Diversity Month in the World of Outdoor Athletics

By Chris Kostman

Originally published in The California Events Schedule, August 1993

The outdoor athlete has it all: cycling, running, swimming, snowshoeing, scuba diving, you name it, plus all the subcategories of events and pursuits underneath each of these disparate but interconnected endeavours. I figure that if you're not gunning for an Olympic gold, then why specialize? Plus it has been my experience that excellence in both an activity-specific and cumulative sense comes through diversity. And it's a lot of fun, too!

Consider my month of June: I did a running race, a mountain bike race, a triathlon, and a bike trek. The net result? TONS OF FUN and great training to boot. Diversification is the only way to go!

Pacific Sun 10K

Freshly back from my Triple Ironman adventures in Europe, I headed over to Marin on May 31 for this 10K. (It's put on by my colleagues here at TRS, so I could hardly miss it if I was in town.) I had no expectations: the weather had been rainy, plus I was certainly not recovered from my race in France. But I went anyway, because participation is everything and there's something magical about mass numbers of people doing something physical.

Sure, I was way off my PR (40:11 vs 37:34), but it was a beautiful, well run event, and I have plenty of other things to be thankful for. Catherine Isham gave me a tough run for my money, i.e. sprinting for 253rd place out of 988. (Great sprint, Cath!) I ran into a new friend from the Misty Redwood Run (Hi, Linda Mantyen!) And I made a new friend as well (Howdy, Tracey Stouse!) So it was a great day and an excellent way to kick off my own personal diversity month.

24 Hours of Canaan

Held June 5-6 in and around Davis, WV, this 24-hour-four-rider-relay-mountain bike race was a gruesome adventure. The course was solid mud and rocks, just simply the 11.5 mile loop from hell. I crashed five times and returned with mud from head to toe during my first lap, stupified that my teammates and I would take turns riding this course for 24 hours straight. It was to be the 24 Hours of Insane! (Need some convincing? Well, each loop has six river crossings, a 300 yard swampy mud bog, hills so steep you can hardly crawl on all fours up them, and Moonrocks, which is kind of like SlickRock but unrideable because of the foot deep water channels worn into it; instead it's the ankle-breaking, shouldered bike, downhill running course from your worst nightmare.)

But it was a fascinating adventure, and a unique opportunity to practice teamwork and interdependence in a sport known specifically for its lone ranger mentality. Bridgestone had never fielded us all together in one race before, so we didn't know what to expect, but Harry Winand from Pennsylvania, Gene Oberpriller from Minnesota, and John Stamstad from Ohio proved to be great guys and great riders. Grant and Ernie from Bridgestone USA were the best pit crew we could ever have as well, for they suffered through lap after lap of cleaning ten pounds of mud from each of our XO-1 bikes (with Moustache bars) and making them race-ready again. It was the most brutal race of our careers, but incredibly rewarding. We managed 3rd of 92 teams, riding 17 laps total.

The Great Escape Alcatraz Triathlon

Now this is an event that I had wanted to do for years! The infamous course, great organization, and pristine Bay Area weather and views made June 12th a day to treasure for a lifetime. Plus how often does one get to race in a Swim-Boat-Swim, Run-Bike-Run triathlon, anyway?

Yep, the swim was ultra tough. Not really cold, not really choppy, not even that stinky, but That Current Was Un-Be-Lievable! Dave Horning was not kidding when he warned us to head way east of Aquatic Park and swim like hell. Every time I looked up, I was being swept further towards the Golden Gate, eventually ending up downstream from the swim finish. In other words, I (and about 30 others) reached the point where even Mark Spitz couldn't have made it to the prerequisite destination. So... Lo and behold Horning and His Henchmen showed up in a zodiac and scooped us slowpokes up to run us back upstream. Then back into the water we went to finish that unreal swim. The dang current didn't even let up once we were in the harbor!

Next was the one mile run up and around Fort Mason to our bikes at the Festival Pavilion to help us quit shivering before we headed out onto the bike course. So onto the bikes we went, for a 20 mile jaunt through the Presidio, Sea Cliff, down and back on the Great Highway, then over the Golden Gate to East Fort Baker in Marin. The spectactular views and the opportunity to move up from 205th to 127th were gratifying after my less than ideal swim. Then onto the run course I went...

Straight up or straight down for 14.5 miles throughout the Marin Headlands was the name of the game, but what a fantastically beautiful and enjoyable game it was! Climbing up rock-strewn demi-trails, blasting down super steep gullies with no flat areas for your feet, crossing a half mile of off-cambered Rodeo Beach were made up for a 1000 times over with the descent down the SCA Trail to the finish: Epic views of the Bay, a narrow singletrack with three runners right on my heels (thanks for the great pace, Jenny Schaeffler), hairpin after hairpin, all the while going down, down, down, made this a dream-like run. I'll never forget it. And by the finish line I'd moved up to 93rd of 214, to boot. What a great race! What a great day!

Klamath Loop Bike Trek

And to finish off the month in a less painful manner, I rode the 15th annual Summer bike trek of the American Lung Association of Alameda County, an event which I had organized. The eighteen of us rode from Mt. Shasta to Klamath Falls, OR, then returned back to that famous vortex of unique goings on via Lava Beds National Monument and Burney Falls State Park. It was a beautiful week of world-class cycling with full sag support and trucks to carry our gear. The gourmet cooking was stupendous (thanks, Sylvia Haskvitz!) and so was the eager camaraderie of the riders, but the absolute highlights were the daily views of Mt. Shasta as we circumnavigated the 14,162 foot beauty. Riding an average of 65 miles a day, it was the life of luxury and all for a worthwhile cause: to fight lung disease and support lung research, anti-smoking campaigns, etc. What a week, and what great training!