10/12 – Bring on the Johnny (Lawson XC)

This 4.25-mile race features one of the most scenic courses in the Pacific Association as it is held on the undulating single track trails at China Camp. This race was created in honor of John Lawson, a well-known and talented masters runner for Tamalpa who passed away roughly a decade ago. Of note, his uber-talented son, John Lawson Jr., competes for Cal and nearly broke 14:00 at Stanford’s Payton Jordan meet last spring. In addition to the great course, the Tamalpa Runners also provide beer and a free, artfully designed beer mug, thus ensuring the longevity of this race for years to come.

In addition to a few seniors runner strays, the Canyon brought full men’s and women’s teams to the Johnny and the men dominated while the women had to settle for second-place team overall. First across the line for the women was Julia Sizek in her first race as a Berry. She was followed closely by Olivia Hill, Rebecka Oberg, Megan Lang and Megan Gentes. Kimberly Sanchez and Christine Bowlus also competed. (Individual results are below). The open women had to settle for second vs. a determined West Valley TC squad. But note their 46-second “pack time” between the 1-5 scorers, because that element played to their favor later in the season.

The masters men scraped together three able-bodied seniors and hornswoggled them to the starting line. They were led by an impressive effort by Paul Nolan. Eric Gullikson and Carl Rose (coach) were in tow. (results below)

The open men brought their “A” game and really cleaned up the field in a convincing team victory. Jonathan McKinley outkicked Mike Hiscott of West Valley to secure runner-up honors. He was followed by Sean McFarland, Ryan Smith (who won the 1-19 age group yet again), Ed Izaguirre and Brandon Kan (who took second in the 1-19 age group). Following the five scorers was Ryan Lok, Colin Gannon, a New Balance Central Park Track Club transplant competing in his debut race, Justin Huang, Stephen McKinley (yes Jonathan has an older brother so some of you can be concerned now) and Matt Weber.

Open Women (4.25 miles)

6. Julia Sizek 25:46
8. Olivia Hill 25:58
10. Rebecka Oberg 26:20
11. Megan Lang 26:23
13. Megan Gentes 26:32
20. Kimberly Sanchez 28:23
37. Christine Bowlus 28:54

Masters/Seniors Men

Paul Nolan 27:43
Eric Gullikson 28:12
Carl Rose 29:33

Open Men

2. Jonathan McKinley 21:40
4. Sean McFarland 22:14
5. Ryan Smith 22:43
8. Ed Izaguirre 23:05
9. Brandon Kan 23:06
12. Ryan Lok 23:27
15. Colin Gannon 23:55
19. Justin Huang 24:13
23. Stephen McKinley 24:28
24. Matt Weber 24:37

10/4 – Double Trouble – Berries sweet sweep at Presidio XC

The Strawberry Canyon Track Club reached a new and exciting milestone, as both the men’s and women’s teams swept their team races at the rather extreme and sandy Presidio XC course. Apparently the Presidio Army base has one of two objectives as they have now added numerous logs to the very sandy and long up- and downhill at the beginning and end of the race course. They either want to see how challenging they can make the course as it morphs into a mud-run or they want the cross country meet held somewhere else. To add injury to insult, the course was rerouted so runners had to descend the log-strewn sand dune, and its final distance was slightly lengthened from its standard “5K” established in 2010. Our best guess is it is 7-8 seconds per minute slow.

As has often been the case this season the men went first when the weather was favorable and the women were forced to simmer in the mid-morning warmth. The men brought it as the ASICs Aggies also showed up with a full team of accomplished runners, albeit not their very best group. Jonathan McKinley dropped his anchor into the race and gave the field something to think about with a 17:02 mark, good for 4th place. Ryan Smith was next for the Berries in 17:21 (6th). Sean McFarland was a little off his game, but rolled through in 17:22 (7th). Ed Izaguirre came through in 17:27 (11th) and Brandon Kan closed out the scoring in 17:31 (12th). That 29-second spread represented a very nasty pack time which would ultimately deliver the Berries the men’s title in a close race with the Aggies.

