BLU Race Logistics Bible
This Race Logistics Bible provides important and detailed information on the 10th Annual BLU. Please take time to read thoroughly as it will enhance your BLU experience. Even if you are a veteran BLU runner, please take time to read as there are still a couple procedures in place to help mitigate Covid-19 risks and keep everyone as safe as possible. For those who attended last year’s April’21 BLU, you’ll remember we all had a fantastic time despite having to follow many California imposed Covid rules/procedures. Fortunately, there are very few required California imposed Covid rules/procedures this year. With that said, we will continue to follow several best practice procedures we learned during the height of covid – especially when it comes to food and food handling.
Covid-19 Risk Mitigation
- Masks do not have to be worn while running, or actively moving on the race course. Masks do not have to be worn while eating or when you are in your bunk area of your respective bunkhouse. Basically, if you plan to sit and socialize in the cafeteria while in close proximity of someone, it is recommended you wear a mask.
- Like last year, “main” hot meals will be served almost exclusively out of the course-side cafeteria during breakfast, lunch and dinner. The cafeteria will be open for one hour during these main meal periods for runners and paid guests to simply pop-in and eat at their leisure. For meals prepared by Stephanie and her team, food will be served on disposable plates and silverware. For the 6-7 meals prepared by Pathfinder Ranch’s culinary team, food will be served on normal plates (disposable containers will be available for “runners on the go” to transfer their plated meal to disposable containers). Main meals can be eaten inside the cafeteria, or on the go.
- Packaged foods, along with liquid based warm foods (soups, coffee, oatmeal, etc.), sandwich foods, snacks, etc. will be served from the main aid station 24/7 throughout the entire event.
- Disinfectant wipes will be located at the entrance to all bathrooms and bunkhouses. When entering or exiting these facilities, please wipe down the areas you touched. While this was a Covid requirement last year and technically not required this year, we just think it’s helpful to continue this practice.
- When arriving at Pathfinder Ranch, everyone will have their temperature checked and be required to confirm they are not sick, or experiencing any covid symptoms. In the unfortunate situation someone is deemed too symptomatic to enter the venue, a full refund will be offered as we will have to turn this person away. We still take covid very seriously as it can seriously harm folks like Stephanie (BLU’s co-RD and inspiration for this race) who are immunosuppressed.
The race takes place at the non-profit Pathfinder Ranch (35510 Pathfinder Road, Mountain Center, CA 92561). When you approach the Ranch from Highway 74, you turn on Devil’s Ladder Road as it leads you to the front entrance of the ranch. IMPORTANT: Outside animals (dogs, cats, etc.) are not allowed. Sorry, Pathfinder is a working farm and forbids outside animals at this race. Pathfinder is a private year-round non-profit camp and retreat center for kids and adults. As such, runners are not allowed to visit and tour the ranch ahead of the event. Also, no arrivals are ever allowed between 10:30 PM and 5:30 AM during the event. VERY IMPORTANT: There is no smoking or vaping of ANY kind allowed anywhere at Pathfinder Ranch, or anywhere remotely close to the Ranch or the course. If a runner, or a member of a runner’s crew/family are caught smoking, the runner will immediately be disqualified from the race and asked to promptly leave the Ranch. There is absolutely zero tolerance with this rule as the Ranch is in a high-risk fire zone, so please make darn sure your crew/family are aware of this rule. With respect to alcohol; since the race directors love red wine, moderate drinking is allowed during the event by runners, crew and family.
Arrival Check-In & Parking
When pulling into Pathfinder Ranch, you will come to a stop sign with the lake on your right. You will see a check-in table, straight ahead, just past the stop sign. Unlike previous years, do NOT come to the aid station. During peak hours, someone will be manning this table. They’ll check you in, provide you with your race credentials and goodie bag. You’ll also be provided lodging information, parking information and basically everything you need to know about getting settled in at Pathfinder. You’ll also get a one-pager that summarizes meal times, activities, etc. Great for your guests to carry in their pocket. During slow times, there might not be anyone at the table. If this is the case, you will find a walkie-talkie on the table. Simply hit the talk button and announce your arrival. One of the 3 race directors will hear you on our walkie-talkies and promptly come over to meet you. Our aid station is only a couple hundred tards away.
