A Day of Eggsercise

Starting lineup


The Great Race starts in Saratoga and ends four miles later in Los Gatos. It happened today, and I did it again this year. But this year was different. I came home with almost five dozen eggs.






Chicken coop with chickens in the enclosureAbout three years ago someone started building a a shed and a chicken coup on a little piece of land that juts out from our mountain. It is just before the end of the road that leads to our house. This is not property that a house could occupy. But a water tank was installed. I understood from neighborhood chatter that the water was obtained through a deal with a neighbor who lives on the uphill side of the road. The mini-farmyard was the brainchild of a flat-lander who lived at the bottom of the hill in Saratoga. He wanted to have his children experience rural life–and chickens. On weekends the family could be seen there scampering up and down the hill as the place took shape. Soon the chicken coop with its fenced outdoor yard was inhabited by a cock and a number of Rhode Island Red hens.

Through a conversation with another neighbor in the locker room of the place where I work out, I learned where the owner of the “farm” lived–a location at the bottom of the mountain that I passed nearly every day. It was right across the street from the elementary school.

Two flats of eggsToday when I went down to Saratoga for the Great Race, I parked my car in the parking lot at the elementary school. As I got out, I saw a man come out the front door of the house where the “chicken people” lived. I went over and asked him if he was the chicken guy. He was. He was. We talked a bit and then he said, “Just a minute!” He left and entered the house and soon came out with two flats of eggs. “These should last you a few weeks,” he said. “Where is your car?”

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And so I did the Race with a pretty good time for me and came home with a prize of 53 very local eggs from chickens I wave to every day.

We had omelets for brunch.

Skyland Mountain Run

Today, one of the warmest so far, was the Skyland Mountain Run. I have done this run for many years, at least since 1998 (the year of my favorite T-shirt). Sponsored by a community church in the Santa Cruz mountains, it is one of the best! All of the proceeds go to nonprofits, both local and international.Enjoying breakfast after the run

Imagine starting at a hundred-old-ranch in a rural mountain area and running along a ridge with views of row upon row of mountains running to the ocean. A local band is playing hot rock and blue grass while the church members are cooking up eggs, sausages, pancakes, and cutting up fruit and bagels to greet you on your return. Kids are gearing up for a fun run, and raffle prizes await that include wines from great local vineyards. Radonich Ranch Picnic tables surround a lake where three hundred runners/walkers of all ages relax, their cars parked in a neighboring field at the ranch.

This year my friend, Phyllis Karsten, came with me. Last year, at 85, Phyllis started walking and used an iPhone app to show her distance and time on her walks. She posted this information on her Facebook page. She was good! So I asked her if she would like to start doing 5Ks with me. Of course she was game. She now comes close to showing me up!Phyllis at finish line

We both did well and had a great time. She is saying we should try a 10K sometime. I think she has lost her mind.

Our times

On the Run

runners along a trailFourteen thousand people lined up at the wharf in Santa Cruz Sunday before last at 8:30 a.m. Within an hour, give or take a little, they would all be in Capitola jamming the streets, crowding the once empty beach, laughing, sweating, jostling for water, listening to the band as they queued up to board buses back to Santa Cruz. What form of midsummer madness was this? This was the Wharf to Wharf, a run billed as “The best little road race in California”. The first fourteen thousand to sign up got a chance to run along the edge of the mighty Pacific from Santa Cruz to Capitola on a gorgeous Sunday in summer. The event had been sold out for more than a month.

Almost every Sunday, and sometimes Saturday, no matter where you are in the country, you will find similar goings on, although usually on a smaller scale. Runners, legs twitching, rise early and hit the road. They run in the sun and in the rain, in the cold and in the heat. They run on beaches, in mountains, and on streets. They run alone or together. Some run for health, or for personal challenge, or for charity, or for pure joy.

I was in Capitola, but not as a runner. I was there to pass out flyers for Ron’s Wildlife Run that takes place at YSI’s Vasona site in September. Talk about targeting your market! There is no better way to find people willing to run than in a crowd of thousands who have just crossed a finish line. Once they cross that line, they know they can and will do it again.

A dozen, or more, boats bobbed off shore. The fog flirted with the sun as the front-runners came through. These elite fleet-of-foot athletes were followed by groups of pursuers and then wave upon wave of ordinary mortals out celebrating the day. Soon my companions and I were passing out flyers as fast as we could to outstretched hands of triumphant runners who were already dreaming of future mornings running, carefree as children, under sunny blue skies.

Putting on a run is not a simple matter, as I have come to find out. YSI has been doing its run in the fall as a fund-raiser for seventeen years, seven of those years before I came to YSI. The success of a run lies largely with the Race Director, and YSI has had some champions at this. Ron Becker, a runner and YSI board member, started the Run in 1984. When he died at far-too-young an age, his friend and fellow runner, Jack Hubby, joined the board and took over as race director.

What is involved in putting on event that attracts eight hundred runners? Well, there are permits and sponsors, publicity and porta-potties, shuttle buses and volunteers, food and drink, emergency services and public address systems, traffic cones and police, registration forms and timers, course measurements and banners, just to name a few things. And every year in the weeks before the run, Jack, who coordinates all this as a volunteer, threatens never to do it again.

But like the runners in Capitola on Sunday, when he reaches the finish line, Jack always knows he can and will do it again.

Ron’s Wildlife Run, a timed 10K run, 5K run/walk, and 2K for kids will be Sunday, September 17, at Vasona Park in Los Gatos. For registration forms or information: (408) 356-4945 or www.ysi-ca.org