Mount Laguna Trail Marathon Celebrates 10 Years

March 11, 2022

Injinji partners with many organizations locally and nationally to contribute to the betterment of the outdoor industry and running community. One of the ways we like to contribute locally is by providing support and donations to local races. Since its inception 10 years ago, we have proudly donated socks to the Mount Laguna Trail Marathon. This race is so special to our local community and we wanted to share its story with you.

We spoke with Mount Laguna Trail Marathon founder Kathleen Baker about the history and future of the race.

Team Injinji's Scott Mills (left) and Felix Miller (right). Team Injinji's Scott Mills (left) and Felix Miller (right).
The oldest and youngest marathon finishers. Team Injinji's Scott Mills (left) and Felix Miller (right).

Mount Laguna is extra special to Kathleen as an ultrarunner and as an individual. She dove into trail running in San Diego in 2009 after an injury kept her from her first love, climbing. As she explored the area more and more, the trails won over her heart, and she felt drawn to share the experience with other runners. As an ultrarunner, she saw creating a marathon as a great opportunity to bring more people into the ultrarunning community, a space that had welcomed her with open arms. In 2012, Kathleen founded the course based on the very first trails she had ever run, an extra special nod to her introduction to this lifechanging sport.

From the start, it has been Kathleen’s goal to give back to the community wholeheartedly. That’s why the marathon is a nonprofit, with every dime and dollar earned going to support local organizations. The marathon’s mission is to “create an inclusive vibe that celebrates our diverse trail running community and the land that we are privileged to run on, while prioritizing environmental sustainability”. Throughout the years Kathleen has dug roots into the community to truly live this mission.

The 4th place marathon finisher Paul Ganelin.The 4th place marathon finisher Paul Ganelin.
4th place finisher Paul Ganelin, a USFS Mount Laguna wildland firefighter.

In 2020, the pandemic gave Kathleen and her team time to pause and reflect on the race’s impact. How could they grow and improve? The event returned in 2021 with big strides in sustainability, including implementing sports nutrition waste recycling with TerraCycle, providing functional and unique handmade soap medals for race finishers, and making race t-shirts optional with sustainable options available thanks to an ongoing partnership with Patagonia. The marathon also made a land acknowledgement to recognize and support Southern California’s Indigenous community. Kathleen said it best, “The race can be the best that it can be if it’s inclusive of everybody – has diverse runners and acknowledges the importance of the community and place.”

Additionally, in 2021 all race proceeds went to Runners for Public Lands, a nonprofit organization whose vision is to “build inclusive running communities dedicated to protecting the environment.” Kathleen is personally very involved in the organization and was recently elected onto the Board of Directors, where she is working on a project to create more tools for race directors to learn how to create a culture of environmental stewardship at running events.

Want to get involved? Kathleen encourages San Diego folks to volunteer locally, such as with SURF (San Diego Ultra Running Friends) and SD Trail Fit. Locals and beyond can make a difference by becoming a member of Runners for Public Lands or donating to their cause. And of course, come November 6, 2022, you can run some of Kathleen’s favorite trails alongside other passionate runners.

Artisanal soap medals for race finishers.Artisanal soap medals for race finishers.
Artisanal soap medals for race finishers.

Finally, we wanted to end on some gratitude from Kathleen.

“Mount Laguna wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the support of Injinji, who have been huge supporters from the very first year. Injinji has given socks to all of our runners every year, which helps to keep price tag of our race low so it’s more inclusive and so more people are able to run it, and that’s something that we just wouldn’t be able to do if it weren’t for support from companies like Injinji. It’s so nice to be able to give the runners something that they will use and that they love like Injinji’s socks, and we really appreciate that partnership.

I am so grateful for all of the support from the San Diego community over the years. Trail running and ultrarunning is such a tight knit and fantastic community and I’m so grateful to be part of that and for the support of the other races in the San Diego area.”