If in the future you decide to race the North Face Endurance Challenge San Francisco and you find the registration is full - there is an alternative - The Coyote Ridge 50K. The race was on December 8, one week after the NF in the same general area. They offer a 7, 10, 20, 26.2 mile distances in addition to the 50K.
The race shares many of the same trails as the NF but with a small crowd. It covers 7,400+ ft of climbing with great views of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the city. It starts and finishes at Muir Beach with 30% single track, 55% fire roads, and 15% gravel on three loops.
The race began on bridge by the beach parking area and quickly took off up a steep fire road (see 1st picture).
After the first climb, the race joined the coastal trail (see below) for a few miles. This section has incredible views of the Pacific Ocean on tight single-track with lots of up-and-downs. After 3.5 miles it dropped back down to Tennessee Valley to the 1st aid-station. The first few miles I kept a strong pace with some of the top runners but unfortunately I fell back since I had to make a restroom stop at mile 3.
The next section was long steady climb up the Marincello trail which allowed me a chance to pass a few runners. Near the top and close to the Bobcat trail I got to enjoy the only tree covered section of the race (see below). After leaving the trees, I got to enjoy some new trails that are different then the NF course.
The new section ran above the road tunnel on the Alta/SCA trails offering more views of Sausalito. The race then rejoined the Coastal trail for a few miles along the southern ridge of the park. This was a great single-track section with incredible views of the city and the Pacific (see next two pictures).
(below are some gun batteries that were built to protect the bay in 1905)
At mile 11.5, the race hit far point at the Bonita aid-station. Leaving the station, I had to run on a road for a few miles yet it was cool seeing all the gun batteries and a cold war missile site before crossing the lagoon. After crossing the lagoon, I continued running on the road for another mile but it was worth it to see all the old gun batteries.
(one of the large gun barrels on display)
After crossing the lagoon, there is a 1.5 mile 800ft climb on the Coastal/Wolf Ridge trail. This also has sections of loose shale then on the top it becomes very runnable. with views of Tennessee Valley below.
At mile 17.5 the race hit the Tennessee Valley aid-station for the 2nd of 4 times. I refilled my bottle again then turned back for another climb back up before rejoining the road back to Muir Beach.
I turned back around for the steep climb back on the same route back to Tennessee Valley but then takes a short loop along the Miwok trail and back to Tennessee Valley for the final leg back to Muir Beach for the finish. I was still able to keep running on the climbs yet I felt slow on the downhills. There was two guys that passed on the 2nd to last climb and then they blew past me on the descent.
I made it to the finish in 5:49:22 in 11th place. For me it was a good race and I managed to run all the hills and keep a steady pace. Altogether it was a fun day of racing in perfect weather. The race is well organized and at a good price.
Following the race we ended up staying at the Pelican Inn which is by the Start/Finish. It was a cool English Style inn with a great pub and food. I would highly recommend at least stopping for a beer and enjoy the atmosphere.