This Event Took Place Sat. Apr 9, 2022

Updates & News

Bonus in addition to the regular distances - Free Five Mile Fatass distance - no fee, no shirt, no drama - just show up and run!

Route Maps on CalTopo will take you to the three courses with the layout of the aid stations. From there, you can download gpx and kml routes, and much more.

Packet pickup is at the start/finish Friday noon-5 and Saturday 0530-0620. Start is at 0700 for the 26.2 & 17.5 distances and 5-10 minutes later for the 10 mile course.


Burros trained to run are in high demand, so owners are very selective choosing runners for their animals. This is a skill that requires building a trusting relationship with the animals. If you plan to rent one, please visit the owners, practice, and learn about their burros months in advance of the race. FEAR NOT! If you enter, but are unable to arrange a burro, you can always run solo and learn for next time.

Run with the Burros

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 just one of many new pack burro races in California.


There are 3 distances, a 26.2 mile trail marathon, an 18 mile, and an Introductory 10 mile distance. Distances are approximate, as it is the terrain that really matters. All are open to burro/runner teams, or runners without burros competing in separate categories on the same course. There is a slightly staggered start with burros starting first.


10 Mile Short Canyon Loop Description
You begin your journey at the base of Indian Wells Canyon. The first mile is easy along the Indian Wells Canyon road followed by right turn to a slow climb to the newer LA Aqueduct. Many will be reduced to a walk, but soon it levels out for 2.5 miles where you can easily speed or cruise with a beautiful view of the valley. Then complete a 2nd short climb to the highest point ~1100 feet above the start as you enter beautiful Short Canyon, filled with wildflowers - if the winter rains cooperate. Enjoy the descent and spot where the concrete covered 1914 LA Aqueduct emerges from tunnels through the mountains., You can run, race, or easy jog downhill to the bottom of the canyon. The aid station will provide snacks and water 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 downhill grade. The course turns south at the power line, where it flattens and ends with a slight easy climb to the finish. The trail consists primarily of dirt roads, excellent footing with very few rocks, so boots are not needed on burros. 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!

18.5 Mile Route
The route consists primarily of well packed dirt roads. It includes nearly all of the 10 mile loop, but adds some distance at the beginning in Indian Wells Canyon and a great single track segment to Grapevine Canyon in the middle. There will be a water crossing or two, fabulous views, and traverses segments of the first and second LA Aqueducts. The terrain on this loop varies wildly, but rocks are rare. If you're a burro; shoes or hoof boots are not needed.

Marathon Long Course

The 26.2 mile course includes nearly all of the shorter trails, but adds a trip further north towards Sand Canyon. It starts with the 18.5 mile loop described above until Grapevine Canyon at mile 12. There, you can pickup water & supplies at the aid station, find your drop bag if needed, and begin the bonus loop towards Sand Canyon. Runners or teams entered in the marathon distance have the option to down-grade to the 18.5 mile distance at the Grapevine aid station.

Aid Stations
There are 5 aid stations 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.

Helpful volunteers can assist if you need to rest and recover a while.
There will also be monthly practice runs on parts of the course with burros available. Please follow the Facebook group for notifications.

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. Expect to pay $250 to cover extra fuel and required tests and health certificates for interstate travel. They are not making a profit, just covering some of the cost and introducing people to the sport. Make arrangements very early, plan a trip to meet your burro, practice handling skills, and bond, well before the race.

All arrangements for renting burros are completely separate from registration here on Ultrasignup.
For questions about renting a running burro or training your own burro with seasoned pack burro racers prior to racing, please email the contacts below ASAP

They 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. Training (for you) will ensure a safer race even for those with new burros who have not experienced running in a herd prior to their first race. They will be happy to connect new burro owners with seasoned burro race owners in their area to connect for training opportunities..

Amber Wann,, the Donkey Matchmaker for Racing Burros.
Suzanne Velasquez has a limited supply of walking/jogging burros available from Arizona. (520) 212-0100
Kristen Clark has racing burros from Arizona at

Race Rules

The rules 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, California Breakfast Burritos, and other charitable non-profits.

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.

No private property owners along the course, sponsoring businesses, governmental agencies, persons, volunteers, race officials, or organizations will be liable in case of accident or injury to the runner or burro. Each runner must sign a waiver and/or release of responsibility before the race.


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

The word burro is the Spanish word for donkey. They only have chestnuts on the forelegs, while animals of the same equine family, such as mules (a hybrid cross between a donkey and horse) or horses, have these chestnuts on the hind and forelegs. The tail of a donkey has shorter hair, except on its lower part, which has a brush. Only a burro/donkey is allowed to run in a Pack Burro Race as we do nothing half-assed.

