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Run, Mammoth, Run

January 20, 2012

We see them everywhere, scampering about here and there, in the rain and snow, in hot temperatures and cold.
 
We see them as we drive to work in the morning, just after sun-up. They are running when we go home in the evening, just before sundown.
 
Mammoth’s distance runners achieved something remarkable at the U.S. 
 
Olympic Trial last weekend in Houston (P.1), but there’s something more at work here.
 
It’s a cultural shift, led by Meb, Deena, Josh Cox (P.1), Amy Hastings, Morgan Uceny and the others on the national and international stages. 
 
And then there are others such as Rick Wood, a 60+ runner and a longtime Mammoth attorney and town councilman who won his age group in the Houston Marathon last Sunday.
 
In August, runners come up here by the vanloads from colleges that are top-drawer in their conferences and from high schools that are loaded with Meb and Deena Wannabes.
 
Here at home, the high school gazelle, Toby Qualls, races in top heats and wins a lot. 
 
On the girls’ side, freshman Jody Meads showed up big last fall and we expect her to continue onward and upward.
 
It’s a little bit dizzying—so much so that we might be in danger of losing sight of what we don’t have.
 
We don’t have a track.
 
For the runners who prefer the oval rather than the mountain trails, all we can offer are roads. Those are no substitutes for a track.
 
Elaine Smith, the leader of the local High Sierra Striders, is leading her group in assembling enough money to build an all-weather track and adjacent park near Whitmore Pool.
 
So far, the Striders have a big commitment from the town, to the tune of $704,500 in Measure R monies, distributed over time and with more on the way.
 
They have cleared environmental hurdles and are on their way toward reaching the $1.3 million they need to start and complete the project.
 
Some people are quibbling about this—that the track would be better suited in town, near the ice rink and the schools, for example.
 
We say the track is perfectly situated, close to the long distance runners on the Benton Crossing Road, and close to the pool for triathletes such as Chris Lieto, a world-famous Iron Man.
 
We dream a lot up here in our tiny little town, but we dream big.
 
The distance runners are leading the way.
 
We have the altitude. 
 
We have the attitude.
 
Let’s get that track built as soon as possible. 
 
The iron is hot.
 
It’s time to strike.
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