Saturday, Oct 17, 2020 @ 7:00 AM

Run with the Burros

Highway 14 & Indian Wells Canyon Rd

Inyokern, CA 26M Run W/ Burros, 26M Runners, 10 Run W/ Burros, 10M Runners

Registration closes: Thu, Oct 1 @ 11:59PM


This event has been rescheduled from Apr 18, 2020 to Oct 17, 2020 for obvious reasons, but it will happen
We will have a spaced out start, face coverings at the start & aid stations, and a few other changes to keep everyone safe and comply with state & county guidelines. It will still be an awesome re-introduction of pack burro racing to California.

Run with the Burros

Supported by the Western Pack Burro Ass-ociation!

... Burros were brought to the Indian Wells Valley as beasts of burden and faithful companions by early prospectors. Descended from Mediterranean stock brought from Mexico, these sturdy animals are well suited to the climate and terrain. They worked hard hauling daily water and supplies to mining camps, and even worked underground. After the mining booms and frenzy died, burros were out of a job. Obsolete, many were turned loose to roam the desert.

Old timers will tell stories of burros competing with cattle in the canyons of this race course. They also wandered onto the runways at the local Navy base. Eventually, they were all rounded up and removed by the BLM except in mountains to the east. The cattle were gone by the early 2000’s, but the legacy remains.

Join us where the Sierra Nevada meets the Mojave Desert as the mining and burro heritage is brought back and honored by “Running with the Burros”....

The Concept

We invite individual runners and runners with burros to compete on a challenging course in the canyons of the southern Sierra Nevada.

Let’s get one thing straight right away. Burro is the Spanish word for donkey, which is the same as an ass. All three words have identical meaning. The jokes write themselves, but ass is a completely proper word not to be avoided.

Burro races are a long tradition in the mining community. Locally, Randsburg, Lone Pine, Death Valley, and Beatty have had burro races as far back as 1897. There were even 2.5 day 42 mile races from Apple Valley to Big Bear. Pack burro racing in the current format has been a tradition since 1949 where runners on foot race long distances with a pack burro as a team (one burro with each runner), guiding them with only a halter, lead rope, voice, and their bond as a team.

Not everyone can own or borrow burro, so this run allows anyone to compete. Run, hike, crawl, with or without a burro. This event offers an introductory experience and we hope it is the first of many new pack burro races in California.


There are 2 distances, a Trail Marathon distance and an Introductory 10 mile distance. Distances are approximate, as it is the terrain that really matters. Both are open to burro/runner teams, or runners without burros competing in separate categories on the same course (there is a slightly staggered start).


There are 2 course segments, a 10 mile loop and a 16 mile loop. The short distance runs only the first loop, the marathon distance runs both.

10 Mile Short Canyon Loop Description
You begin your journey at the base of Indian Wells Canyon. The first 2 miles are easy going with a little sand and rock, the next two miles get gradually steeper as you enter Short Canyon. Many will be reduced to a walk by the time you hit the 2nd LA Aqueduct and our aid station at mile 5. The aid station will provide water and snacks for humans and animals. There will be no cups, so be prepared to refill your bottle or pack if needed. Burros can drink from buckets provided. After that, it is an easy uphill grade to the highest point ~1100 feet above the start with a beautiful view of the valley. The course flattens and ends with a quick downhill finish. The trail consists primarily of dirt roads with some sections along the covered aqueduct. This 10 miler is open to walkers, joggers, and speed demons alike. There are some moderate hill climbs that will not exactly help you log a new personal best, but if you're looking for a 10 mile experience in a laid-back environment, this is for you!

Marathon Long Course
The 26 mile course does both loops. It starts with the 10 mile loop described above. After that you can pickup any needed supplies at the start and begin the 16 mile Indian Wells Canyon Loop.

Aid Stations
There are aid stations at 5, 10, 13.5, 17, and 22.5 miles with water, electrolytes, and snacks to refuel. There will be no cups, so be prepared to refill your bottle or pack if needed. Burros can drink from buckets provided and enjoy a carrot or two. Helpful volunteers can assist if you need to rest and recover a while.

16 Mile Indian Wells Canyon Loop
Head up Indian Wells canyon and climb slowly and steadily (elevation gain of ~2,300) for 7 miles towards Owen's Peak and the Pacific Crest Trail (there are a handful of steep sections but they are relatively short). The route consists primarily of fire roads and Jeep trails. The uphill trail takes a slight right turn along the north side of the canyon where depending on season’s rainfall, you may get your feet wet crossing the creek. The terrain on this loop varies wildly and if you're a burro; shoes or hoof boots are recommended. Once you rejoin the main road, high-five everyone at the 17 mile aid station, take in the view, and turn left downhill. The route will take you to the historic Nadeau-Magnolia gold mine. Explore the mine buildings and machinery another day and enjoy the smooth downhill to the finish line.

