Ryan Spitz and Crew Kick Off California Untamed and the New California Adventure District
● By Enjoy Magazine
Story by Aaron Williams
Photos by Nigel Skeet
NIGEL SKEET'S PASSION is far Northern California. Ryan Spitz craves adventure. Together, the pair teamed up to create an adventure/endurance race aimed at spotlighting the abundance of outdoor opportunities in the vast terrain from in the upper reaches of the Golden State.
On June 6, Spitz took off from near Arcata, planning to run a 330-mile wilderness course snaking its way to Mt. Shasta that would last until June 12. It will be the longest endurance race in the country, outpacing the Moab 240. Along the way, Skeet and a team of filmmakers would chronicle the adventure.
The end of the race for Spitz is Bunny Flat on Mt. Shasta. The end game for Skeet is getting the state, the nation and the world to see the beauty and economic potential of Northern California’s wilderness.
“The California outdoor adventure industry is a $92 billion enterprise, with 95 percent of it south of the Bay Area,” Skeet says. “I believe that if we can get people here, they’d see what a wonderful place we live in. I believe outdoor recreation is the bread and butter of our region. If we can get people to come and play here, they’re likely to invest here.”
Skeet and Spitz joined to create California Untamed and the California Adventure District, each focused on shining the spotlight on the outdoor recreation activities and adventures from Mendocino to Lake Tahoe and north to the Oregon border.
“When we got together and started talking, we asked ourselves, ‘What are the ways to bring multiple counties together and bring in untapped potential?’” Spitz says a few days before taking off on his trek. “Adventure tourism falls into that category.”
So Spitz, the 35-year-old father of three who migrated north from San Diego two years ago and owns Shasta Trail Runs, started mapping a world-class endurance course to run.
“I won’t do something unless I put my boots on the ground, and my wife, Bree, was the one who said ‘You’ve got to do this,’” Spitz says.
Starting near Arcata, Spitz will run mostly on forest service roads and logging roads. The route travels from the coast to near Willow Creek, up through Six River National Forest south of Orleans, east past Forks of Salmon, through the Trinity Alps past Callahan and Kangaroo Lake eventually dumping out past Mt. Eddy, Lake Siskiyou and up to Bunny Flat.
“This is the most scenic and epic permittable route,” he says, adding the route steers from wilderness trails and the Pacific Coast Trail as they don’t allow permits. “Now, it’s all about can I do this and what will I run into?”
A pre-race trip at the end of May found several logging roads washed out, while Spitz and Co. encountered a few bears as well.
Skeet and his team jockeyed back and forth to film and help with supplies. The crew carried satellite phones and air horns to ward off the bears. Meanwhile, Spitz estimates he’ll consume 350 calories per hour as he will run when possible, hike when necessary and scramble when called upon.
“Having the crew helping means I can refill my food supply every 20 miles or so,” says Spitz, who will subsist on water, peanut butter and jelly, beef jerky, trail mix, Tailwind Powder and Muir Energy Gels after filling up on a hearty cooked breakfast each morning.
To prepare for a trek that includes 50,000 feet of elevation gain and 43,000 feet of elevation loss, Spitz varied running between 50 and 100 miles per week, closing in on the race with a four-day training block of 25 miles per day.
“We also did a thing where some friends and I had to run four miles in an hour,” he says, “and then you reset and keep doing it until you can’t hit that cutoff. I wound up running 84 miles in 20 hours.”
And while Spitz is this year’s test subject, he and Skeet plan to
open the race to the top 20 endurance athletes from around the world
“Ryan is such a good story and person and creating this will no doubt draw people to come race and fall in love with this part of California,” Skeet says.
“It’s genius, really,” Spitz adds. “We can showcase this area, bring outdoor enthusiasts here and bucket all the outdoor adventure we have to offer.”•