Foothill Flyers Race Reviews
Last update Feb. 13, 2005

Pier To Peak 100K Trail Run

Last Friday evening in March, Santa Monica Pier, CA, 7:00 PM Start.
Runs from the Santa Monica Pier to Mt. Wilson.

Info: email Larry Mann: phone: 323-493-0771

I would like to take this time to invite you to the third annual Pier to Peak 100K.

The run will take place at 7:00 PM (note new time) on Friday the 25th of March, 2005. This is Easter weekend, so some of us will have a longer weekend to recover. I hope that we finish by 3 or so in the afternoon on Saturday, so the temperatures don't drop to low on the summit, but be prepared if they do.

We will meet around 6:45 at the end of the pier. The official run starts by touching the hand rail at the end of the pier and concludes at the gate on the summit of Mt. Wilson.

We will be running/hiking/walking on some city streets at night, most notably Mulholland Highway. Please be careful. I picked this particular weekend because of the full moon, hopefully Mother Nature will supply most of the light we need, but be prepared. Bring a flashlight and either a reflective vest or preferably two flashing red lights, one for the front and for the rear.

The course takes us from the pier to the Santa Monica Mountains. Our first aid station will be planted at the end of dirt Muholland approximately 14 miles into the run. We will travel along Mulholland until roughly the 101 Freeway. Our second aid station will be at the corner of Lake Hollywood and Wonder View which is about 16 miles (30 total). Please plan on having enough liquid, calories and clothing to get you to each aid station. Water can be replenished from hoses/faucets at homes along the route, food and clothing cannot.

From Lake Hollywood, we will work our way up and over Griffith Park. Our third aid station will be approximately 5 miles away on Zoo Drive close to Victory Boulevard. We will then travel on north on Victory Boulevard and east on Western Avenue until we hit Brand Park, which will have water, bathrooms and crew assistance willing, more aid. Brand Park is only a few miles from the Zoo.

From Brand Park we will go up and over the Verdugo Mountains and work our way under the 2 Freeway via Fern Lane, which will guessed it our next aid station. This aid station is approximately four or five miles. The aid stations are getting closer due to us getting more pooped and the course getting tougher. It is also nice to see an our friends more frequently..

We then travel over the remainder of the Verdugo Mountains until we reach the a bridle trail that cuts through La Canada. We will come out on the bridge by Johnson's Field on Foothill Boulevard. We will run up a trail that comes out on Altadena and meet more aid there. This is four or five miles.

The route then travels along roads (West Altadena Drive, Lincoln Avenue and East Loma Alta Drive) until we arrive at our final nine mile climb up to Mount Wilson and, oh yeah, our last aid station. This is approximately three miles. Climbing up to Mt. Wilson is going to take about three and half to four hours, so plan on bringing plenty of liquid. Depending upon the weather, it can get quite hot on the climb up, but be very cold on the summit, so please dress accordingly.

The total distance is just over a 100K (62 miles), your mileage may vary. I stated in the last post, we need to stay together to stay on course. The pace will be slow. For some of you speedsters, go out and run a real long run sometime during the week and show up unrested.

The key to making this a pleasant event and for most of us, finishing it, we need to rely on friends for aid. Please let me know who can help with supplying food and drinks and rides to the start and back from the finish. I have had several people express interest, I just need to get a count and an idea of how much you can help. We also need to give food and drink items to the crew, so let me know what you intend to bring and I will coordinate it getting to the crews vehicle. I would like to have burritos brought to us at the aid station on Lake Hollywood. This would mean we would need to get money to the willing person. Don, Gillian and Matt do not worry about supplying drinks or food, you are coming from out-of-town so this might too much for you to plan.

Here is a list of P2P3 runners (all or part) and crew:
Maltzman - Can you drop off food/drinks at the end of dirt Mulholland ?
Marque - All
Matt - All
Darth - Crew
Scott - All
Elena - Part
Moose - All
Frog - Flake
Wolff - All
Louise - ?
Sue - All
Marisol - All
Mallard - ? (Frog please forward this to him)
Don - All
Gillian - All
Healy (+2) - All
Scratch - All
Circuit - Crew ?
Mary - Part
Let me know if you know if you changed your mind or if you have someone else interested in running or crewing.
Theme of this year's run: Longer, harder, slower.

