Quick context: I have a friend. His name is Manny. He runs a lot, is an Iron Man and grunts. We call him the Mannimal (Manny + Animal).

It was a cold and chilly morning. Tired from running over Devil Mountain, the alarm clock would fail to awaken the runner from his slumber. With a quick look at the clock through sleepy eyes, the runner sprang from his bed realizing he had overslept. He quickly gathered his supplies that were neatly laid out from the previous night.

Proper shoes? Check.
Water? Check.
Food? Check.

A few minutes later after he kissed the wife and baby and whispered his goodbyes, he was in his car making the long trek into the city where a creature would be waiting. Unsure if the runner would make it on time, he sent out a message to the tower of cell. “Leaving now. Will be at location at 620.” That was 20 minutes later than was originally planned and the runner knew that the creature would quickly become impatient and might begin the journey without him.

As he paid the toll and crossed the bridge, the runner knew time was not on his side. He quickly sent out another message: “Off Bridge. 6:30.” The messages were getting shorter and the runner knew that the creature would not be pleased.

Arriving at the meeting location, 30 minutes late, the runner already knew in the back of his mind: the creature would not be waiting. Two quick calls were made into the wilderness, no reply. A message was left, carved in the mail of voices. A quick circle of the area was completed and the runner knew what he had to do.

He had to go on a SEARCH FOR THE MANNIMAL.

With a starting position near the Golden Gate Bridge and given the current temperature, position of the sun and direction of the breeze coming off the bay, the runner knew that the mannimal would be heading inland, most likely heading uphill through the forest of tall trees known as the Presidio. It would be a dangerous journey and given the number of roads, trails and turns, it would be challenging to track him down.

With a 30 minute head start, the mannimal might have already exited the forest and be on his descent towards civilization: the street of Arguello. It would be heavily populated with dog walkers, church goers and cyclists. This would be the ideal location for the runner to encounter the mannimal. It was an open area, plenty of parking and a straight shot with a downhill slope. But if the runner was too late and the mannimal had tapped into his storage of strength and stamina, all might be lost and tracking him down through the ins-and-outs of Golden Gate Park might be hopeless.

As the runner reached the end of the road, he was faced with a tough decision:

  1. Enter the park and try to chase down the mannimal knowing that one twist of the road or street closure would throw off the scent.
  2. Forget entering the park and hope to catch the mannimal as he exited the park and headed down the highway of great.

The second option was risky, but the runner thought it might be the only way.

The runner reached the exit point of the park and slowly coming down the road was the creature the runner had been searching for all morning: the mannimal.

The mannimal had already covered 8 miles, but the runner immediately joined in stride next to him. A grunt, a nod and the two were off running, side by side.

Hopper’s Hands, Golden Gate Bridge (Click to enlarge)

They would cover 10 miles together returning to the originally planned meeting location. At this point, the mannimal had run far enough and the runner knew he would have to make the solo trek back to where he encountered the creature near Golden Gate Park. It would be a journey that runner must make alone, but the roads would be familiar and the sights pleasant.

It may have been just like any other Sunday in the city, but to these two creatures: the mannimal and the runner, it was a journey they both made… separately and together.

Have you ever encountered a mannimal?