12/31 – 2019 SCTC Year in Review

2019 was yet another banner year for the Strawberry Canyon Track Club, which saw 20 new club records set in events ranging from the 110 hurdles all the way to the marathon. Beyond these marks, some of the most notable achievements included Megan Gentes and Julia Sizek securing US Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying standards during their debuts at the Chicago Marathon, and the Open Men’s team claiming their first ever PAUSATF Road Grand Prix title for their strong team outings in the 14 race, year-long road race circuit. Of course we also cannot overlook the truly inspiring and hard fought races, massive PRs, and next-level breakthroughs for many Berries in track, road, and cross country races throughout the year.

Below, Julia Sizek recaps the record-breaking times and adds a few shout-outs for some other exceptional performances.

Men’s Track Highlights:

Sprints: Andrew Orellana gets two club records in the 200 (22.54) and 400 (50.02), while the men deepen the field in the 200 with the top 4 all time performances in 2019! (Noah Shamsai 23.89, Stephen Bailey 24.04, Chongdu Xu 24.73). Stephen Bailey continues to improve in the hurdles with two new club records (110H 16.01, 400H 56.57).

Club record count: 4

Middle/Long Distance: Steve Correa takes home the club record in the 1500 (3:49.09) with John Hogan close behind at #2 (3:51.11). Hogan (twist!) gets the club record in the 1600, at 4:11.25 (converted from mile time), but Correa gets 2 on the all-time 800m list with a 1:54.59. Not to be outdone, David White gets the #2 seniors time with 4:36.67 in the 1600.

In the 3k, Harmen Hoek gets the new club record (8:26.37), and Hogan and Correa snatch 1 and 2 spots in the 3200 (9:00.32, 9:13.14).

On the track, Jonathan Briskman takes home the 10k club record in 31:03.

A notable performance in the 5k: Bernat Masvidal takes the #6 all-time performance in the 5k (14:51.2).

Club record count: 5

Womens Track Highlights

Middle Distance/Long Distance: Elizabeth Ordeman takes the #1 time in the women’s 1500 (4:38.19) and the second-fastest time in the women’s 5k (17:09.45).

Phoebe Johannsen takes the #1 time in the 3k steeplechase (11:05).

Club Record count: 2

Masters Women Road Highlights

Vanessa Lordi takes home the club record for the masters road mile in 5:43. In the Masters Plus division, Kathleen Ruffle takes home the #2 time at 5:59.

Club Record Count: 1

Open Women Road Highlights

In the 5k, Phoebe Johannsen is tied for #1 at 18:03. Michell Sumner and Jackie Davis take #12 and #14 at 19:00 and 19:07.

Shellin takes the #2 spot in the 10k (38:00) on her way to a PR in the marathon later in the season.

In the 10 mile and half marathon, Julia and Megan G go 1 and 2 (10 mile: 57:56, 58:22; Half 1:17:21, 1:19:59). Sarah Klass gets the #5 spot (1:02:57).

In the marathon, the team remade the top of the list with Megan G at #2 (2:41:03), Julia at #3 (2:41:58), Regina at #4 (2:45:44), Sarah Klass at #8 (2:55:53), Shellin at #9 (2:57:52). and Megan L at #11 (3:00:59).

Record Count: 3

Mens Road Highlights

Masters Men Mile

Ed Hill takes the #2 spot in the masters men all-time list (4:38).

Open Men

In the road mile, we had a bunch of athletes add themselves to the top 10, including Kyle Bystrom at our new club record of 4:17.8, Matt Tarduno close behind at #2 (4:20.9), and Cielo Aguilar at #9 (4:30.7).

In the men’s 5k, Ryan Smith added himself to the list at #6 (15:23), only to get the club record in the 10 mile at 50:31. Kenny Rayner got the #4 spot at 51:48.

In the mens half, Jonathan Briskman and Kenny Rayner go 1-2 with 1:06:25 and 1:08:20.

In the men’s marathon, we went 1-2-3 with Jonathan Briskman (2:19:12), Ryan Smith (2:19:20), and Kenny Rayner (2:22:31), and Collin Jarvis rounded out our top 10 with 2:27:29.

At Bay to Breakers in May, the club fielded two team in the Centipede division, in which each team consists of 13+ people connected together by bungee cords. The open men’s centipede this year secured a new club record with a time of 42:29 on the hilly 12k course, finishing 3rd overall as a team.

Club Records: 5

Congratulations everyone on a year well done, and be sure to congratulate everyone on their performances in the new year!

8/24 – Run with us this fall!

Even as summer winds to a close, things are heating up for Strawberry Canyon Track Club. We are busy getting geared up for the fall PAUSATF cross country circuit and have a formidable marathon crew just now hitting their training stride in preparation for Berlin, Chicago, and California International marathons.

As always, we are welcoming new members who are dedicated to improving their running times and fitness, and who are looking for a great community of new training partners across a wide range of skill levels.

Please contact us if you’re interested in joining or checking out a practice!

6/6 – Record-Breaking Spring Season Ends on a High Note

A rainy spring in the Bay Area may have been great for growing strawberries, but was maybe not quite as nice for running. That was far from stopping the Strawberry Canyon Track Club from putting on a six-month long exhibition however, shattering records on the tracks and roads in events ranging from the 200m to the marathon. In the end, fifteen records fell, and many, many more personal bests were set.