I hope each and everyone of you can join us for all or part of this fun journey..
Larry Mann

Los Angeles. Big City. Big Adventure April 5, 2002.
by Craig Chambers

For years I have had the idea of running across the Los Angeles basin from the Santa Monica Pier to the top of Mount Wilson. I didn't have a good idea of how far it would be, how long it might take, what route to take. In a sense that was the reason for the run. Los Angeles is a big, diverse, complex city. Few of its residents have a comprehensive sense of the city; most of its suburban citizens, for example, avoid the downtown civic center and seldom if ever go there - and, certainly not without a compelling reason.

Running has provided such a reason for tens of thousands of people. The Los Angeles Marathon (which I have run every year) is probably the most unifying annual civic event. The marathon starts and finishes downtown and runs through a variety of neighborhoods. Pier to Peak is similar in spirit, but the idea is to gain a sense of both the expansive breadth and connectedness of the city by physically, geographically crossing it.

Nothing came of the idea of Pier to Peak until I shared it with Larry Mann. Larry was not only excited, he mapped a course, and organized the runners and the run. He made the run happen. He and I felt that we should run together; and, that others, if they were to join us, should stay with us to share the experience - Larry organized this very nicely (we did stay together until near the end even though I was slowing everyone down). The course Larry devised had as many dirt paths, trails and fire roads in Los Angeles parkland as possible but it also ran through many neighborhoods from poor to celebrity rich including charming, little known enclaves in and around Pasadena at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. The course also ran along arterial boulevards and by shopping centers and strip malls that have come to characterize Los Angeles. The course Larry created was often quite beautiful, and it yielded a sense of how different city regions are connected.

The question came up if we should do it again. I had thought that we should do it once - and talk about it forever. Now that it's been a few days, I've come around. We'll probably do it annually for at least a few years.

The Runners

Four runners completed the full Pier to Peak course: Jennifer Johnson, Larry Mann, Mike Dimkich, and myself (Craig Chambers).

Jennifer Johnson has become a familiar name to readers of UltraRunning and The Ultra List as she has won the Angeles Crest 100 three times (1998, 2000, 2001). What may be less familiar to the reader is the pleasure it is to run with her. Jenny does not have a competitive running or athletic background - so she competed academically. She has done post doctoral research at Cal Tech and Stanford and is now a neuro-sceintist in the San Francisco bay area. She works for Eland which has developed an inoculation against Alzheimer's disease that is on track for FDA approval. Jenny has an easy manner and is equally comfortable discussing the environment, the debris flow catch basins in the San Gabriel Mountains, or American popular culture. She listens actively and attentively. She is funny. She is great looking. She has a boyfriend: Dave Penny (see below).

Larry Mann is an ultramarathoner (Angeles Crest 2000, 2001; Badwater 2001...). He works as an animal keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo. He lives in Silverlake with his fiance Felicia Hesler, three wolves, and two exotic cats. He is someone to watch. He has the imagination, scope, temperament and perspective to devise and accomplish significant things. He is a big, strong, animal-loving vegetarian. He has more ideas. If it is true that we are only limited by our imagination, then Larry is not limited.

Mike Dimkich is an ultramarathoner (Angeles Crest 2001...) who lives in Woodland Hills. He is a guitarist who plays with The Cult. He recently returned from the band's world and American tours. He has a degree in history and is ever ready with an apt and incisive historical insight. He is young and crazed, has deep reserves of trained strength, and is also worth watching.

I am a co-owner of Phidippides-Encino, a running specialty store. I am an ultramarathoner (Three not-recent Western States buckles, two Vermont 100s, Death Valley 200/100/10 exhibition ultra-triathlon...). For five years I used to commute run across the Santa Monica Mountains and back (26 miles per day) - an ambassador of sorts between the Westside and the Valley. I have run marathons and ultras in Europe, Africa, Russia, Cuba as well as America. The main lesson I've learned is one that may be familiar to many ultramarathoners: Although I don't have any particular running talent, I have been able to do many interesting things.

