Running Ridge for a record

Gillian Robinson of Mountain View and Don Lundell of Boulder Creek are shown after finishing a race at Angel Island on New Year's Day. The duo plan to be the first runners to run the length of the Ridge Trail. Courtesy photo
By GREG MOBERLY, Times-Herald staff writer

They'll run 500 miles in 11 days and do it largely to draw attention to the nearly half-finished Bay Area Ridge Trail network.

Gillian Robinson, 37, of Mountain View, and Don Lundell, 41, of Boulder Creek, are expected to be the first runners to run the length of the completed, and many incomplete, portions of the Ridge Trail. They'll begin the lengthy journey Friday at San Francisco's Presidio.

Robinson, a technical writer, and Lundell, a software engineer, have run some of the longest and most difficult road races. They've run ultramarathons in Death Valley and completed their own creation of a 114-mile back-and-forth race on Marin County's Dipsea trail in recent years. They also charted their own 100-mile race across Angel Island. All that is apparently not enough.

"We went from marathons, to 50Ks, to 50 (mile races), to 100 (mile races) in a very short period of time," Robinson said.

Both have been running since the late 1990s.

Robinson and Lundell claim they were drafted for the run although say they've considered the idea for some time.

"I like the idea of coming up with our own things to run," Robinson said.

Robinson and Lundell hadn't publicly discussed a plan to run the trail when they were told they were going to do it at a Bay Area Ridge Trail Council meeting.

Dinesh Desai, a man who hiked the Ridge Trail in 1999, volunteered the two to run the trail after Desai had been communicating with Robinson outside the nonprofit meetings, Lundell said.

The Bay Area Ridge Trail spans more than 400 miles, linking more than 75 Bay Area parks and open space preserves, including several Solano County parks. The trail encircles the nine-county Bay Area including several parks and adjoining trails throughout Solano County.

Robinson and Lundell will cross through the Hiddenbrooke neighborhood, Blue Rock Springs Park and the Benicia State Recreation Area early next week.

Robinson and Lundell will have to improvise at several points in the trail.

Napa County has the smallest portion of the completed trail and there's a lot of private property, said Holly Van Houten, executive director with the nonprofit Bay Area Ridge Trail Council. They'll either run on roads or be guided by the property owners through those areas, she said.

The King and Swett ranches near the Hiddenbrooke neighborhood also make up a portion of the ridge trail that has yet to be completed. Van Houten said it would cost $4 million to purchase the ranches.

The longest stretch of completed Ridge Trail is in the East Bay Regional Park District, Van Houten said. It includes Tilden Park in Berkeley and Redwood Regional Park in Oakland.

Robinson and Lundell will kayak from the Benicia and Martinez marinas because there's no trail on the Benicia-Martinez bridge.

While the runners may encounter snakes and mountain lions on the trail, they expect the biggest obstacle will be their physical well-being.

They'll need to consume 3,000 to 5,000 calories a day to keep up their strength, Lundell said.

That might mean a stop for a McDonald's Big Mac, in addition to sports drinks and sports gels they'll consume along the way, Robinson said.

- E-mail Greg Moberly at or call 553-6833.