Runners or teams entered in the long distance have the option to down-grade to the 10 mile distance at the turnaround.

There will be monthly practice runs on parts of the course with burros available. Please follow the Facebook group for notifications.

Race Rules

The rules, based on those established by the Western Pack Burro Ass-ociation, are as follows:

The race director will have discretion as to how the entry fees will be used, but any excess after race expenses will be donated to Forever Home Donkey Rescue & Sanctuary.

No private-property owners along the course, sponsoring businesses, governmental agencies, persons or organizations will be responsible in case of accident or injury to contestants.

The run is held on a combination of private and public land. Be respectful and courteous. Do not drive or park anywhere off existing roads, litter, or disturb wildlife, plants, or property. Contestants committing acts that jeopardize future permission from BLM, private owners, or LADWP will be disqualified. Please help pickup and leave the area even cleaner than it is today.


The following is the definition of a burro and is to be used in selecting a burro.

The word burro is the Spanish word meaning donkey. A donkey is defined as being an ass. They have chestnuts on the forelegs only, while other equines, such as mules or horses, have them on hind and forelegs. The tail has no hair, except on its lower part, which has a brush. Race officials shall have the authority to disqualify any contestant and animal that does not match the above description, or whose animal is sick, doped, injured, or mistreated. Race staff will check the animal before and after the race. Winning burros can be held in a designated area by the race staff for 30 minutes for checking by a veterinarian or race official.

All runners must keep their burros under control. This is especially true for runners with jacks. Any burro (jacks particularly) that interferes with another runner or burro may be disqualified.

Pack Saddles

To honor the local mining history of burros in the Indian Wells Valley, each burro competing for prizes or official placements will be required to be equipped with a pack saddle. The pack paraphernalia must include a pick, shovel, and gold pan. There shall be no minimum weight requirement. Loss of all or part of the pack and paraphernalia during the race will eliminate the contestant. Contestants may choose not to use a pack saddle and run non-competitively.

Other Gear

It is strongly recommended that all participants (with or without burros) carry at least two quarts of water, food (an energy bar), electrolytes, hat, and clothing (such as a windbreaker). Gloves are also recommended for those with burros to prevent rope burns.

Carrying and use of firearms will not be permitted.

Halter & Lead rope

The burro must be outfitted with a strap- (leather or synthetic) or rope-style halter. The runner may only be attached to the burro with a single lead rope that does not exceed 15 feet in length (measured from the end of rope to tip of buckle). The lead rope may only be connected to the halter tie ring (or tie loop in the case of a rope halter) and may not be affixed to the saddle or to any other part of the burro.

Jack chains may be used only if used with a pressure-release technique. (A jack chain is a chain or strap which is used to apply pressure over the muzzle, under the chin, or through the mouth.) Any racer coming across the finish line with nose and/or chin injuries on the animal resulting from the jack chain will be disqualified.


Any contestant mistreating any animal may be disqualified. No needles, electric prods, narcotics, clubs or whips, other than the halter rope, may be used.


Contestants starting the race with a burro must remain a team throughout the contest. No assistants will be allowed to accompany any team.

The winning combination consists of man, or woman, and burro which must cross the finish line as a unit. The man or woman may be leading or following the burro but the burro's nose crossing the finish line first constitutes the winner. The runner may push, pull, drag or carry the burro. The contestant shall at no time progress except under his own power.

The race route must be followed. It will be marked by flags, signs, people, or aid stations. Do not cut across switchbacks. Any burro leaving the course must be returned to the course without shortening the distance of the course. Any teamed runner becoming separated from their burro (i.e., burro and runner are no longer racing as a connected team or unit) must return to the place they became separated before continuing the race. Failure to follow these rules will result in disqualification.

Should a contestant be disqualified by a race official, they may continue the race (a second offense will definitely put them off the trail) and they may appeal to the race director. The decisions of the race director will be final.

WIthdrawl Policy

Contestants may transfer their entry to another contestant up to a day in advance of the race. Please use the features in Ultrasignup to transfer entries. Under limited circumstances, entries may be rolled over to the next year and those will be addressed in writing, with appropriate documentation, on a case by case basis by the Race Director.