Other Runners and Crew

Matt Palocsay is an ultramarathoner (Angeles Crest 2001, Badwater 2001, solo John Muir...) who will be attending Hastings Law School in the fall. He vacationed for a month in Vietnam and returned the day before Pier to Peak. He is now 25; last year (age 24) he became the youngest ever Badwater finisher. He ran the first half of Pier to Peak to Brand Park. Although he is a good, strong ultramarathoner, he was comfortable with the slow pace of Pier to Peak. Unfortunately, because it was slow and we had fallen behind our estimated time to Brand Park - and it was unclear when we would finish, he had to stop to meet a prior dinner commitment. He was gracious, but I was disappointed that he couldn't finish with us.

Kathy Kusner is an ultramarathoner (Vermont 100, three Comrades...). She is my girlfriend. She is familiar with the first half of the course so she decided to meet us halfway at Brand Park (which she didn't know) and run to the finish. She helped me get through some of the later miles, and it was fun finishing with her.

Jay Grobeson is an ultramarathoner (Thirty one 100s including the Grand Slam in 2001, Badwater...). Jay is an attorney in the Los Angeles District Attorney's office. He is smart, incisive and funny. He is building his training up after straining his back in an automobile accident on ice on the way to an ultra. He ran until about 4:30 A.M. when Mark (below) met us on Mulholland Drive. Jay is strong, able and up for anything.

Dave Penny is Jenny's boyfriend. He is an ultramarathoner (Western States, Angeles Crest...). He is also a research scientist studying cancer (no cure yet - or so he says). He and Jenny drove down from San Francisco after work Friday for the start of Pier to Peak. They brought their dog, Jody. Dave and Jody ran 8 or 9 miles of Pier to Peak at night in the Santa Monica Mountains. Afterward, Dave drove and met us with an aid station. He drove to the finish and brought some of us back. By the end of the run, he was everybody's sweetheart: He is funny, considerate - and very, very nice.

Lisa Johannessen is a young too-much-too-soon ultramarathoner who is studying for a accounting degree. She is Mike's girlfriend. She is fun and funny. She ran the first 12 miles of the run.

Felicia Hesler is Larry's fiance. She teaches first grade at Huntington Drive Elementary. She is the master of walking sticks (exotic insects) and bearded dragons (exotic lizards). She met us at Brand Park and at the finish. She is terrific. She is smart and funny. She was outstanding and tenacious as Larry's crew leader at Badwater (Kathy and I were on the crew).

Mark Maltzman is an ultramarathoner who lives near the end of dirt Mulholland (about mile 12 of Pier to Peak). He is a faster-than-me training partner and friend. Mark is known for being in bed by 9:00 and getting up early. Yet, for Pier to Peak he was up at 1:30 A.M. with supplies for our first aid station. He went to sleep but got up extra early even for Mark. He drove down Mulholland Drive and met us at 4:30 for a tailgate party aid station. In the parlance of Camp Goofy's running/reading/math club, having never finished a 100 miler, Mark is a girly-girl. Steve Healy, an adventurous ultramarathoner, got injured days before the run. He and his equally adventurous girlfriend Linda Adams gave me a ride to the start.

The Course

We began Pier to Peak just after 10:00 P.M. on Friday, April 5, 2002. It was a beautiful, clear night. Colored lights on the pier's arcade and the bright revolving lights of the ferris wheel shone against the night sky. From the Santa Monica pier we ran north along a dirt path through Palisades Park along the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

We ran down, through and across the affluent neighborhoods of Santa Monica Canyon and up through the Pacific Palisades Riviera district with the most impressive homes - and most celebrity residents: Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Stallone lived here during his "Rocky" years, Ronald Reagan lived here when he was elected president, OJ lived here after Rockingham, Max Factor had a mansion, but the most prominent house on top of its own hill belongs to citizen astronaut Dennis Tito.

A private road past the property of a founder of Amgen leads to Camp Josepho, a boy scout camp, and to the Sullivan Ridge fire road which goes to the crest of the Santa Monica Mountains and dirt Mulholland (splendid views on this clear night back to the Santa Monica Bay and ahead across the valley). City lights. City lights. City lights. Lights from the city made flashlights unnecessary.

