Just when the summer syndrome was becoming oppressive, the Berkeley Hiking Club is back to offer mini-getaways for East Bay daytrippers who would rather romance ferns and shoe leather than parking garages and shopping malls. This Sunday morning there are two choices: a four-mile hike around Point Molate, near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge (9:30, call Hans at 510-548-4903); or an open-itinerary hike -- meet at 8:30 and decide where to go. As usual, all hikes depart from Shattuck Avenue and Berkeley Way in downtown Berkeley, on their way to the Great Unknown. BerkeleyHikingClub.pair.com -- Kelly Vance
Clang, Clang, Clang!
It's the Firefighter Combat Challenge
t's been called "the toughest two minutes in sports." No, not the postgame interview with Kenny Rogers -- the Firefighter Combat Challenge. The combination obstacle course and firefighters' training drill requires contestants in "full bunker gear" to perform a series of strenuous and dangerous tasks involving fire, water, fire, running, fire, climbing, fire, chopping with an axe, fire, a five-story tower, fire, rescuing a 175-pound dummy, and fire. The challenge has become a national event with some 25 regional competitions, including Northern California. The exciting contest, sponsored by Fremont Firefighters Local 1689 and featuring more than 120 firefighters from around the country, takes place this Saturday and Sunday (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), as part of the annual Fremont Festival of the Arts. Admission is free. Just follow Capitol Avenue to the lot on State Street; look for the tower and bleachers. For more information about the Firefighter Combat Challenge and the Fremont Festival of the Arts, visit FremontFestival.net -- Kelly Vance
Spanish Footie Magic
FC Deportivo Alavés isn't exactly one of the powerhouses of Spanish soccer football, but it's trying to be. When one thinks of the glories of La Liga, it's probably more often a perfect pass from Carles Puyol to Ronaldinho, or one of Beckham's dipsy-doodle free kicks curling around the far post. But Barcelona and Real Madrid are not the only two teams in Spain. Now back in the Spanish first division, Alavés -- which plays its home matches at Estadio Mendizorroza in Vitoria and is 51 percent owned by Ukraine-born US businessman Dimitri Piterman -- has been beefing up its roster lately with such acquisitions as Australian striker John Aloisi, defender Mauricio Pellegrino from Argentina via Liverpool, and Brazilian Wesley Lopes DaSilva. And on Monday (7:30 p.m.) they visit San Jose to play a friendly against the Earthquakes at Spartan Stadium. Tickets: $45-$13. SJEarthquakes.com -- Kelly Vance