It was a perfect day for Idyllwild’s annual 5k/10k races with clear skies and cooler weather than usual.

Chip Shelly was emcee again; Mayor Max even made an appearance. Perfect.

Chip pointed out the 5k race phenom expected to win. “He’s over here wearing the American flag shorts. Follow him!” Perfect.

So when the race started, Mr. Red, White and Blue flew out of the gate. The only problem was when he got to the first turn around Jo’An’s Restaurant, he missed it and took a lot of the pack with him down Ridgeview Drive. Oops. “Just perfect.”

Of the 160 runners, 150 finished. I wonder if the 10 are still running down 243?

The 10k had its own version of perfect. As a local, I’ve run these races several times and know the courses well.

So when my 10k race got to the corner of Idyllbrook and Estate Drive, I knew something was wacky.

The route is supposed to go to Canyon Drive, the next street, so I was faced with a sudden dilemma. Do I breach the barrier and run the correct distance, then file a formal complaint with the judges that I’m the one and only, and “overall,” winner of the 10k race, disqualifying every other runner who failed to stay on the (mapped) course? Perfect.

No, I decided in an instant, I needed to stay on the directed course with everyone else in hopes of winning my coveted winner’s mug that goes to the top three in each age category.

And it’s a good thing I did. I finished third, with fourth place not far behind. At the finish line, it was especially fascinating as dozens of seasoned runners commiserated about their Garmin and GPS devices all telling them their 10k races (6.2 miles) had only logged a distance of 5.9 miles. I wondered if the race organizers were going to refund each 10k racer $1.75 for the distance they were shorted.

As for me, my finish time was a PR for this race, and would have been even with the calculated extra time added in. (Not bad for a 64-year-old geezer).

And, sometimes, it takes a misstep or two to cause reflection and correction for the next time. That’s how I’m seeing it. And as I reflected on it all at the pancake breakfast, I thought that on balance, the day was just, well, perfect!

Mark Dean

Pine Cove