Every year since 1978, thousands of athletes descend on the mean streets of Danville, California on the first Sunday in May to run the Devil Mountain Run 10k. How the heck have I missed this great race all these years? It’s embarrassing really, considering the first half of the course takes runners on pavement to within a mile of my childhood home before peeling off onto the lazy Iron Horse Trail for the back half. Thanks to a gentle but persistent nudge from my high school friend John Ramsey, (who- by the way- has run in every single DMR race since its inauguration in 1978) I ran the 10k this year. Lacing up with me; my son Nick, my younger brother Rich, and his son Jordan all tackled the sprawling, flat, loop course with the hard-charging fervor of a small army.
Of course, every army has to fuel up before the imminent battle. Here we are at Incontro Ristorante, carbo-loading and planning our race strategy the night before the race. After a couple hours and several glasses of wine, we finally agreed on a strategy; don’t DNF! For the uninitiated, a “DNF” is an acronym that stands for, “You Suck.” Kidding aside, the race official puts DNF in the results column for people who do not finish the race.
After parking further away than we had to (there was plenty of parking closer to the venue) we arrived thirty minutes before the starting gun. Hundreds of runners were going through their pre-race rituals and the level of excitement was predictably high.
The crowded starting corral grew quiet as an impossibly talented youngen’ sang the National Anthem while Captain America held the flag. Cheesy? Yes! Appropriate? You betcha! It’s textbook Danville.
After the starting gun, the crowded field quickly thinned as runners hit their stride in the first mile. The front half of the 10k was mostly paved, sending runners on surface streets, past the prime real estate of Danville’s upscale neighborhoods. Miles #2 and #3 were tough! Well, as tough as any other loooong, drawn-out, steady rise in elevation. The back half of the loop was on the Iron Horse Trail, a scenic stretch of Danville that was once a railroad. Surprisingly, I found myself running alone while on the trail for miles 4-6. It wasn’t until after the race, that I figured out why. Most of the runners in my age group had forged ahead of me!
I finished in 1:14, which is a PR for me. I had targeted 1:20 (yes, I know… Caution, slow runner ahead) I finished at the back of the pack for my age group; frankly, that surprised me. In other 10k’s I finish in the middle of the pack with that time, so this must have been a more competitive field of runners than I originally thought. So, because I subscribe to the theory that you race against yourself, I am pleased with my finish.
The Douros army was at the finish line cheering me on, as was my friend John Ramsey. After the obligatory high-fives and hard-earned Hell-Ya’s, we grabbed some water and snacks in the vendor area and watched the 4-and-under fun run before heading home to the hot tub at my brother’s house.
Fun morning, all in all. I’ll be back next year.