Running on Empty

Well, not really. Today was the day of the annual (this was the 11th) El Prieto Handicap Run, better known as El Prieto. Chuck thought it up eleven years ago as a way to give anyone a shot at winning a race, something that most of us slower runners never experience. It also gives Chuck a chance to come up with very complex Excel spreadsheets and formulas that he works on late into the night for several days preceding the race. All entrants are handicapped at the start based on their best race times with the goal that all runner finish at or around the same time. Every year there are ringers – people who either told a really good story about how badly they have been running the past year thus playing on Chuck’s sympathies, or people who are new to the race or running and just get a better start place. They only get THAT break once. The course is about 5 miles on trails in the Arroyo Seco Canyon area of Angeles Crest National Forest. A lot of it is single-track, which scares the bejesus out of me, but Chuck loves it – one misstep and off you go down the canyon – adventure running at its best. There is icky poison oak if you get off the trail and assorted wildlife including the odd mountain lion. This year’s race winner was our twelve-year-old friend Michael, who is new to raacing but doing very well. He will get a nasty handicap next year! Everyone else performed pretty much as Chuck predicted, and there was the usual amount of grousing about the unfairness of the handicapping. Little do they know that all whining is noted and held against you next year! We also had a fairly large dog contingent this year and they all had a fabulous time. The race is free to all comers, and includes a really cool t-shirt, uniquely designed each year by our artiste friend Bob. Our hearty thanks to all the volunteers who helped out! We couldn’t have done it this year without a lot of help from all our friends as neither one of us can run or really even hike yet. I hope to be out there next year (okay, I know that flies in the face of my earlier statements, but still) trying not to fall off the trail.

Here are some images from the day. Want more? Here are some images taken by our friend Gerry, one of the volunteers. He was stationed along the course, so you can see a bit more of the terrain.