Saturday, January 10, 2009

#100: Crystal Springs Watershed fun run

#100 is not for my 100th run (I have 1,810 lines in my running log!), but my 100th post on this blog. I had celebrated my 27th post similarly to how you enter the ultra world by running one step beyond the 26.2-mile mark. The world of ultra blogging in this case... Like for my first 100-miler, this is quite a milestone. It is while running through the Badlands back in February 2007 that I decided to embark on the blog journey, but little clue I had about where this was going to lead to. I am still enjoying the experience and keep receiving some encouraging feedback, so let's continue the journey, and thank you for your reading and visit on this forum! Keep the comments flowing, please!
100 is also related to the incredibly nice long run of this weekend. No, not 100 miles, but almost 100 years since the area we ran through has been closed to public use and access. A military zone? A contaminated one? No, a very well protected piece of land along Highway 280 and containing something which is getting more and more precious: drinkable water!
In December, Charles (Stevens) forwarded me an invite from George Miller to join a rare opportunity of running through this pristine area. First come, first served and limited to 18 runners and two docents (Suki Martin and George, this Saturday). A fund raising opportunity for a scholarship that the Coastside Running Club will sponsor a cross-country runner of Half Moon Bay High School going to College with. Thank you Goerge and the CRC!
Better than plagiarizing what I found on the web to describe this area in more details, I invite you to read a great write-up from Ron Horii, and I promise this is worth the surfing. In a few words, this is a piece of land on San Mateo County but belonging to San Francisco, in which the city owns several huge and open air reservoirs for its water supply. These lakes are artificial and part of a much larger network of water supply for the Bay Area called the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power System, reaching out to Yosemite on the East.
That was a fun run and a very social one during which we had plenty of time to connect, talk about our running experiences and take pictures. Many pictures, more than 160 and several panoramas.

Suki and George were our two docents with the rule being to have one with the front of the group and one at the back. With a foot injury, George was actually biking. We were 18 lucky guests: Vikki, Ron, Eric, Franz, Mike, Noel, Chris, Mike, Dan, Luis, Janet, Patrice, David, Laura, Ed, Mike, my running buddy Bob and I, coming from the entire Peninsula, from San Francisco to San Jose, a perfect representation of the Silicon Valley ultra running community. Under the supervision of the Ranger on duty, and George's one, we followed the rules carefully, in appreciation of the unique gift of being authorized to run through this watershed. You can see how serious the San Francisco Water Department is about the application of the rules in this story, by Neil Mishalov.

The run was exclusively on a large fire road in perfect condition given the lack of rain we had so far this fall and winter. From Cahill Ridge to Fifleld Ridge the views were stunning on both sides of the ridge. It was like flying over the Peninsula, seeing from above the three reservoirs (Crystal Springs to the South, Pilarcitos then San Andreas) as well as San Mateo, Hillsborough, Burlingame, Millbrae, San Bruno, SFO airport, South San Francisco and even Twin Peaks and Oakland in the distance. Pilarcitos is actually the oldest of these three artificial lakes leveraging the hilly profile and the San Andreas fault along the Peninsula, between the Pacific Coast and the Bay. When approaching the City at the North end of our run, we had great views of Marin Headlands on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge and could even see the Farallon Islands, 20 miles off Point Reyes. To give you more context, here is a situational map found on the San Francisco Water Department website:
In addition to the perfect conditions of the trails, I never saw one with so many and large mile markers as well as so many toilets, one every 2 mile! More than in most marathons, despite the fact that running and hiking groups are rarely admitted on the trail and limited to 20 people max. Another hint which makes you appreciate the attention given to the high protection of the billions of gallons of water, for our pleasure and safety. Running while appreciating and protecting the environment, another example of sustainable running, one of my pet topics.

By the way, as a Brooks IDer (Inspire Daily member), it was great to see so many of us --one third of the group-- wearing Brooks shoes this Saturday; the following picture is an illustration of the diversity of Brooks' catalog! ;-)
On our way back, Bob, whom I do speed work with every Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and Mike (Topper) could not refrain from restating how blessed we are to live here to enjoy such amazing trails and weather. It was good to see Mike again after he spent a year focusing on biking to heal an armstring injury. Mike is an amazing runner who taught me a few important lessons for competing in ultras, and whom I met at our Saturday group runs. He ran Western States 5 times and placed in the top 10 4 times (and 12th the other time). I'm glad he will be joining us back on several of our key local races. Here is Mike (white vest) with Ed (in blue):
Did we see wildlife in such a protected area? Actually not much, as we carefully stayed on the fire and service road. But, as the picture below attests, we could see some traces of mountain lions' picnics. That is, when starving George leave them some left-overs...! Of course we saw all sorts of birds and, just before leaving Skyline Quarry, 3 (live) deers on the inside side of the fence.
With that, I invite you to have a visual look at our run by browsing my online photo album (175 pictures including 5 panoramas). Make sure to click on the Slideshow button and enjoy the views!


Unknown said...

Nice summary of the day Jean, though the stunning scenery could be captured fully by no camera. Thanks to George and others for organizing the run.

Jean Pommier said...

You can also look at Ron's great shots (Nikon DSLR).


Franz said...

Jean, you captured the day perfectly, phenomenal - great pictures. I had a blast sharing a few miles with you and hope to do it again in the future. Keep up the stellar running!


Dave - Atlanta Trails said...

that sounds like a very special run

Anonymous said...

Quelle chance vous avez, en effet, de pouvoir évoluer dans une si belle région!Ce lieu évoque un peu le "paradis terrestre"!

JB said...

This is a nice blog to read from France. Keep at writing.


Charisa said...

Love the pics. YAH for Brooks shoes :)