Healing the Mind, Body and Spirit While Running a Marathon

By Oscar

The Avenue of the Giants marathon in the spring and the Humboldt Redwoods marathon in the fall in Northern California are not like any other marathon. Held beneath gigantic trees as tall as 30-story buildings (52-feet-thick circumference), these two marathons leave a lasting impression on runners. The 2,000-year-old trees inspire profound thoughts and heal the mind, body and spirit while runners push their bodies to the limits.

Girth is not usually a word I like to hear when talking about my fitness, but “girth” is the only word that comes to mind when describing the massive trunks of the King and Queen of trees — the Coastal Redwoods of California. More than 52 feet thick and 370 feet tall (200 feet taller than Niagara Falls), these Goliaths dwarf all others. Silently commanding respect with their mere magnitude, they are the largest living things on our planet and they’re only found in two places: a remote area of China and two forests in California.

Humboldt Redwoods State Park on the coast of Northern California is an appropriate setting for the king of races — the Marathon.

The Race

The Avenue of the Giants Marathon began in the spring of 1972. Local runners wanted a practice race to help them train for the Olympic Trials. Thirty out of 32 finished the race beneath the towering trees that first year including Frank Shorter (who went on to win the Olympic Gold Medal) and Don Kardong (who won the Bronze).

By 1978 more than 2,000 registered to run. Worried about the impact of so many people, the Park Service asked the Six Rivers Running Club (who hosts the event each year) to limit the race to 2,000 entrants, which meant they would have to turn away runners (something they didn’t want to do). A sister marathon was born: the Humboldt Redwoods Marathon.

Held in the fall, this second marathon reopened the doors for everyone to experience this unique location. (Note: In 1982 they added the half marathon, and since have added a relay and a 10K in case you’re not ready for the full marathon.)

If your idea of a marathon is a big-city rat race, these sister marathons are not for you. No crowds of people, no sirens, no helicopters … in their place — primeval wilderness. Majestic and stoic, these trees exude power. They’ve survived the last ice age as well as fires, floods, coastal windstorms (hurricanes and winds gusting at 120 knots) and major earthquakes (caused by the shifting of the earth’s tetonic plates).


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categoriaRunning commentoComments Off dataSeptember 12th, 2011

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