Category Archives: ghosttown

Running Festival Recap

So did you check it out?!?

Hopefully you did because it was a lot of fun, and I have to say I’m feeling pretty blissed out on Oakland right now.

A ton of beautiful people were out… it was a picture perfect day with our typically warmer-and-sunnier-than-San-Fran-weather… and spirits were high!  It’s hard to really recap the experience in words, so I’ll just share a few pictures and videos from the weekend…

Saturday was the Twilight 5k at Lake Merritt kickoff event. Here are a few pics… (more on Flickr).

ella baker center, oakland running festival, twilight 5k ella baker, twilight 5k

twilight 5k, lake merritt, oakland running festival, mother & son running together

oakland running festival, st. david school, st. david school twilight 5k, twilight 5k

running for the community, promoting health, oakland running festival

oakland marathon, oakland running festival, twilight 5k

I also put together a short video with folks talking about why they decided to participate…

Here are a few photos from the Marathon and Half-Marathon finishes on Sunday morning… (more on Flickr).

Oakland Marathon, Tony Torres, Winner of Marathon

Oakland Marathon, oakland marathon 2010, community spirit oakland

frank ogawa plaza, city hall, oakland marathon, oakland running festival

post marathon celebration, oakland marathon 2010, frank ogawa plaza

broadway and telegraph, downtown oakland, oakland marathon, oakland runnning festival

And one more video interview with a half-marathon participant…

Oakland Running Festival!

Did you know there’s a marathon in Oakland this weekend?!? It seems like big news, as this is the first marathon being held in our city in over 25 years, but I’m surprised by how many people have no idea this is happening.

So here’s a little plug for what is surely to be an amazing event…

Oakland Running Festival

There was a great article in the East Bay Express about this history of this event (and other marathons) called Can Oakland Go the Distance? by Dan Schoenholz.

Some highlights…

Long time Oakland runners and race organizers… see the Oakland Running Festival as an opportunity to promote both Oakland and running, and as a way to unify a community that is often divided by racial, economic, and geographic differences.  Marathons are big events in many cities – New York and Boston, famously, but also Baltimore, Cincinnati, Houston, and countless others – and serve as a source of civic pride and unity.  Why not Oakland?”

The festival is based on a more modern, all-inclusive model, not just for hardcore athletes, but one in which a variety of races are provided so that folks can participate at any level they choose.  It’s designed to be runner-friendly, walker-friendly, family-friendly, and most definitely, celebratory. There’s the marathon (26 miles!), half-marathon, a 5k, a kids fun run (two age categories & distances), and a four-person relay.

Strikingly different from the marathon course run in 1981 which was fast, flat, and through heavy industrial areas, this year’s course is designed to be scenic and show people what “Oakland has to offer.” The course starts at City Hall… the first high-rise government building in the U.S. and the tallest building West of the Mississippi at the time it was built.  Runners then progress through the newly redeveloped Uptown section through to Temescal, and Rockridge.  Then the route parallels the BART tracks heading up Keith & Broadway to Lake Temescal Park, and continues through the lovely hills of Montclair before entering the Dimond  District to head back down towards the flats.  Runners will then head down Fruitvale Avenue into the melting-pot district of Fruitvale, and continue along International Boulevard through the Arts district of Jingletown, and on to Jack London Square.  Tired yet? There’s still much more.  After Jack London, runners will pass the West Oakland BART station and through West Oakland, rich with African-American history.  Then they’ll make their way up the lovely redeveloped greenway of the Mandela Parkway, just up to the border of Emeryville, where they’ll hang a right and head through my neighborhood of Ghosttown.  This is so cool! They’re almost in the home stretch.  Then on to 27th Street to hit Lake Merritt and make their way almost the full circumference around, branching off at 19th street to head back to City Hall… the finish line!

Here’s a link to the marathon map, and another link for the half-marathon map.

Here’s the schedule of various events:

  • Saturday 6:00pm – Kick Off Party at Lake Merritt
  • Saturday 6:30pm – Twilight 5K at Lake Merritt (starts at Lakeview Branch Library)
  • Saturday 8:00pm – Twilight 5K Awards Ceremony
  • Saturday 6 – 9pm – Celebration Village at Frank Ogawa Plaza (live music, merchandise, food & drinks, etc.)
  • Sunday 7:15am – Opening Remarks and National Anthem at City Hall
  • Sunday 7:30am – Marathon and Team Relay Races Start (14th & Broadway)
  • Sunday 8:30am – Kids Fun Run Starts (Frank Ogawa Plaza)
  • Sunday 9:00am – Half Marathon Start (14th & Broadway)
  • Sunday 12:00pm – Awards Ceremonies (Frank Ogawa Plaza)
  • Sunday 9 – 3pm – Celebration Village at Frank Ogawa Plaza (live music, merchandise, food & drinks, etc.)

