Sunday, November 23, 2008

Running on the Race Course

The biggest problem with running in residential areas of Ensenada is that I attract the attention of many dogs. Since crime is a problem here, people have dogs . . . big, vicious-sounding, mean-looking guard dogs. Most of these dogs are not on leashes. Some are locked behind the ornate fences of gated homes. But others run and chase freely. Since dogs can't tell the difference between innocent exercisers and "narco-traficantes," I have been chased by many furious furry beasts as they try to protect their turf.

After a bit of searching, and with help from Mark the Map Man, I found a workable running route from my apartment. (It is always possible to drive to the beach and run there, but I also wanted a place to run from home.) From my little condo in "Zona Centro" I can run 3 or 4 blocks east (away from the ocean) and into the hills. In just a few short minutes I can be off of the pavement and onto dirt roads in the dry hills that surround Ensenada. There are few homes in this area, thus few dogs. There are many off-road cyclists who love these dirt roads and paths, so I have enough company to feel safe and secure. I'm never really alone.

Yesterday, Mark accompanied me on my run. We noticed some police barricades near our route, so we inquired about getting through. After I asked in Spanish if we could continue up into the hills, the police officer responded in clear English, "Yes, just stay on the side." So, we did. We ran up and up and wondered what all the commotion was about. Finally, after a mile or so of dirt road, we ran into a man who wanted to make conversation. He pointed out a helicopter circling overhead and said that the helicopter was probably following a pack of cars, so we should see some action soon. . .

So, as it turns out, Mark and I were running on the actual race course of the Baja Mil. We had no idea that the racers were using MY running route yesterday. In fact, we thought that the Baja Mil was a race that started in Ensenada and ended in La Paz. But, apparently they change the route all the time. This year's course started and ended in Ensenada. So, we stopped to catch our breath, moved as far to the edge of the dirt road as possible, and waved to the motorcycles, ATVs, dune buggies, souped-up SUVs, and VW bugs that came careening by. Luckily, there wasn't really a pack at this point. So, we had plenty of time between cars to run down to the wider city streets.

It just seems awfully strange to me that we were allowed to run on the actual race course. The police officers never would have guessed that we didn't know the race was happening -- I don't think they were withholding information. They just assumed we were die-hard race fans who wanted to be the first to see the cars come out of the hills. But no, we were just oblivious foreigners living in a land where you run at your own risk.

We didn't have a camera with us to document our run on the race course, but we went home and got the boys and watched a few more cars from the safe sidewalk of our neighborhood. Here are a few photos:

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