May 8, 1999
From the makers of Sunset in the Park and the Great American Adventure Run (doubles), comes the Hillsea! 7.57 miles! 12.1K! A chance for a new personal record!
The Hillsea was the Southern California version of the Dipsea, a venerated Marin County staple for 100 years. In the Dipsea, runners cover approximately 7-1/2 miles on a cross country course, which includes trails, paved roads, stairs, roots, and other natural obstacles. Runners begin the race staggered, based upon their age and gender. The previous year’s winner is additionally saddled with a time penalty equal to the margin of his victory. Whoever crosses the finish line first is the winner.
In order for the Hillsea to follow the same precepts as Dipsea, there would need to be a viable 7-1/2 mile course, where runners could choose the best path for the type of runner they are. Finishline racing, however, did the majority of its races in Huntington Beach Central Park, which is maybe 0.5 mile wide, so instead, the Hillsea is a course which weaves in and out, back and forth of all the trails available in the park.
According to the start chart, the first group is off at 8:00am – women over 80. Except there are no women over 80, so we move to group 2, starting at 8:08am – women 70-79 and men over 80. And so on, until we get to men 24 – 34… at 8:30am. That’s my group.
As my group sets off, I can see who I am to vie with for age group awards, but for most of the race, I have no idea where I am in conjunction with everyone else. I find myself on a certain part of the trail, and a runner is on the same stretch, only heading in the opposite direction. I may be catching up… ten minutes later, now heading in the same direction, I realize I am NOT catching up.
Occasionally, someone makes a wrong turn (though it seemed plenty clear to me which way to go at all times) and finishes early than they are supposed to (one girl, happy at her result, finishing in the top 10 overall, is asked, “What’s the fastest you’ve run 8 miles?” Her response: “80 minutes.” Her time (on trails and stairs) was 48 minutes. Hmm.). I finish in 59:47, and miss medalling by only a minute.
The winner of the race? A 70-year old gentleman, who not only had a 22-minute head start on me, but also ran 5 minutes faster than me (or 27 minutes in the official standings). I want a head-start to compensate for my extra height and weight!