Friday, August 26, 2016

Toughest Cross Country Course in California is in the process of determining the toughest course in the United States. They are currently inquiring about the toughest courses in each state. I have done some research and asked a few coaches and I think I have my toughest course in California. 

I will keep that to myself for now (don't want to bias anybody out there) so let's hear it from the runners, coaches and parents out there about the toughest course they have encountered during their time competing in California.

Please list the course and any other information that backs up your claim as the toughest course in Northern California. Feel free to add photo links as well if you have any.


Anonymous said...

Crystal springs or Oak Hill Park

Coach Small said...

Montgomery Hill.

It's 2.7 miles of hell! Not to mention it seems like every race is over 90 degrees.

Anonymous said...

Yep. No where to hide from the heat at Montgomery. At least you get the fog at Crystal.

Anonymous said...

It's not always foggy at Crystal and when it's sunny, there's not a single tree to give shade. I'd say it's the hardest. Toro is no cakewalk either.

Andrew said...

Joaquin Miller Park!

Anonymous said...

Not the toughest, but most dangerous: Angels Camp, SJS subsections

Sal said...

Best course in CA: Crystal Springs. Statistically toughest course: North Tahoe HS 3.3 Mile course.

Anonymous said...

Between Toro, Crystal and Montgomery Hill- Montgomery Hill is the toughtst. No shade, very few flat portions, very technical.

Anonymous said...

Joaquin Miller Park is pretty tough. To my knowledge, only one runner has ever gone under 18 minutes there

Anonymous said...

When Berean was still in the BCL their home meets were at Borges Ranch in Walnut Creek. The course was only like 2.6 miles, but it was by far the worst course any of us ever ran, including through college.

IIRC Chinese Christian's Victor Ho had the course record at like 16-something.

Anonymous said...

The only tough course I ran in college was the old Stanford Course... Even Legat would be lucky to break 25. Now there are no more hills and no hard courses in NCAA. Except nats and only due to footing and weather.

Anonymous said...

Willow Hills has to be right up there especially in the heat.

Anonymous said...

Agree with comment about the college courses - what's the deal with that? The courses today are basically road races, but on the finely groomed grasses of golf courses. No hills, no mud, nothing challenging. Other than tougher competition and longer distances (which runners can handle as they age anyway), XC in HS is harder than in college. College women don't even run the same distance as the men like in HS. Weird.

Anonymous said...

I ran at a school in San Diego, and everyone would complain about the Aztec Invitational course at Balboa Park (not the Morley Field side where they have footlocker - the other side of the park... It's a big park.)

But really there are only like two hills and they're not that bad. High school courses were generally so much harder. Running 8Ks isn't that bad at all.

CoachTri said...

I'm putting a plug in for our old home course - Martinelli Ranch. Not one groomed trail on that course and point to point in some areas through scrub. It was our home field advantage.

Anonymous said...

Northgate's course in Castle Rock Park is a real bummer. Lots of hills. The boys record is 17:40 for 3.2 miles

Anonymous said...

Hardest? Easiest? In SJS, I'd say Willow Hills is the toughest, though the front loop at Frog Town seems to always have a casualty or two.

For my money, the next question should be, what is the best course? I haven't had the pleasure of running on or seeing some of courses in the Bay Area (Crystal Springs and Montgomery Hills), but I think Willow Hills is an awesome challenge and offers some great spectating. Not as much history as some courses, but when you have German Fernandez and Fiona O'Keeffe with the records, you know the times are legit. A national record holder couldn't break 15 (Fernandez) and on the girl's side, Fiona is the only one to break 17. Michael Vernau is currently 2nd all time for the boys and can make a run at German's record of 15:03 several times this season.

Anonymous said...

SJS Willow Hills...

Alex said...

The Athenian High School cross country course in Danville, California is by far and away the toughest course in CA, if not the entire West Coast. It is a traditional 5k, but with hundreds of feet of elevation change. When I was at Athenian, our fastest runner, who had a 5k PR of 16:04, managed to run the course in 18:28, getting first place in the process. There are a total of 6 hills, of which 4 are incredibly difficult.

One of my friends from a competing school ran at Mt. SAC and said that the Athenian course is worse.

Here's a link to a photo of the worst hill of the course.

Anthony said...

Yep probably Athenian High School. For a few years it was 100 degrees or near every year and people would not finish. Also an ambulance came two or three times because people would pass out. The other coaches staged an intervention and it is no longer a 5k. However, well it is now around 2.5 miles the two biggest hills are now combined so this is still a very tough course. I'd say its still harder then Mt. Sac as there are no long flat sections like Mt Sac and the hills are steeper and longer.

