Trail Running

Race SLO Community Ambassador - Jarod Contreras

Our Race SLO ambassadors share their stories about motivation, determination, endurance and growth to inspire us and remind us that we are on this journey together.

Home Trails

The early morning sun illuminated the fog hanging over the ocean as my father and I power hiked up a favorite local climb: Pirate Trail. As the name suggests, this trail is wild and rebellious in its difficulty. On that quiet summer day in September of 2017 both my dad and I had a lot on our minds, for much the same reason. In a couple short weeks I would be heading off to college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Meaning that I would be leaving my family to attend a school four hours north, a fact that was causing my dad and I much consternation on that dusty run.

The act of moving out of the house for the first time causes many parents and children consternation, I know, not just due to the significance of the shift, but also due to the realization that the child is no longer a child. As Pirate pitched ever upwards our thoughts were on much the same idea, but there was also something more. My family and I are best friends, which may sound odd coming from a 19 year-old, but in most cases I would much rather embark on an adventure with my family more than anyone else. My dad, mom, sister, and I are a tribe and leaving the day to day rhythms and security of that tribe would be one of the hardest things I’d ever do, both my dad and I knew.

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As we approached the top of Pirate we began to discuss our love of our home trails. The place where I began to run and trained to adventure everywhere from the Grand Canyon to the Sierras to the Bryce Canyon 100, which I had run just a few months before. Leaving my home trails would not be as hard as leaving my family, but challenging nonetheless.

Instead of turning around at the top of the climb to do another lap, as we usually do, we decided to do some exploring. We headed off into the open lands surrounding the small neighborhood atop the hill, running and hiking with smiles as we opened our horizons on the trails we ran everyday. As we made our way overland we chatted easily, about nothing and everything, as we tend to do. The hillside pitched steeply upwards yet again and we traversed the sagebrush, eventually finding ourselves standing on a small road. We walked down the road a bit and emerged onto more trails unknown to us. The vista from that spot was magnificent, encompassing our trails, the Pacific, and Catalina Island, all sitting quietly in the distance.


Looking out at where I had grown up, and faced with the coming change, I began to cry. I looked over at my dad and he began to cry as well. We held each other tightly and through our tears we carried on a conversation that I will forever hold dear. My dad emphasized to me how close, in the grand scheme of things, my hometown was from college. He told me that I must remember that he, my mom, and my sister were always there for me, no matter what. He reminded me how much he loved me.

That conversation armed me with the confidence to approach college with a new outlook: as an adventure to be had and a time to grow, not as a terrible change. The fact that that exchange occurred on a trail was significant to me as well. It signified and solidified the notion to me that whatever happened in the coming year of college I must remember that I would forever be able to return to the solace I find in a run in the mountains and the subsequent peace that I find in myself.

Third Annual SLO Ultra a Perfect Ending of Summer

On Saturday, September 1, Dairy Creek Event Center at El Chorro Park welcomed SLO Ultra trail enthusiasts for the third annual event produced by the Central Coast's endurance sport leader Race SLO. 700 runners and hikers savored the exclusive opportunity to access the private trails of Camp SLO, Cal Poly and SLO County Parks to compete in a Road Runners of America (RRCA) 50K State Trail Championship, cross country half marathon and a trail 5K. Children enjoyed a half-mile race at the Dairy Creek Golf Course. Epic scenery and warm weather made for a spectacular day of outdoor activities. In addition to the races, public was invited to a free Race SLO Dirt Festival, with live music performance by Cuesta Ridge, expo with vendors from running industry, hot BBQ and cold Lagunitas brew. Camping was available for the participants in El Chorro Park. The 2018 race  beneficiaries of SLO Ultra included the Land Conservancy of SLO, SLO County Parks and Team Red, White and Blue.

Crowned RRCA State 50K Champions, Brian Tinder, an Adidas-sponsored athlete from Flagstaff, AZ was the first male to cross the finish with a blazing time of 4:10:58, and Elite Runner Lauren Totten of Santa Barbara was the first female with an impressive 4:35:51 time. Lauren decided to run her first 50K two days before the race. “Really thankful for a good day, to come away with the win and a personal record,” she said.

Other RRCA age category 50k State Champions crowned were Logan Laszczyk (29-39), Nicole Judd (30-39), Natalie Lee and Samuel Vonderheide (40-49), Linda Sereno and Sean Curry (50-59), Paulette Odenthal and Eric Clifton (60-69), and Tom Jefferis (70-99).