  • Men’s 110m Hurdles – Stephen Bailey (16.01)
  • Men’s 200m – Andrew Orellana (22.54)
  • Men’s 400m – Andrew Orellana (50.04)
  • Men’s 400m Hurdles – Stephen Bailey (56.57)
  • Women’s 1500m – Elizabeth Ordeman (4:38.19)
  • Men’s 1500m – Steve Correa (3:49.09)
  • Men’s Mile – John Hogan (4:11.25)
  • Men’s 3000m – Harmen Hoek (8:26.37)
  • Women’s 3000m Steeplechase – Phoebe Johannensen (11:05.67)
  • Men’s 3200m – John Hogan (9:00.32)
  • Women’s 5k road – Phoebe Johannensen (18:03 – tied)
  • Men’s 10000m – Jonathan Briskman (31:03.63)
  • Men’s 12k Centipede – SCTC “A” Centipede (42:49)
  • Women’s Half Marathon – Julia Sizek (1:17:21)
  • Women’s Marathon – Madeline Duhon (2:38:32)
Regina Scarpin won the Avenue of the Giants Half Marathon

In addition to all these records, there were many impressive individual and team victories and podium finishes. Among these many highlights were Harmen Hoek winning the Dutch Student’s National Championship in the indoor 3k; Jonathan Briskman defending his title at the San Francisco Hot Chocolate 15k, then finishing third at the inaugural Napa Valley Half Marathon several months later; Julia Sizek finishing runner up at the Oakland Half Marathon and then later winning the Tilden Tough Ten; at the Humboldt Avenue of the Giants races, Regina Scarpin winning the half marathon and Sarah Klass finishing 2nd in the full marathon; Megan Gentes landing a podium spot with 3rd at the Clarksburg Half Marathon (setting a club record at the time).

Open men won the Oakland Marathon Team Relay

On the team front, the open men earned team victories in the PAUSATF Road Grand Prix at both the Oakland Marathon Team Relay and Stow Lake Stampede, in addition to second place finishes at the SACTOWN 10 mile, Devil Mountain Mile of Truth, and Reach for a Star 5k. The open’s women team’s season so far has been highlighted by a second place finish at the Reach for a Star 5k and third place finish at the Oakland Marathon Team Relay.

The spring season ended with the open men’s Bay to Breakers Centipede (wherein 13 runners are tied together to race 12k across San Francisco), setting the new club-best mark and finishing 3rd place as a team; a second SCTC centipede also ran, helping to make it one of the most highly-attended races for the club with 28 Berries running in total. This wonderful event highlighted the camaraderie that makes this club so special, and capped off a truly spectacular spring season!

We will continue to practice and race throughout the summer, meeting at Edwards Track every Monday and Thursday at 6pm. New comers are always welcome – we hope to see you out there!

Stay up-to-date with our latest news, accomplishments, and shout-outs on our Instagram page!

Two SCTC teams raced in the 2019 Bay to Breakers Centipede competition

1/20 – Canyoneras Crush Houston; Track Season Begins

Strawberry Canyon Track Club continued its impressive first month of the 2019 campaign over the weekend, sending two women to Houston for the half and full marathons, and fielding a healthy turnout at the first of three Cal All-Comers meet.
In Texas, two Canyoneras competed in the Chevron Houston Marathon and Half Marathon, which were highly stacked, competitive races. Conditions were breezy and “too” cold, so not quite optimal for turning in the best possible performances. However, Madeline Duhon, who was actually born in Houston, clobbered the marathon club record by over 11 minutes, finishing in 2:38:42, good for 13th overall. She will be looking towards the Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta in February of next year.
Also in the mix was Karen Eckberg, who has never seen a half marathon she didn’t like, ran to 1:22:14 gun time, but may have eked a razor-thin PR on chip time. Despite the fairly difficult conditions, she still ran to the best of her ability and was the 59th place female in the half marathon.
At the Cal All-Comers meet in Berkeley, perfect weather greeted the athletes after a month-long rainy spell. Stephen Bailey was thrown into the fast section of the 60-meter hurdles event and  responded well. His attention to technique and detail has really paid off for him as he skimmed over each hurdle en route to a mark of 9.09, which took 0.35 seconds off both his PR and club record.
Kyle Bystrom and Andrew Tey entered the 1500, and Kyle, normally a slow starter during the season, had by far his most impressive early-season performance in history, taking third in the 1500 in a time of 4:10.29. Andrew, who has just started doing Monday workouts with us, finished in 4.44.29.
We had several athletes take a crack at the 400-meter dash, and Stephen Bailey emerged victorious over new teammate and training partner Noah Shamsai. Stephen’s 53.48 was only 0.23 seconds off of his PR so that is very encouraging for so early in the season, while Noah ran 53.75, at top 5 time for the club. Also in the race was Kyle Bystrom (54.41) and Andrew Tey (57.17) coming off their earlier 1500s.
Anchit Desai ran a gutsy 800 but seemed to make one tactical error in fighting for the lead after 500 meters. Though a bit disappointed, he still ran 2:18.81 and will drop that time considerably before all is said and done.  
Stephen Bailey and Noah Shamsai squared off again in the 200 meter event, and this time Noah prevailed, thus evening the scoreboard between the two training partners at 1-1. Noah (24.25) was only .10 off of Stephen’s club record. Stephen missed that but still ran well in 24.48.
The 3200 was the final event and Denny Rich kind of went for it, but didn’t have his usual “pop” which was presumably the result of a fairly relaxed training bloc during Christmas break. He ran 9:54.02, and Mitchell Negus ran 10:07.90, and is deliberately trying to peak later in the season so he can optimize his efforts at the more significant races.
At the Los Gatos All-Comers meet, Bill Brusher ran to a 3:12 800, a top age group time for Super Seniors+, and Matt Bogdanowicz competed in the shot put.
This post was written by Coach Carl Rose.

1/13 – Gentes and Briskman kick off 2019 in spectacular fashion

Megan with pacesetter Ryan after her club record half marathon

It didn’t take long for 2019 to feature some stellar road race finishes for Strawberry Canyon Track Club. 


