Raptor Ridge is an awesome trail racing experience. The first 4 miles and last 4 miles are flat as a pancake. Too bad Raptor Ridge is right in the middle!
The Raptor Ridge half marathon is an out-n-back course that begins with 4.5 miles of flat and fast jeep road that winds east towards the San Diego Safari Park and Raptor Ridge. The single track up Raptor Ridge is completely doable for stronger runners. Runners who are not as strong should expect to "do some hiking" up to the top. At the top you are rewarded by views of the entire valley. October is a gorgeous time of year and the view at the top of the ridge is impressive. As you continue down the other side of Raptor Ridge you really make up time. Lean into the hill and run fast down the opposite side as you make your way back into the flats and towards your turnaround point.
After the turnaround, running up the backside of the ridge is easier than running up the single track. The hill is longer and on less of an incline. Try to run all the way to the top as you feel your quads burning. As you crest the top get back on the single track and "trail-surf" all the way to the bottom. This is trail running at its best. Running downhill, really fast with great views all around you. Spectacular!
As you run along the rolling jeep road toward the 5th aid station with the mountains on your left make sure to ready your bottle for filling. It is only 3 miles to go now and it is all flat. Now you are on your way back. Farms are on both sides of you and you can settle into a nice, comfortable pace as you near the end. As you come closer you can hear the sounds of cowbells ringing and volunteers calling "Runner"! It gives you a jolt of energy and will allow you to speed up as you cross the finish.
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