Sunday, September 2, 2007

OM: a Mid-Peninsula ultra tradition

This year marked the 18th edition of this Mid-Peninsula private ultra event in the Bay Area. A gathering of the local ultra community held every year, the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend (first Monday of September).

The event has three parts:
  1. A bike ride, starting at 7:30am,
  2. A run, starting at 9:30am,
  3. And a party, at 5:30pm.

And, in a very informal format, you can do any combination of 1, 2 or 3. For instance joining the group for the run only, or the bike ride and the party, or even only the party!

I skipped the bike ride, and joined Joel, Denise and Zachi after theirs. Roger was going on, on his bike, to save his knees from the pounding of the run. Here are this year's OMers at the start of the run:
The group before getting on Razorback Ridge trail:
Joel and Denise leading, close to the Windy Hill summit (1,975 ft):

Everybody made it to the summit! Steve (1st on left) and John (3rd from left), who joined us from San Francisco, were parked nearby on Skyline and left us here (they had rushed to the other entrance to meet with us earlier this morning).
See my OM2007 Picasa album for more pictures of our run and the party.
Back to the OM history, the format and rules have not changed for 18 years. Only locations and courses may vary from one year to another according to various constraints. For instance, last year, our morning "base camp" for the bikers and runners was Montebello Parking. This year, the meeting point had been set to Windy Hill, weeks before the Cupertino Stevens Creek fire last week. What a coincidence. This year's party was hosted by Zachi. 2005 and 2006 by the Dellors, Joel having a wedding at his house in 2005.

Joel told me more about the history behind this tradition at last night's party. You can see Dave on the left with one of the original OM t-shirts, Joel, and me taking notes:Joel actually organized and hosted the event from 1990 to 2004 and has therefore the most vivid knowledge and memories about how it started. It began as an FBA, or Farewell Bay Area, event to mark the departure of a German couple, going back to their home country. Something which is very typical of the turnover in Silicon Valley, with engineers or executives and their family coming for a multi-year stay in one of the most fascinating business place in the World.
Here are some initial milestones of the OM, on the back of Dave's t-shirt. The first and original event, or "Ostmeyer's FBA" in 1990, Ed's 40th in 1991 and Joel's 50th in 1992.
Thus was born the OM, named after Ost Meyer. "Ost Meyer? Who is that?", would ask the honoree German citizen several years later hearing about this ongoing celebration. "My name is not Ost Meyer, but Oscar Mayer!" Oh well, the tradition was already anchored in the local ultra community's minds, and Ost Meyer it will stay for ever! This actually shows another trait of the very international community of Silicon Valley, and the difficulty to keep track of names from all over the world. For instance, some people where calling me "Jean-Paul" by concatenating Jean and Po (it's true that, in France, there are many first names made of Jean and another first name). Fortunately, we now have Internet (emails, blogs, race results) to check the real spelling of names. But not much back in 1990.

By the way, another key name belonging to the OM history, and this group of ultra runners, is Ed Richardson. Ed died in 1995 and I will devote one post to him soon.

This year, the special milestone was Pierre's 45th birthday. Here is the birthday boy, behind his very special and appreciated Margarita bar:

Pierre is an amazing runner, who ran Western States twice, placing 11th overall in 2001 and 7th in 2002. Last year he moved to Santa Cruz and you can check some of his company's palm tree trimming work online:
Are you wondering what happened to Oscar since then? Well, we all are... The web only talks about the Bavarian immigrate who set up a successful hotdog business in Chicago in the 19th century. In the early 1990s Oscar did stop by Joel's house and they met, but he lost track of Oscar since then. Maybe this blog will help restore the connection!
Interested in joining this community and commemorating the OM? There is no membership actually. The key activity is our Saturday morning training runs, for which we rotate over these 4 locations, from North to South:
  1. Woodside School (Google's directions)
  2. Wunderlich (directions)
  3. Windy Hill (directions)
  4. Rhus Ridge (directions)

There are other parks and preserves in the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) (25 actually, or more than 2,300 protected acres!), but these 4 locations provide enough variety and a good monthly roster easy to remember.

The first three locations are in Woodside, the third one on the Los Altos Hills side of Rancho San Antonio Park (which has its main entrance on the Cupertino side).

We have about 70 runners subscribed to the weekly mailing, on a list currently managed by Pierre, or Zachi when Pierre is on vacation. However, between other commitments, injuries, races, business trips, only a handful or dozen of us show up every week. We all start together at 7:00am sharp, then split by ability or depending on the mood, for shorter or longer loops (usually ranging from 6 to 23 hilly miles).

If interested in joining this group, feel free to leave a comment on this post with a way to get in touch and I'll pass the contact info to Pierre and Zachi.

A special thank you to Zachi for hosting this year, and working the BBQ, for Roger's bread and sausages and Pierre's delicious Margaritas!

And from all the 2007 OM'ers, and their significant other: "See you next year, and happy trails in the meantime!"

Farther, faster, the convivial way!

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