RRCA Winners at SLO Ultra 2018 photo courtesy Race SLO.jpeg

In the half marathon, Race SLO Ambassador Rob Meade of Templeton, CA placed first with a time of 1:36:21, defending his title from the previous year. “I won last year too, so that was cool. I got tired about 10 miles in, I started to cramp a little bit, but it was a gorgeous course and I had fun,” said Rob. Lauren Bordeman of San Luis Obispo, CA was the overall winner among the women’s field with a time of 1:58:21.

In the 5K race, Race SLO Ambassador Pepe Gonzales of Paso Robles placed first in the men’s race (20:16), and Colorado Springs’ Catherine Frame won the women’s race (22:13).

“This year’s SLO Ultra offered runners from 21 different states the opportunity to taste our little slice of outdoor heaven here in SLOCAL,” said Samantha Pruitt, Race SLO Founder & CEO. “We created a challenging but breathtaking private access course and first class experience for our guests, letting them both rave about our beloved town as well as feel deep satisfaction in their finish line victory. Next year we plan to move the date to November 2nd to increase attendance, add a yoga & music festival, plus be able to build a bigger Cal Poly partnership with students and faculty.”

Photo by Luis Escobar

Photo by Luis Escobar

The 4th annual SLO Ultra & Yoga Music Festival will take place on Saturday, November 2, 2019. Early bird registration is now open. Racers and Yogis can register at with 50K for as little as $99 and half marathon $69. 5K and kids race registration is also available. Organizers are adding Yoga & Music all-day festival and the $29 ticket will include a collectible unisex shirt or tank top.

The 2018 SLO Ultra was made possible by amazing land partners and sponsors including the City of San Luis Obispo, Camp San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly, Slo County Search & Rescue and SLO County Parks; Race SLO corporate sponsors Fluid, Glenn Burdette, Left Coast T-Shirts, Rick Engineering, Sunset Honda, Lagunitas Brewing and KSBY; and Race SLO corporate suppliers Core Financial Strategies, Action Wipes & Life Elements, Culligan Water, Estero Ham Radio Club, Meathead Movers and Pacific Energy.


Established in 2008 to bring world class sporting events to the beautiful California Central Coast, the 2018 Race SLO endurance event portfolio includes the inaugural California Warrior Experience, 7th SLO Marathon + Half, Relays and 5K plus Kids Races, 3rd SLO Ultra trail races, US Trail Running Conference and NEW Endurance Town USA Podcast and athlete travel platform.

The Race SLO Team produces both fun & competitive running events year-round to create human connection through fitness and raise funds for local nonprofits: Jack’s Helping Hand, The Land Conservancy of SLO, Team Red, White & Blue, Grizzly Youth Academy and SLO County Parks.

Our mission: Through human experiences, we create social & economic impact to share our legacy.

Visit for more information.


New private access courses are set for the September 1st SLO Ultra & Dirt Festival Labor Day weekend on the California Central Coast. The third annual SLO Ultra races, produced by the Central Coast's endurance sport leader Race SLO, sponsored by the City of San Luis Obispo and benefiting SLO County Parks, offers a 50K Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) State Trail Championship, cross country half marathon, 5K trail run and new kids race. All races will start and finish at the Dairy Creek Event Center in El Chorro Regional Park, offering exclusive access to private trails belonging to SLO County Parks, Cal Poly SLO, Miossi's La Cuesta Ranch and Camp San Luis Obispo. Trail maps can be viewed at the SLO Ultra website.

Sneak peek from the trek to scout out a section of 2018 SLO Ultra course.

Sneak peek from the trek to scout out a section of 2018 SLO Ultra course.

All levels are welcome to run or hike these private trails made of golden hills, tree lined canyons and epic mountain top views of the Seven Sisters coastal range. The 50K course limit is 10 hours, roughly a 19:20 minute/mile pace, on 60% fire roads and 40% single track trails, with 6,200 feet elevation gain, and offering 11 aid stations plus drop bags at mile 20. The half marathon is 70% fire road and 30% single track trail with 6 aid stations and 3,500 feet of gain. The 5K trail race is all fire roads with one aid station, and the kids race is within the golf course pathway so parents can supervise or join in the fun! All participants will receive a wood and leather finishers medal, race shirt, race photos, ample course aid-medical-directional support and a first class finish line in the Race SLO Dirt Festival. Camping, BBQ, Lagunitas beer and live music is open to the public as well, making for a great way for the entire family to enjoy the holiday weekend.   

