Updated: A history of the SFR Healdsburg, nee Russian River 300

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Rob Hawks

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Feb 14, 2018, 2:05:34 AM2/14/18
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Thanks to Max and Tom for helping out with accuracy of the data for this Healdsburg 300km history. I've revised the text a bit, and replaced the charts after the numbers were tweaked with updated data.

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There are only two routes that SFR currently uses that stretch back to our first year  (1999) as a RUSA region, and of those two (Fort Bragg 600 and Healdsburg 300) only the 300km has been held every year SFR has held brevets. 

The name for this early season 300km was officially the Russian River 300km. Other SFR routes had been named for the point furthest from the start, for example the Fort Bragg 600km. Following that convention, many SFR members, past and present refer to this route as the Healdsburg 300. Another problem with the 'Russian River' name is that it wasn't unique. There is a 200km also named Russian River, and that route actually stretches much further back in SFR lore. We'll standardize on "Healdsburg 300" when naming this route here.

The route has undergone some minor tweaking but is largely the same as in 1999. Riders leave the Golden Gate Bridge visitor's plaza and head out to Fairfax and travels through Samual Taylor State Park before looping around Nicasio Reservoir before making a bee-line toward Petaluma. From there the route heads north through Santa Rosa on the way to the northern terminus in Healdsburg. Riders most often make this control their main food stop and take over the tables outside the Safeway before heading out Westside road to River Road on the way out to the coast just south of Jenner. The next control is in Bodega Bay which offers a short rest before tackling the mega-rollers on the way past Valley Ford. In earlier years the next control was at the Marshall Store, but this control became overwhelmed by the riders and the Store also closed before the control would so the control was moved 10 miles south to Point Reyes Station where there are many more options for riders. From there, the route back follows the well used path through Fairfax and lower Marin back to the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge.

In the early years, this 300km was always held in February, as early in the month as the 14th. As SFR began to list more brevets the ride date moved toward the end of February and then frequently into the next month of March. The latest it has been held is March 18th. Despite the date variations over the years, it is a constant that this brevet has been held solidly within the rainy season, and rain has factored into more than one event.

SFR was a smaller club in the early years, so it is no surprise that the number of finishers was lower. In 1999, there were 21 finishers and the total of finishers dropped as low as 13 on the 3rd running in 2004. In 2010 ridership on this event seemingly exploded and from 2010 through 2015 there were never fewer than 101 finishers, peaking with 126 finishers in 2015. 

While there has been rain on several of the dates over the years, two years stand out on the misery index. In 2007 rain began about 60 miles in and just kept getting worse through the day and was joined by high winds after sunset. In 2016 the rain began earlier and was also joined by gusting wind, but the difference between the two dates is that there were far fewer starters and finishers in 2016 to tell the tale afterward. The total finishers dropped from 126 in 2015 to just 25 in 2016.

Inline image 1

No one rider has participated on all 16 events since 1999, but one rider has come close. Bob Buntrock has ridden this brevet 13 times, first in 2004 and then every year through 2015, then returning to the finish control in 2017. Next on the list of repeaters is Ken Johnson and Jack Holmgren with 12 trips around the course.
BUNTROCK, Robert 13
HOLMGREN, John E 12
JOHNSON, Ken 12
DUQUE, Carlos 11
MCCAW, Richard 11
HAGGERTY, Tom 10
PIERCE, Jason 10
HAWKS, Rob 9
HOUCK, Timothy L 9
BERG, Bruce R 8
NEVIN, Willy 8
TEACHOUT, Todd 8
BEATO, Keith 7
BERKA, Becky 7
BEVAN, Roland 7
BUDVYTIS, Gintautas 7
EHLERT, Gabe 7
POTIS, John 7


There has been 1072 finishers over the course of the 16 versions of the event. A trio of rdiers finished in 10 hours, 40 minutes in 2017. The peak numbers finish between 14 and 16 hours. Here are the groupings of finishers by hour:

Inline image 2

NB: The data used all comes from RUSA databases. SFR data is not uniformly stored (different columns, different name varients, missing rows) so was not used. Names have been normalized as much as possible, but if members changed how they submitted names as they renew memberships (including middle intial or not, spelling middle name vs. initial, changing last name) these variants need to be collected then normalized. It is possible that some variants were overlooked during this manual step.




