Monday, January 18, 2010

Ghost Hunting at Calico 50k Trail run

Sunday Jan 17th, 2010
Scratching, soft and faint, I reposition myself in bed, scratching, soft and faint opens my eyes in the darkness; the still, black darkness. A tree branch?, the gate? could be leaves brushing up against the bathroom window and then movement... quick and elusive, a shadow in the darkness, goose-bumps....I feel hairs rise with expectation, with caution as I slowly get out of bed… I rub my eyes; just cant seem to make out the door of my room, blackness, realizing that its open, confusion sets in as I struggle to wake up. Its not darkness in the doorway!, something else, I'm not looking beyond the doorway into the black of night but in the doorway itself, somethings there blocking the darkness beyond it and then…………….. The alarm goes off, 3:30am in Orange County and here I am…… dont even have to force it!……I smile and get out of bed! What a send off for a meeting with a Ghost town..Its always a great morning when you wake up for a race; ok I get up the same way when I'm going fishing too but today its all about running the Calico 50k.

With all of my gear carefully packed the night before it didn’t take me long to get race dressed and get out the door. Stopping by my favorite 7-11 for wake up coffee (really its chocolate and sugar mixed with some coffee) I was gone.

Its been a hundred years since my last visit to Calico, since then its burnt down and been rebuilt by Knotts Berry Farm and Im excited to see what it looks like now; located in Yermo CA its about a 1hr:45min drive so I should be there by 6:00am which would give me ample time to collect my bib and goody bag before the race.

Today Calico was honoring Joe Morris, now 83 of Daggett, he was recruited as a Code Talker after Pearl Harbor in WWII and used his native tongue to create a means of communication that was unbreakable in regards to the Germans and its allies. So that's pretty cool to see first hand.

As I arrived I met up with some friends as we prepared ourselves for today’s run, Michelle was her normal cheerful self and Charlie was as always a welcome site. We collected ourselves and gathered around the start line in the center of the street in Calico; we listened as we were wished a safe journey in the Navajo language and with a 3,2,1 it began.

The race start is a fast one, it zipped down a paved road for over 1.5 miles and many runners seem to push themselves hard here; including myself, I had seen a flash of red and knew that Michelle had rocketed herself out to the head of the pack. After awhile we finaly turn off onto welcome dirt; its deep! A truck trail full of soft sand looms ahead and you find yourself continually bouncing around to locate firm footholds. We're in the open now exposed on the valley floor and as the gentle arc of the roads leads us around the mountain range I long to hit the hills and firmer ground, up through the valleys past the aid station we enter hills and terrain and at this point I'm welcoming the change as I feel my stride increase with each firmer step.

I feel that I ran strong for a large part of the run although the sand did work my legs more than expected, Once we hit the mountainous areas the loose rocks and scrambles spoke to me in aches and pains, a little surprising to me how the sand had affected me though, I guess I need to work on this type of terrain more often. As you run through this area you see tunnels and mining roads that cover the hills like swiss cheese holes and you gain an appreciation for the miners that would toll in these mountains…without expensive running shoes and aid stations.

Some of the views here are awe inspiring, the crest of the mountains at Aid station 3 were stunning on such a beautiful morning and the volunteers were always very supportive and friendly, after a quick conversation and a few laughs I moved on.

As I ran through the hills and gorges, across the ups and downs of the martian landscape and into the last valley I was happy, tired but happy. Rounding the last turn into the town and through the parking lot I found some hidden energy that pushed me quickly to the last hill; were I stopped. This was a crazy employee vehicle entrance…a good 30 degree + pitch that spoke directly to my already aching legs, it was the last 200 yards of this race and it was going to remind you were you had come from. After a few moans and groans I pushed myself up and then entered Calico Ghost town quickly taking advantage of the downhill as I ran through the finish line……..whew…..gotta be around 5:00hrs; nope 5:20’s the sand got me… Oh yeah..and all these pictures I keep taking; and with a relieved smile it was over.

Got my meal ticket, sat with a fellow trail runner from the BAD RATS and ate chili and lemonade - Yum. I looked for my friends; said my goodbyes, and was back home by 3:00..... what a day!

1 comment:

  1. Great re-cap, performance and pictures. Thanks for waiting for slow pokes Michelle and I. You stud!!!