Fall Racing Season

Let’s say you’ve been running all summer and getting into pretty decent shape. The timing is perfect to test your fitness in some races.

Fall is a popular racing season nationwide, and the Monterey Peninsula is no exception. There are several great events coming up in the next few months – so break out your racing shoes and get your game face on; fall racing season is officially here!

This Saturday (Sept 26th) is the Stevenson Run in the Forest at 8AM. Registration starts at 7AM at Wilson Field at Stevenson School. There is a 10K and a 5K Run/Walk. Proceeds benefit Stevenson’s academic, athletic, and financial aid programs. It’s the ONLY road race held within the secluded confines of Pebble Beach. $30 will get you a wonderful buffet breakfast and a t-shirt as well.

This run is what we affectionately like to call a “SDFU” race: start downhill, finish uphill. SDFUs are the toughest test for a racer. Many runners fly downhill past the 1st fairway at Spyglass, only to have the wheels come off when they face the long uphill at the end of the race. Race smart out there.

October 4th brings a new race called the Grape Stampede that starts at the Soledad Mission at 8AM. Registration begins at 7AM for the 10K run, 5K run/walk, or Just Run kids race at 9:15. Your $30 entry goes to the Soledad Recreation Foundation and the Soledad-Mission Recreation District. Racers receive a t-shirt and raffle ticket. The Soledad Mission Fiesta and Grape Stomp follows the race.

This run is relatively F and F: flat and fast. There’s a little bit of dirt and a few rolling hills, but come ready to blaze a fast time.

The Big Sur River Run is October 24th. We’ve written about this race before as it’s always one of our favorites. Wildfires cancelled last year’s event, but the race is back on the schedule this year. The River Run is a 10K through the campgrounds at Pfeiffer State Park. Start time is at 10AM, so you don’t have to rush the scenic drive down Highway 1 to the race. Registration starts at 9AM and costs $28.

This one is a slight SDFU as you make two loops through the beautiful redwoods alongside the Big Sur River. You’ll see the beauty of Big Sur, smell the bacon and pancakes cooking in nearby campgrounds, and possibly even catch a scent of the previous night’s ganja parties lingering in the air. Good times all around.

November 14 and 15 is Big Sur Half Marathon race weekend. Our local half-marathon has become one of the best and most popular half marathons in the United States - and like all Big Sur International Marathon races, it is a world class event, where every runner is treated like royalty.

Saturday’s events include the Just Run 3K for all family members and the Run Forrest Run 5K along Cannery Row. Sunday morning is the main event – the Big Sur Half-Marathon on Monterey Bay.

If you’ve been procrastinating, it’s too late to sign up for the Half-Marathon, which is officially sold out. There’s a 10-mile event you can sign up for instead, or pick one of the shorter Saturday races – and make sure next year that you register early.

Choose one race, or choose them all, and put your summer training to good use by participating in these great local events. We’re certain that you’ll enjoy the experience.

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Fountain of Youth

Any runner will tell you that age is just a number. Our local running club has about two dozen members who are in their seventies, many of whom can keep up with the youngsters. The younger runners don’t see this as unusual at all; they know that age doesn’t matter if someone can keep the pace.

Legendary Bay Area runner Jack Kirk ran the fabled Dipsea race in Marin County a record 67 times, up to his most recent finish at age 95. The race starts with a climb up 700 stairs – equivalent to the height of a fifty-story building - before rambling up and down mountainous trails and treacherous terrain for over 7 miles. Kirk once famously said, “You don’t stop running because you get old. You get old because you stop running.”

The Tarahumara Indians in the desolate Copper Canyons of the Mexican Sierra Madres are folk heroes of distance running. They reside in caves and adobe huts separated by great distances, and their only means of transportation is running on narrow footpaths up and down the steep canyons. Running is part of their culture, as kids play games where they run up to 100 miles at a time. Amazingly, their civilization knows no heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, depression, or hypertension.

Furthermore, many of their best runners are 50 to 60 years old.
The lesson from these stories is this: if you want to be healthy and productive in your golden years, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to get running. It’s like sipping from a fountain of youth.

Our local “older” runners are a great example of this. They make running a daily activity. Instead of talking about ailments and medications, they talk about their next race or next vacation. Many of them are among the fastest seventy plus runners in the country - In fact, four of them will be attempting to break a world record later in the year.

The world record for an age 70-and-over, 4x1500m relay (yes, they keep track of such things) is 27 minutes, 50.22 seconds. This works out to a 6:57.5 minute pace for each mile – and our local runners Rod MacKinlay, Jim Allen, Doug Shankle, and Jay Cook have a real shot at taking the record down. Rod turned 70 on September 1st and has run a 6:20 mile in a recent workout. The four of them will be setting up a certified attempt in December when Jay Cook turns seventy. We wish them luck and will follow their training progress closely.

Our outstanding local septuagenarians aren’t confined to the track, however. Phil Short, who took up distance running at age 60, does about 15 marathons per year, and plans on making his 200th marathon finish at next April’s Big Sur Marathon. Gloria Dake is 76 and has run every one of Big Sur’s 24 previous marathons. Next year will be Gloria’s 25th.

In addition to being great mentors to their younger training partners, all of these great older runners are perfect examples of how the benefits of running are available at any age. Even if you’re in your fifties, sixties, or seventies, it’s never too late to start! The fountain of youth is right before you; feel free to take a sip.

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