2016 San Diego Road & Trail Race Series Guide

San Diego Road & Trail Race Series Guide

Run Fact! If you ever stop in for a post-run beer at Dick's Last Resort in San Diego, bear in mind that the waiters are trained to be as rude and obnoxious as possible to patrons. Welcome to charming San Diego, America's Finest City! Fortunately, San Diego's Balboa Park alone offers 65 miles of running trails, and that's just the tip of the iceberg in this runner's urban paradise.

Here's our RunGuides picks for the best Road Race and Trail Race Series for San Diego for 2017.


Trail Race Series

Dirt Dog Cross Country Series

USATF San Diego presents this storied series of cross country races taking you from late summer through fall. Cross country is about trails, dirt, hills, grass and team competition. Gain access to the primal joy of running via cross country! Entry fees are generally low, which makes it great for families and runners of all ages.

Dirt Dog Cross Country Series

Number of runs in the series: 8

What are the races?

Total distance if you run all the events: 46.4 - 51.4 km (28.8 - 31.9 miles)

How many guilt-free donuts might you earn if you run the entire series?

Guilt free donuts

Step right up to your local donut shop and treat yourself to half a dozen delicious donuts, and by all means go for extra sprinkles, nuts, chocolate and cream filled varieties!

Do you get any cool swag for completing all the races in the series?

Complete all the races to be recognized as an Iron Dog! There are also cash awards for top teams and individuals.


XTERRA SoCal Series

This race series is predicated on a simple formula – great trails, great runners and great weather. With more than 7,000 partipants over the course of the series, it's clear that local runners love to get out of the urban envirnoment and into the parks and hills for an exhilarating experience. Some series events are situated around San Diego, but most of them are closer to Los Angeles. You know it's worth a bit of planning - go for it!

XTERRA SoCal Series

Number of runs in the series: 7

What are the races?

Total distance if you run all the events: 54 - 132 km (33.6 - 82 miles)

Run the entire series, and you have some guilt-free donuts coming!

donut panic!

Let's call it a minimum 6 donuts. For those hearty souls choosing the longest distance option at each race, don't panic, head to Donut Panic (a top San Diego donut emporium) and gobble down 8 donuts.

Is there any cool swag associated with completion of the entire race series?

Participants can accumulate points at each event working towards the XTERRA National Championship in September. The series T-Shirts are sweet, but you must pony up some funds for a shirt when you register.


Dirt Devil Half Marathon Series

The seasoned half marathoner will enjoy this series of four trail half marathons unfolding every two months from April to October. The runs happen over a variety of challenging courses in unique settings. Each event is capped at 400 participants, so it's a good idea to register early.

Dirt Devil Half Marathon Series

Number of runs in the series: 4

What are the races?

Total distance if you run all the events: 84.4 km (52.4 miles)

How many nutrient-rich donuts can you justify gobbling down if you complete all the races?


These trail half marathons are not for the feint of heart, we'd opine you've earned a good half dozen donuts for your efforts. At least!

Do you get anything cool for completing the entire series?

Those participants that have completed ALL 4 races in the Half Marathon series will receive a commemorative Stainless Steel HESS Brewing/Dirt Devil Beer Growler.Dirt Devil Club members get discounts on race entry fees.


Road Race Series

San Diego USATF 2017 Road Series

These runs are intended to create quality competitive opportunities for the local running community while offering awards recognizing top competitors and clubs in the USATF San Diego Association. Participants must be current members of the San Diego USATF to be eligible for series awards. The fast kids show up for this series, but so does everyone else so come and join the fun.

USATF Road Series

Number of runs in the series: 4

What are the races?

Total distance if you run all the events: 46.1 km (28.6 miles)

Should you run each race in the series, how many fluffy, wonderful guilt-free donuts do you earn?


Good job! You are approved for a trip to the bakery for 4 delicious donuts upon completion of all the runs. OK, if you garnered a PR in any of the races, throw in a bonus donut, preferably chocolate covered & cream filled. Sprinkles and nuts optional.

Do you get anything cool for running the completing each race in the series?

There are series awards and prize money for individuals and teams in both open and masters categories. There is also the swag from each individual race.


Half Marathon Triple Crown Series

Here's a series of three outstanding half marathons run on stunning coastal courses. The events unfold over winter, spring and summer, making it easy to plan your training to maximize your efforts over the course of the series.

Half Marathon Triple Crown

Number of runs in the series: 3

What are the races?

Total distance if you run all the events: 63.3 km (39.3 miles)

You've done the training and conquered each race! Are you ready to eat the guilt-free donuts? And how many?

Eat those guilt-free donuts!

The donut police are asleep, go ahead and have half a dozen! May we recommend a trip to Mary's Donuts? Hint: Try the gigantic apple fritters, but maybe limit those to a mere three pieces, if that's your jam.

Do you get anything cool for completing the entire race series?

Yes, if you crush these three races you garner an impressive series commemorative medal, along with some serious bragging rights!


Did we miss an important series? Let us know through the comments below! Or, if you’re looking for more races, check out our full calendar of San Diego Runs.

Published on Nov 21, 2016

Steve Lafler writes about running and draws comics. He has attended the San Diego Comic Con sixteen times, but has yet to run a race in America's finest city.