16, 2011 in Race Reports, Trail Running

2011 Hoover Dam Half Marathon

Race Name: Hoover Dam Marathon, 1/2 Marathon & 10K

Date: October 29, 2011

Distance: Half Marathon

Footwear: Merrell Trail Glove

Time: 1:56:44

After logging a 20-mile run the previous Saturday, followed up by logging 20 more miles this week leading into today’s run, I am AMAZED at the time I was able to pull off today. I might be in a little better shape than I thought I was. Also, woohoo for PRs! Beat my previous half marathon from  Surf City in February by 30 seconds, even with 1400 feet of elevation gain!

The Race

I decided to run this race as part of my Calico Racing Half Slam, an extra award for completing four or more half marathons within a calendar year with Calico Racing. A friend of mine, Charlene, and I decided to run together and pace each other with the goal of her first sub-2:00 half marathon and my second. We figured out what our average mile split needed to be, subtracted a little time for error, and set my Garmin 405c to track us based on those calculations.

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By on November 2, 2011 in Race Reports, Trail Running