At the Clarksburg Country Run Half Marathon, Megan Gentes shattered the club record by two minutes, and her own PR by four minutes, by running 1:19:59 to finish 3rd place. The race capped a long season for Megan which included her winning the 2018 Open Women’s PAUSATF XC Grand Prix.

Jonathan at the Hot Chocolate 15k

In San Francisco, Jonathan Briskman defended his title by winning the Hot Chocolate 15k for the second straight year with a time of 49:41. This is a promising start to 2019 for Jonathan, who is coming off a club record time in the marathon from CIM just over a month ago.


This is just the start for what promises to be another strong year on the roads for Strawberry Canyon Track Club. But let’s not forget, track season is already upon us. January 19th will feature the first of three Cal All Comers meets, in all of which we will have a strong presence. 

See you out there!

12/31 – 2018 SCTC Year in Review

2018 ended on a high note as the Berries wrapped up a record setting year of track, cross-country, and road racing. We look back at the second half of 2018 (first half recap here) and review the year that was.


2018 saw the first time in which a Strawberry Canyon team targeted the PAUSATF Road Grand Prix Circuit, and the results could not have been any more exciting. The 12-race circuit, running from February through December, constitutes a year-long season in which teams compete at races ranging from 1 mile to the marathon. With the circuit a key goal for the open men, the Berries fielded a team at every single race throughout the year, which landed them at 2nd place in the overall standings. There were many great highlights along the way – they captured the team titles, always a impressive feat, at both the Los Gatos One Mile Bang and the Christmas Relays (the latter in dramatic fashion), the first ever road race team victories in club history. Club records fell in many events as well, from the road mile and 5k, all the way to the marathon.

Ryan, John, Collin, Steve, and Carl after winning the Christmas Relays

Perhaps most impressive was the team effort that brought home the 2nd place open men team finish – 24 different Berries scored on the 12 road race teams throughout the year, a true testament to Strawberry Canyon’s hallmark depth and camaraderie.

The open women also made their first appearances on the road circuit – for the first time in history Strawberry Canyon fielded women’s teams at a PAUSATF Road Race, scoring squads at the SACTOWN 10 mile and California International Marathon. It feels as if it is just the beginning for the open women, as the club’s marathon presence has been steadily growing. 

Kyle (left) and Cielo (right) both had strong years on the road

There were some tremendous finishes on the individual side as well, with respect to the year-long PAUSATF individual standings. There are two tiers for individuals, one for short distance races (1 mile – 10k) and one for long distance (12k and up). In the short circuit, three Berries landed in the top 15 to claim the coveted “comp” spots (they will get to enter all PA races for free next year); Kyle Dunn snagged a podium spot by finishing third on the season, while Colin Gannon was close behind in 4th and Cielo Aguilar came in at 11th. In the long circuit, an astounding five Berries finished in the top 15 after a year of steady running; Jonathan Briskman was 4th, while Colin Gannon was 11th and Ryan Smith 12th, and Kyle Dunn and Ryan Lok rounded out the comp spots in 14th and 15th respectively.


Always a club favorite, the Berries were out in force yet again in 2018 for the PAUSATF club cross country race circuit. The ten race series began in August in Santa Cruz and continued throughout the fall into November at the PA Championships. 

Open men’s race start at the Golden Gate Park Open

The highlights of the season were Megan Gentes capturing the open women’s and David White the Senior men’s Grand Prix individual titles, which totals points scored at races throughout the season. Megan earned the honor after six stellar performances throughout the year, the third woman Berry in club history to achieve this prestigious finish, while David White took the crown in dominant fashion, by winning his division in all six races he competed in.

On the open men’s side, three Berries worked their way into the top 15: freshman phenom Denny Rich finished fifth on the year, while Kyle Bystrom was 11th and Harmen Hoek 15th. Greg McMillan and John Hill both finished 9th in their divisions, Masters and Seniors respectively.

On the team side, the open men and Senior men both finished 3rd on the season-long circuit, while the open women finished 7th.

Berries after Nationals in the Spokane cold

The cross country season culminated with four Berries competing at the USATF Club Cross Country National Championships in Spokane, Washington. Megan Gentes continued her amazing season by finishing 79th in the extremely competitive 6k race. Elizabeth Ordeman also had a strong race in the open women’s field, while Vanessa Lordi, the newly minted USATF Master’s LDR Champion, ran to a great finish in the Master’s division. Ryan Lok, fresh off an impressive Chicago Marathon performance, was the lone open men competitor. 

Looking ahead to 2019

2018 was one of the busiest race schedules in Strawberry Canyon’s club history, and we’ll look to equal that claim again in 2019. As club membership has grown, we have increased the depth of specialties ranging from sprints on the track to longer road races. As always, keep up with us on Instagram, Strava, Facebook, and right here on our website for our latest adventures. In the coming weeks, we’ll post a Spring 2019 preview, so stay tuned! See you out there.

Join us for practices every Monday and Thursday in 2019, 6pm at Edwards Stadium in Berkeley

12/2 – Eleven Berries Run to Fantastic Finishes at CIM

The California International Marathon took place on Sunday, December 2nd, serving as the USATF National Marathon Championships and the center piece race of the year for eleven Berries who competed. Coach Carl recaps the day in Sacramento.
Sunday proved to be rather astonishing day for many Strawberries – I was a little uncertain how things would shake out because of two weeks of not being able to run outdoors due to wildfire smoke. However, people did what they needed to do – treadmills, pools, cross-training in the gym – to salvage all of the hard work they had put in to get to this point.

