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Enjoy San Joaquin Valley Living

Get Ready for the California Classic Weekend

Mar 30, 2019 11:00AM ● By Enjoy Magazine

Rolling & Running with the Classics

April 2019
Story by Natalie Caudle
Photos courtesy of California Classic Weekend

SAFE! Home plate in Chukchansi Park marks the finish line of the half marathon, one of the many races in the California Classic Weekend held in downtown Fresno. Competitors of all ages run and bike through the Fresno landscape during the first weekend in April, taking in the sights and excitement of the valley city. 

The weekend kicks off Friday, April 5, at the Clovis Recreational Center with the Orangetheory Health and Fitness Expo. Organizers anticipate more than 4,000 participants. The expo features companies and products designed for health-minded individuals or those involved in the world of athletic competition, fitness and exercise. 

Saturday, April 6, holds the bicycle races and the highly anticipated Century Race. The 100-mile biking portion of the California Classic was cancelled last year due to safety concerns caused by rainfall, but all races are expected this year. Cyclists head out of Fresno on a closed portion of Highway 168 and head up to Squaw Valley, where they hit both the halfway point and a water station on Ruth Hill Road. Bikers continue the loop and the remaining 50 miles through rural towns as they head back to Fresno. At this point, most riders will bike in a larger pack called a peloton which allows them to save energy by taking advantage of drafting or riding behind another rider. Nearing the finish line, competitors at the front of the peloton will break away and sprint to the race’s end in downtown Fresno.

Cyclists who enjoy competition, but in shorter distances, are encouraged to participate in the Metric Ride, a 50-mile course through eastern Fresno County that takes riders up to Tollhouse before heading east. The Mini-Metric Ride is 35 miles and perfect for those who enjoy shorter rides or are participating in their first cycling competition. All cyclists begin in Fresno at Chukchansi Stadium and ride along the closed highway before the course splits and changes direction depending on length and difficulty. Saturday night closes out with a Fresno Grizzlies baseball game for all California Classic participants. 

Sunday, April 7, kicks off with foot races at 7 am. The half marathon and 5K run/walk begin at Chukchansi Park while the10K race begins at Chaffee Zoo in Roeding Park. The half-marathon course takes participants through the city and into the zoo. As runners pass Sea Lion Cove they will hit mile seven of the 13.1 miles in the half marathon. Runners exit the zoo through the African Adventure, a 13-acre exhibit featuring lions, elephants and giraffes in a natural atmosphere. Andy Di Meo, a south valley educator and administrator, competed in the half-marathon race in 2018. “It was an awesome course and I especially enjoyed running through downtown Fresno and, of course, the zoo portion was super fun,” Di Meo says. “It was also great to be able to do the race with my family.” Runners finish the last portion of the race passing by the Art Deco-themed Tower Theater, ending in the baseball diamond of the Fresno Grizzlies.  

Families who wish to participate in a run but aren’t up to the distance of a 10K or half marathon are encouraged to enjoy the downtown sights of Fresno and lively music in the Rock N Run 5K Classic. Runners and walkers will pass by the postmodern structure of City Hall and the 109-foot-tall historic water tower before finishing on home plate. Despite the shorter length of this race, participants are still qualified to be considered as completing the Michelob Ultimate Challenge.

Those who participate in both days of races will be counted as Michelob Ultimate Challenge finishers and will receive a newly designed hat and interlocking medallions from both races. The medals from 2018 featured the phrases “Rode the Freeway” and “Ran the Zoo.” 

Due to the creative nature of the weekend, event director Mike Herman anticipates needing 400 volunteers to keep the events moving and encourages people of all ages and abilities to come out for the fun. Rain or shine, runners and cyclists will experience an exciting and unique weekend at the 9th California Classic. • • April 6-7 in Fresno 

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