Sierra Buttes Run


The Area

The Sierra Buttes is located in Sierra City, California. Fortunately, I have access to a home in the area. So, not only do I get to enjoy the beautiful scenery, but I also get to take advantage of the trails for training. One of these trails is the one from Sierra City all the way up to the Sierra Buttes fire lookout tower. This trail is great because of how much it mimics the Spartan Championship Race at Squaw Valley in Tahoe.


The Spartan Championship race last year was about 14.5-14.75 miles. However, when you include the distance in the obstacles it was about 15. On my fitbit it calculated the run from Sierra City to the lookout tower to be 16 miles. This is definitely an overestimate, so I think it is more around 15. Either way it is a great way to train for the championship race.


In Sierra City the elevation is around 4000 ft. Once you reach the tower you get to 8587 ft. This is over a 4000ft elevation gain. The base of squaw valley is 6200 ft. and the max elevation is 9050, but in the race there was around a 4,500 foot elevation gain. Even though it is similar to the Sierra Buttes run, it is a bit more spread out. The Sierra Buttes run is practically straight uphill until you reach the top. While the Tahoe race has the elevation gains a bit more spread out.

Another pro to this high elevation is to train in the high altitude environment. Since there is less oxygen at this altitude your body must compensate. Your body does this by increases the amount of oxygen it releases to your muscles. However, the compound that allows for this can make you sick if your not used to it. It is very important to try to do some runs at this elevation before the race so you can be ready for the altitude on race day.

For the majority of the run up, it is uphill and on uneven terrain. The championship race did have some uphill at the beginning, but definitely not as much as the Sierra Buttes run. The Sierra Buttes uphill is a major test on overall endurance. For a lot of the last two miles up it gets pretty steep where walking is a must. The championship race had a similar ending to its uphill that really took me off guard last year. Hopefully, if this championship race is similar I will be prepared for that.


One of the major problems with not running on a treadmill in the gym is not having access to equipment to mimic obstacles. A way to compensate a little for that is to do burpees at set intervals on the run. One could do other exercises at set intervals as well. I think it is very important to have set times for exercises because in the race the obstacles can knock a lot of time off. They can also take a toll on the stamina.

To Sum it up..

Overall the Sierra Buttes run is great for training. Not just for the Spartan Championship race, but also for long distance running. If you are ever in the area make sure to check this trail out. If the distance is too long there is another starting point that is much shorter. In addition, there are many other trails that you can take advantage of to enjoy the beautiful surroundings!!

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