Jonathan Briskman finishes in a new club record time

First across the line for the Berries was Jonathan Briskman who absolutely KILLED it with a new open men club record of 2:20:18, missing the US Olympic Trials qualifying time by only 78 seconds and setting an 8-minute PR; I have to think that was the best race of his life to date. 

Shellin Chuong ran a 15 minute PR in 3:03:29 and surely has a sub-3 is in the cards. At this point, I really would not put anything past her – she is an absolute metronome.
Big shout out to Ryan Smith, who had battled several injuries of varying degrees in the past six months, and missed quite a bit of time, yet STILL beat the old club record with an amazing debut in 2:23:47! Just wait till he gets a solid run-up under his belt!

Kimmie Pavela and Silvio Temprana (right) both ran to PR times at CIM

Silvio Temprana has been getting better himself by leaps and bounds and damn near got a Boston qualifying time. Today he popped a 3:09:29 mark, right on the heels of Kimmie Pavela, who crossed the line in 3:09:28 – a PR for her!
Matt Perez also PR’d, betting his previous best by 12 minutes, although his old PR was some time ago, while pacing Shellin to a Boston qualifying time (today he ran 3:06).
Matt Weber ran a strong debut marathon in 2:44:50. We were happy with that although we also know there is room to improve and he would have gone faster with uninterrupted training… the smokocalypse did seem to affect him some.
There were a couple of off days: Colin Gannon PR’d by two minutes but was expecting to go a lot faster. However a combo of shin-calf issues and quads that seem to lock upon him in longer races contributed to a 2:39:20 time. Regina Scarpin still ran a solid 3:00-flat time, although she didn’t have her “A” game after running only once in the smoke (probably a very smart move long-term) and losing some of her edge. 
Rafael Oeschger broke the three hour mark, and Melanie Miksis ran 3:30.30, which amounts to a whopping PR for her!
Congratulations to all who ran!


8/22 – SCTC Fall Time Trial to be held Aug. 22

Strawberry Canyon’s annual Fall Time Trial will be held Wednesday, August 22nd at Cal’s Edwards Track in Berkeley. The event is open to all and will feature one heat of the 600m and 3 heats of the 5000m.

Heat start times:

600m: 5:30pm 
5000m Heat 1 (~sub-19:00): 5:35pm 
5000m Heat 2 (~sub-16:15): 6:00pm 
5000m Heat 3 (~16:00-22:00): 6:20pm

Contact us for more information.

7/27 – The Mammoth Journals

As the calendar rolled over into July, Strawberry Canyon Track Club headed for the mountains with 17 Berries in tow for the first of its two annual summer team camping trips. Will Edwards, a guest member from Pennsylvania living in Berkeley for the summer, documents the trip to the Eastern Sierras.

The Mammoth Journals: Volume 1

Mammoth Bound

Friday, June 29th, 5:02 p.m – Berkeley, CA

Friday. Finally. I’d survived a particularly draining week of work — the stock exchange hours dictated from back east had done their number on me yet again — but I’d escaped their grip in time to sneak in a 15-minute campus loop before I made my way to Kim’s place on Haste to head out for the weekend.

At long last, the trip to Mammoth was here. I’d been looking forward to it since Carl had mentioned it to me two weeks before — it’d be my chance to get to see the High Sierras, the ones I’d read about in books like Wild and seen in those John Wayne-type movies I used to watch with my dad. For an East Coaster it’d be a treat.

In the High Sierras

We have mountains, but not mountains. Not ones with peaks that shoot up into the sky well over 10,000 feet above sea-level, snowcapped in the dead of summer. Not ones with imposing granite faces credibly rivaling the French Alps. And yet that afternoon I couldn’t care less about the trip. John Wayne’s High Sierras be damned. There was the fatigue from the week, yes, but moreover was the presence of a growing disenchantment with travel in general. Yeah, the trip was for only going to be for a weekend, but it was going to be yet another episode of hanging out with people I’d hardly known, if at all, just as I’d done again and again and again over the last couple of rootless years. But I allowed the logical decision making process to overrule the day’s emotions, and hell no I wasn’t about to miss an opportunity to go to Mammoth.

I threw some clothes in my suitcase and some food in my backpack along with the copy of John Grisham’s “The Firm” my mom had given me before I went out west, and began to make my way down Milvia to meet Kim, who I’d just met at Monday’s workout.

“There you are,” she said, half-relieved, having just sent me five texts in the last 10 minutes trying to confirm my whereabouts, texts which I’d be ignorant of until we’d return. I’d figured the trip south was a good opportunity to shake my raging device addiction and decided to ditch the phone for the weekend. “Throw your beers in the cooler,” she said, packing up the trunk of her Civic. “It’d be nice to at least have a six pack cold when we get there.”


Joseph rounded the corner a few minutes later, and we set off to pick up Jackie as the Irish students getting their Friday night underway next door — both halfway into their case of Bud Light and halfway naked — bid us farewell. Good luck for the trip, right? Something like that.

First Encounters

Friday, June 29th, 11:35 p.m. – Tuff Campground, Mammoth Lakes, CA

We pulled into the campsite and were greeted by silhouettes of thin bodies hiding behind the glow of headlamps. “Welcome, welcome. Glad you guys made it,” an indistinguishable silhouette called out. “Regina and Silvio should be here soon, too.”

It was way past my usual east coast hours bedtime of 9:30. I still needed a proper Friday beer, though, and so I found my way to the cooler and cracked open one of the cheap lagers I’d picked up at Trader Joe’s before the trip. Beer, the smells of campfire and pine trees, the bite of the cold desert night air getting harsher by the minute — the weekend was off to a good start, and I was already glad I’d decided to come along.

