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This is One Hurricane that is an Uphill Battle

 

 
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Posted on Mon, Apr. 29, 2002
Dave Jackson

If ever there was any doubt Iím not a pup anymore, Hurricane Point confirmed it for me Sunday.

Then again, even the gift of youth might not have helped with this uphill battle.

As part of The Heraldís relay team in the 17th annual Big Sur International Marathon, I was thrilled to participate in one of the nationís premier races. My excitement was tempered, however, by having to run the dreaded 6.9-mile third leg, which opens with a skyward fight against gravity.  That would be Hurricane Point, a two-mile climb that challenges even the toughest Big Sur veterans. Itís not for the squeamish, and certainly not for a 43-year-old who moved to California 1 ½ years ago from flat Florida, where the only hills house ants.

Though my athletic glory days are long gone (I peaked in Little League), I still enjoy running, and find it helps relieve stress. But Iím usually circling the Seaside High School track, which sits, appropriately enough, near sea level.

At Big Sur, all sea level does is laugh at you from way down below.  The altitude didnít bother Herald systems technician Dylan Llorin, who blazed out of the gate to give our team, the Herald Hotfootiní Hounds, a quick start.

No. 2 runner and former high school track standout Jean-Marie Findlen, our special projects advertising representative, continued the charge and was soon barreling toward me. I grabbed the relay bracelet that runners pass to each other, snapped it on my wrist and took off like a tortoise.  In my mind, of course, I moved like a gazelle, striding effortlessly into the herd of runners. In reality, I lumbered along like one of those leaf-eating dinosaurs you see on The Discovery Channel, or a loggerhead turtle crawling back to sea after nesting in the sand.  No problem, though, because my plan was to tackle Hurricane Point slowly, as the experts recommend, and pick up speed on the downside.  Fueled by a portable cassette player blaring loud music - I find the Grateful Dead and The Who particularly effective motivators - I chugged along Highway 1, gaining confidence with each step.  Thankfully, the weather gods were kind, keeping the rain away and the wind to a minimum.

I made it to the top of Hurricane Point, and it was all downhill from there.

Until the next hill, anyway. But the big one was over.  How anyone can run 10 miles, then face a beast such as Hurricane Point, is beyond me. But thatís what marathon runners accomplish each year at Big Sur.  Some of Sundayís runners - menís winner Jonathan Ndambuki comes to mind - didnít even seem to break a sweat. They glided along without a care, probably thinking about what was for dinner or whether the lawn needed mowing.

Me? After six miles, my feet were hurting, I was tired and I was nine-tenths of a mile away from passing my pain on to reporter Victoria Manley.  Now, Iím always glad to see Victoria, but with just a few yards to go before my tour of duty would end, she looked better than ever.  I gave her the bracelet and that was it: I was free.

Mission accomplished, in exactly one hour.

I boarded the bus and headed to the finish line, where I watched reporter Amy Ettinger bring it on home for the Hounds.

One of the great things about a race of this magnitude is the camaraderie, where encouraging words are freely exchanged and strangers quickly become friends. I met people from all over, including Vancouver, Oregon and Ohio.  Each remarked on the beauty of Big Sur, and each said he or she hoped to return.

The corkscrew curves, the pounding surf, the majestic hills ... yes, thereís nothing like exploring the Big Sur coastline, and I canít wait to do it again.

By car.


How it all started...

2000 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon
2001 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon
2002 Big Sur International Marathon
2002 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon
2002 Bishop 50-mile Ultra-Marathon

Email -- jdgrose115@polyglut.net
Web -- http://members.tripod.com/~jdgrose115/

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