“Our Race SLO team is stoked to partner with SLO County Parks in this new venue, providing new private trails, camping and a fun holiday weekend full of healthy outdoor activities for the entire family. Together with 1,000 guest athletes from all over the state we will raise much needed funds for developing and maintaining public open space with the Land Conservancy of SLO, Team RWB and SLO County Parks Department,” said Samantha Pruitt, Race SLO Founder & CEO.

The SLO Ultra will be held in conjunction with the 6th annual US Trail Running Conference, August 29-31, bringing industry leaders and professional trail runners to San Luis Obispo. Household names include founder and executive director of American Trail Running Association (ATRA) Nancy Hobbs, executive director of the Council for Responsible Sport Keith Peters, Race Directors Tia Bodington, Paul Gigliotti, Jim Harman and Aaron Saft, and professional ultra runners & coaches Emily and Ian Torrence, Krissy Moehl, Megan Janssen and Peter Maksimow, among others. Register at


All day on September 1st during the SLO Ultra races, the Race SLO Dirt Festival is open to public and race participants for free, featuring vendors, live bluegrass music, athlete recovery lounge, hot BBQ, cold Lagunitas brew, non-alcoholic beverages and plenty of inspiration.

Camping is available in El Chorro Regional Park on a first-come-first-serve basis through SLO County Parks by calling (805) 781-5930 and selecting option 4. Parking will be available for $5 in the park or at Cuesta College.


The third annual SLO Ultra benefits the Land Conservancy of SLO County, SLO County Parks, and Team Red, White and Blue.

For more information and to register, please visit


Established in 2008 to bring world class sporting events to the beautiful California Central Coast, the 2018 Race SLO endurance event portfolio includes the inaugural California Warrior Experience, 7th SLO Marathon + Half, Relays and 5K plus Kids Races, 3rd SLO Ultra trail races, US Trail Running Conference and NEW Endurance Town USA Podcast and athlete travel platform.

The Race SLO Team produces both fun & competitive running events year-round to create human connection through fitness and raise funds for local nonprofits: Jack’s Helping Hand, The Land Conservancy of SLO, Team Red, White & Blue, Grizzly Youth Academy and SLO County Parks.

Our mission: Through human experiences, we create social & economic impact to share our legacy.

Visit for more information.


How I Reached 180 Miles At Born To Run Four Day 2018

I’ve had a couple requests for how the Born To Run Four Days went so I’ll try to summarize as best as I can. First, I’m 50, I'm 215lbs, I undertrained, and I had a 4-day goal of 150 miles. I honestly had no idea if that was even possible but it started at 100 miles and over the weeks and months grew to 140 and then eventually to 150. I had my travel trailer with a bed, hot shower and fridge and planned to sleep at night. I broke the race into days instead of one chunk of miles that seemed overwhelming. I work best when I simplify things to the basics and deal with them that way. I decided to look at this race as simply an ultra a day for 4 days.

I rolled on to the ranch on Tuesday evening and was immediately greeted by PJ and then Luis, the Race Director (also a long time acquaintance and friend). Next thing I knew I was in the back of a CJ5 hanging pink ribbons in trees along the course. It was a good sneak peek for a couple of the hills I’d come to hate over the next 4 days. We got back to camp and about 10 of us went into town for burritos and chips. I only knew Luis and PJ but quickly learned that the other guys were certified Ultra badasses. The stories quickly became about crewing and pacing Scott Jurek on his quest for the record on the Appalachian Trail and it turned out most of the guys at the table were integral parts of the journey. It was amazing and inspiring and I knew I was totally out of my class here.


As Wednesday rolled around about 32 of us headed to the start area where Luis explained the course and loop system; pink, then yellow, then pink, then yellow. Blue is bad. Basically take a pink 10 mile loop and then turn around and take the yellow 10 mile loop and if you are somewhere that you’re looking at blue, you’re off course. Simple enough. We recited the pledge that went something like, “if I get lost, hurt or die it’s my own damn fault” and off we went at noon(ish). Pink loop was pretty flat(ish), smooth road and trails, not too bad at all. I met Kara on that first loop and she explained that she was looking at each day as a “work day” and that her miles were her job and when she was done she was off work. I loved that thought process and immediately adopted it. Thanks, Kara! I got lost on my very first loop (wouldn’t be the last time) but adjusted and got it done. Then came the yellow loop. There was over 1400’ of vertical gain on that loop and chunks of the downhill weren’t runable, well at least not until your quads are blown out and you can’t stop yourself! I completed one more pink loop and called it a day. Wednesday was just a 50k day. Miles: 30

I showered, ate and got plenty of sleep that night. PJ was great about checking in, offering any help he could and basically being a great support person even though he was there to run his own 60 mile race.