“Hello, I’m Justin,” one of the approaching silhouettes said sort of goofily, his black-framed glasses and broad white smile coming more into view as he and his headlamp came closer. “I’m a bureaucrat.”

Ah, this is Justin, I thought. The guy who I was assured would be the resident goon of the trip. The guy who they based an awkward question game on because of his reputation for grilling people with a diverse bouquet no-out-of-bounds of questions. The guy who kept the group laughing. Justin, the bureaucrat. I liked him.

It would be Justin, Joseph, and I in a tent, and the 12 others sporadically placed through the small nylon village that had already been put up before our car arrived. A few of the others had come up on Wednesday and the rest at some point on Friday afternoon. It was an eclectic, and as Carl has put it, “highly intellectual,” group. From across disciplines including accounting, neuro-biology, computer science, climate science, economics, journalism, anthropology, chemistry, and more, there were postdocs, PhD students, master’s-equipped professionals, master’s students, and aspiring med students. Some were at Berkeley, some were transplants from around the country — the world, even. The debates would be deep, wide-ranging, and weird enough for a camping trip in the desert, that was for sure.

I polished off the Trader Joe’s lager and threw on pants and a sweatshirt, bracing for the temperature’s inevitable descent. I tucked into my sleeping bag, took a deep breath of the crisp air I’d remembered from times camping with my family as a kid, and gave in to the long week now behind me.


Saturday, June 30th, 4:13 a.m. –  Tuff Campground, Mammoth Lakes, CA

Where is this door zipper? Damn it’s cold. Why did I drink so many of those seltzers on the way down here?


Saturday, June 30th, 10:05 a.m. –  Horseshoe Lake, Mammoth Lakes, CA

Kim pulled into a spot next to the others in the caravan of Strawberry Canyon cars. One-by-one we slowly got out of our seats, stretched our legs, and squinted up at the massive mountains beyond the lake, white snow spots decorating their grey, serious dispositions.

Berries ready to run

This was going to be a long one. Fourteen miles by way of an out-and-back, at least according to the murmurs going through the group. Duck Pass, somewhere up there in the distant mountains, would be the turnaround point. Lollygagging to put off the pain that was bound to come was rife through the group, but eventually we sunblocked up, took our last sips of water, posed for a group photo before we all became too incapacitated from the run to do so afterward, and then headed off down a bike path that led to the trailhead.

Ryan was only going a few miles and had driven off to meet us at the trailhead about three-and-a-half miles down so he wouldn’t waste any of his run on a bike path when there were beautiful trails we’d all traveled six hours to run on. Ryan was the de facto leader of the trip, a long-time Strawberry and the organizer tasked with things like securing a campsite and poring over Google maps to find the best places to hit on our runs. He was going short because he was still recovering from a lab accident during his chem research in which liquid nitrogen leaked from a hose he was holding and dripped into his gloves, giving him frostbite on both hands (the most cross country injury ever), the left worse than the right. Because of this, he had to take off for a few weeks and was still getting back into it for the fall season. He wore a constant mixture of pre-wrap and gauze on his right hand, until eventually he’d graduated to a glove. The Michael Jackson of running chemists, you might say.

The trailhead came into view and we saw Ryan waiting for us. We stopped for a few moments to collect the group before heading up the mountainside.

Fuck, I thought to myself, huffing and puffing and clutching my knees. Am I this out of shape? We haven’t even started climbing yet.

I’d forgotten about the altitude. We’d driven from Berkeley, basically at sea level, up to the campsite at 7,000 feet, and we were set to peak for the day at Duck Pass, 10,700 feet. It was my first time running above anything over 2,000 feet, and it was going to be an interesting couple of hours.

Will powers up the trails to Duck Pass

We started the ascent, navigating the trail’s technicality: rocks, steps, and roots abounded. Colin, the 2:41 first-time marathoner, and Sid, the dude who’d drilled us on our 13 miler at Point Reyes a few weeks earlier and then added on four more to hit 17 for the day for good measure, started to separate from the pack as we got higher and higher. Matt Weber–the computer science PhD student who’d encouraged me to come on the trip — and I tried our best to follow. A couple miles up the four of us took a breather and collected ourselves at Skelton Lake.

By now we could see a few of the rock peaks from up close, as well as the snow on them. We knew we were getting toward the Pass. The trail turned from dirt to gravel and then to jagged rocks quickly. We strided carefully up switchbacks, trying to ignore the light-headedness from the altitude starting to kick in. We were up over 10,000 now. I stared at Sid’s New Balances ahead of me, trying to hang on as we ran toward the heavens. Then he and Colin stopped.

Switchbacks near Duck Pass

“Snow,” Colin said, looking at the trail in front of us frozen in. We looked around for another route and worked our way carefully into the brush, down the mountain and around the blocked part of the trail. I grabbed a handful of it and shoved it in my mouth, 20% to get more water in my system, 80% for the novelty of eating snow in freaking June. We eventually made our way back on, and stopped shortly thereafter at a rock lookout over the valley behind us. It was perhaps the most beautiful view I’d ever seen.

“It looks like the label of a water bottle,” Sid said incredulously. He was right. I mean, wasn’t it common knowledge that scenes on water bottles were painted renditions of a mythical utopia that could have never possibly existed in our universe? Well, here it was, the basis of water bottle labels the world over, incarnate.

Duck Lake

Eventually we took off again, beginning to long for relief for our legs that waited at the top. Within minutes we’d reached Duck Pass, looking over the adjacent Duck Lake and its crystal clear, green-blue hue, tucked away among some of the tallest peaks in the California. We sat on rocks above the lake, taking in the views that were the reward for our labor, all of us being greedy with any oxygen we could manage to suck in. My watch read 1:08:14. It was maybe the slowest seven miles I’d ever done, and yet the hardest at the same time.