RV’s and Course-Side Camping
If you paid for RV parking, we will show you where to park along the course. Similarly, if you plan to tent or car camp, we will show you course-side locations to set-up/park. As a reminder, there are no hook-ups for RV’s. If you are RV-ing and or tent/car camping, you are allowed to use the bathrooms and showers in the bunkhouse cabins.
Nearest Town, Convenience Store & Restaurant
- Idyllwild, CA is about 15 miles from the Ranch. It’s a very cute town with several restaurants, a few lodging options, grocery store and lots of little shops. It’s a cool little town and it is where we often stay after we breakdown the race.
- The nearest convenience store is the Lake Hemet convenience store located about 6 miles away (56570 Highway 74). Turn right on 74 when leaving Pathfinder. There is a much better stocked convenience store & gas station located 3 miles past the Lake Hemet convenience store.
- The nearest restaurant is Paradise Café (61721 Highway 74), located just 3 miles from Pathfinder. Turn left on 74 when leaving Pathfinder. This is a great spot for your family, friends & crew to grab a meal and relax. The race directors are known to gather there after the awards ceremony on Sunday late morning to enjoy brunch and mimosa before heading back to the Ranch for the dreaded break-down and packing of race gear.
The closest airport is Palm Springs at 39 miles away, followed by Ontario Airport (77 miles away). San Diego Airport is 100 miles away, while Los Angeles International is 129 miles away.
- All registered runners, EXCEPT 50K and 50-mile runners, receive on-site lodging in bunkhouse cabins as part of their registration fee. You will be assigned to a bunkhouse and be allowed to stay there the night before your race, along with the night of your race. For example, since the 100-mile race starts on Friday, April 8th, the 100-mile runners will be assigned a bunk spot on both Thursday and Friday nights (April 7th & 8th), not Saturday, unless a Saturday night stay was purchased. As another example, since 72-hour runners start their race on Thursday, April 7th, they will be assigned 4 nights of lodging starting Wednesday, April 6th and ending Sunday, April 10th.
- Lodging is not included in the 50K and 50-mile registration fees.
- Pathfinder Ranch is a year-round educational camp and the bunkhouse cabins are communal. Each cabin contains separate sex restrooms with multiple showers, stalls, sinks, etc. Each cabin also has a small family gathering room. You will need to bring your own linens (sleeping bag, or bed sheets/blankets, pillow, towel for showering and other personal care items like soap and shampoo). The cabins are heated and have electrical outlets for charging phones, etc. The individual shower stales have hot water and the bathrooms are always open (great for taking a mid-race shower to “wake up and get back at it”). While it’s not the Four Seasons, or even Hampton Inn for that matter, the set-up has worked great and we are going on our 10th year of hosting this sold-out event.
- Guests, crew and family who are registered to stay in the bunkhouse cabins will be given a 2022 color-coded BLU wristband and will be required to wear the wristband throughout their stay. Since we allowed deferrals from 2020 and 2021, the bunkhouses will be completely full this year as we work magic to accommodate everyone.
- We put this race on every year as a way to giveback to the ultra community and celebrate life. Over the last 9 years, the race has raised nearly $200,000 for the non-profit Pathfinder Ranch. Your participation in BLU helps send economically challenged kids to sleep-away camp throughout the year. Due to covid, the non-profit Pathfinder Ranch was forced to close for over a year. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on their finances. YOU being here this year helps them a ton, so thank-you!
Arrival Time/Packet Pick-Up
- April 6th (Wednesday): 72-hour runners, along with those who paid to stay Wednesday night, are welcome to arrive starting at Noon. Please don’t arrive any earlier as we will be in set-up mode. With that said though, we do encourage you to arrive at Noon, or just after, so you have the afternoon to walk around and enjoy the Ranch! We will have packet pick-up from Noon – 5:45 PM and again from 6:45 PM – 8:00 PM at the check-in entrance.
