The National High School Trail Championships and Beas Knees citizen’s race will return to Salida for a fourth annual event on July 25.
“We definitely had to make some changes to pull this off, but we feel like we can do it without jeopardizing anyone’s safety,” said Kenny Wilcox, Salida High School head cross country coach and the event’s organizer.
The biggest change is competitors will start in waves of 10 instead of all at once this year. With chips in their bibs to record times, however, the fastest runners will still get recognized, but they won’t know who the winner is until everyone has completed the course.
“It could add an interesting element,” Wilcox said.
The 5.4-mile course will be the same as last year. “It’s got a little bit of everything,” Wilcox said. “Ups and downs, trails and space to make some passes.”
Before deciding to host the event during the pandemic, Wilcox said he sent out a poll to gauge interest. He said he got a pretty good response and a majority said they would still like to come while a good amount of others said they’d “maybe” come.
He also said it’s tough to get a race going again if it takes a year off.
“We have really good momentum going and it will be fun to keep it going in a positive direction.” Wilcox said.
The event, which is relatively small for a national-level event, still draws lots of top talent. Wilcox said almost 90 percent of high school runners who competed last year had or gained state meet experience. Over half of last year’s Team USA U20 Junior Mountain Running Team also had competed in the trail championships. In the U18 division, four of the six athletes that represented team USA at the International Mountain Running Cup in Italy had also competed at the NHSTC.
“That speaks well for what we’re trying to do,” Wilcox said.
Sponsors and volunteers are still needed for the event. Wilcox said they wouldn’t be able to hold the event without sponsors, noting that its 100 percent volunteer run. Hosting the race costs approximately $3,500 with timing being the biggest expense. Socks, awards and advertising are also part of the cost. Additional proceeds are donated to the Beasley family and the high school cross country team. The Beas Knees citizen’s race is named in honor of the late Brett Beasley.
Wilcox said they want to make the races accessible and that sponsors help keep the price down.
Volunteers, meanwhile, are still needed to help the runners stay on course and take pictures and video to help promote the event.
People interested in helping or sponsoring the event can contact Wilcox at email@example.com
People can register for the races and find more information at Nationalhighschooltrailchampionships.com.
The citizen’s race, which is held on the same route as the high school championship, will begin at 7:20 a.m. July 25. The boys’ championship will take place at 8:20 a.m. and the girls’ championship will follow at 8:45 a.m.
The winners will get awards, but there won’t be an official awards ceremony this year to help prevent people from gathering together.
“We feel like we can do it well and do it safely,” Wilcox said, adding that he worked with Salida Rec and Chaffee Public Health on some of the changes.