For all the years I lived in Southern California, I never visited Catalina Island. It was time, and so when Rick Ferrell signed up for the notoriously tough Catalina Island Marathon, I signed on to accompany as official photo documentarian and support crew. The race was March 14, 2009. The plan was to mountain bike the course from the finish line back up the mountain and get photos of the final miles of Rick's race. Photos will be posted as I find time.

We arrive at Long Beach Friday afternoon...

...and get in line for the boat ride to the island


Our engines developed some serious torque...

...and so we bid farewell to the continent, for the time being

The baadest runners on the boat, clearly

There's our place, with the blue sign - the Hotel Catalina


Welcome, Rick, to Avalon!

Our hotel. How quaint... 

"...I agree to release and hold harmless..."

The course looks quite sporting, eh?

Strolling downtown, we meet another hardcore marathoner, with his "26.2" tatoo

Marathons - always a good excuse to stuff yourself on pasta and beer the night before. In this case, at Antonio's on Avalon Bay

We were amazed at the Casino Theater - live organist and elegance worthy of Hollywood. "Slumdog Millionaire" was playing, and seemed like a good way to unwind before bedtime.

Being the tougher of the two of us, I volunteered for the floor. Yow! 4am rise time to catch the ferry to the start.

Morning rituals... this self-portrait w/ raisin bran

Early on race morning we were up, and I walked with Rick to the boat before dawn. After he'd left, I returned and packed up our things, putting them into the storage locker at the hotel. Then a little more sleep, and then I mounted my trusty bike and headed up the steep roads and trails from the race finish up to the highest point on the race course. I unfortunately left the ISO setting on 800 on the camera, even after the sun had come up, so many of the early race pictures are grainy.

The setting full moon as we leave the hotel to walk down to the boat

Ferrell gets OK'd to board the ferry to the start, on the other side of the island

Avalon from high up on the race course, with sunbeams on the ocean in back

Rick promised me ice cream after the race if I photo'ed any bison. Well - here they are; at a lake near the summit.

The longest uphill on the coarse - pump house grade.

As of mile 21 - our leader is looking pretty happy

Go Rick! He's 50th overall at this moment, hitting the absolute highest point on the course.

Destination...that town far far below


but more miles of ridge line first

at mile 22...

Are you enjoying the moment, Rick?

Now for the steep switchbacks leading down to Avalon

The botanical gardens, and civilization

Great finish Rick!

The finish line girls give Ferrell his reward

...looks like the bonk is setting in...

icing those legs in Avalon Bay

Sharing stories with other marathoners at the Hotel Catalina's hot tub

Then, time to retrieve our stuff from the storage lockers and head up to the Post-Race Party

An amazing cast of characters at this race

Say goodbye to Avalon, Rick - and cross this one off the bucket list!

Zonked out marathoners on the lower deck

Outside our room at the hotel at Grapevine

Thanks, Rick, for hatching this plan - it was another great adventure.