One foot at a time | One sole at a time | One hell of a good time


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Running the Central California Coastline

Standing on Point Sal; Photo by Luis Escobar
A big thank you to El Coyote, Luis Escobar, for inviting us up to visit this weekend. What an awesome trip.

It all started on Thursday when Christopher McDougall, El Oso, flew into Burbank airport. He has been on a whirlwind trip interviewing runners for an upcoming book. On Wednesday, he was in Seattle having dinner with Scott Jurek. Thursday, Barefoot Ted in Los Angeles. Friday, Luis Escobar in Santa Maria. We represented the tail end of a trip that had been going on for weeks.

My goal was to give El Oso a quick and dirty glimpse of my home turf. I introduced him to my family, showed him around our urban chitty-chitty-bang-bang compound and then gave him the gestault version of my running territory.

What I hoped to get him to see was that even in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world, one could find incredible niches where all the healing power of nature and trails could be found. He definitely got a good taste.

Point Sal from another vantage point; Photo by Ronald Williams

On Friday, we got up early and headed north to meet with Luis in Santa Maria. We spent the day with the Righetti High School Cross Country Team. They competted in the Santa Barbara County championships. Boys came in second place. I was very pleased to meet all of them. Apparently I have become a mini-celebrity for their team. Luis has been letting them do some barefoot training.

Friday night we dined on flatbread pizza and local wines at a restaurant in Los Alamos called American Flatbread. All I can say is that there is at least one reason I can think of for having more money and that would be to be able to eat food and drink wine like that more often.

Saturday morning up at 5:30am. We were off to Point Sal to do some cow trail running along the coast. California's central coast is gorgeous and pristine. Our 12 mile loop started a bit rough on rocky pavement in the dark. I had forgotten to bring my FiveFingers, so I was committed to whatever the trail would hand me. Thankfully, the road turned into a trail of sand, the softest, lushest sand one could hope for. It was like running on cool clotted cream.

Down to the rocky coast we headed all the way to Point Sal itself, and then along sheer cliffs to get a closer look at the massive rock called Lion Rock filled with seals and pelicans.

Coming back the trail got tougher, both in steepness and texture. We were running along the crest of mountains. The rocks were small broken cubit chunks. They did not want to be friends with my feet, but I persisted and got through unscathed.

Sugar, the wonder trail-running dog

Thanks to Luis and his friends, Jeff and Jeff, for a great time and to Sugar, Luis' Jack Russell Terrier.


Photos by Luis Escobar of Reflections Photography Studio in Santa Maria, CA unless marked otherwise

PS. Further research on Point Sal and environs leg me to the website of eco-hooligan (self-described) of Bill Denneen who runs a hostel near Point Sal. Very interesting character I hope to run into in the future.

Some photos from his site and his friend's site below:

Bill at the Winter Soltice Dunes Hike
Photo by Robert Bernstein

We Need to Go Back to Our Roots

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