This past Saturday saw a bright and shiny shuttlebus hauling about 25 crypto-Teletubbies up into the San Gabriels for a bright and shiny training run. This was Day 1 of Tom Nielsen's Labor Day AC Whack-A-Rama. Jay Grobeson waved us all bye-bye at the Windsor Park,ing Lot, having taken depositions that would be used against us later.
This run is played out in the force-field of the mighty bulk of Mt Wilson, known also to its devotees as Mt Wilson-Phillips.
You will have about 25 miles total to physically ponder your relationship to this mountain. You will also get a pounding sensation from whichever direction is applicable.
The hapless runner first enters the Force Field climbing up to Newcomb [or Nukem] Saddle. A short state of grace follows a ridgerun and downhill, followed by a short preparatory penitential climb up to Chantry.
Chantry is a mere pullout on the bardo. A surprisingly runnable section awaits, then a longer prayerful climb up once again of Mt Wilson. The Toll Rd is reached. Free? Not yet! The sinner has 4 miles of downhill to Idle Hour. But you, hapless runner, are still in thrall to Mt Wilson-Phillips, and will be until you climb up out of Idle Hour to Sam Merill. Only then can you begin to escape the clutch of the late-race Dark Star.
With all this in mind, Casino Bingo, and his peg-legged dwarf companion Draw Poker, were on track for another record-setting Beach-Ballz-2-Wallz®� Training Run.
Skillfully covering their getaway from the top of ShortCut, they spun their lead into the virtual miles ahead of the pack. It was Garside-ean in it's scope, and they updated their webpages continually, even as they ran. But their focus and drive did not preclude periodic altruistic "dust-settling" that accompanied trailside pauses.
Their solitude did not last forever. Select participants, ever eager to Learn The Secrets of Real UltraRUnners pursued them. One such candidate, whose initials are Jay Anderson, ran by in a bright orange hat that only recently had a pork-chop tied to the top. Presumably this was for the delectation of Chucky, the Cheez-Kutting Kougar. Jay [not his real name] astonished and amazed Team Bingo/Poker with his off-the-lip 540 switchback spins. Then he and his weeping bladder vanished into the verdant distance.
Their arrival at Chantry Flats in mostly unsupported bid for World Domination was met by a totally coincidental tailgate fiesta hosted by Jay Grobeson, who knows the difference between Guilt and Innocence when he sees it.
Bingo and Poker plead 'nolo', hoovered up available goodies, and then rejoined the Pursuit of Sunday School Ultras just ahead of the arriving bailiffs. The following 15 seconds were well-spent in earnest discussion of splits, blisters, and Your Dad's Sox; then reverted to loftier discussions of Best Unsupported Actresses. U2 played in the background, accompanied by barking ducks.
The trail at this point has gotten a bit narrow for Shopping Karts and Rickshaws, but is bereft of the indolence of previous sections.
Now, having climbed up to the Toll Road, Bingo and Poker were treated to a Luciferian view of the great metroplex on the plain. It was balmy, high 70's, clean air, even a bit nippy by late August norms, if not n0Rms. Manfully adjusting their PETA-approved sealskin bolero jackets, they were off again.
Just above Idle Hour, they stopped at the bucolic "Uncle Hal Water Drop" and refilled their bottles. This correspondent remembered what the July 4th run felt like [oppressive humidity, carnivorous insects] and was glad to Be Here Now.
Brain-death set arrived in the Idle Hour Canyon. Too much fun was being had. The Teletubbies were reduced to merely whimpering instead of being their bouyant selves. Somebody remembered that Jay G would be at Millard, and that was our lode-star for the moment.
But in the midst of this Vale of Tears, Bingo and Poker encountered two Darwin Candidates. The first was a group of thrashing day hikers who decided to vertically assault a near vertical brushy drainage, eschewing the mundanity of hiking on trails and fire-roads. One wondered how many rattlers they woke up in their quest. The second was a goateed wonder-dewd who decided that it would be a really smart idea to downclimb another near-vertical crumbly decomposing granite slope above Millard Falls. But we lingered not in the Groves of Idiocy, nor read about them in the papers the next day.
As foretold, Jay the G awaited us at Millard. A full spread and cold drinks were there. Managing not to incriminate themselves again, Casino Bingo and Draw Poker made themselves at home, but stopped short of coling their feet in the ice-shest.
From there it was a mere 4.5 Cali miles to the finish. Switchbacks and cacti were in perfect alignment as always, and will probably be so come Race Day. In the warm afterglow of Brain Dead Narcosis, it was easy to say "gosh! I was just sandbagging out there and really coulda pushed it harder!!"
But that is Sunday School Running, and awaits another day.
NEXT TIME: 4 Major Flavor Groups of Drink Mixes