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By Fred Swegles

Marathon runners, are you ready to try the San Clemente Loop: Pier-Summit-Pier?

Nicole Bright, 20, has mapped out a 26.2-mile marathon course around the perimeter of her hometown of San Clemente. It also includes stretches of Capistrano Beach and Camp Pendleton.

The Saddleback College student gave it a whirl on Saturday, July 11, setting out solo from the   pier at 6 a.m. and arriving back at 11:45 a.m., producing what then became the fastest known time for her course: 5 hours, 45 minutes, 54 seconds.

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This is as good as my smile gets after completing my first unsupported FKT [ @fastestknowntime ] 😂🥳⁣ ⁣ Enjoyed a 26 mile tour around the perimeter San Clemente this morning!! Official finishing time of 5 hours 45 minutes and 54 seconds on a course with 2,900 feet of elevation 🤯 ⁣ ⁣ Currently, I am the only person to complete this route making me the holder of the fastest known time! I challenge you to run this course and beat my time!! Yes, I’m talking to you @ultra_good_vibes and @dave_wiskowski 😏⁣ ⁣ Special shoutout to those who cheered me on out there on the trails:⁣ @dave_wiskowski @andymlapin @2020bennett @jen.bright2020 @rickbrightrealestate ⁣ #trailrunner #fastestknowntime #ultrarunner #marathonsaturday #sanclemente #running #fitness #pushlimits

A post shared by Nicki Bright ★ (@nicki.bright) on

She registered the route and her FKT with the website View the route there. Look her up under “athletes.”

“Great course with lots of views and highlights of San Clemente!” she describes the run on the FKT website. “It was about 50/50 trail and street. I expected the second half to be easier, but it wasn’t. Lots of steep hills.”

“It was a HOT run/hike!” said her mother, Jennifer Bright, in a July 11 email to the San Clemente Times. “We would love for Nicki to be recognized for this accomplishment and to inspire others to complete the challenge.”

Asked via email what had inspired her, Nicki cited a recent SC Times article about local residents Dee and Paul Milosch, who had put together a 23-mile hike from the pier around the backside of San Clemente. They hiked it in a single day, calling it the “Pier to Summit to Pier Challenge.”

Nicki, who began extreme running as a sophomore at San Clemente High School, said she has done eight full marathon distances and three ultramarathons.

“I ran the entire course unsupported from any of my friends or family, with the water and food I had in my hydration pack to fuel me the whole way,” Nicki wrote. “My variety of nutrition during a long run like this includes an electrolyte hydration mix, energy gels and protein bars. I carried two liters of water, but found that I need more for the next time I attempt this course. I found myself needing a lot more, toward the hotter part of the day.”

The Camp Pendleton stretch was difficult—“a lot of unexpected elevation gain,” she wrote. “I hadn’t run that portion in my training runs. Nevertheless, I powered through, looking up to the crest of each hill, imagining how amazing the ocean breeze was going to feel once I reached the top.”

The home stretch, northward along the beach trail to the pier, was “one of the best finish lines I have ever experienced,” Nicki wrote. “The breeze as you run to the end of the pier is refreshing and signifies you have completed the difficult course behind you. My family and a couple friends were cheering me on at Fisherman’s as I took those final steps and sat down on the pavement, breathing heavily and guzzling the ice-cold sparkling water my family had brought me.”

Advice for others? Start at 4 a.m., to minimize exposure to summer heat; bring more water, or stash water, at intervals, beforehand; bring an upbeat music playlist; enjoy the course.

“If you aren’t having fun, what’s the point!?” Nicki wrote.

Map courtesy of Nicki Bright

The Route

Pier, Beach Trail, PCH, Doheny Park Road, Victoria Boulevard, Via Canon, Via Velez, Calle Naranja, Camino de los Mares, Camino del Rio, Avenida La Pata, Prima Deshecha North Trail, Talega Trail, Cristianitos South Trail, Prima Deshecha South Trail, State Park Trails, Cristianitos Road, Avenida del Presidente, Avenida Calafia, Beach Trail, Pier.

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