I know I’ll be out both days.  While picking up my Press Pass this morning I nearly bumped into the Mayor, the downtown unbelievably abuzz with activity.  This weekend is a great moment to show the world what a beautiful and vibrant city Oakland truly is.

Please come out to support the runners and support our city!

city hall, us first skyscraper, oakland marathon finish line, oakland marathon starting point

City Hall - the starting point & finish line for the marathon & half-marathon

More reading…

Oakland Marathon a step in the right direction by Chip Johnson

Oakland marathon builds steam with charity donations by Sean Maher

Elements of Power ~ Voices of Change

oakland mural, oakland mural art, ghosttown mural art

I love this mural, despite its dilapidated state. Painted 10 years ago by folks from Laney College, the East Bay Institute of Urban Arts, and Pat McElroy on the corner of 31st and MLK, it’s definitely showing its years, not to mention the heap of dump-destined-junk dumped in front of it. I thought about going back to snap another shot without the pile of junk, but then decided it was more authentic to just show you how I saw it when I first came across it.

This is typical in West Oakland, and the symbolism does not escape me.

Here you have symbols of power and change for people of color – activists, political leaders, artists, musicians, migrant workers, athletes, and more – all stitched together into a positive tapestry of, dare I say, “hope”, and some thoughtless person obscures it with a bunch of trash they’re too lazy or cheap to dispose of properly. It makes me mad. Trash gets dumped here daily, and I don’t just mean kids throwing their candy wrappers on the sidewalk as they walk home from school (which also happens). I mean large trucks advertising dumping & hauling, who likely charge folks to take their trash away, and then come dump it in my neighborhood so they don’t have to pay the city dump fees. Argh. The city still ends up paying for it, through blight clean up crews, and even more so, reduced property taxes.

It sometimes feels like a losing battle… which reminds me of this essay I read yesterday. It’s a breakup letter to the city of Oakland, from a resident who, after many years of struggling to make this city a better place, has given up. She’s movin’ to the country. Check it out… Ode to Oakland.

I’m not there… yet.

mural artists in oakland, laney college mural

Directed by: Edythe Boone and Meera Desai (if that name rings a bell it’s because she was also involved in the Martin Luther King Jr. mural I covered when I first started this blog – To Ignore Evil…)

This is not Art.

Ok… I’m a little peeved, so please excuse.

There was a big warehouse party in my neighborhood Friday night to celebrate the birthdays of several graffiti artists. The flyer was super-cool and the party was right around the corner from me so I was kind of excited to check it out.

There were DJs, live bands, an outdoor firepit, and tons and tons of kids (what I call “kids”… I think I was the second oldest person there!) It surely seemed like a great time for everyone else, but I ducked out early as tall PBR’s aren’t really my cup of tea (did you see my post on The Trappist? – that’s more my style). Walking back around the block we spotted numerous kids (aka young men) tearing up and down the street… the rattling sound of shaking spray-paint cans echoing against the concrete and brick. They were tagging anything and everything, in a neighborhood they don’t live in.  Would they do this on the block where they live??!

The next morning I surveyed the damage.

Here are just a few pictures of my neighbor’s building…

tags, tagging, spraypaint, lame graffiti

graffiti, spray paint, lame graffiti, tagging, tags

graffiti, spray paint, lame graffiti, tagging, tags

graffiti, spray paint, lame graffiti, tagging, tags

graffiti, spray paint, lame graffiti, tagging, tags

I’m sorry, but this is not cool. In fact, it’s incredibly LAME.

You heard me… I don’t care if I sound like a stodgy old fart. That brick building is home to people who actually live in this neighborhood… working artists and interesting people. Do they deserve to have their property disrespected like this?

And what’s worse is that I know some of the people who did this are actually talented artists. There was a collection of wonderful poster art inside the party, with interesting and thought-provoking messages. This is Art…

graffiti art, graffiti artists, poster art, oscar grant art

It’s too bad these kids didn’t collaborate, and actually do something interesting, something that might be considered a complement to the neighborhood that would live on and inspire others. Instead, they created a bunch of eyesores that we’ll all have to spend money to remove. Thanks a lot guys. Pretty lame.