Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Baldwyn!

Happy birthday, Baldwyn! What a way to celebrate your 40th birthday, setting up an ultra like an official race and inviting us to join you for this special and unique celebration! The website design and accuracy, online registration, course description (with pictures!), course marking, course measure with a wheel, well-stocked aid station, finisher award, home-made beer with custom label, perfect weather, stunning views over the Bay, camaraderie, everything was perfect, over the top actually! But... something was missing: more participants to this birthday party.It's The Years was set as an invitation to run your age in miles, with this year's inaugural event celebrating Baldwyn's 40 years. Just back from France and officially in an inter-season break, I was tempted to run 44 miles but had a good excuse this Saturday: at 1 pm, Alex and his UN Club were organizing an event to present the progress of their project toward sending school supplies to schools in Ethiopia. That meant that I had to drive back from Castro Valley by noon. I deceided to drive up earlier in order to fit one 5.8-mile loop before the official start of 8 am. I left home at 6:10 and was on the course by 7:20 with just enough light to read the detailed instructions and find my way through the first convulated turns of the suburban start.
At 1.5 mile from the start, I had an hesitation on a turn at a Y-shaped intersection. Miraculously, Mark (Tanaka) appeared from nowhere, in the dark dawn, to show me the way! From his email of 3:30 am, I knew he was up, marking the course. It was already the end of his third loop. Thanks to Mark's ribbons and Baldwyn's detailed explanations, I had no other guessing for the remainder of the course although I did stop several times to enjoy the sunrise and take pictures (see my Picasa photo album), including panoramas of these stunning views over the Bay, San Francisco and the East Bay hills.
I met Baldwyn at the end of my first loop, which I had run in 48 minutes not counting the stops at the vista points. I changed direction for the second loop (clockwise, 48 minutes) and again for the third loop (anti-clockwise, 49 minutes, also not counting the stop at the main aid station). At the end of this third loop, Baldwyn and Mark were at the aid station and the three of us ran a loop together (that was Baldwyn's second and Mark's 6th). I ran my 5th and last loop in 53 minutes, finishing just after noon. I quickly took off and arrived to Alex' high school at 1:25, just in time to attend the event: presentation, silent auction and raffle. Here too, the Holidays had their toll on the audience (low participation), but not on the high spirit to celebrate the successful fund raising which will allow the shipping of much needed supplies to provide education to young Ethiopians, such a demonstration of sustainable development initiated by high schoolers.
29 miles, not quite my age, in miles, but more than my age in kilometers, not too bad... And yet another ultra of course. By the way, perfect soil, soft and not too slippery after last week's bad weather (rain and snow). Quite some hill training too which reminded me the nearby Ohlone course, in miniature. Overall, my Garmin Forerunner 205 recorded almost 1,000 feet of cumulative elevation per lap, with a total of 4,800 ft. Not the best instrument to track elevation but that gives you an indication of the great training opportunities we have all around the Bay Area, and all year around. And the great weather, and the stunning views...! ;-)
PS - Last minute update: birthday boy completed 6 laps, with his brother and a couple of work colleagues joining him during the day. 1-lap short of his original goal but still a very nice way for an ultraholic to celebrate this milestone. As for his dog, Cub, he ran the first three laps (17+ miles!) and wanted to keep going but Baldwyn and his wife thought that was enough for a dog, barefoot... Here is Cub, with Baldwyn and Mark, after Baldwyn's first lap:


Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

great seeing you, Jean, fast running, and glad you could check out some of the trails on our corner of the Bay!

Dave - Atlanta Trails said...

sounds like a fun one...and way to squeeze in family time as well. You must be very proud of your son.

Baldwyn said...

Thanks again for coming out Jean, and such a nice write-up. Your panoramic pictures are fantastic! Does your camera/software do the stitching automatically?

I've never had the opportunity to run with you or Mark before (although we have run at the same races :) so that was a real treat :)

Jean Pommier said...

Thanks again for the marking, Mark, and the lap we shared.

Dave, yes, I'm amazed with Alex' project, this is really great and encouraging to have kids living in a somewhat flatter and more sustainable world.

Baldwyn, Re the panoramic montages. I'm using a very low key software, Canon SpinPanorama. The key is not only to frame the pictures to minimize gaps and overlaps but, more importantly, to fix the exposure by keeping the camera trigger half-way pressed between the shots (and start the series between the lowest and highest luminosity). With that said, the stunning views is what make these panoramas interesting, so thanks for the opportunity for visiting "your" hills!

Anonymous said...

Décidément tu n'en rates pas une!
Alexis devait être heureux que tu aies pu être ensuite près de lui.
Est-ce la dame éthiopienne qui est au micro?
Superbes photos de la course!