Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ultrarunner Ticketed in San Jose for "Safety" Reasons

We ultrarunners do a lot of volunteer work for parks, and we sure use them a lot. So in general, I like to think park rangers are our friends.

But sometimes not-- Click for Silicon Valley Mercury News on-line article

Several have deftly commented on the article website (I'm about to also) regarding the obvious hypocrisy of paying rangers to patrol and issue tickets on a day they have closed the parks due to the lack money to keep them open for reasons of safety. (If the previous sentence was confusing, supports my point.) To boot, it wasn't a regular Monday, but a federal holiday, when a large portion of workers are off. We taxpayers have the right to be, and should be, pissed.

picnic area at Alum Rock Park

Great quote of an administrator holding the official line, but speaking out of his ass nonetheless: "Alum Rock Park is a huge park," said Mark Marney, deputy director of the city's parks division. "When you're training on trails in the back area, you could be a long way from any help."

Right-- on all my multi-hour training runs out on remote trails when parks are officially open, I always appreciate the rangers cruising around everywhere, ready to help me out if I trip and hurt myself in those "back areas." (I also love running behind their trucks to breathe in the exhaust, lest I go into withdrawal.) Whatever you say.

I believe in an ordered, safe and civilized society, and respect most laws, but I have a serious problem with irrational and arbitrary rules, especially when their enforcement disproves and negates the specious logic on which they are based.

Well, if Mr. Nguyen is down $100 (hopefully not much more), plus the major hassle of a court date, I know he has found the priceless joy of running long distances on trails communing with nature. No ranger is ever going to take that away from him. I'm guessing he's training for American River as his first 50-miler. (By the way, he's an ultrarunner, not a "scofflaw jogger.") If you ever read this, John, good luck at AR, keep running, and hope to meet you on the trails some time!


NJ said...

In the end, rules are rules. I can understand WHY the ticket was issued, but I think that $100 is a bit steep and that a warning should have been sufficient - especially if it was a first time "offense". If they're not looking for revenue off this, like they stated in the article, then maybe a more creative solution for repeat offenders would be good...such as 2-3 hours of community service cleaning in the park. That would help with the budget.

"The one-day-a-week park closings save the city money because it doesn't have to pay for trash pickup, lawn mowing or other maintenance." How does closing one day a week cut back on lawn mowing? The grass grows at the same rate whether the public is using the park or not. HAHAHA Head up a$$ on this comment.

gr8ss4opper said...

Hi Mark, this is John, the scofflaw from the article. Thanks for the support! I definitely look forward to meeting you in person someday soon. The American River 50 will be my first 50-miler, and I look forward to it. The Ultra community is a great bunch of people and I am enjoying the journey with all of you. And I look forward to reading about all your races and experiences.

Thanks again,
John N

Drs. Cynthia and David said...

Thanks for posting this, Mark. I think this is a problem too. I've been stopped by Rangers for using parks after hours (dusk) but only on the main access roads or parking areas, and got only a warning. I've never really seen Rangers far in on the trails, since they rarely leave their trucks! If you needed their help, you wouldn't be able to get it anyway, so the self-reliance rule applies whether or not the park is "open".

The joy of trail running is in the freedom, a freedom they seem intent on taking away. I hope whoever came up with this policy in San Jose finds himself fired from public office soon!


Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Here's an op-ed response by by Mercury News Columnist Scott Herhold:

tim said...

This is one of the many reasons I'm getting the hell out of California.

Anonymous said...

While being fined for doing what one loves is always bad for ones ultimate goal. I don't see this as the case. As the article stated the runner saw the park was closed, entered any way. Saw a ranger truck and turned hoping he had not been seen. I believe everyone that visits our nations and state parks has two responsibilities. First and foremost to follow the laws set upon us. I also love rock lcibing and bouldering. But when a few other climbers/hikers at my local state park "Hueco Tanks" decided not to follow the parks posted laws, bouldering was banned from the park. Though climbing has since been accepted back into the park, it just goes to show that if you think things are bad now in California, they will only get worse if we conitinue to ignore posted laws and codes.