When You Take a Mini Cooper to the Rodeo

I got restless in a matter of minutes, remembering how refreshing it is to fly, or maybe slowly walk, through the trails. I don’t have a car in San Francisco, but I know there are plenty of ways to adventure without one. Did you know that when you cross that big red bridge you’re at the foot of a trail system that you could run for days? I mean, I can’t run it for days, but it goes pretty far. And it is literally less than a 15 minute drive from my doorstep.

I rented a Mini Cooper — because have you ever driven a Mini Cooper? They have weird blind spots and don’t fit a ton of junk in the trunk, but if you can look past that they’re a blast to drive. We had one for our trip to Moab and Zion last Spring — during which we did creatively stuff two backpacks and a suitcase in the back  — and it hooked us in. Fans for life.

Mini Cooper car in Arches National Park

A Mini Cooper for four hours, a totally open weekend morning, and a 70* day in San Francisco? The universe was basically like, “If you don’t take advantage of this I can’t help you.” It’s always good to have that kind of universe of your side.

I parked where we’ve started and finished two trail races, at the Fort Cronkhite lot near Rodeo Beach. It’s easy to find and at the center of trails that go in every direction. I tried to follow the coastal route, veering from where we’ve run in/out of this area before, but it seemed to dead end at the edge of a cliff and I just about died, so that was that. Following the trail back near the parking lot, I went up and towards Sausalito, with the water and the Golden Gate bridge lining each horizon.

Running the Rodeo beach coastal trail

No plan, no route, no idea if I’d be able to run thanks to the Vipr class at Equinox I took with Emily on Friday, and no intention of being outside a minute less than that four-hour rental would allow. I saw a few familiar areas (Tennessee Valley) and a few new ones (Miwok, Wolf Ridge, and something that ends in “o” that I can’t remember). After spending a few miles walking up and around, I was warmed up and had to pick up the pace a bit. Because when trail running is in you, it just demands you try to fly. Irresistible. 

I happily jogged right past the point where I sat, cried a few frustrated tears, and turned around during the Ultra last September. I mean, I surely wasn’t about to try and run 31 miles today, but I sort of just looked around and was like “man, that sucked,” then looked ahead and was like “holy shit look at that bridge and that city and that blue sky…”

Rodeo valley trail running

After a full three hours and somewhere around 10 miles I was back at the car and really wishing I had just rented the Cooper for a full day because there wasn’t a single part of me that wanted to go back. I actually saw a trio – one gal, two guys – getting ready to head out for an overnight trip (or so it seemed with ALL of the stuff of their backs), and was pretty jealous. I want to stay, too! There’s so much more exploring to do! So next time I’ll pack more water and eats, and I’ll see if the Cooper is up for a longer play date.

That night I spent an hour researching upcoming trail runs (let’s not call them races, mmk?) and trying to hook anyone I know in this area that might be interested. (If you fall into that category, the invitation is open!) There’s no way I’m letting another two months go by without that kind of adventure. If I’ve learned anything in this short life, it’s that you should find the things that make you happy and do them more. So, we’re doing that.


  1. February 10, 2016

    What a wonderful post. I felt like I was there with you – and I wish I had been! You know I’d be next to you in that mini cooper in a second. Can we do something like this in DC? Pretty please?

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