Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Secret sweaty stairs of Santa Monica
Secret Stairs guidebook, you will never see anyone stretching or exercising on the 4th street median: local homeowners became so irritated by the incessant stair-climbers driving up day and night, using their street as an exercise studio that they've called the police to issue tickets to anyone doing push-ups and sit-ups on the grass.
I'm thinking most of the stair runners love being outside, but not sure any of them notice the ocean and canyon views and the facing Rustic Canyon hillside homes. Walking up and down four times, I see why, it's so crowded and so steep you have to keep your head down. And they may not notice the architecture. According to "Secret Stairs" one notable home belonged to British novelist Christopher Isherwood, who in 1952 called the Canyon our "western Greenwich Village'. And another house was designed by the architects responsible for the Chinese and Egyptian Theatres in Hollywood.
So up we go again... (and my whole body ached the next day after only four sets and many people do an hour's worth). It's not organised in an way but the unwritten rules are obvious: don't pass unless you're going faster. Some people are now complaining about those who take stairs two at a time or who go backwards. Or runners swinging medicine balls (!) all over the show or people who kick one leg out at each step. The newest complaint is the number of people who bring their dogs and there is concern about the stress to the dogs' hips and back.
Another stair runner pleads : "Ease up on the Gieorgio!" The most hilarious recent complaint on Yelp ( and I think I spotted the chap in question) is about Old Man Tea Bag, an odd hippy guy who insists on wearing the shortest of shorts and stretching out his legs and other bits at the top of the stairs.
These stairs are apparently the favourite of the LA firemen. One runner says: "If you ever have a fire, just come to these steps are yell "Fire!". Alongside them on the weekends are acrobatic hippies, some of whom apparently try to scale the steps in a handstand position.
Noone really knows when stair running became popular here, but apparently last Thanksgiving Day at 7am it was packed. Some drive from 45 mins away to work out just here.
Brian M sums up the oddness of this phenome: "Um, they're stairs... really tall steep ones. Not sure what the cult fetish is with these stairs. It's LA and that pretty much explains it all."