There was an extreme sense of sereneness over the lake. This was what exploration of nature was about: nothing else seemed to matter, and the rest of the world could have halted for all we knew. It was just us, our feelings of both appreciation, awe, and a sense of intangible correctness, and the top of a mountain range crafted by the hands of God Himself.

But we knew we still had half the job to do yet. We relaxed for a few more moments, caught our breath, and traversed Duck Pass once more to begin our descent. Though it was all downhill, the descent was no easier than the climb. The altitude had begun to get to me by this point, and I’d started to become more involuntarily careless and inattentive by the minute.

 “Good job guys, don’t skin your knees though,” a middle-aged hiker on his way up the mountain said to us as we passed. We were lucky none of us did. We’d made it back to the trailhead in one piece, coming across several more hikers and dogs along the way.

The Horseshoe Lake bike path

There were still three and a half miles to go, though, and Sid, Matt, and Colin were feeling good enough to pick up the pace. I tried to hang for a minute and slowly began to realize that this run was going to end poorly. Three miles from Horseshoe Lake I watched them drift away like a low tide retreating back into the sea. I tried to let the light-headedness pass, but to no avail. My stomach was starting to feel empty, having burned through the bagel I’d eaten that morning. The skin around my armpits had begun to become raw and stung with each stride as sweat ran over the brush burns. I stopped. I bent over and tried to admire Lake Mary just off the side of the road, a last ditch attempt at trying to forget the pain. I pushed on. I stopped. I thought getting into an ice-cold Horseshoe Lake. I pushed on.

Alas. The suffering was over, and I’d made it back to the lake over two hours after we’d started in the same parking lot that morning. I guzzled a water I’d had in my backpack, took off my shoes, and made my way into the freezing lake. I looked up at the snowy peaks we’d just run up to, still in awe of the beauty of the High Sierras, and happy to back down to 7,000 feet, the air thick and bountiful.

Fontana Speedway

Saturday, June 30th, 3:27 p.m. – Tuff Campground, Mammoth Lakes, CA

Silvio and Regina, the postdoc supercouple from Argentina, were driving us back to campsite from the run, with a stop at Von’s, the local grocery store, for lunch. We devoured cold cut sandwiches and Colin a donut and sat in the warm car on the way back, tired and full, until Silvio made the left hand turn into the campsite off of 395.

As we took to the gravel driveway, we heard a shout and saw frantic motion from the right side of the car.

“Hey! Hey! Hey!” the old camp manager with blonde hair and gold-framed sunglasses screamed, running out of her camper towards us, waving her arms. Silvio put on the brakes and rolled down the windows.

“It’s 10 miles per hour,” she scolded into the passenger-side window, apparently perceiving Silvio’s 13mph as 43.

“Ah, okay, sorry, sorry,” Silvio said apologetically.

“You’re dusting everyone out!” she insisted in her southern-like yet implacable accent.

“Okay, sorry, got it,” Silvio cooperated, giving a thumbs up.

“It’s not NASCAR,” she continued.

“Okay,” Silvio said smiling, all of us fake-laughing.

“And tell your friends!” she said.

“Okay, we will,” we said collectively as she began to retreat toward the camper.

Silvio rolled up the windows and lightly pressed down on the gas pedal.

“Keep it under 10, Silvio!” Regina said from the passenger seat, trying to keep her laughter under wraps.

“Yeah, you agree with her I see,” Silvio played along, his eyes raised and lips pressed together.

“Yeah because you are dusting everyone out!”


Saturday, June 30th, 4:33 p.m. – Convict Lake, Mammoth Lakes, CA

“I feel like people only have kids so that they have someone to take care of them when they get old,” Justin continued as him, Matt Perez, Joseph, and I neared the end of our short hike around Convict Lake, named for the escaped fugitives who made it here all the way from Carson City, Nevada, in 1871.

“Alright, Justin,” we said laughing, both immensely amused by and concerned about the barrage of hot takes we’d just heard over the last hour.

Hot Springs

Saturday, June 30th, 7:30 p.m. – Tuff Campground, Mammoth Lakes, CA

I opened another lager and sipped it while patiently waiting for the instant mac and cheese to finish boiling.

 “Want a whiskey?” Colin asked, handing me a bottle of Jamo.

“Uhm, yeah,” I replied, making up my mind as he held his arm out.

Colin was a fellow east coaster and had moved here five years before for a job after finishing grad school at Columbia. We’d both known some of the same runners we’d competed against in college or ran with at one point or another, and along with Ryan, he helped to administer club functions. We sipped whiskeys from flimsy paper cups and bullshitted about life back east and job plans.

“Mac and cheese!” called Megan, another de facto trip leader and easily the most positive, upbeat and optimistic one on the team — and our resident gourmet chef for the weekend.

One bowl. So good. Two bowls. Three bowls. Four.

Once we’d devoured the Kraft like you’d think a bunch of runners after a 14 miler would, it was s’mores time. Matt Weber got a fire going and Julia, an Anthropology PhD student and desert expert, gathered some sticks for marshmallow roasting. Weber picked one up and started to roast a mallow. I concocted a s’more and sat back down with Colin and Weber and drank another whiskey. It was hot springs night, after all, and what’s better than a desert hot spring with a little whiskey in your system?

A few people had mentioned the hot springs as a possible activity for the night, and now it was officially on the agenda. We’d waited until it was sufficiently dark, piled into a few cars, and headed northbound on 395.