Burros may be switched out with prior approval of the Race Director up to and including 30 minutes before the race. No burro substitutions will be permitted once the shotgun sounds.

We understand that issues arise at the last minute that can prevent a team from arriving at the start line. Since the costs associated with planning an event of this nature are incurred early on in the planning timeline, this policy represents our best efforts to make reasonable accommodation within the unavoidable planning constraints.


As a participant registered before 25 September, you will receive an event race shirt to wear proudly and boast of your donkey running prowess. All finishers will be awarded a custom crafted finisher’s award to commemorate the experience. Prizes will go to the first pack burro teams and the first runners in each distance, both male & female. Additional awards for top BLM burro, last ass, costumes and other yet to be imagined categories are also possible.

Post Race Lunch

Food will be available for purchase from a local food truck, or bring your own picnic. The brewery is also a few hundred yards away.

The Indian Wells Brewing Company welcomes you to visit the brewery located a short walk from the start. You will find a great selection of ice cold beverages made on-site and served or to take home. Sample the many fine beers, locally crafted soda, or delicious spring water from the historic artesian well. The Indian Wells Lodge, co-located serves burgers and limited food outdoors In the back.


Dogs and burros do not mix well and dogs can easily be killed if they get underfoot, Please leave your dogs at home if they cannot be constantly attended. Well behaved dogs with well behaved owners are welcome. All dogs must remain on leashes at all times and not interfere with any runner or burro.


There are several unimproved camping areas in Indian Wells Canyon. These are on BLM land and a fire permit is required for outdoor stoves or campfires. Camping with corrals for burros will also be available on private property at Rat Sass Ranch a short drive away. We can also find you accommodation for burros at local facilities. Stay tuned for more details.

Food & Lodging

An ample selection of hay and feed for your burro is available at Gateway Ace Hardware in Inyokern. Inyokern features 2 restaurants, and one motel. Nearby Ridgecrest offers a wide variety of hotels and eateries to suit any budget. Consult the local visitors bureau for more information at

Weather & Wildlife

Spring is unpredictable in the desert, so please check a day or two in advance and plan accordingly. April is usually mild with blue skies, blooming wildflowers and moderate temperatures. There are wide temperature swings between night and day. You may need a jacket or windbreaker at the start of the run and be very warm shortly later. This is the Mojave Desert, so respect it and be careful. Heat stress can be avoided by wearing light colors, a hat with brim, and drinking plenty of water & electrolytes. Salt tablets & water are your friends. Pour water on your head and body if you feel overheated, slow down, and seek shade or assistance if necessary.

Wildlife is a beautiful thing and you will be fortunate to share the canyons with golden eagles, ravens, lizards, squirrels, even deer. Rattlesnakes, migrating tarantulas, and bears also live there but will leave you alone if you respect their space. Be aware, look around, and enjoy the magic desert bubble.

Burro Rentals

Not everyone is lucky enough to have their own burros.
Burros trained to pack, run, and available to rent are in high demand and come from as far away as Colorado & New Mexico. Cost is normally $100-$150, but may be $200 or more to cover extra fuel and required tests and health certificates. They aren’t making a profit, just covering some of the cost. Make arrangements very early, plan a trip to meet your burro, practice handling skills, and bond, well before the race.

For questions about training your own burro with seasoned pack burro racers prior to racing or looking to rent a running burro, please email Amber Wann,, the Donkey Matchmaker for Racing Burros.

Amber will try to connect you with a running burro based on ability and availability to TRAIN. Not all burros are created equal in running speed or handling and training will ensure a safer race even for those with new burros who have not experienced running in a herd prior to their first race. Amber will be happy to connect new burro owners with seasoned burro race owners in their area to connect for training opportunities. Also, if you are a burro owner and would like Amber to help find you a runner for races to run with your burro, please email her as well.

Suzanne Velasquez has burros available from Arizona. (520) 212-0100

Other Resources

Western Pack Burro Ass-ociation (information on pack burro races)

Forever Home Donkey Rescue & Sanctuary (practice opportunities and burros in Arizona)

California Breakfast Burritos (practice opportunities and burros in California)

Lucky A Ranch Inc (practice opportunities and burros in Arizona)

New Mexico Pack Burros (practice opportunities and burros in New Mexico)

Mountain Ridge Gear (high quality donkey pack saddles and panniers)

Ridgecrest Bureau of Land Management Horse & Burro Corrals (wild burro adoptions)

Facebook Group for this run

Local time: 12:28 AM
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