- April 7th (Thursday): 48-hour runners, along with 100-mile runners and those who paid to stay Thursday night, are welcome to arrive starting at 11:00 AM. Try to arrive at 11:00 AM, or just after, so you can enjoy a carefree day at the Ranch canoeing, taking in some archery, or relaxing while you watch the 72-hour runners compete. Packet pick-up is at the check-in entrance. Race day packet pick-up will be available from 7:15 AM – 8:00 AM for those running Friday.
- April 8th (Friday): 24-hour runners, along with 50-mile runners, 50K runners and those who purchased a Friday night stay, are welcome to arrive starting at 11:00 AM. Packet pick-up is at the check-in entrance.
- April 9th (Saturday): Race-day packet pick-up will be available from 7:15 AM – 8:00 AM at the aid station for 24-hour runners, along with 50M & 50K runners. Course closes at 8:30 PM for the 100-mile runners (36-hour cut-off).
- April 10th (Sunday): The course closes at 8:30 AM. Award ceremony takes place at 9:00 AM. All Saturday night bunkhouse runners, along with 24/48/72-hour runners and all paid guests, must completely vacate the bunkhouse cabins by 1:00 PM Sunday.
- Please note – We DO NOT allow “check-ins” between 10:30 PM and 5:30 AM. Three reasons. One, we don’t want you disturbing folks in the bunkhouse cabins who will be sleeping. Second, we have limited help during the wee hours of the night and those of us who are awake are highly focused on taking care of sleep-deprived runners. Third, runners are tired during the late-night hours and we want to avoid bright car lights at night (it’s dangerous).
Race Start Times
- Thursday, April 7th: 72-hour race starts at 8:30 AM
- Friday, April 8th: 48-hour race & 100-Mile race start at 8:30 AM
- Saturday, April 9th: The 24-hour race, along with the 50M & 50K races start at 8:30 AM
- Please arrive to the start/finish line area race-ready by 8:10 AM on the day of your race. We give a pre-race talk and take group pictures by the lake.
Note: The 100M race has a 36-hour time limit, so the course will close at 8:30 PM on Saturday for the 100-mile runners. The course closes Sunday at 8:30 AM for all other races. With that said, the 50M and 50K races technically have a 24-hour time limit.
Pathfinder Ranch is remote and it’s VERY HARD to recruit volunteers, as there is no significant local running community. With the 72-hour race returning, the workload is triple that of a normal 100-mile race and we could sure use help recruiting volunteers. With the added responsibilities of implemented Covdi-19 protocols, this year’s BLU “behind the scenes” workload is tremendous. If you have friends, family or crew, please ask them to consider volunteering for one shift. They can crew you from the aid station. Again, this is a tough race to recruit volunteers for and your help is greatly appreciated! Plus, volunteers earn between $25-$40 of race credit per shift and the credit is transferrable for others to use in the future. Volunteers allow Steph, Lee and me to get much needed sleep. Simply CLICK HERE to register your family and or friends.
When checking the weather forecast, please use zip code 92561. We have seen weather swings as large as 50 degrees during a single day. Assume it will be COLD during the wee-hours of the night and HOT during the mid-afternoon hours. Also, since the course is mostly exposed to the sun, please bring your own sunscreen.
Course, Trash & Course Cutting
- All runners will run a 2-mile loop course on mostly groomed trails; meandering through one of Southern California’s premier educational camps, complete with a canoe lake, sprawling horse pasture, private meadows, an archery range, a high-ropes climbing wall, and a working farm with horses, chickens, turkeys, goats, pigs and ducks.
- It would be easy to cheat and cut corners on the BLU course. Cheating has happened in the past and is not tolerated. We have an extremely heavy “behind the scenes” workload this year and the last thing we want to worry about is whether or not someone is cutting the course and hiding out in a bathroom. It’s simple, don’t cheat!
- Anyone caught littering, or course cutting, will be removed from the race and asked to leave the venue.
