Wharf at Night

Nighttime at the Wharf

This is one of my old routes from before my motor­cy­cle acci­dent in 2007. This was before I had a GPS so I mea­sured out dis­tances using my bicy­cle and then stuck to routes I’d mea­sured. I mea­sured enough seg­ments to give myself a rea­son­able amount of vari­ety when run­ning, but it still felt very mod­u­lar: if I want to add a half mile, go to the end of the Munic­i­pal Pier and back. If I want to add 1.4 miles, add a trip down the Embar­cadero and turn around at Teatro Zin­zan­ni. And so on.

I like the Munic­i­pal Pier quite a lot and it’s sad to see it falling into dis­re­pair. The area around the rail­ing on the out­er (North and West) side is fenced off, either for repairs or because they’re just writ­ing it off as unsafe. While there used to be lights all along the pier, Now there is just one near the entrance to the pier. There is an iron gate restrict­ing the flow of foot traf­fic at the entrance, and a sign say­ing that it is closed from dusk until dawn.

I decid­ed to run it even though it was past dusk. It makes me a lit­tle angry that the Munic­i­pal Pier is closed at a time when the paths around it are still busy with foot traf­fic. Nowa­days dusk is five pm. Peo­ple ought to be able to go out there in the ear­ly evening.

Because it was closed, the pier felt unsafe. There was no one else out there and the lights were all bro­ken or turned off. It’s filled with con­crete bench­es some­one could hide in and the whole thing is curved so it would be pret­ty easy for some­one to lie in wait. I did encounter a fish­er­man at the end of the pier, but oth­er than that it was desert­ed. I’ve run and walked on the pier at night so many times I can’t count them, and it nev­er seemed unsafe until they closed it, pre­sum­ably because «park areas» at night are unsafe. That’s gov­ern­ment think­ing for you; nev­er miss an oppor­tu­ni­ty to turn a small prob­lem into a large problem.

It’s a darn shame, too. The Munic­i­pal Pier is a short walk from many of San Fran­cis­co’s nicer (if some­what tourist-ori­ent­ed) restau­rants. With the view of the Gold­en Gate Bridge lit up at night vis­i­ble to the West, Alca­traz so close you can almost touch it to the North, and Aquat­ic Park and the SF sky­line framed by the Ghi­rardel­li sign and Coit Tow­er to the South, and the his­toric ships at the Hyde Street Pier on the East, it’s a love­ly place for a roman­tic after-din­ner stroll. Or it was when the lights were on at night and the Pier was pop­u­lat­ed by tourists, run­ners, and fish­ers. The end of the pier was the first place I told my ex I loved her. Yeah, she’s my ex but it’s still a sweet mem­o­ry. Until the pier was closed it was a per­fect place to make new mem­o­ries like that, for locals and tourists alike.

Any­how, though I added the trip out to the end of the pier for old time’s sake and gen­er­al­ly fol­lowed a path I mea­sured out prob­a­bly in 2004, at the far end of the Mari­na Green by the entrance to Chris­sy Field instead of turn­ing around, I took a cou­ple of short detours: first out to the North entrance to Chris­sy Field where the park­ing lot is, and then back to the spi­ral walk­way down to the beach. I came back up the spi­ral the same way I had descend­ed it and it did­n’t add much to the run but it was a fun detour.

Over­all the run aver­aged to a 12:10/mile pace. Still slow, but improv­ing. Five miles is a good dis­tance; it gives me time to warm up and enjoy the run, and even at my pace it only takes an hour, so it fits in nice­ly at the end of a work­day. It’s hard to beat the scenery, too.