In San Diego, one can't use the excuses for not exercising regularly that one can in other American cities that the weather is incongenial or that there is no place to exercise. Here, there is no good reason to remain just an armchair athlete. There exists, for example, a great number of places to jog; and now that the tourists have left, these places should be particularly deserted for the next nine months.
Joggers are most eager to share favorite places to run for several reasons; “You don't feel so strange if you are part of a crowd.” “Misery loves company" “More runners proide more targets and thus cut down the chances of dog bites.” And so. no one should be offended by making public the following list;
- Point Loma Lighthouse Run. 10 kilometers or 6.2 5 miles, accurate. Start on Catalina Boulevard at DuPont Street, take Catalina south, loop around the Old Point Loma lighthouse and return to the start. As you must cross through government property, you should check to be sure that the gate is open before starting the run; it's usually open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Watch out for motorists; the view on both sides of the road is so spectacular that a driver's attention may be distracted.
- Convair Run or Fast Mission Bay Loop. 8.2 miles, approximate. Start at the south end of Crown Point Shores Park parking lot, take Crown Point Drive south to Ingraham, Ingraham south over both bridges, left at Sea World turnoff, skirt Sea World's parking lots, east on Sea World Drive, north on East Mission Bay Drive, skirt the outside fence of the Mission Bay par three course, west on Grand up the small rise, left on Morrell. Morrell south to Crown Point Drive, and return to start. The Convair Recreation Association has measured and marked the course with yellow letters "CRA,” and there are mile markers. Restrooms and fountains are available at the start and along the East Mission Bay section of the run.
- Mission Beach. Years ago some civic-minded soul inscribed the notation on the end of the sea wall in front of 2656 Ocean Front Walk in South Mission, “2.6 miles to pier.” Since no one has crossed it out or defaced it, it must be fairly accurate. More recently someone has marked the. entire wall in quarter-mile increments from the end of the sea wall to Crystal Pier. The markings can be seen on both sides of the wall, and now the distance comes out to be 2 1/2 miles (5 miles round-trip). From my eyeballing it, the distance at the water's edge from the Jetty to Crystal Pier would be about 0.1 farther than 2.7 miles. Restrooms, fountains, and cold showers are available at both ends of the run. Both the beach itself and the “board walk” are very popular places to run. Joggers are out at all times of the day and every evening. Runners should watch out for dogs and dog droppings, as the municipal dog control ordinances are obviously flaunted along the beach.
- Mount Soledad. 5.4 miles round-trip. Start at Kate Sessions Park, go north on Soledad Road, continue north on Soledad Mountain Road up to the top of the "mountain.” loop around the Cross and return to the start. Restrooms and fountains are available at the bottom. Elevation is 278 feet above sea level at the start and 808 at the finish. (The run requires a fair amount ol effort and probably should not be attempted by anyone suffering from cardiac distress.)
- San Clemente Canyon. I here is a parking area near the intersection of Regents Road and San Clemente Freeway (State Highway 52). A trail runs east and west from this parking area. It is approximately one mile west from the start to Interstate 5 and three miles from the start to the eastern end of the canyon trail at Interstate 805 and the NAS Miramar boundary. The really dedicated runner can extend by crossing the Miramar boundary and continuing on the trail up to its end at a pond. The whole run is on dirt and rock trails in and out of the wooded areas in the canyon: a nice wav to get away from it all. Restrooms are available at the start. Watch out for fledgling moto-crossers; sometimes the temptation grows too strong and they take to these trails illegally.
- Balboa Park. The park contains many miles of trails over every type of surface imaginable. Joggers are all over the park at all times of the day with the heaviest traffic during the noon hour and after work. The best guide to the trails, distances, and degrees of difficulty is to ask another jogger. Cabrillo Athletic Club (in the Cabrillo Apartments on 9th and Ash) has provided its members with a good map showing distances of routes throughout the park. Everyone will have his own favorite workout in the park. Showers and locker room facilities are available. Valuables are best left at home or locked in your trunk.
- East Mission Bay Park. 3.25 miles round-trip. This run is on the concrete walk which extends from the public parking lot just south of the Hilton Inn north to the boundary of De Anza Trailer Park. If you would rather run on grass, all but a few feet of the course can be run on the well-manicured lawn right next to the walk. Mileage increments are marked on the walk but may be somewhat confusing. Lots of restrooms, fountains, and cold water shower facilities are available along the route.
- Shelter Island. It's approximately 2.3 miles, round-trip, from the circle in front of the Bali Hai to the Coast Guard flag-pole and back. This run can also be made on the grass.
- West Mission Bay. The shortest way possible on the loop around the west portion of Mission Bay (sometimes called Sail Bay) is 5.4 miles. The route includes parts of Bay side Walk, the New Ventura Bridge, both bridges on Ingraham, parts of Riviera Drive and Pacific Beach Drive, and several obvious short-cuts. This is a real thinking man's run for the first few times: the hazards include getting semi-lost, car-boat traffic at Dana Landing, lost Boy Scouts on Vacation Isle, traffic on Riviera compounded by high-rise construction, and dogs on Bayside Walk. Anything under 30 minutes is nothing to scoff at.
- Old Sea World Drive. A truly accurate, certified, measured mile has been established on the old (no longer in use) section of Sea World Drive immediately adjacent to the north bank of the flood channel. Presently there is a nail in a white circle at each end of this straight stretch of road. These points are exactly 5271.061 feet apart (measurement was done by Wally Rick of Rich Engineering with a machine accurate to I 4 inch per mile).
- Penasquitos Canyon. 12 miles up and back. Go to the part of Sorrento Valley industrial area which is north and east of both Highways 5 and 805. This small part of the industrial park is on a dead-end road which sits in the mouth of the canyon. The run begins where the road stops and proceeds on dirt roads and trails up the canyon towards Black Mountain. It is approximately six miles from where the pavement stops to the horse farm at the next pavement near the base of Black Mountain. There are no showers or other facilities, but this is one of the best uninterrupted runs in the San Diego County area.
There are, of course, the back-country runs, if you live out away from the city, and all the beaches (even Black's), and most high schools (many keep their tracks locked during non-school hours, but the fences can easily be penetrated).
The City Parks and Recreation Department sponsors a very successful jogging class which is free and meets every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Sixth and Laurel in Balboa Park. Classes consist of yoga stretching. supervised jogging, and nutrition tips to those who are interested. There are no age limits (within reason) and no restrictions as to ability. Progress can be measured at each Friday class with the timed 500 meter run.
For those who would like to take the step up to competition, the answer is the San Diego Track Club. The Club sponsors competition events, ranging from monthly Family Fun Runs (short distances, two to six miles, followed by good, healthy eats) to the prestigious annual Mission Bay Marathon (26 miles, over 900 entrants). The Club, with over 750 members, is one of the real bargains in this time of inflation. Individual memberships cost $5 a year for under-30-year-olds and $10 a year for 30-and-over. For this price you get a monthly newsletter with race results, calendar with upcoming races in the entire Southwest, articles on training, diet and club competition. Also, members enjoy discounts on shoes and reduced entry fees in races. For more information, call Dennis Kasischke at 280-7327.