Welcome to the Merced Canyon Endurance Runs! This pair of trail-running events is designed to provide runners with a variety of perspectives on the lovely and oft-overlooked lower sections of the Merced River Canyon on the outskirts of Yosemite National Park. As this is a Humanity Running project, we will be donating all profits from these events to a local non-profit organization - in this case, Adventure Risk Challenge (ARC), an educational organization that is committed to empowering underserved youth through integrated literacy and wilderness experiences in Northern and Central California. By participating in the Merced Canyon Endurance Runs, you will be directly contributing to ARC's new program that serves youth from Sanger, California and their summer immersion programs in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Read more about this organization.
Location, Date and Time
The Merced Canyon Endurance Runs will begin and end at the Merced Recreation Area Visitor's Center at Briceburg. This small day-use area and boat launch will serve as our parking area, race headquarters and Start/Finish. Briceburg is located on Highway 140 near Yosemite National Park, 16 miles west of El Portal and 12 miles from Mariposa. Glass beverage containers are not allowed in this area, or anywhere in the designated Merced River Wild & Scenic corridor. So if you bring beverages to celebrate, support the aluminum or cardboard industries instead.
Also, this area is relatively popular with OHV enthusiasts, so this will be a no headphones event. We do not have exclusive use of these roads and trails, so be prepared to meet vehicles and motorbikes while on 70% of the course. The entire course is open to mountain bikes, so you might encounter those as well. Share the space graciously, this land belongs to all of us!
Both races will take place on April 7th, 2018.
Both races have a race briefing at 8:15 AM, and both start at 8:30 AM.
Prepare to experience the Merced Canyon from within as well as from above! Both races will begin from the Briceburg day-use area parking lot, head up the stairs and cross the beautiful (and recently renovated) Briceburg Bridge.
14k Runners: Once you have crossed the bridge, follow the sign directing you up the Burma Grade. This is a beautiful, gradually ascending, switchbacking jeep road that will lead you up to the rim of the canyon. After three miles of climbing on this jeep road, you will level out briefly before climbing again to your aid station, around the 4.25-mile mark. Here, aid station staff will direct you to your final climb, a .25-mile jaunt to your turnaround point. At the turnaround, enjoy your view of Cloud's Rest, the well-loved Yosemite peak far off in the distance, grab your RED bracelet from the bracelet bucket, and then reverse your course all the way back down the Burma Grade and across the Briceburg Bridge (feel free to stop at the aid station near the bridge along the way). How did that ~4000 feet of elevation change treat ya??
44k Runners: You all get a real treat: the same course as the 14k, but sandwiched between beautiful jaunts along the banks of the mighty Merced. Once you have crossed the bridge at the start, follow signs to the upstream portion of the Merced River Trail. You'll follow this lovely singletrack for 2.1 miles, and then you'll grab your BLUE bracelet from the bucket at the first turnaround (staffed). Retrace your steps, visit the Bridge aid station, and then follow directions for the 14k course. After you have completed this long, beautiful climb and descent (obtaining your RED bracelet along the way), visit the Bridge aid station, and then follow signs for your final leg, downstream along the Briceburg road and Merced River Trail. En route to your final turnaround, you'll pass the Railroad Flat aid station. Once you have reached the confluence of the Merced and its North Fork (your final turnaround, staffed), grab your GREEN bracelet from the bucket and retrace your steps back through the Railroad Flat aid station, all the way down the Briceburg Road, across the Bridge, and down the stairs to the finish!
The 14k will take place on 100% double-track jeep trail. The 44k will be on 30% singletrack trail, 30% double-track jeep trail, and 40% gravel road.
44k Elevation Profile
14k Elevation Profile
14k Runners: You will have an aid station near your halfway point. Due to the rough nature of getting aid supplies up the Burma Grade, we cannot promise a full-fledged aid station up here. Yes, we will have water and electrolyte drink. We will do our best to have basic foodstuffs, such as bars/GUs, potatoes, chips, and candies. Bottom line: come prepared to carry all the liquid and food/GUs that you need for the race, and use our one aid station to supplement. It will be hot. Please plan accordingly.
44k Runners: You will have five aid stations along your course. Aid stations 1, 3, 4, and 5 will have your normal ultramarathon fare, with water and electrolyte drink, potatoes, fruit, potato chips, candies, pb&j squares, etc. This is a very small, grassroots affair, so please do not expect to find anything out of the ordinary. Whiners will not be tolerated when it comes to aid station fare. If you need something special dietarily, please bring it yourself. The longest distance you'll go without an aid station is approximately 4.5 miles, be prepared to have what you need for that long.
All finishers of either race will receive a Merced Canyon Endurance Runs logo-printed trucker hat.
Male and female winners of each race will receive a filled growler of local brew!
Finally, everyone gets to keep their MCER turnaround bracelets as mementos of the event.
Entry fee for the 14k will be $35. Entry fee for the 44k will be $55. Each fee will increase by $10 on March 7th. There will also be a small registration fee added on, so that Ultrasignup can make the RD's life easier. If you shop around, you'll notice that these fees are about one-half to two-thirds the price of comparable distance races. The point of this race is to expose the beauty of the Merced Canyon to a wider audience and to raise funds for local trail-building and restoration projects, not to make a profit. Once race logistics are paid for, all extra cash from these fees will go to our beneficiary for this event, Adventure Risk Challenge (ARC).
No matter how we play this game, parking may get TIGHT. We will have two experienced parking attendants on hand to help everyone and make sure that we can all pack in. With that being said, we DO NOT have exclusive use of this area, and will share it with other day-only users. Come prepared with the knowledge that you may need to park in a pullout along the highway, either right across from the visitor's center or a short walk east along the highway.
The Merced Canyon Endurance Runs