Bizz Johnson Marathon
12 October 2019
Though it sits on a lovely high desert plateau, the Lassen County seat (population 16,616) isn’t much of a charmer; it’s a resupply post with a Wal-Mart, a few stop lights and two prisons. Although not a tourist destination in itself, it does provide good services for travelers passing through. It lies 35 miles east of Lake Almanor and 85 miles northwest of Reno – and is home to a couple of modest historic sites.The restored Susanville Railroad Depot, south of Main St, off Weatherlow St, sits beside the terminus of the Bizz Johnson Trail. The visitors center rents bicycles and has brochures on mountain-biking trails in the area.With that being said, the Bizz Johnson Marathon is the place to be!!Runners in the Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon, Half Marathons, 50K & 10K get one of those rare treats seldom found at any race event, whether road race or trail race — a course that’s nearly all downhill, which has helped it become known as the “fastest marathon in the West,” according to race organizers.
The Bizz Johnson Trail begins at Mason Station and travels through scenic Lassen National Forest. The first few miles of the course climb 280 feet through the forest to Westwood Junction, then it’s downhill to the finish at Susanville, with a 1300-foot descent over the final 20 miles. The trail follows the route of the old Fernley and Lassen Branch Line of the Southern Pacific Railroad, built in 1914.Roughly two-thirds of the way through the race, the trail enters the Susan River Canyon. Here, you’ll pass orange cliffs and cross the river ten times on picturesque wooden railroad bridges. About four miles from the finish, you’ll pass through two old railroad tunnels, 800 feet and 450 feet in length.Although many runners set PRs and qualify for the Boston Marathon, please note that the course is at altitude (4,200' - 5,600').There are two different half marathon races. The Express Half Marathon on Saturday does the second half of the full marathon. You will be bused to a remote start. The Half Marathon (& 10 Km) on Sunday starts in Susanville and goes out and back using only the last quarter of the full marathon route.USAT&F certified full marathon course (CA07037RS)
Runners will enter the area known as the Susan River Canyon, where runners will cross the river no fewer than 10 times over wooden bridges that overlook the river flowing far below. All around there is beautiful natural scenery, from the high cliffs of the surrounding mountains to the trees making their seasonal turn to many different shades of yellow, orange and brown.As they reach near the finish, after trekking through a combination of wooded forest areas, open meadows and alongside the river, runners get to run through two old railroad tunnels in the final few miles of the race. To make sure they’re well lit inside, organizers place miners’ lights throughout both tunnels.
First Place Male & Female Finishers - Custom Award. All finishers - Custom Medal
Express Half Marathon: 3 hours, 10 Km: 2 hours, Half Marathon: 3.5 hours Marathon: 7 hours, 50 Km: 8 hours.