Thursday morning I planned to do 40 miles so I was up and going around 6am. I had to start on the yellow loop. My hate for yellow had already started to grow. I was tight and had a couple blisters that I popped the night before but were still uncomfortable. I finished that loop and felt pretty good going to pink. After my 4th loop of the day I felt good and was ahead of schedule so I struck out for one more loop making 50 miles for the day. I figured that was just miles in the bank in case the wheels fell off later in the week. Slaby had arrived by then and was great moral support. He kept me motivated and moving and was a great help (I’m sure he doesn’t realize how much of a help he was to me). Shower, food, bed. Miles: 80

By Friday morning I realized I was going to be battling blisters for the rest of the race. I run in Hoka One One Speedgoats and rarely get blisters so this was pretty new to me. I had popped another 5 on Thursday night and covered them with bandages and moleskin. It was uncomfortable to walk on them but got better as the day went on. Nothing specific stands out about Friday other than Monica and David arriving, more support and motivation. My crew also arrived that night in the form of Taylor and Julie. It felt great having Julie there and I knew Taylor could identify and fix any funk I found myself in. I had planned on doing another 40 miles Friday but again finished earlier than I thought I would and decided to add another lap. Thanks to the WTM crew there for the encouragement and prodding to get back out. By now my goal seemed very attainable and I was considering resetting it to 170 miles. I got another good night sleep Friday night. Miles 130

I woke up Saturday to shotgun blasts and mariachi! Seriously, I love this shit. Up to 6pm Friday the 32ish of us had the course to ourselves. About 75 runners were added Friday evening at 6pm, the 100 mile badasses which included Jeff who crushed that race. Saturday morning the remaining 400 or so runners took off for distances of 10, 30, 60 miles. While the pack headed out on the pink loop, I headed out for a 4 loop day. There were some interruptions to the run on Saturday including stopping for the 12pm 0.0k race that I had also entered with Taylor and Julie. Yep, we paid to NOT run. Essentially you gather at the start area, recite the same pledge and at the blast of the shotgun, just walk away like nothing ever happened. When that was over I headed back out for a lap. I had agreed to do a quick auction for Luis and a charity that he loves. They help homeless get on their feet and get them running which boosts self esteem and productivity. The way my legs and feet felt at the time made me wonder why a charity would punish homeless people by making them run, but we sold a few items, made a couple thousand for the charity and I stood on the stage until two wonderful volunteers helped me down! Off for another loop.


I did have one pretty dark loop. I believe it was loop 16 so I had completed 150+ miles by then. I was hiking up a canyon on the yellow loop and could hear a woman screaming for 15 minutes or so. There was nobody around me though. Later that lap I heard a motorcycle and while there was one at camp, it wasn’t out on the trail either. I shook both of those off but when I crested a hill I saw a mound in the trail with dozens of jet black scorpions crawling out of it. Yep, they weren’t actually there either. By the end of that lap I’d developed tunnel vision pretty bad and by the time I shuffled past camp, I was really just staring at the ground in front of me because that’s all I could see. I got some food, talked to everyone and eventually felt good enough to go finish one more lap that night. Miles: 170

I have to admit, when I woke up Sunday morning I really didn’t want to do another loop. I reasoned to myself that I was already 20 miles over my goal and that was good enough. I had to work that evening and still needed to pack up and get cleaned up and that running wasn’t a good idea. Taylor and Julie were still asleep and I was warm and comfortable. The problem was I kept hearing Slaby telling me to get my ass back out and get some miles. It didn’t take long to realize I’d regret not doing it all year so I got up, put shoes on my blistered and swollen feet (I was a full shoe size larger than the day I started) and headed out the door for one final loop.

The course was pretty quiet again with just a few of us 4 day’ers and the last of the 100 milers finishing out their race. It was a long slow lap but I got it done and when I got to the last stretch Julie and Taylor were there to run (ok, shuffle) it in to the finish. I got to the timing tent, rang the bell and watched my name pop up on the TV monitor: John Glines, 180 miles. I thought briefly about trying one more lap but that thought didn’t last long. I received my 100 mile buckle (my first but not my last), my traditional finish line hug from Taylor, and headed for the truck.


