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Running the Hills Instead of the Highway

Editor,

As we move through the long days in the heart of summer, we’re also in prime running season.  I’ve enjoyed reading about the summer successes and activities of the Laguna Beach boys and girls cross country teams.  Congrats to Coaches Wittkop and Lalim for their hard work, and pursuit of excellence.  We’re also in the middle of marathon season, with recent races in Orange County and Huntington Beach, with the upcoming Long Beach Marathon.  People are out in force running and training.

I’ve read about the tragedy of recent cycling deaths.  To the community’s credit, many concerned residents are actively trying to find ways to make our streets safer.  We’re trying to build bike-friendly street paths, and some good recent suggestions for finding new safer routes have been proposed.

Runners, like bikers, also put themselves in harm’s way while trying to find safe training routes.  As a five-time marathoner and Laguna Beach resident, I’ve experienced firsthand the challenges runners face while seeking local stretches suitable for long distance training.

Not wanting to be struck from behind, I always run on the left.  Here’s what I’ve found:

Want to run in Laguna Canyon to El Toro? One in 10 cars are texting or reading their mobile phones. Want to run along Coast Highway?  There are many stretches with little or no sidewalk due to overgrowth, which along with parked cars along the highway force me into the street, within feet of speeding trucks. The various sidewalk-free turnoff lanes also pose threats to highway runners. Want to run along the beach?  After less than a mile in each direction from Main Beach, the path is blocked with impassible rocks.

What to do?  Besides going to Newport Beach or Crystal Cove, I found a great solution in town – running along the trails at Top of the World and Arch Beach Heights.  The only spot that’s precarious is the crumbling, steep trail entrance from Top of the World Drive to Moulton Meadows Park, which is the only access route, because the street going through the Summet du Monde neighborhood is gated and marked private. It’s been a year since I heard that funds were earmarked to repair the trail entrance and I hope that effort continues to be a priority.

Happy running everyone!

Tim Templeton, Laguna Beach

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