Sunday, August 11, 2013

Indian Gulch-Hornitos 10 Mile

Hornitos is a semi-ghost town located in the Sierra Nevada foothills, about an hour north east of Merced. A semi-ghost town is a town still inhabited, but evincing the detritus of a once larger population. Hornitos was once a mining town, and features the ruins of a Wells Fargo office, Ghiradelli's (the same S.F. chocolatier) original grocery store, and a fantastic bar in an old adobe building. Next time I hit Hornitos I will toss back a few in this bar.

Indian Gulch is basically a road to nowhere following a dry shallow watercourse to the south of Hornitos. The race is an out and back down Indian Gulch road, coursing over some rolling hills among spring flowers and a few oaks. The surface is crumbled asphalt once you're on Indian Gulch.

The race was held March 16--the day before my youngest daughter's birthday.

Madelyn finishes her cake and admires the presents around her.

Beautiful party dress, cake on face, loot strewn at her feet--as perfect a moment one could hope to experience. Her birthday is the reason I chose to race Indian Gulch, because her party was held at Grandma's--a 90 minute drive from Hornitos.

Click on to read the thrilling details...

I volunteered the family participate in a two mile run held at the same event. This meant we trucked everybody out of Denair (where grandma lives) at the crack of dawn. Grandma likes to mount her expeditions in style, which meant we drove two cars. The drive is very pretty, passing almond orchards some small towns and the Merced river. From the road we spotted a couple eagle's eyries built on wooden posts. After crossing the river, we zoomed over some lively hillocks where cattle grazed and rolled into Hornitos.

The girls were denied in their bid to roller skate the race; the director was of the opinion this might give them a competitive advantage.

The start was a little informal. After wishing my girls godspeed I had edged my way closer to the front than I normally do, and the race director gave a beep on his bullhorn. I quickly caught the front and set a pretty easy pace I thought would be difficult for those around me to match. I think I was third or fourth by the time the guy in first turned around at the 1 mile mark, and I was feeling pretty confident that I'd be able to finish with the leaders.

Turns out I didn't quite know what I was doing. At around mile four, the top couple guys started cruising ahead, although I hadn't slowed much yet. At about the turnaround (the five mile marker--a truck and a card table with cups of water) I got passed by an older guy I'd passed miles earlier.

From then on it was a bit of a struggle for me. Even though the course is a net downhill after the turnaround I was cursing the hills and thinking 10k is better than 10miles. I was able to finish hard in the last mile and a half, including dodging Abigail who ran out to congratulate me 20 yards before the finish. Turns out it was good I finished hard because the guy who finished 30 seconds behind me later told me later he'd been gradually catching me for the last several miles.

Map of 10 Mile Route
The satellite picture fairly reflects view from the ground: dry grass foothills in the middle of nowhere. 
So I got fourth, running 1:05--a personal best in the 10 mile. I won a medal for finishing first in my age group: 1st and 2nd were college runners, as was the guy who was gaining on me at the finish. 3rd place (the old guy who passed me at mile 5) was in his 40's, named James Bond, and was training for the upcoming Boston Marathon. We chitchatted for a bit and after I smirked at his name, he asked what my 10K times are. My inability to answer with any certainty (he thought my cited time was too slow, given what I'd just finished in the 10 mile), sparked my notion I should start keeping tabs on these races.

Kirsten pushing the double jog stroller and two older girls also earned medals for their 2 mile results. Indeed, Kirsten earned more than medals for putting up with our oldest, who got in a funk and had to be cajoled into finishing the run.

After the race we had donuts and fruit, then finished our visit checking out the ghost town for a bit.

Next race is the AAUW Wildflower Run, where Elena Laps Abigail in a 2K, Kirsten Surpasses all Expectation, and Your Protagonist Competes in the Stroller Division...

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