Burro owners may consider getting a veterinary check on their burro before every race. Sick or injured burros should not race.

The Race Director shall have the authority to disqualify any contestant and animal that does not comply with these rules, or whose animal is sick, doped, injured, or mistreated. Race staff may check the animal before and after the race. All runners must keep their burros under control. Any runner or burro 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 is required to be equipped with a packsaddle packed with the prospector's paraphernalia, including a pick, gold pan, and shovel. There is no minimum weight requirement for the paraphernalia. If any of these items are missing or get lost on the trail, the runner/burro team will be disqualified.

As an introductory opportunity, burros will be allowed to run the 10 mile course non-competitively without a packsaddle but cannot win prizes.

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 lead rope for handling that is attached to a halter (a flat-nosed halter is preferred for safer racing over rope halters which tend to get loose and shift on the burro’s face, yet rope halters are a better tool for groundwork training). 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 the rope to the tip of the snap). The lead rope may only be connected to the halter. 

Jack/Stud chains may be used with a pressure-release technique, to safely control a higher-spirited burro. (A jack/stud chain is a chain or strap which is used to apply pressure over the muzzle or under the chin.) Any racer coming across the finish line with any injuries on the burro resulting from the jack/stud 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.


Team = 1 Runner & 1 Burro

The runner and burro starting this race must remain a team throughout the race. No assistants will be allowed to accompany any team. Spectators or anyone outside of the race are not allowed to assist the forward progress of any team. No swapping burros with another runner or both teams will be disqualified (“You gotta dance with the one that brung ya.” ~ Curtis Imrie). The winning combination consists of a runner and burro, who must cross the finish line as a unit. The runner may be leading or following the burro, but the burro's nose crossing the finish line first constitutes the winner.

Burros are controlled by way of the runner handling a lead rope that is attached to the halter of the burro. All runners must keep their burro under control on the course, and not cut switchbacks (except for a single-track trail, runner/burro teams can pass as long as they remain near the course edge if slower teams are blocking the course or obstructing the advancement of another team). If the runner/burro interferes with another runner/burro team, the out-of-control team may be disqualified or given a warning.  If the runner loses control of their burro, by way of dropping the lead rope, the team must return to the point where the lead rope was dropped to stay in the race in order to not be disqualified. We encourage you to take your burro back and not give up on your burro’s race to get an honorable finish.

Time Cutoff

Unfortunately, it takes a big team to host this type of event. In consideration of the 60-70 volunteers who spend many hours on the course, we will not ask them all to wait late after sunset for 1-2 lingering runners. Any Marathon runners must finish in 9 hours and the same time is allowed for the shorter distances. Anyone may downgrade to the 18 or 10 mile distances at the Short Canyon or Grapevine aid stations. The 10 miler should not be an issue, but any runner may be pulled by aid volunteers if they are unlikely to finish in the allotted time.

If you think you will need additional time, early starts are allowed but will get an unofficial finish. Simply ask if you have questions, we want everyone to finish successfully.

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 most circumstances, entries may be rolled over to the next year and those will be addressed in writing, on a case by case basis by the Race Director. We are very generous granting roll-overs, but you must ask before the race.

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 15 March, 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 will go to youth (under 18 with a burro), last ass, and other yet to be imagined categories.

Post Race Lunch

Food will be available for purchase from a local food vendor, 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.


Children are welcome to attend and participate. This is a family friendly sport and young pack burro racers are our future. Anyone under 12 years of age must be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times on the course or around the burros.


Dogs and burros do not mix well and dogs can easily be killed if they get underfoot or cause injuries by starting burros. Please leave your dogs at home if they cannot be constantly attended and kept away from all donkeys. 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.

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.


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. We ask that you not camp right at the start as it is private property and we also need all the space for parking. We can also find you accommodation for burros at local facilities.

Food & Lodging

An ample selection of hay and feed for your burro is available at Gateway Ace Hardware in Inyokern. Nearby Ridgecrest offers a wide variety of hotels and eateries to suit any budget. Consult the Ridgecrest Area Visitors & Convention Bureau for more information.

Other Resources

California Breakfast Burritos Practice opportunities and burros in California

Facebook Group for this run

Forever Home Donkey Rescue & Sanctuary Practice opportunities and burros in Arizona

Redonkulous Ranch Practice opportunities and burros in Colorado.

Ridgecrest Bureau of Land Management Horse & Burro Corrals Wild burro adoptions

Event's current local time: 6:17 AM PT


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