Updates & News
The 4th annual event is scheduled for Apr 15th 2023
ALL ARRANGEMENTS FOR BURROS ARE TO BE MADE SEPARATELY FROM ULTRASIGNUP Burros trained to run are in high demand and owners will be very selective choosing runners for their animals. This is a skilled challenge that requires understanding and building a trusting relationship with the animals. If you plan to rent one, please plan to visit the owners, practice, and learn about their burros several 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”....
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, a 17.5 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.
There are 2 course segments, a 10 mile loop and a 17.5 mile loop (see photos above for maps or use the Garmin links that follow). The short distances run only the one loop, the marathon distance runs both.
10 Mile Short Canyon Loop Description
10 mile route on Garmin Connect
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 and 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!
17.5 Mile Indian Wells Canyon Loop
17.5 mile route on Garmin Connect
Head up Indian Wells canyon and climb slowly and steadily (elevation gain of ~2,300) for 9 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 well packed dirt roads and Jeep trails. The route will take you to the historic Nadeau-Magnolia gold mine. Explore the mine buildings and machinery another day, but enjoy the brief time in the pines and a generous aid station. After the mine, you get a brief downhill and the final climb to the top. Celebrate, high-five everyone at the upper aid station, take in the view, and turn left and enjoy the smooth downhill to the finish line. The downhill trail takes 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, but rocks are rare. If you're a burro; shoes or hoof boots are not needed.
Marathon Long Course
26 mile route on Garmin Connect
The 26.2 mile course does both loops. It starts with the 17.5 mile loop described above. After that, you can pickup water & supplies at the junction aid station, find your drop bag if needed, and begin most of the 10 mile loop. Runners or teams entered in the marathon distance have the option to down-grade to the 17.5 mile distance at the junction aid station, but still must run 1.5 mikes further to the finish line at the bottom of the canyon.
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.
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, Arizona & New Mexico. 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, Amber@ColoradoBurroRentals.com, the Donkey Matchmaker for Racing Burros.
Suzanne Velasquez has a limited supply of walking/jogging burros available from Arizona.
firstname.lastname@example.org (520) 212-0100
Kristen Clark has racing burros from Arizona at email@example.com
The rules, 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 may 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.
To honor the local mining history of burros in the Indian Wells Valley, each burro competing is 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.
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.
Unfortunately, it takes a big team to host this type of event. In consideration of the 40-50 volunteers who spend many hours on the course, we can’t ask them all to wait late after sunset for 1-2 lingering runners. Any Marathon runners must finish in 9 hours and arrive at the lower junction aid station within 6 hours (mile16.7) to be allowed to continue. Those arriving late at the junction may downgrade to the 17.5 distance. 17.5 mile runners have 7 hours to finish. The 10 miler should not be an issue.
If you think need additional time, early starts are allowed but will get an unofficial finish.
ALL ENTRIES ARE NON-REFUNDABLE
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 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 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.
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. Inyokern features 2 restaurants, and one motel. Nearby Ridgecrest offers a wide variety of hotels and eateries to suit any budget. Consult the Ridgecrest Area Visitors & Convention Bureau for more information.
California Breakfast Burritos Practice opportunities and burros in California
Local time: 11:21 AM
Facebook Group for this run
Forever Home Donkey Rescue & Sanctuary Practice opportunities and burros in Benson Arizona
Burro Buddies - Practice opportunities and burros in South Fork Colorado. BurroBuddies@gmail.com
New Mexico Pack Burros Practice opportunities and burros in New Mexico
Ridgecrest Bureau of Land Management Horse & Burro Corrals Wild burro adoptions