Rob Hawks

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Feb 23, 2023, 10:39:29 PM2/23/23
to SF Randonneurs

There are only two routes that SFR currently uses that stretch back to our first year (1999) as a RUSA region, and of those two (Mendocino Coast, nee Fort Bragg 600 and Healdsburg 300) only the Healdsburg 300km has been held every year SFR has held brevets. First run in 1999, this route and all SFR events, took a break while the region was inactive from 2000 through 2002. Since 2003 when SFR resumed as an active region, this 300km route has been held every year, now through 2022 and SFR has had 22 iterations of the Healdsburg 300km. The next running will be on March 4th, 2023.

The name for this early season 300km was once the Russian River 300km. Other SFR routes have been named for the point furthest from the start, for example the Hopland 400km, the Point Reyes Populaire, and for a time, the Fort Bragg 600k. Following that convention, many SFR members, past and present refered to this route as the Healdsburg 300 and that is how it now appears in both the RUSA database and SFR website. Another problem with the old 'Russian River' name is that it wasn't unique to the 300k. There is a 200km also named Russian River, and that route actually dates back much further in SFR lore, back into the 1980s and the days when the International Randonneurs served as the link to the Audax Club Parisien. The route, #214 in the RUSA database, is officially named the Healdsburg 300km.

The route has undergone some minor tweaking since its first iteration but is largely the same as in 1999. Riders leave the Golden Gate Bridge visitor's plaza and head out to Fairfax and then travel through Samual Taylor State Park before looping around the west end of the Nicasio Reservoir before making a bee-line toward Petaluma where the 2nd intermediate control is located. From there the route heads north through Santa Rosa and Windsor on the way to the northern terminus in Healdsburg. Riders most often make this control their main food stop. The tables outside the Safeway were no longer there in 2021, but many riders still pause for a tray of sushi before heading out through the vineyards along Westside Road to River Road on the way out to the coast near the mouth of the Russian River south of Jenner. After the climb up to the entrance to Goat Rock State Beach, riders pass along a mostly wide open coast line littered with sea stacks in the surf. If the weather gods are smiling, there is often a generous tailwind. The next control is in Bodega Bay which offers a short rest before tackling the mega-rollers on the way past Valley Ford and Tomales. In earlier years the next control was at the Marshall Store, but this control became overwhelmed by the riders and the Marshall Store often closed before the control itself would so the control was moved 10 miles south to Point Reyes Station where there are many more options for riders to refuel. From there, the route back follows the well used path through Olema, over Bolinas Ridge, through the redwoods, across the San Geronimo Valley and over White Hill and on to Fairfax and then lower Marin and on back to the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge.  With the final return being through Olema in recent years, the shortest route from Bodega Bay to the Golden Gate Bridge is the route listed so soon the Olema control will disappear. Riders will still likely pause in PRS before making the final push to cover the last 35 miles of the route.

In the early years, this 300km was always held in February, once as early in the month as the 14th. As SFR began to list more brevets the ride date moved toward the end of February and then frequently into the next month of March where it has settled on the calendar on the weekend of the annual time change. The latest it has been held was March 18th until the 2nd year of the Covid Pandemic when in 2021 SFR opened the season very late, and the Healdsburg 300 was held in late June. In 2022 the Healdsburg 300k was held twice with the 2nd iteration in late September to honor Metin Uz (#7383). In 2022, the date of the first iteration returned to early March. Despite the date variations over the years, it is a near constant that this brevet has been held solidly within the rainy season (save for September 2022), and rain has factored into more than one event. 

SFR was a smaller club in the early years, so it is no surprise that the number of starters was lower then. In 1999, there were 21 finishers and the total of finishers dropped as low as 13 on the 3rd running in 2004. In 2010 ridership on this event seemingly exploded and from 2010 through 2015 there were never fewer than 101 finishers, peaking first with 126 finishers in 2015, then after a lull for a few years, 135 in 2022. 

While there has been rain on several of the dates over the years, a few years stand out on the misery index. In 2007 rain began about 60 miles in and just kept getting worse through the day and was joined by high winds after sunset. In 2016 the rain began earlier and was also joined by gusting wind, but the difference between the two dates is that there were far fewer starters and finishers in 2016 to tell the tale afterward. The chorus of voices telling the 2007 tale of woe was larger. The 2022 March version was a chilly one, and one year riders had to watch out for black ice as late into the ride as Petaluma when the brevet was held just a day after a big rainstorm and freezing overnight temperatures. The total finishers dropped from 126 in 2015 to just 25 in 2016, just to show the difference between a fair weather year (2015) and one less than fair (2016). Following behind on the scale of wet Healdsburg 300ks behind 2007 and 2016 are the 2019 and 2020 editions, both of which were quite soggy.

