DANA POINT, Calif., Sept. 19. THE Inaugural American Mile 1-mile ocean race was held on Saturday, September 14 at Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point. Seventy entered swimmers from Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, Ventura, and San Diego counties as well as Oregon and Washington competed in still, 66-degree water that offered tremendous visibility of the many kelp beds along the course.
Pulling away from the pack early were perennial favorites, Randy Eickhoff and Gerry Rodrigues of UCLA. Coming around the final buoy with 200 yards to the shore, Randy had a two-body length lead when Gerry caught a wave and made up the distance in seconds. Randy, however, caught the same wave as Gerry reached him. As the two bodysurfed in, the 30-yard dash up to the finish was on. Randy got there a mere two seconds before Gerry and the first champion of the American Mile was crowned.
Two minutes later, El Segundo Coach, Diane Gallas was in a stroke for stroke battle with UCI Masters' Victor (Tory) Dober. Diane also caught a wave, edged ahead of Tory as they stood up, and beat him to the finish for third place overall and the top female finisher. Only 15 seconds back came a pack of swimmers that included fast-charging Rick Phillips, San Clemente’s Rob Rojas, and the ever-tough Heidi Christensen.
Local businesses donated gift certificates (varying from $5 to $50) and merchandise for the various age group winners and many volunteers. They included: Renaissance Café, Hennessey’s Tavern, Starbucks, Diedrich Coffee, Hobie Sports, Luciana’s Ristorante, Beach House Restaurant, Tudor & Spunky’s Deli, Taco Surf, Trader Joe’s, Killer Dana, Pick Up Stix, Stuft Pizza, and El Torito.
Special thanks should be extended to Scott Zornig, Jim Fitzpatrick, Craig Taylor, Kevin Broerman for their amazing efforts with registration/results, Tom Trapp and Takako Fujimoto for setting up the finish area, the experienced race paddlers, and especially Jim Bergen, who in addition to finishing 11th in the race, was there at 6am to help set up the course from start to finish.
Trish and Bert Bergen founded the event to benefit the Twin Towers Orphan Fund for young victims of the September 11 terrorist attack. A check in the amount of $1,500 will be sent to that Fund.
With increased publicity and word of mouth, organizers expect to exceed 100 competitors in future races, and subsequently increase the amount of money they will be able to send to the Twin Towers Orphan Fund.
Information about the fund can be found at TTOF.org.
For more information about the event or for sponsorship details, contact Trish or Bert Bergen at Bergenluau@cox.net.
1. Randy Eickhoff, 37, UCLA Masters 18:30
2. Gerry Rodrigues, 39, UCLA Masters 18:32
3. Tory Dober, 28, UC Irvine Masters 20:32
4. Rick Phillips, 48, SCAQ 20:42
5. Rob Rojas, 29, Fish & Game 20:43
1. Diane Gallas, 38, El Segundo Masters 20:30
2. Heidi Christensen, 43,Daland Masters 20:46
3. Fiona Peterson, 28, Irvine NOVA 21:04
4. Valerie Nellen, 32, UC Irv. Masters 21:38
5. Mary Donlevy, 32, El Segundo Masters 21:56