This list is a BIT too long to start working on all at once. I'll have to cross them off one at a time, and who knows, this could always change in the process. But for now, this list of races is what gets me excited.
1) Griffith Park Marathon (Los Angeles, CA)
Why: Beautiful course, well-organized, close to home. I'm running the half this year because I have another marathon May 1, but I would love to be able to finish the full version in the future. Even better: pull in an age-group placement
Why: Dubbed "America's Toughest Road Marathon," close to the real home. The Blue Ridge Parkway winds through some of the most gorgeous places on earth. I've never seen the actual course, but I've spent my fair share of time in the Blue Ridge mountains, and this can only be a gorgeous marathon with gnarly elevation (in a good way).
Why: Because this would just be badass to say I've done. For someone who lives and trains exclusively between 0' and 2500' above sea level, the Pike's Peak Marathon is the ultimate test of my willingness to fail.
Why: I raced this course going in the opposite directions in a different race, which was my first (and to date, only) ultra. The course is beautiful and I had a lot of fun on it, but I think the motivator here is that to be taken seriously as an ultrarunner in So Cal, you gotta do Bulldog.
5) Bandit 50k (Simi Valley, CA)
Why: Part 2 in "to be taken seriously as an ultrarunner in So Cal." Any ultrarunner living in a 25 mile radius of me has done this race. This is the race everyone is always talking about.
6) Ray Miller 50m (Malibu, CA)
Why: BEAUTIFUL scenery, challenging course, well-organized and very respected. When I volunteered this race in 2015 I was supremely jealous of the pain all the runners were suffering while I doled out Coke and Mountain Dew with my preventing injury... until I got into bed after a long day and realized I would probably still be running. The 2016 date is 11/5... thinking about how to make that happen!
7) PCT 50 (San Diego, CA)
Why: After a 13-mile climb from 3000' to 6000' feet, and only one other long climb, the last 18 miles of this race are entirely runnable. The test of actually running an ultra. Add in the lure of the Pacific Crest Trail.
Why: Small, new race where I think I can do really well. This is slated to potentially be my first 100 in 2017 since it doesn't happen until October. With lots of rehab and smart and consistent training, this is totally doable. The course consists of five 20.5-mile loops. My love of single-track totally outweighs my hatred of loops. And this is another one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Why: Because it's a very popular race in the most gorgeous state in the country. Not to mention, room and board is free. :) I'm not in a hurry for this one, but it's on my to-do list for sure.
10) Pony Express 100 (Lookout Pass, CA)
THIS. Why: Epic story and history of the Pony Express and the course itself. Wild ponies. Utah. Need I say more? You probably don't get the appeal, but I actually decided that THIS would be MY 100-mile race. It's not Western States. It's not even Angeles Crest. And it's certainly no Badwater, Leadville, or <insert biggest, coolest race here.> But I mean, have you BEEN to Utah? This race combines several things I like: a small field equates to solitude while on the course and the camaraderie of belonging to a really small group of finishers. Utah is quiet and lonely and remote, which I love and don't get a lot of here in So Cal. Plus there's old and cool wild west stuff! AND PONIES!