Through 2022 there have been 1454 finishers on the Healdsburg 300km.

image.png

No one rider has participated on all 22 events since 1999, and no rider is all that close. In the last few years this particular leader board has been jumbled a little and a new leader has emerged:

RiderNo. of finishes
Holmgren, John16
Haggerty, Tom14
Hawks, Rob14
Buntrock, Robert13
Clarkson, Bryan13
Duque, Carlos12
Johnson, Ken12
Mccaw, Richard12
Pierce, Jason11
Uz, Metin10
Haas, Stephen9
Andersen, Gabrielle8
Beato, Greg8
Beato, Keith8
Berg, Bruce R8
Brier, Bill8
Budvytis, Gintautas8
Emerson, Ken8
Houck, Timothy L8
Kilgore, Bryan8
Koss, Brian8
Nevin, Willy8
Teachout, Todd8


There has been 1454 finishers over the course of the 22 versions of the event. In the last few years some astonishing finish times have been turned in with the total elapsed time of 9:49 being turned in when the brevet was run in 2021 (In perfect June weather). Since 1999, no one has bettered the mark of 19:59 however.

Here are the groupings of finishers by hour:

image.png

NB: The data used all comes from RUSA databases. The SFR data is not uniformly stored (different columns, different name varients, missing rows) so was not used. Names required normalization because; RUSA members may have altered the way they submitted their names when renewing membership; RUSA may have automatically added or omitted middle names or initials in some years, and in 2007 it appears that first and last names were submitted in reverse. It is possible that some variants were overlooked during this manual step.




Rob Hawks

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Mar 12, 2024, 4:30:55 PMMar 12
to SF Randonneurs
P1020346.JPG


There are only two routes that SFR currently uses that stretch back to our first year (1999) as a RUSA region, and of those two (Fort Bragg 600 and Healdsburg 300) only the Healdsburg 300km has been held every year SFR has held brevets. First run in 1999, this route and all SFR events, took a break while the region was inactive from 2000 through 2002. Once resumed in 2003, this 300km route has been held every year since, now through 2024 and SFR has had 25 iterations of the Healdsburg 300km.

The name for this early season 300km was once the Russian River 300km. Other SFR routes have been named for the point furthest from the start, for example the Hopland 400km. Following that convention, many SFR members, past and present refered to this route as the Healdsburg 300 and that is how it now appears in both the RUSA database and SFR website. Another problem with the old 'Russian River' name was that it wasn't entirely unique. There is a 200km also named Russian River, and that route actually dates back much further in SFR lore, back into the 1980s and the days when the International Randonneurs served as the link to the Audax Club Parisien. The route, #214 in the RUSA database, is officially named the Healdsburg 300km.

The route has undergone some minor tweaking since its first iteration but is largely the same as in 1999. Riders leave the Golden Gate Bridge visitor's plaza and head out to Fairfax and then travel through Samual Taylor State Park before looping around the west end of the Nicasio Reservoir and making a bee-line toward Petaluma where the 2nd intermediate control is located. From there the route heads north through Santa Rosa and Windsor on the way to the northern terminus in Healdsburg. Riders most often make this control their main food stop. The tables outside the Safeway are no longer there, but many riders still pause for a tray of sushi before heading out through the vineyards along Westside Road to River Road on the way out to the coast near the mouth of the Russian River south of Jenner. The next control is in Bodega Bay which offers a short rest before tackling the mega-rollers on the way past Valley Ford and Tomales. 

In earlier years the next control was at the Marshall Store, but this control became overwhelmed by the riders and the Marshall Store often closed before the control itself would so the control was moved 10 miles south to Point Reyes Station where there are many more options for riders to refuel. From there, the route back follows the well used path through Olema, over Bolinas Ridge, through the redwoods, across the San Geronimo Valley and over White Hill and on to Fairfax and then lower Marin and on back to the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Initially, the route returned via Nicaso and Dixon Ridge, which was longer and actually had more climbing to it. The reason for that routing was that the pavement on Sir Francis Drake was simply awful. It was narrow, made of concrete, and pockmarked with asphalt patches that were always failing.With the final return being through Olema in recent years, the shortest route from Bodega Bay to the Golden Gate Bridge is the route listed so soon the Olema control will disappear. Riders will still likely pause in PRS before making the final push to cover the last 35 miles of the route.