Personally, I would absolutely wear gaiters for this race. 95% of the course is run on dirt, with about 5% of the course being a bit sandy. I’ve bought gaiters from Dirty Girl Gaiters in the past. CLICK HERE to visit their site.
Fun and More Fun
Pathfinder Ranch really is a super cool place to hangout. Runners love arriving early and exploring the ranch. You can check out all the animals, spend time canoeing around the lake, enjoy the archery range and hike around the ranch and surrounding mountains.
- Canoe Lake & Archery Range: The canoe lake and archery range will be open at various times during the event and is free. Still finalizing hours for both activities, but we do plan to offer both on Thursday and Friday. Also, for the first time ever, we plan to have a short canoeing session late afternoon on Wednesday for 72-hour runners to enjoy the lake. Historically, 72-runners miss out as they are running the entire time.
- Nightly Outdoor Movies: We play outdoor movies throughout the night adjacent to the aid station. The first movie of each evening will be kid friendly, meaning not rated R. Late night movies are generally old school comedies rated R. Obviously free to all.
- Outdoor Fire with S’mores: We will have a fire and s’mores under the ramada by the bunkhouse cabins at least a couple of nights. We will do this each night for an hour, or so. Probably around 8:00 PM. Pathfinder is required to get clearance from the local fire dept each day, so it’s obviously subject to what the fire dept says.
- Portable Hot Tub: We will again be setting up our portable hot tub next to the aid station tent. The hot tub is primarily meant for runners to use throughout the race and will be open at various times. If you are running and want to use the tub, simply ask and we will uncover it for you. There will be a small portable outdoor shower next to the hot tub. All runners must rise off before enjoying a mid-race, or post race, soak. Sorry, but for liability reasons, you must be 18 years of age to use the hot tub and you can only use the hot tub. Guests of runners are welcome to use the hot tub. Obviously, runners get “first dibs”.
- Note about Canoeing and Archery: Runners, along with their guests, are welcome to canoe and use the archery range. A Pathfinder Ranch employee will man the canoe lake and archery range and will require each person who canoes and participates in archery to sign a quick release (parents must sign kids’ releases). Our younger kids, who generally don’t like hanging-out at races, really look forward to coming out to the Ranch each year. It’s awesome watching the kids put down the video games and play in the dirt!
Pacing is only allowed from dusk to dawn. While you can have multiple pacers on your crew, you can only have one running with you at a time and there is no bike pacing. However, since the number of runners dwindles on the course at night, you can have 2 pacers from 9 PM – 6:00 AM. During the daylight hours, we ask that only runners be on the course. While the rule is no pacing during daylight hours, the race directors, under certain circumstances, might allow a runner to have a pacer during daylight hours. for safety reasons. For example, if we believe a runner is in distress (and not just the normal tired and feeling really sore type of ultra running distress every runner experiences), we might request a pacer accompany the runner on a lap out of an abundance of caution. There is no prize money, or USATF tiles on the line during this race, so we will in fact allow a daytime pacer if the situation warrants one. Permission must be granted by one of the race directors (Ken, Stephanie or Lee). Please don’t be afraid to ask! Lastly, if you are age 60 or older, you may have a pacer at anytime during your race after the first 8 hours of your race.
Safety Removal from the Race
If a race director feels your health or well-being is at risk, we have the right to remove you from the race and have you rest/recover until we feel you are OK to continue. For those who don’t know us, we are VERY well known for our ability to push runners beyond their perceived limits and keep them going when they really want to quit. We’ve directed nearly 25 multi-day races and we’ve only stopped a runner 4 times (they ended-up in the hospital each time). REMEMBER, you “ebb and flow” during an ultra. Most likely you will want to quit many times during the race. These dark moments are short lived and quickly pass. The beauty of a short loop ultra is you have runners all around you who will help you through dark times.
