Summary: The Avenue of the Giants Marathon is one of the most scenic courses in the country. Staged on “The Avenue of the Giants” in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, located in rural Northern California, the paved course winds through giant old growth redwoods and is a double out and back course run entirely on paved roads.
- The first part of the race is 6.5 miles to the first turn around. The first mile is relatively flat. After the first mile, there are some sharp curves and fairly short hills.
- At about five and a half miles, you will enter an opening that continues to the first turn around. The temperature is usually still cool and part of the road is still shaded. The last mile plus of this first out and back is a gradual uphill with few curves. Turn around here, and retrace your steps.
- Half marathoners will start at 8:45 and will run on the Avenue of the Giants, the second out and back for the marathon. The second out and and back is mostly shaded, and has only one significant hill, just beyond the 15 mile mark going out, which is also mile 23 coming back.
- There is what appears to be a steep hill near the 14/25 mile mark, but it’s a bit misleading, as it’s an overpass over the freeway.
- The area near mile 15 is open for about half a mile and the road is heavily cambered, so be careful on this section of the course.
Lessons Learned from Race Reports
- No headphones allowed
- The 300 foot tall old growth Redwood trees provide shade and keep temperatures cool all morning, sometimes blocking out GPS signals on running watches.
- Watches can be incredibly inaccurate throughout the race
- The road surface has quite a few potholes and is uneven in many parts
- Run the tangents so you don’t end up running more miles than necessary
- Some of the little rollers still feel quite steep
- Chance for humidity with the weather, so if it’s at all hot, this could be challenging
- Pre-race dinner and breakfast might be hard to come by since the race is fairly remote and other runners are trying to do the same thing; have a plan and a backup plan
- Can get crowded on the second half because many more runners are on the course with the half marathoners and 10k runners
- Small time race so don’t expect to buy stuff at the packet pickup
Total gain/loss: ~1200/1200ft
Total climbs: One long, gradual climb of 200 ft over 5 miles, in the first 6.5 miles of the race. Shorter rollers of 25-50 feet, mainly on overpasses, as noted on the elevation profile. According to race reports, these little rollers still feel fairly steep.
Total aid stations: 13
Furthest distance apart: 3 miles
Locations: Miles 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 14, 16.5, 17.5, 19, 22, 24, and 25.5.
What’s available: Gatorade, oranges, and bananas will be served at all aid stations. Power bars or Gel will be at select aid stations.
Crew instructions/directions: Note that some exits near the start/finish are closed on Race Day off 101. There is limited access to the course (no unauthorized vehicles of any kind, including but not limited to bicycles), so if you wish to observe the race from anywhere than the start/finish staging area, you must get there on foot.
There is an open area near mile 15 (take the Weott exit off of Hwy 101 and follow Newton Road west), about two miles south of the start from which you could observe participants.
The best observation point, is the start/finish staging area, where runners pass twice.
Strava activities and GPX files
Saturday: 12pm-5:30 PM
Sunday: Beginning at 7:00 AM
There is NO shuttle service available since the race is held in a rural area in a state park.
Race start and cutoff times
7 hour limit
3.5 hour cutoff to reach the halfway point, after which runners will be directed to finish the Half Marathon distance
On RegtoRace via the Race Website
The race is located in Southern Humboldt County, 45 miles south of Eureka, California, on the Avenue of the Giants Highway. Driving time from San Francisco or Sacramento is about 5 hours, and from Portland, about eight hours. To use a GPS, the latitude and longitude of the staging area (start/finish and packet pickup) is 40.35611,-123.923442.
The nearest commercial airport is Eureka/Arcata (ACV) about 60 miles to the north. Rental cars are available, although there is a limited supply, make sure to reserve in advance. There is NO shuttle service available since the race is held in a rural area in a state park.
Lots of hotel options in Eureka and nearby cities and in Humboldt County, some campgrounds nearby and some accommodations for RVs as well.
First time running a race? Check out our race day running tips!