There was one more unexpected adventure during this race. On Saturday, Taylor sketched out a petroglyphic drawing on her iPad of a Hawaiian running man with mountains in the background that she’d seen on a cup I bought there from Tracy at Marvelous Mud. She added her own touch with a cactus (girl LOVES cactus) and asked what I thought of it for a tattoo. I loved that she drew it freehand and told her to talk to the tattoo people across the road in camp (yep, professional tattoo shop right there on site). I headed out for a loop thinking about it and deciding if I wanted a tattoo that night! Backing up a little, the entire race I had really strong feelings that my Mom was watching me from above. I even spent some time on course talking to her – out loud. I don’t usually have that feeling during races but it was really strong this time and for all four days. Mom loved Seagulls, in fact her wedding band was custom made with a seagull on it. It hit me that lap that I needed to add a seagull to Taylor’s design.

When I finished the lap Taylor said the artist was going to be expecting me at 7pm. I passed their trailer and saw that Taylor had sketched out the tattoo and it was hanging there with her name on it. I showered, ate and headed over with Taylor to get the work done. I was a little concerned how it would feel since my calves were rock hard and already pretty sore. Kim assured me it would feel like a massage. Kim is a liar. It was a very simple design with no color or real shading and only took about 20 minutes to apply to my right calf but I suggest not getting a tattoo on top of super tight muscles! I love the finished work and it’s extra special to me because Taylor sketched it and added the personal touch of the cactus and seagull above.

I went to see Clay at Empower Massage Therapy on Monday and realized immediately it was the best thing I could have done. He worked out some knots I didn’t even know where there and I left feeling much better. It took almost a week for the swelling and blisters in my feet to go down enough to put shoes on. My head is still foggy, sleep is odd and I go from starving to stuffed in about three bites. Again, I love this shit.

My hat is off to those that completed the 100 mile course including Jeff who finished 14th overall and Joanie who earned her first 100 mile buckle after fighting through demons after her 7th lap. PJ killed it in the 60 mile and looked like he hadn’t run at all by a couple hours after his finish. I may have gone more miles but I know they worked harder than I had to because they pushed straight through to get their races in.


There are a lot of people to thank for helping me get this done, starting with all of the volunteers. Those aid stations were incredible and The OASIS aid station for 4 day and 200 milers was like nothing I’d ever seen. Manley and Mara were amazing! Everyone on course offering encouragement and laughs, the people I met and spent minutes or hours running/walking with. Taylor and Julie and all our WTM crew. And of course, Luis Escobar for putting on such a weird/wonderful event. Thank you to everyone!

Will I be back next May? Damn right I will and with a 200 mile goal. In the meantime, I’m planning to run the SLO Ultra Marathon on Sept. 1 with some great friends! David Bird, Sean Anderson, Erik Beckmen, Kristie Clay and Ian Marshall Nevarez will be there. If you’re looking for a fun trail race take a look at that one at Distances range from 5 miles to 50K and I have a code for a little discount as a RaceSLO Ambassador (RSA2018GLINES).

I’m also headed Back to the Ranch the first weekend in October for Luis' newest race. It’s a timed event ranging from 6hrs to 48 hrs. on a mile(ish) loop. Check out for details and sign up info (I may even have a discount for that one as it gets closer).

For anyone that read this far, thank you! I don’t mean this to be a brag page by any stretch, rather I hope it’s taken as a statement that if I can do this, anyone can do it. Don’t look at a distance and feel overwhelmed, break it down to segments and do it a bite at a time. I’m a proof you don’t have to be fast, you just have to keep moving forward. Even when your body thinks it’s done and has nothing left, your brain can override that. When we stop listening to our body telling us when we are done and start listening to our head we can go incredible distances. Oh yeah, also learn the difference between “Hurt” pain and “Injured” pain. Keep moving through Hurt, that pain ends eventually.

We can do anything because everything ends”. Taken from Scott Jurek’s first book and so appropriate for an Ultra Marathon.

You finish somewhere out on the course and then you make it back to the finish line.” Sean Corvelle

by John Glines (photos courtesy of John Glines)


REGISTRATION FOR SLO ULTRA NOW OPEN. On September 1, 2018, join us for an epic day of trail running, live music, BBQ and more! Pick your race - 50K Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) State Trail Championship, cross country half marathon or a 5K run. Plus kids races! Racers can register HERE.