Flashlights & Headlamps
The Ranch gets virtually no light pollution. Therefore, the Ranch gets very dark at night. Runners should run with a headlamp and/or carry a flashlight (bring extra batteries). For those of you who are new to running at night, please remember to look down when approaching another runner, or when stopping at the aid station. You don’t want to blind people. Importantly, please make sure your family and/or crew have flashlights and/or headlamps as they will need them when walking around the Ranch at night.
There is fantastic AT&T cell service at Pathfinder Ranch. However, service is very spotty and poor for all other carriers. Also, since the Ranch receives its wireless service through limited satellite, you should not count on strong wi-fi service.
Not allowed. ZERO exceptions. Pathfinder Ranch rule. Pressuring us won’t work. We can’t even bring our own beloved dog Zoey. Sorry!
We take great pride in having a large variety of food available at our aid station. For this year’s BLU, hot foods will be served only from the cafeteria during four one-hour meal periods. Packaged foods, hydration and liquid hot foods will be distributed at the aid station, along with tons snacks. We now serve snacks in single serving vessels, as opposed to communal bowls.
Aid Station Hydration
Water, Tailwind, Coke, Mt. Dew, Ginger Ale, coffee, tea and hot chocolate will be served at the aid station. Please bring a water bottle, or some type of hydration device for your water. If you prefer not to carry water, you can simply leave your bottle on a designated table right next to the aid station. We serve everything but water in disposable cups.
Hot food will be served from the indoor course-side cafeteria 4 times a day. Each of these meal periods are one-hour long. Simply pop-in and eat. The aid station will be operated 24/7 with single serving snacks, light food and hot liquid foods (soup, oatmeal, coffee, hot chocolate and mashed potatoes). Basically, from Midnight to 6:00 AM we will make anything we can think of using hot water.
Cafeteria Meal Time Schedule and Anticipated Menu
Please note, there is vegetarian options available during the meal periods. If you have other very specific dietary needs, please plan accordingly and bring your own nutrition. Microwaves are available in the bunkhouses and we can provide ice for you to re-stock your personal cooler.
April 6 (Wednesday)
- 6:00 PM = Dinner for 72-Hour runners and paid guests (prepared by Pathfinder)
- Spaghetti and meatballs or spaghetti with veggies, salad & bread
- Served in cafeteria
April 7 (Thursday)
- 7:00 AM = Breakfast for 72-Hour runners and paid guests (prepared by Pathfinder)
- Pancakes, sausage, oatmeal, fruits, bananas & coffee
- Served in cafeteria
- 11:00 AM = Early Lunch – Veggie /Turkey and Ham sandwiches with Rice
- Served in cafeteria
- 3:00 PM = Late Lunch – Chicken and Vegan Breaded Chicken Sandwiches
- Served in cafeteria
- 6:00 PM = Dinner for 72/48-Hour runners, 100-Mile runners and paid guests (prepared by Pathfinder)
- Pastas, salad & bread
- Served in cafeteria
- 9:00 PM = Pizza for 72-Hour runners at Aid Station
- 11PM – 5AM = Chili, Ramen, Grilled Cheese at Aid Station
April 8 (Friday)
- 7:00 AM = Breakfast for 72/48-Hour runners, 100-Mile runners and paid guests (prepared by Pathfinder)
- French Toast Sticks, scrambled eggs, bacon, Oatmeal, fruits, bananas, coffee
- Served in cafeteria
- 11:00 AM = Early Lunch – Veggie, Turkey and Ham sandwiches with mashed potatoes
- Served in cafeteria
- 3:00 PM = Late Lunch – Soft tacos/bean burritos and rice
- Served in cafeteria
- 6:00 PM = Lakeside BBQ Dinner for 24/48/72-Hour runners, 100-Mile runners and paid guests
- Burgers, Hot Dogs, Vegan and Vegetarian Burgers, Pickles, Beans, Potato Salad
- Served lakeside in the picnic area by Aid Station
- 9:00 PM = Lasagna at Aid Station
- 11PM – 5AM = Ravioli, Ramen, Cheese Quesadilla at Aide Station
April 9 (Saturday)
- 7:00 AM = Breakfast for 72/48/24-Hour runners, 100-Mile runners and paid guests (prepared by Pathfinder)
