The National High School Trail Championships and Beas Knees citizen’s race will return to Salida for a fourth annual event on July 25.

“We definitely had to make some changes to pull this off, but we feel like we can do it without jeopardizing anyone’s safety,” said Kenny Wilcox, Salida High School head cross country coach and the event’s organizer.

The biggest change is competitors will start in waves of 10 instead of all at once this year. With chips in their bibs to record times, however, the fastest runners will still get recognized, but they won’t know who the winner is until everyone has completed the course.

“It could add an interesting element,” Wilcox said.

The 5.4-mile course will be the same as last year. “It’s got a little bit of everything,” Wilcox said. “Ups and downs, trails and space to make some passes.”

Before deciding to host the event during the pandemic, Wilcox said he sent out a poll to gauge interest. He said he got a pretty good response and a majority said they would still like to come while a good amount of others said they’d “maybe” come.

He also said it’s tough to get a race going again if it takes a year off.

“We have really good momentum going and it will be fun to keep it going in a positive direction.” Wilcox said.

The event, which is relatively small for a national-level event, still draws lots of top talent. Wilcox said almost 90 percent of high school runners who competed last year had or gained state meet experience. Over half of last year’s Team USA U20 Junior Mountain Running Team also had competed in the trail championships.

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