An even longer winding road at SOB

Registration for the Siskiyou Out Back Ultramarathon — the S.O.B. — opened on March 1 with a twist. A 50-mile twist.

The 14th annual SOB, to be held on Saturday, July 14, will feature a new 50-mile race to accompany the customary 15-kilometer and 50K races.

If you go

What: Siskiyou Out Back trail races, 15K, 50K, 50-mile

Where: Mt. Ashland ski area

When: Saturday, July 14. 50-miler starts at 6 a.m., 50K at 7 a.m., 15K at 8:30 a.m.

Cost: $15 for the 15K, $47 for the 50K, $90 for the 50-mile

More information: See

"We've seen a tremendous growth in our sport of ultrarunning," says race co-director Rob Cain. "Many people have run the SOB 50K many times and were losing interest.

"We hope this will invigorate the event."

Based on early registration numbers, the popularity of this event is not in question. One week after registration opened, the 50K had 141 entrants, 117 for the 15K and 41 for the new 50-miler. The maximum number of runners is 325 each for the 15K and 50K, 100 for the 50-miler. The race has been selling out earlier with each passing year.

The 50K race begins and ends at the Mt. Ashland ski area and traces an out-and-back course over the Pacific Crest Trail and US Forest Service Road 20. The turn-around point is at Jackson Gap, below Dutchman Peak. The average elevation is a lung-searing 6,500 feet. The new 50-mile course heads out an additional nine miles south, into California, dropping 2,000 feet in elevation to the new turn-around at Ward's Fork.

"It's a relatively remote stretch, beautiful, an area that local people don't see much," Cain says.

To oversee the new 50-mile race, Cain and co-director John Price have brought in fellow Ashlanders Timothy and Krista Olson.

In January, Timothy Olson won the Bandera 100K race, the national championship race for 2012.

"We're paying special attention to the new trail, and we'll be digging out snow, if necessary," says Olson. "The most important thing is to make sure everyone is safe, especially at the remote turn-around."

Daniel Newberry is a freelance writer living in the Applegate Valley. Reach him at

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