Sycamore Canyon to Wood Ranch
This 12 mile route runs through beautiful Sycamore Canyon and makes a clockwise loop to Wood Ranch onto Ranch Center rd. and back onto Sycamore Canyon. It is mostly shaded with one big hill at roughly the midpoint. This is similar to Run # 10 in “50 Trail Runs in Southern California,” but adds a little distance by taking a slightly longer route from Wood Ranch back to Sycamore Canyon. This is a “fast” 20k run.
A little history:
“Lasse Viren” (1949 – ) is a Finnish former distance runner. He won gold medals in the 5000 meter and 10,000 meter in both the 1972 and 1976 Olympics and broke the 10,000 meter world record time in 1972. Less than 24 hours after his 5,000 meter final in 1976, Viren placed fifth in the Olympic marathon final with a time of 2:13:11. In the 1980 Olympics, he was fifth in the 10,000 meter.
The “Lasse Viren Finnish Invitational”, frequently shortened to “Viren” or the “Viren 20K”, was a 20 km running race held annually on the trails of Big Sycamore Canyon, part of the Point Mugu State Park near Malibu, California.
The race was started in 1977 by Finnish sculptor and running guru Eino Romppanen, more frequently known as Eino, to honor his friend Lasse Virén, who had just completed the 5 and 10 double double in the Olympics (winning both the 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres races in the 1972 and 1976 Olympics). Viren had re-captured the Finnish tradition preceded by Hannes Kolehmainen and Paavo Nurmi of the “Flying Finn” which Eino wanted to celebrate.
This event attracted the road running community from throughout the greater southern California area to what is otherwise a rural location in order to watch some of the best runners in the world. Starting in 1990, the race was reduced to a single race, a situation that had continued the first Sunday in December ever since, excepting one year when a forest fire in the park forced cancellation of the full race (a substitute beach 5K was run that year) and excepting of the last couple years as no organizer has been found to keep the event going.
Prize money attracted the elite road runners of the day, including Viren himself. In 1980, Norwegian Grete Waitz ran the course in 1:14:48 and in 1981, an unheralded English college student, Adrian Royle ran the course in 58:38, faster than the world record for the distance at the time. The fame of the race spread. Through the end of the 1980s, the race was one of the major running races on the circuit. The 1988 edition of the race was televised nationally on ESPN. But competition from other events made the sponsorship dollars harder to get.