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Stupid beach tricks

The reason I was at the beach was a good one. I was volunteering for a recreational run, sponsored by the cities of Grover Beach and Pismo Beach. Two of us held down the "aid station" at the 5K turnaround, a table with water, a first-aid box, and two chairs. We set it out at about 8 am, placing "cones" to divide the 5K people from the 10K, giving the 5K people a little room to turn around. The run started at nine and it wasn't long before we saw our first runners.

The day was foggy and even a little cool. I was glad I wore my new warmup jacket. Also glad because it identified me as part of the Pismo Rec crowd. There were a lot more of us than there were of the Grover Beach crowd, but then we were running the run and they were handling the sand castle-building. There are so many parts to a run: registration, numbers, timing, water stands, food, even a "chute" for runners to enter at the start.

As the morning wore on we started seeing trucks on the beach. A portion of Pismo State Beach is open to vehicle use. I tend to think of it as a sacrificial beach. The first vehicles trundling down were the trucks hauling ATVs for rent at the Grover Beach end. So many ATVs it sickened me. Then there got to be a combination of families and young men driving up and down. I couldn't quite get the reason for it. But eventually it became like a freeway, a constant flow of SUVs and light trucks. Interspersed at times were bicycles and even a horse. These elements add a challenge to a run. I could see horrifying accidents in my mind.

As I sat there watching this and listening to the ocean, which is undeniably soothing, I also looked at the dunes and realized that just beyond my vision people were no doubt tearing around with ATVs. It really is a bad scene for those of us who see just below the surface.

The run was all but over in about an hour. We had to move the table three times altogether to keep it out of the surf. Which reminds me. Surfers. When I first got there at about seven there were maybe five or six surfers in the waves by the pier. By the time we got back at about eleven there were so many I am sure they were literally running into each other. I don't know how they stand it, surfing with that many others right nearby. Farther down the beach, adding yet another dimension, were the fishermen. Fortunately the two don't go for the same stretch of beach.

After I got loose of the event I went up the street for a coffee and ate the sandwich I had brought with me while watching the throngs of people out on the beach and pier. My time at the aid station was mostly on my feet, and I was limping by this time. I expect a bit of a setback in healing.

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Judith Lautner
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