While time is catching up and perhaps overtaking the route, particularly from the southern end of Santa Rosa out past Windsor where suburban sprawl seems unchecked, the last 100 or so miles feel wonderfully open as the route passes vineyards, the banks of the Russian River, the Sonoma Coast, traversing the bight that defines the Estero Americano, Tomales Bay and through the tall Sequoia trees in Central and Western Marin.

In the early years, this 300km was always held in February, once as early in the month as the 14th. As SFR began to list more brevets the ride date moved toward the end of February and then frequently into the next month of March where it has settled on the calendar on the weekend of the annual time change. The latest it had been held was March 18th, until the 2nd year of the Covid Pandemic when in 2021 SFR opened the season very late, and the Healdsburg 300 was held in late June. In 2022, the date returned to early March. In September of 2022, the route was used as part of a 3 brevet weekend, all to honor Metin Uz whom we had lost earlier that year. Of all the many brevets around the country that Metin had ridden, he completed the Healdsburg 300km the most, 10 times in fact. Despite the date variations over the years, it is a  near constant that this brevet has been held solidly within the rainy season (save for the June 2021 and September 2022 versions), and rain has factored into more than one event. 2024 added one more iteration with rain, predictably while the riders were in Healdsburg. Don't get the idea that it always rains on this event. That just isn't true and across the 25 iterations, many times riders have been treated to some stunning NorCal spring weather too.

SFR was a smaller club in the early years of RUSA's history, so it is no surprise that the number of starters was lower. In 1999, there were 21 finishers and the total of finishers dropped as low as 13 on the 3rd running in 2004. In 2010 ridership on this event seemingly exploded and from 2010 through 2015 there were never fewer than 101 finishers, peaking with 126 finishers in 2015. 

While there has been rain on several of the dates over the years, a few years stand out on the misery index. In 2007 rain began about 60 miles in and just kept getting worse through the day and was joined by high winds after sunset, making the crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge a storied adventure. In 2016 the rain began earlier and was also joined by gusting wind, but the difference between the two dates is that there were far fewer starters and finishers in 2016 to tell the tale afterward. The 2022 version was a chilly one, and one year riders had to watch out for black ice as late into the ride as Petaluma when the brevet was held just a day after a big rainstorm and freezing overnight temperatures. The total finishers dropped from 126 in 2015 to just 25 in 2016, just to show the difference between a fair weather year and one less than fair. Following behind on the scale of wet Healdsburg 300ks behind 2007 and 2016 are both the 2019 and 2020 editions, both of which were quite soggy.

Through March of 2024 there have been exactly 1600 finishers on the SFR Healdsburg 300km, with an average of 64 finishers and a mean of 56 finishers.

image.png

No one rider has participated on all 25 events since 1999, and no rider is all that close. In the last few years this particular leader board has been jumbled a little and new leaders have emerged:

(Names in yellow are riders that participated in the most recent iteration of the brevet)
Nametotal
Hawks, Rob16
Holmgren, John16
Haggerty, Tom15
Buntrock, Robert13
Clarkson, Bryan13
Duque, Carlos12
Johnson, Ken12
Mccaw, Richard12
Pierce, Jason11
Haas, Stephen10
Uz, Metin10
Beato, Keith9
Brier, Bill9
Chalfant, Michael9
Emerson, Ken9
Kilgore, Bryan9
Koss, Brian9
Mccumber, Kaley9
Andersen, Gabrielle8
Beato, Greg8
Berg, Bruce R8
Budvytis, Gintautas8
Chun, Brian8
Hastings, Geoff8
Houck, Timothy L8
Larsen, Eric8
Mason, Aron8
Nevin, Willy8
Teachout, Todd8


There has been 1600 finishers over the course of the 25 versions of the event. In the last few years some astonishing finish times have been turned in with the total elapsed time of 9:44 being turned in when the brevet was run in 2023 (A PBP year). Since 1999, at the other end of the spectrum, no full value rider has bettered the mark of 19:59 however.

Here are the groupings of finishers by hour through 2024:

image.png
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