May 13, 2006
Today we embarked on a repeat of our less-than-successful Shack to Shack to Jack Crash last year. (I was supposed to run a Boeing 5K on Monday, but due to construction the race ended up being cancelled.)
Part of our discussion leading up to doing this were things we could do to avoid the problems of the past race (i.e. almost dying). We made two major changes:
1. We ran our original course in reverse, starting out at Joe’s Crab Shack in Pacific Beach, and finishing in Long Beach. The rationale was that probably there wouldn’t be as many drunks roaming the more countryfied Coast Highway in that area (as in Newport Beach).
2. We decided to rent a 12-passenger van so that we could all stay together, and decided that the people running the same legs (but for different teams) could either run together or separately, but that we wouldn’t start the next leg until both finished.
The participants remained largely the same, though Bob (who no longer had a station wagon) was unavailable, and was subbed out with Zack Menke. Due to the swapping, we didn’t really have 2 teams, per se, but 2 runners per leg.
We left Long Beach around 10:30pm on Friday, so that we could start as close to midnight as possible. Everyone was giddy with excitement, so the talk seemed to revolve around toilet talk and the “Furminator,” a haircutting system for pets.
Chuck and Conboy set out on the first leg and immediately everything went a little hinky. As soon as they took off, we followed the course they were to follow, and they were not on that course… and they both left their cellphones in the car, so we could not reach them.
We decided to drive to the end of Leg 1 and hope that they made it to that location. Todd Rose famously quoted, “If they don’t show up, f*** them. We’ll just continue.” Remember that statement later in this post.
What had happened was they turned one street early and were paralleling the course. It freaked us out a little, but at least we knew what had happened. I pleaded with everyone to not only bring the printed sheets I made with turn-by-turn directions, but also run with their cellphones in case they got lost. A few groans.
Zack and I had the next leg, which was 7.9 miles mostly through the UC San Diego campus. For the most part, all of the pairs ran together, except for Zack and me (that’s fine; Zack is considerably faster… and they would still have to wait for me to finish). There were about a zillion turns (some confusing despite my directions), and a few surprising hills once we got out of the campus and headed out into Torrey Pines. Zack finished in 59 minutes and I was about 5 minutes back.
The legs continued, with each group of runners staying together. The timing was also working pretty well, because we needed to make sure that we didn’t reach the Camp Pendleton gate before 6am. This was the one tough part of the relay, because we couldn’t support the runners at all on this section. However, we thought because Chuck and Conboy’s leg was 9.2 miles long that everyone would have a nice opportunity to catch a catnap.
Thanks guys for running it in 72 minutes. So much for a nap (by the time we drove around the base and down to near where they came out, the sun was out and they arrived)!
My next leg (6.5 miles) was around the San Onofre area… mostly running through the campground parking lot. It was amazing how you would run through a set of parking lots, be on a road for 5 minutes and then run through another set of parking lots. We popped out in about 54 minutes just outside San Clemente. This was where most of the group stopped at Starbucks to get a cup of coffee and somewhat restart the day.
We continued on along the coast, and Todd Rose and Dick Ames had their 2nd leg starting in Dana Point, where the Coast Highway and Interstate 5 split off. My instructions clearly said, “Run on the beach Bike Path, which parallels the road, but does not follow Interstate 5. The guys set off and we did not watch their path very closely. The Coast Highway itself has a little on-ramp to differentiate itself from the 5, and by the time we paralleled the bike path again, we figured they were past us or we were past them or something… so we just drove up to the end of their leg and waited… and waited… and waited.
Finally, one of them called on the cellphone, and we described various landmarks to see where they had ended up. They didn’t follow the bike path. They paralleled the 5… and had headed inland for 6 miles instead of along the coast… with us. I told Todd, “F*** you. We’ll just continue on without you.”
OK. So, we drove WAY out of our way to pick them up, figured out how far they had run and then restarted the relay a little up the road. Not too big of a deal (except we were trying to avoid overages on the passenger van mileage – not unlimited).
My third leg began in Corona del Mar and continued up through Newport Beach. By now, it was mid-morning and we encountered a number of runners, walkers, joggers, and strollers along the course. I finished my 5.5 mile leg in 47 minutes.
By the time Dick and Todd set out on their final leg, almost everybody was ready for a beer. We figured they knew their way back and we wouldn’t fret about them getting lost (and also we decided we wouldn’t wait, so as soon as we made our return to Joe’s Crab Shack in Long Beach (where everyone’s car was parked), the eight of us went inside and ordered drinks. About 20 minutes later, at 2:10pm, a bewildered Todd and Dick came in wondering why we weren’t waiting for them outside to finish. We figured we’d get in a beer just in case.
Our total time was around 14 hours and 10 minutes. The best part of doing it this way was that we were now home and could enjoy the day (or go home and sleep it off).