When you are in Stanford, not getting a taste of the dish is like visiting San Francisco and not visiting the Golden gate bridge. When I say Dish, I am not referring to a creamy pasta or those sumptuous puddings, but the recreational area behind Stanford campus which is popular for its hiking and running trails. Being a habitat conservation, it is used for academic research and the dish itself is a radio telescope that is still in use.
When Leland Stanford arrived in California in the mid 19th century, he told his wife that these hills in yonder would make a fine race course and that’s how the dish race commenced as a tradition of the Stanford running club.
Being a runner and a Stanford student, I could not afford to miss this run even if was just a measly distance of 5.2 km. The fact that there was no medal given at the end of run didn’t bother me either. Having been in this prestigious campus for last 8 months, I have run in the Dish in the past. The hills are so steep that it makes the fittest want to resort to a walking stick to get past these grueling inclines.
The race was scheduled at 9:00 am and for the first time I could cycle to an event-an advantage if the venue happens to be in your backyard and when there is provision for bike parking. So here I was assembled at the start point as I watched other runners doing their warm ups and stretches. It was an uphill right from the word go, an incorrigible one which kept getting steeper and steeper, my lungs feeling as thought someone had sucked all the oxygen out of them. I could hear the heavy breathing and panting by even the sturdy looking runners which sounded like a breathing of a dragon, reassuring me of the fact I wasn’t the sole victim of the hill’s brutal treatment.
It was a continuous climb and as we went higher, we were blessed with the panoramic views of the bay at a distance and the golf course which a green carpet spread in acres. The day was rather peculiar as 2 forces of nature seemed to play tug of war with one another. The sun shone fiercely making me want to discard my jacket while the wind blew with all its might and the icy breeze made me cling to my jacket. Shaking my head at their childish play, I focused on the scenery around me, watching the tufts of grass swaying and the mighty dish which we would be running past soon. Just then I heard a mother talking to her daughter, cajoling her that they were on an adventure, every time the daughter felt like giving up. “How far mom”, she said in a resigned manner. “Oh, just look at that dish honey”, the mom replied. “ That’s where we are going. There is magic there.”
I looked at the dish for the second time-gigantic and semicircular in shape, standing haughtily as it knew that this area derived the name by its presence. It reminded me of a space ship, a magical device that could transport you to a place in yonder! Magic! That’s it! What I needed! If I could make it up to the dish, it would all be downhill from there. Gathering all my reserves, I kept the dish in sight, eager to get close to this magnanimous object, edging closer and closer. The winding slopes coiled like a serpent which I chose to ignore until I found myself face to face with this magical object. I jumped in joy, increased my pace and off I was on a downhill which felt like coming down on those slides at the park which my 3-year-old daughter immensely loved.
Overtaking a few runners, I cruised all the way down, my feet suddenly finding wings. Was it the magic of the dish? Maybe! I spotted the arch in the vicinity with the volunteers cheering for us.” That’s what I call a strong finish”, a lady yelled at me as I waved back and crossed the mighty arch! I was home! The 5.2 km felt like a 10 k run,-such is the toughness of the dish.
It’s certainly not sweet but salty with a tinge of sourness which is worth as it caters to the runner’s appetite of getting a taste of the Stanford running tradition. They saying goes “what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.”