We turn right and run along dirt Mulholland (with views of the Encino reservoir) to the end of the dirt (near Mark's) and stop for our first break. The breaks are nice, friendly, extra fun, and emphasize the casualness of the run; but, if anyone is interested, the run could be done with about three bottles, the aid of convenience stores (the Mobil station on Barham, the Circle K on Western, Goldsein's Bagels on Verdugo) - and rides to the start and from the finish. We are now on the fabled Mulholland Drive. But, no David Lynch weirdness. Traffic is not bad or dangerous even after bar closing hours Friday night. We stay on Mulholland (with a tailgate party provided by Mark at around 4:30 A.M.) until we reach Barham Blvd. near the end of Mulholland Dr. at the Cahuenga pass that connects Universal City and Hollywood.

From Barham we cross the 101 freeway and enter a very cool, charming, out of the way neighborhood. It is now morning, the sun has risen, and we feel invigorated. We run by Lake Hollywood, by Madonna's old landmark house, below the Hollywood sign, and into Griffith Park. We run along nice trails in the park. We also run by compost heaps of animal dung from the L.A. Zoo - with identifying signs. We exit the park on Griffith Park Drive between Travel Town and the Los Angeles Zoo. We run by the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, and cross the Los Angeles River. It is about here where we begin to think: OK, we've run from the Santa Monica Pier to the equestrian center...

We run through neighborhoods and along boulevards until we reach Brand Park in Burbank. We rest a bit and get organized for the remainder of the run. Felicia meets us with picnic supplies including hot chocolate, bagels, fresh orange juice - and, Krispy Kreme's. The trail through Brand Park is straight up but affords perhaps the most dramatic views on the run. After the summit, we run down a gentle fire road into Flintridge. The trails through Brand Park have taken us across the Verdugo Mountains.

In the neighborhood just outside Brand Park is the coolest house on the run. It is landscaped/xeriscaped with native flowers and desert cactus. Amongst the plants are replica gila monsters and Komodo dragons. We stop, stare, and make sure they are models - just like every other passerby has.

From Flintridge we run through La Canada, Pasadena, through the Hahamongna Watershed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (near the finish of the Angeles Crest 100), and through Altadena. The neighborhoods vary, but some at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains are the most charming, best kept and interesting on the run. After the wash by JPL, Mike, Jenny and Larry ran ahead.

The last main street we ran was Altadena Drive. There is an Alcoholics Anonymous center at 185 Altadena. Kathy and I are "normie" but we have gone to many AA meetings because we like to hear the honest, personal stories of people changing their lives (I go to meetings Monday nights on skid row). Kathy and I have been to "185" a few times and it was a thrill to pass it. Many of the neighborhoods along Altadena are relatively poor, but it becomes quite exclusive by Crescent and Pinecrest where we turn off for the entrance to Eaton Canyon. We reached the gate and path, ran down to the bridge and over to the dirt "toll road" that leads to the top of Mount Wilson.

It was great to be on the toll road. The dirt felt good underfoot. The mountain reached majestically before us - and, we were on the last stretch of the run! The weather was clear until we neared the summit. There were spectacular views of the field of cities that comprise the Los Angeles metropolitan area. There were also spectacular views of mountains and mountain ranges that run through and around the city. I paused before entering the clouds and looked back across the expanse of the L.A. basin that stretched to the horizon. Although I was feeling good and running and hiking pretty well, I was a bit whacked. I couldn't get my bearings and sense the path we'd taken across the landscape.

As we ran into the clouds, the compelling and complex panorama of Los Angeles was replaced by a moist white-gray background light that brought the mountain path into immediate, clear relief. I ran where I was - along the beautiful forest trail leading to the top of Mount Wilson. The defining moment for me was when I looked back across the L.A. basin but couldn't sense where we had run. It is interesting because before Pier to Peak everywhere I went I thought about the run, and everywhere I go since the run I think about it. Pier to Peak is an incredible run. But, Los Angeles remains an elusive, bigger-than-I-am city.