Anonymous said...

Joaquin Miller hands down. Most people have not been there and most kids will never run it, but those who have know the struggle...

Anonymous said...

Mt. Sac, Montgomery Hill, and Crystal Springs should definitely be at the top of some list.

Anonymous said...

It's not a NoCal course but statistically I believe the Palos Verdes High School is the most difficult course in all of California. By the numbers it blows away Mt.Sac. The big hills are called "Agony" and "Misery" for a reason.

mike said...

Here's something fun, maybe. Linked below is an excel file with 2 sheets. It shows a list of courses in CA, ranked by the average mile pace of varsity runners, combined genders. The idea being the slower the pace, the harder the course. We have many of courses in our database so you'll see one sheet showing the rank if we have a minimum of 300 results, the other only considering courses where we have 1,000 results.

Keep in mind that the comparison between courses only makes sense if you assume the profile of runners is the same from course to course. This is definitely not true for Stanford, Woodward Park and the Mt. Sac course used for the Nike (3.1 mi). So, those appear much "easier" than they are and are farther down the list. This also comes into play for a courses like N. Lake Tahoe and Laker Mountain, where the top teams don't often run, so they will appear higher than they should.

Also, remember that this comparison is only as good as the results we have and it can be skewed if we have fewer results and those results are from particularly hot days for example.

This won't resolve anything about the debate of the hardest course, but it might be interesting reading or spark conversation.


Here's the full spreadsheet:

Top 20 based on a minimum of 300 results
rank course distance
1 Laker Mountain 3
2 Athenian HS 2.4
3 Athenian HS 3.1
4 North Tahoe HS 3.3
5 Discovery Park 2.25
6 Ontario Christian HS 3
7 AB Brown Soccer Complex 3
8 Riverfront Park 3.1
9 Lake Perris 3
10 Coyote Hills Park 2.8
11 Foothill Park Windsor 3.1
12 Linfield Christian HS 3
13 North Monterey County HS 3.01
14 Brentwood HS 2.93
15 Kit Carson Park 2.55
16 Oak Grove Park 3
17 Rohr Park 2.5
18 Joaquin Miller Park 2.6
19 Lodi Lake 3
20 Redwood Park 2.85

Top 20 based on a minimum of 1,000 results
1 North Tahoe HS 3.3
2 Coyote Hills Park 2.8
3 North Monterey County HS 3.01
4 Brentwood HS 2.93
5 Kit Carson Park 2.55
6 Rohr Park 2.5
7 Lodi Lake 3
8 Montgomery Hill Park 2.74
9 Eagal Lakes 3.1
10 Morro Bay HS 2.75
11 Kit Carson Park 2.7
12 Hahn State Park 3
13 Morley Field 2.75
14 Legion Park 3.03
15 Muller Ranch 3.1
16 RCC Moreno Valley 3
17 Frogtown 3
18 Cutler Park 3
19 Alum Rock Park 2.85
20 Legion Park 3.1

Top 20 based on a minimum of 5,000 results
rank course distance
1 Morley Field 2.75
2 Frogtown 3
3 Lake Casitas 3
4 Willow Hill Reservoir 3.04
5 Crystal Springs 2.95
6 Pierce College 3
7 Half Moon Bay HS 2.33
8 Granite Regional Park 3.1
9 Crescenta Valley Park 3
10 Toro Park 3
11 Hidden Valley Park 2
12 Mt. Sac 2.93
13 Golden Gate Park 2.93
14 Hayward HS 3
15 Newhall Park 3
16 Central Park HB 3
17 Woodbridge HS 3
18 Stanford Golf Course 3.1
19 Woodward Park 3.1
20 Morley Field 3.04

Peter Brewer said...

My vote is still for Canyon Middle School. We have had state and national champions run 45-75 seconds slower on this course than their State Meet time. Kristen Gordon, Sarah Bei, Celedonio Rodrigues, Jon Stevens, Katie Hotchkiss, Kevin Berkowitz . . .all slower by a large margin on 3.0 miles than they were on 3.1 miles at Woodward Park.

Albert Caruana said...

If I had to narrow it down to 3 course, the Canyon MS course would definitely be up there. The course record of 15:25 (I think that is correct) by Calvin Gaziano is unreal.

MV Moose said...

How do we get maps of these tough courses?

Popular Posts