Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rod Dixon: A Great Pennsylvania/New Zealand Marathoner

Because he ended up moving from the awesome mountain trails of New Zealand to settle in my home town in Pennsylvania, I decided to look up Rod Dixon. People mentioned him living in the area when I was a kid. If you don't know where Nolde Forest is, that's okay - this article about his crack at the 1983 New York Marathon is still interesting as a document of early 80s running history. He won in 2:08:59 by 9 seconds, catching the leader at the end in what is widely considered the greatest finish in the history of the race.

Interesting, and difficult though this is to believe for us in 2014, Dixon was the first non-American to win New York - and no American-born runner has won it since. (And only one American has won it since then, Eritrean-born (and San Diego/Mammoth's own) Meb Keflezighi.)

He also held the course record for Bay to Breakers in 1983, but did something even better in his fun-run in 1985.

Might I just point out with absolutely no patriotic bias, once again we see that the two best places to train in the U.S. are Pennsylvania and California.

The City That Said No to Baseball

Sports teams often threaten to leave the cities where they play, if they don't get nice new stadiums paid for by taxpayers. (Imagine if, say, Wal-Mart tried that for one of its stores.) The funny thing is, sports franchises don't like to directly answer "Would this be a sensible investment for the city?" If the answer is yes, there's a case to be made. If the answer is no, then you would expect the teams don't want this talked about out in the open, and then they rely on sports tribalism and mostly indirectly threaten the local mayors. That is, many voters are economically irrational and care about their team even if it's costing them money, and will vote out the mayor if he lets the team leave on his watch. This has already happened at least once. And (surprise!) the answer is a clear no, where new stadiums are concerned - they don't bring growth to the area around the stadium, or money into the region. (That's a Stanford study at that link. What, you don't believe Stanford, the engine of Silicon Valley? What are you, some kind of a communist?)

But other cities have told teams to get lost, and done just fine afterward. Here's another such story in Phoenix. And while we're at it, ask yourself: has San Francisco been hurt economically after telling the 49ers not to let the door hit them in the ass on the way down to Santa Clara?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Reyes Peak, Haddock Peak; Also Gaviota Peak

I was going to be down in Santa Barbara for a wedding and decided to bang out some of these Los Padres trails. If I'd had more time I would've done Reyes/Haddock the honest way by starting at the bottom on 33 and going all the way up Chorro Grande, but that will have to wait for another day. I was happy enough to finally see this corner of Los Padres. That country up there around Haddock is amazing and at one point I regressed to age 7 and started rolling pine cones off the cliffs to see how far they would go (only about 5). I have to admit I was doubtful about the abundance of bear sighting I read about in that part of the state but I saw so much bear scat that I am now less skeptical!

I also got up to Gaviota Peak, above the pass of the same name, by heading up the fire trail and then back down on Trespass Trail. I'd been to the nearby hot springs a number of times and always wanted to go further and get up on the ridge, which is the western end of the Santa Ynez Mountains. It was hot enough up there already, even with a fog layer below me that didn't want to give up. The wind cave on Trespass Trail was a nice surprise too. Maybe another time I'll run all the way to Ronald Reagan's old ranch. Had no idea it was there until I read up on the area.

I was also obsessed with seeing an active oil seep, which I'd read can sometimes be found in the sand at Carpinteria State Beach, but only found some washed up on the sand. Ih, I'll live. I think this was more than offset by seeing one of my best friends get married in a really beautiful simple ceremony at the sunken garden at Santa Barbara City Hall, which I had never seen before.

The Channel Islands once again escaped from my prying eyes. We'll have to head back when we can actually spend some time.

By the way, should you find yourself in Ojai, do yourself a favor and check out easily the most awesomest bookstore I have ever been in, Bart's Books, basically an open air maze of books. Open 7 days a week until sunset!

Pictures below are from online resources as credited, to which, as always, I am grateful as a fellow lover of trails.

Reyes Peak-Haddock Peak Trail. From David Stillman.

Haddock Peak. From Val Hikes.

Gaviota Pass from Trespass Trail. From 100 Peaks.

Trespass Trail. From Songs of the Wilderness.

Near Gaviota Peak. From Hikes Peak.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Bears on Western States, Plus the River Trip That Wasn't

Ran the part of the Western States that runs between Foresthill and Michigan Bluff. Saw a bear on the trail even! (He took one look and seeing the likes of me he high-tailed it out of there. Less fear, more disgust I think.) This is added to a piece I did around Green Gate. Western States is mostly quite undeveloped in character until quite near the end in Auburn. Really, it's the quarry; you might also count the first 3 miles going up to the Escarpment at Squaw Valley adn then the stretch along the road in Foresthill, but that's really it.

Also, friends Rene and Greggypoo were kind enough this same weekend to invite me along for a raft trip along the American River. I knew I would be late and tried to join them and the same day, ran the bit of the American River trail from Sunrise to the footbridge at Pond Park, carrying my raft, hoping to find them. Although my river sandals literally fell apart along the way, it didn't work - one fleet of drunks on the river looks very much like the next, it turns out! At least we ended up getting some good Korean food that night. Still fun.