No one had remembered exactly how to get there. There was the road by the church, but after that it was anyone’s guess. I rode in Kim’s car, and she took the lead, having what the others decided was a superior recollection of location. We had to go through a cattle gate, she said, but there were a few. We tried the first. No go. We tried the second. Bingo.

I followed the others into the pitch dark abyss and found my feet on top of a boardwalk, the apparent route to this mystical desert beach we were bound for. I’d already been uncertain of what to expect (again, east coast), and the darkness wasn’t helping. How big were these springs going to be? Are they actually that hot? How are they even hot in the first place?! (“Earth magic,” Weber explained.)

Eventually, we heard a couple of voices to the left of the boardwalk and shined a light and their direction. Voila, there it was. We hopped off the boards and approached the spring, finding a couple whose romantic night we’d certainly just ruined. One by one we plopped into the hot tub-temperature water, dropping shoulders-deep under the surface, relief from the desert air that had already begun its nightly chill.

We joked and relaxed and welcomed the increased blood flow to our sore muscles, all of us boiling like the mac and cheese we ate that night. We gradually took notice of the unknown naked man that had at some point emerged from the abyss and joined us, and gradually accepted that a desert hot spring of all spots was probably no place for societal norms to begin with. And we looked up and marveled at the Milky Way and the constellations and tried hard to think of a better way to end a day as the moon rose over the hill in the distance.


Sunday, July 1st, 8:46 a.m. – Mosquito Flats Trailhead, Mammoth Lakes, CA

“What’s the route today?” I asked Ryan, driving with his gauze-free hand.

“We’re starting at Mosquito Flats, and it lives up to its name, so we’ll try to be brief there,” he replied. “Then the trail goes all the way up to Morgan Pass. It’s a little higher than yesterday, about 11,000 feet.”

Oh great, I gulped. We’d be starting at 10,000 feet, though, only netting 1,000 feet of climbing. And I’d felt surprisingly great considering the 14 miler was less than 24 hours before. Thank you, hot springs. Maybe the run wouldn’t be so tough.

We again went through all of our pre-run rituals and set off up the trail. It was again Sid, Colin, Weber, and me, along with Joseph this time. The trail very quickly showed it would not be a hostile one, and meandered mostly flat and occasionally upward along green meadows and pristinely clear lakes and over gushing creeks. I could feel my chest starting to tighten again, my heart working overtime to get the sparse amounts of oxygen through my arteries faster. But there was no denying the altitude symptoms I’d experienced the day before were nowhere near as severe.

Then came the serious elevation gain. We’d just come to a wide creek and stopped.

“Where is the trail?” one of us asked.

Quick stream crossing on the trail to Morgan Pass

Our eyes scanned in circles looking for a way out of the dead end. The creek had seemed too wide for it to be on the other side, we thought, but eventually we came to the realization that we’d have some water to cross. Just behind the creek sat an array of more imposing, gigantic peaks. It was going to be a tough last half mile to Morgan Pass. We slowly made our way across the creek, carefully hopping from skinny rock to skinny rock, escaping with dry shoes on the other side. Then we hit the switchbacks hard. Our turnaround destination was in sight, 11,000 feet. The light-headedness had begun to come back hard and fast. The trail’s benignity had quickly turned vicious. I stared at Sid’s New Balances again and tuned the rest of the world out. Right, left. In, out. Eyes peeled. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

Three and half miles into our run, we had made it to the pass. We stopped and took in the views of the lush pastures below snow-capped mountains, and I laughed to myself again at such an inconceivable juxtaposition.

Julia crests Morgan Pass

“Wanna keep going for a mile and half and make it 10 for the day?” Colin asked.

I knew Sid had planned on 10, but Colin had told me on the way up we was going seven, and was going to be my excuse to bail if I was feeling the altitude again.

“Damnit. Fine,” I laughed in reply.

The five of us surged down the other side of the pass, through the bright flowered-fields. I’d felt like Heidi frolicking in the Swiss Alps, minus the goats. At mile five I stopped and picked a few of the yellow ones, smelling their cologne-like pollen. Sid picked some, too.

“I’m bringing these for Algernon,” he said, referencing Daniel Keyes’s short story, Flowers for Algernon, in which a mentally disabled man, Charlie, rids his disability after he undergoes a procedure that had been tested successfully on a mouse, Algernon. Algernon’s condition later begins to deteriorate to the point of death, however, and Charlie is left grappling with his imminent fate. His final request is for someone to place flowers at the mouse’s grave, a symbol of thanks to Algernon for allowing him to experience a new outlook on life, if only for a short time.

As we ran back toward the trailhead, I thought more about Algernon and Charlie and realized that, in a lot of ways, the entirety of the trip had been my Algernon. I’d seen sights that, at far as mountains go at least, very well may be the most breathtaking I’ll ever see. I’d eaten snow in June and sat in a hot spring in the middle of the desert, the cosmos aglow above. I’d felt a renewed appreciation for the value found in travel. And most importantly, I’d met wonderful people who I’d maybe never see again after a few weeks. But I’d experienced these things nevertheless, regardless of their yet-unknown degree of finality, and, as we pushed on together through the meadows, I considered myself fortunate to have done so.

Will, Sid, Joseph, and Colin near Morgan Pass

This post was written by Will Edwards.

6/3 – 27 Club Records Set as Epic Spring Season Comes to a Close

Strawberry Canyon Track Club competed in both road and track races in the Spring 2018 season

In yet another successful and prolific racing season, Spring 2018 was very kind to Strawberry Canyon Track Club. Things were bound to get off to a good start when a random mid-January track workout became the most highly attended practice in club history (with 40+ Berries in attendance!); however, this was just the first of many club records that would fall in the subsequent months. 

