Sunday, October 28, 2007


The Haight Ashbury Ultra Society Hunter S. Thompson Fear & Loathing in San Francisco Run - A Savage Journey Thru the Urban Jungle (besides having a long name) is a fun, informal ultra run through San Francisco hitting most major city landmarks. It is put on by our friends at the ultimate ultra shop ZombieRunners

After a couple second place finishes I was finally able to use this race to take my first Ultra overall win. And I am proud that it was in such a super deep field of hundreds of international Ultrarunners (OK, it was only about a dozen local runners ...but they represented at least 3 SF Bay Area area codes!).

I arrived around 6:30 at the race start on the top of Twin Peaks. I checked in with Gillian of ZombieRunner. The early morning views were great. But I realized I didn't bring a camera for the run. So, I grabbed my Blackberry Pearl phone and stuffed it in my belt bag. Except for Stan Jensen's photo of me chatting with the race founder at the mile 25 aid station (and Don's website photo of the F&L coffee mug above), all photos here were Blackberry photos (thus the decreased definition). SF in the early morning.

After some short instructions (we were also given route maps and directions) we lined up for the start:

Then we were off. It was a fun run going down Twin Peaks towards the Mission area of the City.

The goal was always to try and find the 49 Mile Drive signs that were used as route markings.

After passing through the Mission district we headed downtown. There was the first aid station at around Mile 6. Jim was running the aid station - a spread of supplies out of the trunk of his car. He was very nice and I would see him again at a later aid station (Coit Tower). After leaving Jim I continued to run. By now I was alone in first place. I headed downtown and soon approached the San Francisco Giants Baseball Stadium.

Then it was down to the Embarcadero past the Ferry Building along the waterfront of the SF Bay. After that it was a left turn up into downtown San Francisco. Certainly, the views on the urban run differ from most ultras.

I ran up Market street for awhile then turned into the civic center area. I passed the SF City Hall.

I continued to run but was getting the urge to pee. I passed a public restroom - but it was broken (no surprise). That is one difference about the urban bushes or trees. As I ran up on Geary heading towards Japantown I saw a construction sight and a Port-o-John. It was unlocked! So I exited a bit lighter and headed to Japantown where Don would be waiting at the next aid station. But I never saw him. So I followed the race map and ran back on the route towards downtown.

At one point the route turned left and proceeded up to Nob Hill. The "path" UP was a nice long flight of stairs (this should help get me ready for the Quad-Dipsea):

Once at Nob Hill the path the descended into SF's Chinatown.

After leaving Chinatown I proceeded along the route into San Francisco's Little Italy. Then it was a right turn up to Telegraph Hill and the famous Coit Tower (a city landmark that is dedicated to firefighters who have lost their lives in the performance of their jobs).

After reaching the base of the tower, the path went back down the hill. There I met Jim at the next aid station. I grabbed some water, a energy gel and a vegitarian egg roll. Then the run continued. It hit Fisherman's Warf. After running through tourists wandering around, I came to Aquatic Park - sight of many of my triathlon training swims.

After Aquatic Park, went up over the Marina Hill and down to the Marina Green. There was the next Aid Station with Gillian. I grabbed some gel and water and it was suggested that I try the 50 miler. Unfortunately due to my son's afternoon soccer game against the only other undefeated tem in their league I couldn't extend my race distance (FYI: My son's St. Brendan's team won - now being the only undefeated team!....not that I am a proud bragging father or anything).

So I continued on running along the Marina water front. Great views of the bay, Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz Island. <

After leaving the Marina, the "path" took me through the Marina District and then entered the Presidio. I continued to run through this former military base and finally climbed the top of it which is the SF anchor of the Golden Gate bridge.

Then the run continued along the 49 mile drive over Baker Beach. It entered the wealthy community of Lands End (Robin Williams lives there). It was here at mile 25 I came across the next aid station. It was manned by the Fear & Loathing Ultra founder and also by Stan Jensen - ultrarunner and webmaster of

I then headed up 30th Avenue towards Golden Gate Park. I passed the marathon point at around 3:45. In Golden Gate Park, I passed by the De Young museum and the Japanese Tea Gardens. Then the route left Golden Gate Park and went up 7th avenue.

7th avenue was a constant up hill run. At the top, I turned onto the base of Twin Peaks.

I was checking my watch and wondering if I could still beak 5 hours. As I continued to climb my legs felt more tired. But I tried to push the pace. Finally, my feet reached the top. My 50km time was 4:49:45

There I met Gillian at the end of the run. She congratulated me and gave me a finishers mug (photo at top of post), a ZombieRunner hat and my 1st place award - a bottle of Fear & Loathing wine.

This is a great fun run. The people from ZombieRunner and all the volunteers are super nice. Plus - it is FREE! I recommend doing this race - check out ZombieRunner's website for information.


Peter Lubbers said...

Nice job, Alan.
Congrats on the win. Hope you made it to your son's soccer game in time (and that they won the game as well).

Alan said...

Yup - made it and they won! Still undefeated!

Rajeev said...


Fantastic finish! Congratulations on your first Ultra first place finish!! Here's to wishing you many more in the years to come.


Alan said...

Thanks Raj - but like I said, it was informal and a small (but very friendly) field. I'll pass on some victories if I could get into Western States, get a sub-24 hour 100 miler and possibly a Grand Slam :)

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

congrats! too bad I was just done with another overnight shift, as I've been wanting to join the fun...

Alan said...

Thankfully for me you were working late - or else I would have never seen my bottle o' vino :)

Rajeev Char said...

Wow! Congrats Alan! This is the first of many...I'll swing by one of these days to get your autograph...:-)
A bunch of us are signing up for Vineman in August...why don't you sign up too...nothing like a nice easy short Ironman race to help you relax during your ultra season!

Alan said...

Thanks Raj - but I hope to have a conflict (that I get drawn in the WS 100 lottery so that I will be doing 2 Grand Slam races in August).

Chihping Fu 傅治平 (超馬阿爸) said...

Very nice report. Wish I were there to enjoy the urban run!

Now both you and your son's team are undefeated!


J said...

Hey Alan,
Just stumbled across this but GREAT run! I've got a few photos I could send you. E-mail me at TheTrailhead at hot mail dot com.

Jim, your friendly aid station guy

PS - see you at the Quad

Alan said...

Me? Undefeated? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha....