by Peter Holleran
On Saturday July 23, Eric Ellisen, Peter Carr, Jerome Lourme, Susan Lourme, Jim Schollard, Peter Holleran, Glenn Redpath, and half a dozen others ran the fourth annual unoffical "Marin Bay to Breakers" from China Camp to Stinson Beach. The weather was warm and sunny. Unlike the relatively wimpy San Francisco event this is a man-sized 25-mile cross-county run with 4000 feet of climbing over fireroads and trails and less than five miles on pavement.
The route starts at Back Ranch Meadows campground, taking Shoreline trail, Back Ranch and Ridge fireroads to the Nike site at the summit of San Pedro Ridge, then down a long fireroad with Mt. Tamalpais looming in the distance , past the Marin Civic Center, across Highway 101, through Terra Linda, over San Rafael Hill and the Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide to San Anselmo via Memorial Trail, Ridge and Tomahawk fireroads, then local streets passing Landsdale Station and continuing to Deer Park, Fairfax, the approximate half-way point. Here an informal aid station was set up by caring friends, and an adjacent water faucet allowed for a necessary cool-down. From there the course follows the Deer Park Fireroad and Shaver Grade, across Bon Tempe Dam to Alpine Lake, then Kent, Helen Markt, and Cataract trails along the north side of Mt. Tam to Laurel Dell; and finally Coastal and Matt Davis trails, or alternately, Willow Camp Fireroad, to Stinson Beach. I passed on the shorter Willow Camp option due to a previous encounter with a swarm of bees, while Jerome my running partner chose likewise because of a run-in with a mountain lion. The consensus route follows Coastal and Matt Davis. It is a beautiful course, with views of the entire county.
The pace was deliberate until Deer Park, the leaders clocking around 1:20 (myself 1:48), when the warm temperatures turned the second half into more of the fun run that it is. While not a race unless you make it so, Mike Sweeney ran a blistering 3:25 in 2003. I finished in 4:45, including stops and a swim.
A sobering moment for all occurred while ascending the Deer Park Fireroad when the covered body of a dead mountain biker was passed, who had apparently succumbed to a heart attack. I was beginning to wonder if it was too warm to run and whether I might be approaching dehydration and heat exhaustion. I personally feel uncomfortable when it is over 60, and familiar signs of nausea, fatigue, and muscle twitching were present. Fortunately, everyone enjoyed a life-saving drought from Broko Spring on Helen Markt and a rejuvenating dip in the natural pool at the junction of Helen Markt and Cataract, which was even cooler than the ocean water at Stinson. On return to our cars at China Camp the thermometer read 104 degrees, but the shade of the northside trails of Tamalpais and the ocean breezes capped the temperature for the runners in the mid 80's, a great day for all and a really neat run.