Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Gary’s Mt. Baldy Race Report


(L-R) Larry, Anja, Dion and Tonya, Beach Runner Mentors, prepare to be de-virginized by the Devil’s Backbone trail

So I had high hopes of keeping up with uber athlete and fellow ChiRunning coach Steve Mackel on the 41st running of The Race to The Top of Mt. Baldy.

It was a lovely day. Hot. A guy at the top even pointed out how hot it is was compared to previous years. Global Warming perhaps?

After a restless sleep the night before I drove up early and was one of the first in the parking lots. Immediately two Beach Runners, Mina and Doug, parked next to me. I love that about joining a running group, it sure is nice to meet new running friends.

I registered. Then sat in my car listening to SAMONAS music. Most of you don’t know this, but I am an educational therapist. I work with dyslexics and other students with reading and/or learning difficulties. SAMONAS is the world’s best music for improving listening and communication abilities. My writing skills drastically accelerated after stimulating my inner harmonies with this amazing technology. So I sat gratefully, visualizing a good race, while listening to soothing flute and guitar.

So after this moment with prayer and music. I was ready. Then other Beach Runners started appearing…Dion, Larry, Tonye, Angie, Bert, Steve (with coconut juice of course).

And the race began. Within one mile I couldn’t keep up with Steve. Maybe I could. I don’t know. Or maybe I didn’t feel like it.

Actually, I did what I tell all my ChiRunning students to do…

listen to your body. I knew it was a hard race, and I began my pace. There is such a tendency to run with the fast pack at the beginning of a race then burn yourself out. This happens to marathoner after marathoner at a race like the Long Beach Marathon or Los Angeles Marathon.

So I settled into a good uphill pace FOR ME. And did what I usually do on runs, took in the scenery, stroke up conversations with people, tuned inward into my breathing, felt grateful for my health, thought of Rex, my grandfather, and tried to kill any ANTS.

ANTS are automatic negative thoughts. You know them. “I didn’t train hard enough”. “It’s my beer belly slowing me down.” “I should have got more sleep.” “I’ll never be as fast as Steve.” “Damn, this race is hard.” “What was I thinking of running up a mountain. “These kinds of thoughts can ruin your race if not your life. And I have listened to them, and unfortunately, believed them far too much in my life. Not anymore. The ANTS are losing. There is a new sheriff in town. Positivity and Gratitude.

So I settled in and tried to run the course well. I can honestly say I ran the race the best I could. I had to walk certain sections. But I ran hard on the short downhill section, and passed as many as I could on the final hill to the top, pacing about 10 people behind me.

I saw views of the desert, Los Angeles basin, wild flowers, and found new sections of my lungs I didn’t think I had.

At the top I saw Steve who urged me to run it in.

My time: 1hr 51 minutes. 6 minutes slower than last year. Strange because I thought I ran the race very well. And I am certainly faster than last year.

Steve, is right, I do need to develop a “race gear”. He has it. This other super competitive strong running gear. I started to get it on the track this year. But overall, its funny, I don’t like to be in this gear that much.

Certainly if you want to smash your previous running times, Steve is your man to listen to. I’ve got to get him to share his race secrets with you folks.

Look for an interview in the future.

On that mountain that day, Steve left early with his bag of trash to recieve a medal. He finished second in a very competitive age group (40-44) and 17th overall. I am very proud of his results and when you see him be sure to congratulate him, he so deserves it.

So I sat up there on that Mountain that day waiting for the rest of the Beach Runners. Bert, Eric, Loren, Doug, Mena, Angie, Dion, Tonye, and Larry. I ran them in congratulating them all taking photos giving hugs. And told myself I would wait for every last Beach Runner to get to the top.

And we walked down together listening to Larry sang show tunes and it all came to me about lucky I am. To have my health to do one of the five hardest races in the United States, and to do it with friends, and even better, \for someone shy and self centered like me, to play a role in inspiring and motivating others to get to the top of a mountain.

Thanks and congratulations to all the all the Beach Runners who believed in themselves to take the crazy chance to run to the top of mountain that day. I’m so proud of everyone of you. That was a hard race and you did it.

And I hope you found something up there in the clouds also. Something that you can keep with you for years to come.

Run with Joy,



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