Race in the Most Beautiful Place: Mammoth Lakes Set to Host Array of Endurance Events
From the gravity-fueled mayhem of the Kamikaze Bike Games to the podium of AMGEN Tour of California to Mammoth Lakes Half Marathon– which follows a training route that’s led some to the Olympics–Mammoth Lakes’ race calendar offers something both for the world’s elite distance athletes and those just looking for some friendly fun in the mountains.
It’s easy to see why Olympic medalists like U.S. Women’s Marathon record-holder Deena Kastor and Meb Keflezighi call Mammoth Lakes their training home. An incredibly supportive community, jaw dropping scenery, an expansive trail system and world-class facilities combine to make Mammoth Lakes unique.
Those same attributes make Mammoth Lakes an ideal venue for races that appeal to a wide cross section of athletes, this summer’s lineup includes:
- Mammoth Lakes Half Marathon & 5K (June 18) The sister race of the iconic San Diego Half Marathon, the Mammoth Lakes Half Marathon has quickly become a favorite among elite and amature runners since it started in 2013. The course itself begins along picturesque horseshoe lake, rewarding participants as it traverses the shore lines of the Twin Lakes before descending into town for a rowdy finish line and post-race party. Like several of the races on this list, the Mammoth Half is a non-profit, with 100% of the proceeds committed to local community service projects and charities.
- June Lake Triathlon (July 8) Dubbed “the toughest race in the most beautiful place,” the June Lake Triathlon lives up to both those promises. With several course distances, including a half Ironman (1.2 mile swim, 50 mile bike, 13.1 mile run), Olympic distance (1500m swim, 25 mile bike, 6.5 mile run) and a sprint course (400m swim, 8 mile bike, 2.25 mile run) competitors can bite off as much beauty and pain as they want. All three courses run alongside the shores of June Lake, just outside of Yosemite’s Eastern gate. And every bit of that beauty is necessary to distract competitors from terrain that features more than its fair share of elevation gain.
- Summer Ezakimak (Aug. 12) Challenge yourself – and gravity – on an uphill moonlit 5k race from the base of Mammoth Mountain to the summit on a mountain bike or by foot. The race will follow the legendary Kamikaze bike trail. Spectators and family can greet you at the finish line and cheer you on from the summit, with an evening gondola ride to the top. Everyone can witness the July full moon rise high in the sky, and then get down at the 11,053 Sunset & Full Moon Summit Party. The race starts at 7pm
- GRANITEMAN Challenge (Sept. 8-10) The three day, multi-sport challenge starts with a 2.6 mile swim in June Lake to kick things off on Friday. GRANITEMAN challengers follow that up with the Mammoth Gran Fondo on Saturday (more on that below) and a 12.4 mile run over Tioga pass on Sunday. In total the course runs 116.8 miles through some of the Eastern Sierra’s most beautiful landscapes, with a total of 9,663 feet of climbing for good measure. Not your average weekend in the mountains!
- Mammoth Gran Fondo (Sept. 9) When the Mammoth Gran Fondo rolls out of Mammoth Lakes in early September it will take cyclists on a journey past 13,000 foot mountain peaks, ancient volcanic craters, and Mono Lake, known for its extremely rare tufa formations, on one of the most spectacularly scenic routes in North America and the vast majority of it (75 miles) are closed to through traffic.
- Kamikaze Bike Games (Sept. 14-17) In the 80’s Mammoth Mountain hosted the first ever lift-accessed mountain biking race. Back then, it was a just a couple renegades on suspension-less bikes wearing football shoulder pads and soccer shin guards. The sport has come a long way since then, but no other event on the mountain biking calendar speaks to the soul of those first couple guinea pigs quite like the Kamikaze Bike Games. Bridging the sport’s past and present into a weekend of two-wheeled shenanigans, KBG is a bucket lister for any mountain biker who has as much fun on a bike as they do off it.
In addition to the major events listed above, every week you’ll find something going on in Mammoth Lakes, whether it’s a group run or ride or a town race series event. The Mammoth Lakes Crib is a great resource for connecting into the local scene.