Lots of Berries putting in the early season work at a Monday interval session

Between the tracks and roads, the first five months of 2018 played host to an astonishing 27 new club records (and far, far more personal bests) covering 21 different disciplines ranging from 60m hurdles to the marathon, and spanning seven age / gender divisions. (As always keep up to date with the latest club records and SCTC PBs on our records page!)

  • Open Men 60m Hurdles – Stephen Bailey
  • Open Men 110m Hurdles – Stephen Bailey
  • Open Men 200m – Stephen Bailey
  • Senior Men 400m – Tom LeGan
  • Open Men 400m Hurdles – Stephen Bailey
  • Senior Men 800m – Tom LeGan
  • Open Men 1500m – Harmen Hoek
  • Masters Women 1500m – Vanessa Lordi
  • Senior Men 1500m – Tom LeGan*
  • Masters+ Women Mile (road) – Jen Bayliss
  • Masters+ Men Mile (track) – Stephen Agar
  • Open Men 3000m – Harmen Hoek
  • Open Women 3000m – Megan Gentes
  • Masters Men 3200m – George Torgun
  • Open Men 3000m Steeplechase – Ben Harper
  • Open Women 5000m (track) – Madeline Duhon
  • Masters Men 5000m (track) – George Torgun
  • Masters+ Men 5k (road) – Jaime Heilpern
  • Masters+ Women 5k (road) – Jen Bayliss
  • Open Men 10000m (track) – Jonathan Briskman
  • Masters+ Women 10k (road) – Jen Bayliss**
  • Open Men 15k – Jonathan Briskman
  • Open Women 10 mile – Madeline Duhon
  • Masters+ Women 10 mile – Jen Bayliss
  • Senior Men 10 mile – John Hill
  • Masters+ Women 25k – Jen Bayliss***
  • Open Men Half Marathon – Jonathan Briskman
  • Senior Men Marathon – John Hill
*Club’s all-time best age-grade performance, 94.68% at the Sacramento State Open
** USATF National Masters 10k Champion, 37:19 at the James Joyce Ramble
*** USATF National Masters 25k Champion, 1:40:13 at the River Bank Run
But to look only at the records is to see only a small part of the story of the season’s success. 

On the track

The temporary closure of SFSU’s track lead to a circuit with a different look than usual. As is tradition, however, the season started with the three Cal All-Comers meets in January and February on our home track. A great opportunity to shake off the cobwebs and get the feel for race pace, these meets, along with a trip down to Los Gatos for their All-Comers meet, served as the launching point for the season.

Madeline Duhon runs to a 5000m club record at the UC Davis Aggie Open

Things really got rolling at the Oxy Distance Carnival in Los Angeles and the Aggie Open in Davis in mid-March, which is where the first records started to fall. Next up was the first of two trips to the state capital for the Sacramento State Hornet Invitational, which was the grounds of several eventual season bests.

As April rolled around, focus shifted to Hayward where the club favorite meet SFSU Distance Carnival (temporarily relocated) and CSU East Bay Open took place. Between these two meets many club records and PRs fell as Berries took advantage of highly competitive fields. Late April featured a return to Edwards Stadium at Cal’s Brutus Hamilton Open, where unfavorable conditions lead to some off-the-mark times. However, the season was certainly not over.  

Ryan Smith competes at the Cal Brutus Hamilton Open

May brought about the final meets of the season with the Sacramento State Open and Oxy Invitational. These meets again had a high concentration of breakout races, most notably the setting of the club’s all-time age grade performance by Tom LeGan in Sacramento with a 4:10.97 1500, corresponding to an astounding 94.68% age grade, at the age of 51.
While the major spring meets have come to a close, some Berries are diligently pushing forward towards some summer meets. More fast times sure to come!

On the roads

SCTC “B” Centipede placed 8th at Bay to Breakers

While the spring has historically been reserved for track within SCTC, in 2018 the open men decided to try their hand in the PAUSATF road circuit. The year-long Grand Prix is but halfway through, however it is off to a promising start. The Open Men have locked down 2nd place team finishes at the SACTOWN Run 10 mile and Devil Mountain Run Mile of Truth; 3rd place finishes at the NorCal John Frank Memorial 10 mile and Stow Lake Stampede; and 4th place finishes at the Super Sunday Run 10k and Reach for a Star 5k. The Open Women also scored their first ever roads team, debuting with a strong 2nd place finish at the SACTOWN Run 10 mile.
Outside of the PAUSATF, some seriously impressive road performances took place. Kicking things off, Jonathan Briskman won San Francisco’s Hot Chocolate 15k, setting a club record in the process. In the Boston Marathon in treacherous conditions, John Hill won the Senior Men’s division, also setting a club record. Meanwhile, guest member Jen Bayliss won three (!) USATF Masters National Championships, the cross country title in Tallahassee in January, the 10k road title at the James Joyce Ramble, and the 25k road title at the River Bank Run.

SCTC “A” Centipede placed 3rd at Bay to Breakers

The season’s final hurrah went down in late May at Bay to Breakers. For the first time, Strawberry Canyon fielded two full centipede teams (which involves attaching 13 people together to complete the 12k course as a single unit). Now a club favorite tradition, the two squads finished 3rd and 8th in the competitive centipede division, competing against several other PAUSATF rivals.

Happy Berries after Bay to Breakers

The road season will continue all summer long, with the Across the Bay 12k, Los Gatos One Mile Bang, Morgan Hill Freedom Fest 5k, and of course, Wharf to Wharf, coming up in June and July. Others will take a well deserved break after a long and rewarding spring season. But then it’s back to work, and training will begin for others for SCTC’s marquee season, cross country. We’ll be practicing throughout the summer and hitting the trails around the Bay Area and beyond for some destination long runs. See you out there!