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Well, a week in the sun, great relaxation by the pool in Palm Springs, catching up with a good friend in Santa Monica, and what else do I find - A Race to run, and no plain ordinary race, this was a little different.<br><br>
I called into the Running Wild Shop in Palm Springs and asked if they knew any local races over the weekend, and I was informed about an 8K event in Yucca Valley - some 30 minutes from PS. So, Saturday morning, we left PS at 7, in 70 degree temps, dressed in shorts and a running shirt. My mistake. Assumptions that Yucca Valley would be similar in climate to PS were ambitious! How was I to know that Yucca Valley is 3,300 feet up the mountains - It said VALLEY! We got there - And it was FREEZING <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Smile"> - I'm in shorts -<br><br>
Anyway, I entered, grabbed my New Buzzard Run T-Shirt (another clue there), and sat in the car until 5 minutes before the start. It was still freezing, and then they told me about the course. It was an 8K Race, 4K up hill and 4K down hill - Meet the Buzzards! The climb was on the road, but a rise of 1000 feet was in order - Why didn't I stay in bed, or around the pool, it would be 85 by now in PS!<br><br>
There were 68 entrants in the race, a mixed bunch, 95% local, but friendly <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Smile">. The race started, and a 100 metre flat stretch was the only flat bit for another 7800 metres! We turned onto PioneerTown Road, and it was up hill all the way. The road wasn't tooooooooooo steep, just steady all the way, no respite. I settled into a rhythm, and just tried to suck it in. The sun was shining, but the wind was into our faces, and it was nippy!<br><br>
Gradually the race settled into a pattern, with around 20 people ahead of me. I struggled a little on the hill. It was tough going, but I got my head down, made Mile One in 9 minutes, and continued up, making Mile 2 in 19:00 - And still it went up! Further up the road I could see a really steep climb and was dreading it, but then I saw the turnaround point, just at the bottom of the steep climb, a relief, and a spur as I counted the runners coming back towards me, I was 18th at the turn! It was 24 minutes and change, but it was all down hill from here!<br><br>
I quickly passed a runner in orange, and set my sights on a couple ahead of me. They had Big Sur Jackets on when they passed me on the way up, so I kept them in sight, some 20 metres ahead. I was speeding up, naturally, but so were they, and I bided my time, closing the gap very gradually as we passed Mile 3, then Mile 4. There was little point in checking my watch as splits were irrelevant, but the gap was down to 10m by the last water station. It had warmed up now, and I was running well, so I closed them down and drew level with half a mile to go. A brief chat (we were not in the same Age Group), and a joke about This Being a No Passing Zone, and we ran together until the turn and Flat Land to the finish.<br><br>
Would there be a sprint finish, you bet - I hate losing over a finish, and the three of us started to kick. Mrs Big Sur dropped off quickly but Mr Big Sur and myself were flying, and we ran hard along the wide road (The pic is from a long way out, but you can see a wide road and us sprinting hard - line abreast). Well, I held out and crossed the line a few strides ahead of my new friend, in 41:34 - Not the best time in the World, but enough for 15th Place Overall, and Third Place in my Age Group.<br><br>
It had warmed up by the time we finished, and the prize giving was great fun with a special call out for me coming all the way from Ireland, "Just for their race", and the Mayor offering me an "Erin Go Bragh" as he gave me my medal. The prizes for the winners were sculptured Buzzards, and with door prizes etc., saw virtually everyone who took part receive something for their day - Something much bigger races should be envious off.<br><br>
I really enjoyed my trip to Yucca, and I had a great relaxing vacation in Palm Springs and LA. Looking forward to my next Vacation now, and that will have a little race too, the Philadelphia Marathon, but first I have to run around Dublin in a couple of weeks.
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