Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway 120th Anniversary

Today is the 120th Anniversary of the founding of the Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway, which carried visitors from Mill Valley up the slopes of Marin County’s Mt. Tamalpais to just below the East Peak of the mountain.

Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway Patch

The Mt. Tam Railway operated for 34 years until 1930, when operations were shut down and the tracks torn up.

Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway horizontal 2

Most of the old railroad grade was converted into a fire road, which remains a favorite hiking and running trail on Mt. Tam. During my trail-running days, I ran hundreds of miles on the railroad grade.

Three years ago, I wrote another blog on the Mt. Tam Railway, which contains additional photos and information about the railroad and the associated buildings and services:


Three Dot … 129


Running …

… it was 34 years ago today that I began my adult running career … coincidentally, at age 34 … after having not run at all for more than 10 years.

Spent the next five years in heavy training and road racing …  in the process dropping from a high of 183 pounds to 139 … my college wrestling weight! … and often doing major training runs with fellow deputy DA (and later judge) Dave Carter … Superior Court Judge Jim Smith … and my best running friends, DDA Doug Woodsmall & county engineer Al Nestlinger … until I moved to Northern California in 1985…

Mt. Tamalpais, Marin County

Mt. Tamalpais, Marin County

… at which point I got into trail running … mostly on Mt. Tamalpais … and did very little racing.

During the 5 years of frequent racing (1980-85), I managed to run my first sub-5:00 mile since college (4:55.39 in 1984) …

March of Dimes 5K 1st Overall

March of Dimes 5K … 4-29-84 … 16:28 … 1st Overall

… finished 1st overall in a 5K race … The March of Dimes Run for the Gold 5K in 1984 …

… and ran lifetime PRs of 32:59.14 for 10K (in 1985) … 1:14:37.40 for the half-marathon (1983) … 2:40:33 for the marathon (at the 1982 Fiesta Bowl Marathon) … and — also in 1985 — 54:41.8 for a 10 mile run … what I consider my best race ever, averaging 5:28.18 per mile.

Also ran in some interesting races …

The 1983 Boston Marathon -- Finisher's Medal, Pin & Patch

The 1983 Boston Marathon — Finisher’s Medal, Pin & Patch

… including the 1983 Boston Marathon (2:43:05.83 when I died in the last three miles after running sub-6:00 mile pace for the first 23) … a 24 hour track run (covered 75 miles) …the Lake Tahoe 72 Mile Run (dropped out after 43 miles and 6.5 hours, due to a combination of altitude sickness and severe shin splints) …  the Bay to Breakers several times (best time 44:54.69 in 1983) …and finally the Dipsea Race across Mt. Tam from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach.

And ran in some other interesting non-race settings …the Humboldt National Forest redwoods in Northern California … Muir Woods National Monument in Marin … Point Reyes National Seashore … the Golden Gate National Recreation Area

The Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon

The Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon

… down & up the Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon … down & up the Sandia Peak Trail in New Mexico … around the rim trail of Walnut Canyon National Monument in Arizona ..

Meteor Crater, Winslow Arizona

Meteor Crater, Winslow Arizona

… and around the Meteor Crater near Winslow, Arizona … to complete this loop, had to run past signs prohibiting visitors from going any further … sh-h!

And hundreds of runs on Mt. Tamalpais here in Marin … with, at one time or another and with some frequency, sons Doug & Matt, Toby George, Eric Nygren & Tom Hurst … and four-legged friends Cairo, Oski & Nano

Nano on Mt. Tam Trail

Nano on Mt. Tam Trail

… all of whom proved worthy training partners … eventually, I was able to run every trail on the mountain at least once from end-to-end in each direction … all 160 trails covering more than 200 miles … 

Tamalpais Trails by Barry Spitz

… all carefully documented in one of my copies of Barry Spitz’ excellent book, “Tamalpais Trails” (of which I own six copies) … and the origin of my personal email address “RunTam”.

Age, a knee injury and the dysfunction of my thyroid gland eventually put an end to my running career … but I credit the tens of thousands of miles that I’ve run with my relative good health … and, in my mind, I often re-run my favorite Mt. Tam trails … Matt Davis TrailNorthside TrailSouthern Marin Line Fire Road … the Dipsea Trail … and my personal favorite …

Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway

Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway

Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway Patch

… the Old Railroad Grade, once the course up & down the mountain of the Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway.


The Piggy Bank 10K, January 27, 1983 --- 10K PR 32;59.14

Piggy Bank 10K … 1-27-85 … 10K PR 32;59.14

Finished 4th Overall & 1st in 35-39 Age Group

4th Overall & 1st in 35-39 Age Group

Age Group Piggy Bank Prize

Age Group Piggy Bank Prize

Collection of Race Pins

Collection of Race Pins

Farewell Gift ON Leaving DA's Office ----- Running Art by DA Investigator R. Skelly

——–  Farewell Gift on Leaving DA’s Office in 1985  ——– Running Art by DA Investigator R. Skelly