I met up with Erwin & his wife Cindy, and Amit, a grad school friend of Erwin's for my first Mission Street scramble. All I knew was you explored the Mission looking for spots, and it seemed fun. Vladimir, the organizer, had been on my Providian relay team 7 or 9 years ago, and as I recalled he was a fun ultrarunner who introduced me to the phrase "the middle leg is always the hardest".
We met up at Garfield clubhouse in the deep Mission. Maps were handed out at 9 AM, and we had an hour to strategerize our route. The map was of basically central SF, from upper Market all the way down to the water, and from Bernal Heights up to Duboce, with no street names, and 30 different places labeled, with points from 10 to 40. The 40s were in higher or harder to reach locations, and the 10s in the flats near the club house. We had 3 hours to reach as many as possible. At first I didn't understand the scoring, and wanted to "mop up" all the flat lands close by. Then, once I understood the 40 was 4x as valuable, our strategy changed. The day had warmed up already, so Amit tucked all our jackets in his car. January 28th, and I had a tank top!
We started a brisk loop up and around Bernal Heights. Amit was to mark the score card (each location had a multiple choice question) , and I to navigate. We wanted to get a feel for our pace and team feel. The weather couldn't be better--clear with views all the way to the Mt Diablo tip, and warm (but not too warm).
Quickly the orienteering difference between me (native Mission dweller) and Erwin was exposed. I wasted time trying to correlate marks & blocks on the map with street names "That curvy line must be Eugenia" versus Erwin's dead reckoning style of "6 blocks straight, 2 blocks right up the top, one block left". Erwin's was quicker.
We'd thought about trying to make it up to Upper Market for a series of "perimeter" 40 points, but after 70 minutes traversing Bernal, it seemed out of reach. Amit & I made a pit stop for Gatorade at a friendly liquor store, then we had a serendipitous meeting with our old friend Miki, who now lives on Cortland. We plowed through Noe Valley, mopping up a series of 30 & 20 points. I'd lived in Noe Valley, so I narrated the area, including passing by my old house at 1218 Sanchez.
Now, Erwin & I differed- I knew the terrain, & he was going off a terrain map. He didn't count the "half blocks" of Elizabeth & Alvorado, so we went up from 24th to 22nd, then back tracked to 23rd. I wanted to go up 20th, and instead we went up Liberty. It was all good--we weren't in it to win it, just to have a good time and see the city. Cindy got a lemon from a tree, and we speed-walked along.
We debated whether we could make it to Sports Basement ( a juicy 40 point spot), but instead mopped up the Castro and Mission. We started crossing paths with a solo lady, who we never seemed to see on the same street, but always intersecting us.
We made it to the finish with a minute to spare. Each extra minute was a 20 point penalty, so it paid to be on time! A nearby team bemoaned "we have 45 seconds to spare, we planned poorly!" After the points were counted, we WOULD have been in 4th for "open mixed foot", but we missed a trick question, so didn't get 40 points, AND got a 20 point penalty. Still, I had an awesome time, and to be in 4th after walking the whole way is amazing! We were never in it to win it, I think Erwin just wanted to get us hooded for the-- "16 hour night and day challenge" which could be insanely dismally fun.
Thanks to Vlad for putting on a very enjoyable event, and Erwin, Cindy & Amit for inviting me to join Team "Climbing Posse".