Jennifer Johnston adds:

Pier to Peak100km April 5, 2002

Santa Monica Pier to Mt. Wilson

What crazy idea. What a cool idea. I want to do this run. Pier to Peak, or highlights of LA. When I initially heard that Larry Mann was planning to run from the Santa Monica pier to the top of Mount Wilson I thought he was nuts. This is a guy who did Badwater last year, and then AC100. When I got his second e-mail describing the run, I knew I was going to want to do it. There was something compelling about running from the ocean through the city to the top of Mt. Wilson. I finally committed to Larry on Thursday that I would do the whole thing. Dave and I left work at 3:00pm on Friday and drove from San Francisco down to Los Angeles just about in time to get out of the car at the pier and meet Jay, Mike, and Lisa, where we then went over to the official pier start and met up with Larry and Craig. It was great to start at night, because we had the lit pier and coastline, which would have been much less visible in the daylight. Landmarks were many: The ferris wheel at the pier, with all of the beautiful people milling around looking beautiful on a Friday night. The Santa Monica Mountains at night were so illuminated from the Valley and Los Angeles, we did not need a flashlight. The entirety of Mulholland Drive at night - views of Universal Studios, Hollywood Bowl, the ocean, downtown LA,and like, The Valley. After the sun had risen we passed the Hollywood Hills, Lake Hollywood and the Hollywood sign, Griffith Park, piles of wolf fur from Larry's dogs, secret water stops, the Zoo and Travel Town. Brand Park in the Valley and JPL on the way to climbing to the top of Mt. Wilson, 5000' up. Non physical landmarks were: not knowing which end of the pier we were meeting at (not a good way to instill confidence at the start!), suicidal bunny, pooping safari, SFG, Madonna's house, 20$ on the trail, valuable elephant and rhino dung. Cadbury creme eggs, calling Jay four times in a row because we couldn't remember anything longer than 30 seconds, Goldsteins, MIke goes on, plaster paris in my shoes, George's liquor, power bars and gel, Pit Bull, Komono dragon house, fog after Henninger, freezing at the top, Jody on Larry's lap, making Mike walk around the loop in case we missed Felicia - He found her! Mike wished we had gone faster, but then I figure we spent at least two hours total waiting for Larry to pee, so Mike can take that off of the total time.

Thanks to Larry, Craig and Mike for doing the whole thing - and especially thanks to Felicia, Dave, Lisa, Jay, Mark, and Kathy for coming out at crazy times to crew and run, and hauling our sorry butts down from the top of Wilson when it was all over.

Larry adds and subtracts:

Craig and Jenny gave their personal accounts of the run, I will give you mine.

We started at the end of the Santa Monica Pier and traveled through Santa Monica into the Santa Monica Mountains via Sullivan Ridge. When we reached the top, we ran on dirt Mulholland reached the pavement and continued to the 101 Freeway at Cahuenga Boulevard, by the Hollywood Bowl. We went over the 101 Freeway in Universal City and continued up to and around Lake Hollywood. Above Lake Hollywood and just under the Hollywood sign, we took a foot path that led us to the Griffith Park trials. We exited Griffith Park between Travel Town and Los Angeles Zoo and continued over the Los Angeles River. We ran up Western Boulevard to Brand Park. Brand Park is part of the Verdugo Mountainss and has amazing views. On the backside (North) of Brand Park we entered La Canada/Flintridge. We took various streets to Goldstein's Bagel Bakery where most of the runners (past and present) and crew convened for a sitdown mini-lunch. It is here that Jenny and I talked Mike into continuing to the finish. After a half of a hour, we ran down Foothill Boulevard through the Hahamongna Watershed and onto Altadena Boulevard. We took Altadena to Pinecrest and then Crescent to the gates of Eaton Canyon. We dropped down to the bridge (this would be our last downhill) and then continued up the toll road to the summit.

The weather was perfect. During the night portion of the run, the city lights reflected off the high clouds, illuminating our way, making flashlights unnecessary. Along Mulholland we experienced a light drizzle that broke just before daylight. During the day, the sun broke through the clouds, but never got too warm. Finally, on the last portion of the run, going up the Mt. Wilson toll road, about half way up the mountain, the clouds became as thick as pea soup, you could not see more than 20 feet in any direction. The temperature at the top was 42F.

While preparing for this run, I ran the entire course in sections. I estimate the run to be a little over a 100K. We ascended over 9500' and descended over 2700'.

On my drive to work, I haave a clear view of the mountains and part of the trail we ran during Pier to Peak. The sight is a daily reminder of the adventure and company that instantly puts a smile on my face.

Pier to Peak was intended to be a one-shot deal, however, I enjoyed the scenery and the company of my fellow runners so much, that I decided to mid-run to organize a Peak to Pier in Autumn and Pier to Peak in Spring. Feel free to join us. However, the are still more adventures to dream up.

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