- Breakfast burrito tray, oatmeal, fruit & coffee
- Served in cafeteria
- 11:00 AM = Early Lunch – Chicken and Vegan Breaded Chicken Sandwiches
- Served in cafeteria
- 3:00 PM = Late Lunch – Veggie /Turkey and Ham sandwiches with mashed potatoes
- Served in cafeteria
- 6:00 PM = Dinner 72/48/24-Hour runners and paid guests (prepared by Pathfinder)
- Ziti pasta tray & salad bowl
- Served in cafeteria
- 9:00 PM = Pizza at Aid Station
- 11PM – 5AM = Lentil and Ramen Soup, Grilled Cheese and Beef Stew at Aid Station
April 10 (Sunday)
- 5:30AM – 6:30AM = Breakfast for 72/48/24-Hour runners and paid guests
- Chocolate Chip Pancakes, hard boiled eggs and oatmeal
- Served at Aid Station
Personal Aid Stations
There are tons of spots to set-up your own personal aid station, or to leave a drop bag. The course literally passes right by the cabins, so it’s super easy to put on your warm cloths at night, or to duck in and take a quick mid-race shower. You are more than welcome to set up small tables, pop-up tents, chairs, etc. near the cabin as a personal aid station. Although, don’t forget the cabins are literally located within a few feet from the course, so we would suggest keeping the bulk of your stuff inside (especially your clothes).
We always have a first aid kit on site and since we’re active ultra runners ourselves, we have the knowledge to help you with issues. However, if you have the unfortunate tendency to blister, please bring your own Band-Aids, blister kits, etc. We are by no means a CVS Pharmacy and the supplies we keep on-hand are meant for emergencies. Bring Body Glide or some other type of personal lubricant. Chaffing sucks! If you are new to ultra-running, you should even consider bringing a tube of Desitin Baby Cream in your bag. I’ve seen the toughest of ultra runners break down in tears due to chaffing “where the sun doesn’t shine”. Avoid this by all costs by lubing-up!
Group Picture and Race Day Briefing
A race day briefing will be held 20 minutes before each race on the small picture island across from the aid station (same spot as always). We will also take our annual pre-race picture before each race. Please be on this little island by 8:10 AM on the day your race starts.
If you are running the 100-mile race and did not purchase a Saturday night stay-over, you must vacate the bunkhouse by 5:00 PM on Saturday. If you are taking full advantage of the generous 36-hour 100M time limit and still running past 5:00 PM, we ask that you vacate soon after you finish.
If you are running the 24/48/72-hour races, or you purchased a Saturday night stay-over, you must vacate the bunkhouse cabins by 1:00PM on Sunday. As a reminder, the course closes for good at 8:30 AM on Sunday and the awards should be done by 9:00 AM. You are welcome to shower/sleep after your race is complete on Sunday, but everyone must leave the Ranch by 1:00 PM on Sunday.
Pathfinder Ranch (Summer Camp for Kids Opportunities)
Pathfinder Ranch is a year-round, non-profit educational camp primarily serving youths ages 7-14. Throughout the school year, elementary schools visit Pathfinder for multi-day educational experiences. During the summer, Pathfinder hosts five sleep-away camp sessions where kids ages 7-14 spend 5 nights at camp. The camp hosts kids almost ever week of the year, with our BLU week being one of their only non-kid weeks. You’ll receive fliers in your BLU Swag Bag with information about their youth summer camp. The camp is extremely affordable and truly a magical experience for kids. Through this special race and your support, Stephanie and I have been honored to financially support this camp for the past decade and strongly recommend the camp to all our running friends who have kids.
To say Pathfinder Ranch has been devasted by Covid-19 is an understatement. They were closed for a year with zero revenue and the California schools are just now starting to come back. If you have the capacity and willingness to help Pathfinder Ranch emerge from the pandemic and start welcoming kids, CLICK HERE to view donation opportunities. Thanks for considering.