Carmel Valley Fiesta Run

Carmel Valley is known for its blue skies, warm weather, and adventurous spirit. It also enjoys a small-town charm – and one of the best examples of this ambience is the Fiesta in the Park hosted by the Carmel Valley Kiwanis Club, held in Carmel Valley Village on the first weekend in August.

This year, local runners have an extra reason to celebrate the Fiesta: the inaugural edition of the Carmel Valley Fiesta Mountain Run, an 8.3-mile trail running adventure through the hills and canyons of Garland Ranch Regional Park. The race takes place on August 1 at 8AM at the Dampierre Little League Field off Paso Hondo Road.

In creating this course, the race organizers weren’t messing around: the route includes single track trails through remote canyons, and challenging climbs up to beautiful vistas. Runners of all ages and abilities are welcome – but be sure to bring your spirit of adventure. As the race brochure explains, “The terrain is often rugged, twisty, steep, rocky, dusty, narrow, challenging, and dangerous.” You sure can’t blame the committee for lack of disclosure.

The Mountain Run is a second-generation race of sorts, and is especially nice to see in light of an article we wrote this winter lamenting how many local races had disappeared over the past decade. For several years, the Carmel Valley Fiesta featured a 5K and 10K run, but the mid-summer race calendar remained vacant after that race folded (sadly, under somewhat tragic circumstances) about eight years ago.

With the sponsorship of the Kiwanis Club, a group of Carmel Valley runners have reinvented the Fiesta Run this year – but it’s an entirely different event than its predecessor. Race committee members Mahir Agha, Richard Averett, Brian Rowlett, Grant Swanson, and Chris Hanson are all prolific trail runners, and the race reflects their dedication to enjoying our natural surroundings.

This year’s race features a completely new course that is 100% on trails, and is significantly more challenging than your typical neighborhood 10K. The committee also provides many of the perks that runners appreciate such as generous sponsors, tech fabric race shirts, and awards in each age group.

The race is unique in another way as well: since the official distance is unconventional, no matter how slow you run, your time this year will be a guaranteed PR – unless, of course, you happen to have done another 8.3-mile race somewhere. You won’t have to worry about getting faster for another whole year!

When you come to the Fiesta Run, be sure to bring the family with you, because there is a 1-mile kids race through Carmel Valley Village beginning at 10 AM. This fun run is sponsored by the Big Sur Marathon’s Just Run kids program, and parents are welcome to include strollers and dogs in this event as well. There is a parade immediately following the kids race, and a classic car show and free concerts throughout the remainder of the day. It all makes for a pretty great way to spend a midsummer’s day.

Race fees are very reasonable, and benefit the Tularcitos Technology Fund and trail maintenance at Garland Ranch Regional Park. Register for $25 online at by July 22, or for $32 on race day (registration begins at 6:30 AM on race morning). You’ll have a great time for a good cause, then enjoy the rest of the day under the Carmel Valley sun.


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