Ryan Lok (18:08), Alex Battaglino (18:13), Justin Huang (18:19), Stephen Granger-Bevan (18:25), and Matt Weber (19:08) also got into the mix for the Canyoneros.

Coach Carl (23:16), a seniors runner, and Bill Brusher (27:52), a super-senior, jumped into the masters race for a go. Neither was particularly happy with their race.

Next up was the women’s race and the big questions were, would the hill training in Berkeley translate to a solid performance on the hardest course in the Pacific Association? Would the women be able to win their first team title in club history? And by default would the club have its first double-team men’s and women’s victory in club history? A banner day was within reach as nine hardy women toed the line against the formidable West Valley Track Club.

First across the line for the Berries was Tamma Carleton whose 19:58 4th-place finish represented an excellent performance. She was followed by 800/1500-meter runner Rebecka Oberg who’s been recruited into cross country for the first time since grade school. She was 5th in 20:23. Olivia Hill took 7th in 20:33. Booking in behind Olivia was Megan Lang (21:16 – 15th) and Megan Gentes (21:27 – 16th) to round out the scoring five for the Canyoneras. Following the Megans was Kimberly Sanchez (22:17), Kate Ashley (22:57), Shellin Chuong (23:40), and Jennifer Schick (23:52).

After careful examination of the results which were printed out, it began to dawn on the team that the women had indeed WON this race. A ripple of energy became a great joy as all team members shared in the women’s celebration. It was official – they had notched their first-ever team victory! And by association, this was also the first time the club had ever won team titles in the men’s and women’s open races. Needless to say it was a very satisfying day for the club. Congratulations to everyone!

9/27 – Willow Hills Open XC 5K, Men win!

The open men went up to scenic Willow Hills near Folsom and snagged a much-needed team victory to support their PA-USATF Grand Prix points totals, escaping with a close win over SRA Elite on a fairly rugged course. We did not send a full women’s team and one super-senior competed as well.

Here are the results.

Open women

4. Rebecka Oberg 19:22
14. Jennifer Schick 20:10 (2nd 1-19)
31. Shellin Chuong 21:14

Open Men

8. Sean McFarland 16:21
13. Ryan Smith 16:42
19. Stephen Granger-Bevan 17:04
23. Jack Wallace 17:21
33. Matt Weber 17:45
43. Dan Anderson 19:02

Masters men

Bill Brusher 26:22

9/21 – Berries run solidly at Garin XC

On a pretty and pleasant fall morning that grew quite warm later, the Canyoneros brought full open men’s and women’s teams to the Garin Park XC Challenge in Hayward. This course is a club favorite, a rollicking 3.15-mile course that everyone always seems to enjoy. Inspired by the promise of post-race burritos at Los Cocos, the men as a whole ran well, and props to Sean McFarland who nailed a course PR by 11 seconds. Still, we came up short of winning outright to the deep ASICs Aggies team and had to settle for second. Also of interest, Ryan Smith, Ed Izaguirre, Brandon Kan and Matt Berberick ran very good times for the course and represent a formidable quartet of Cal undergraduates.

The women did not bring all of their top runners but gave it a game effort, and ended up with a third-place team finish. It also warmed up considerably by the time they had to race and some felt the effects of the heat. Of particular note, Olivia Hill fared quite well in the women’s race and Kimberly Sanchez turned in a breakthrough performance.

A couple of masters runners (seniors) who raced in the codgers race were in the mix as well, including coach Carl, but they did not field a full team.

Masters men (3.15 miles)

Scott Strait 20:29
Carl Rose 21:25

Open Men (3.15 miles)

4. Sean McFarland 16:03
8. Ryan Smith 16:35 (1st 1-19)
10. Ed Izaguirre 16:43
14. Brandon Kan 16:56 (2nd 1-19)
16. Matt Berberick 17:02 (3rd 1-19)
18. Alex Battaglino 17:06
25. Jack Wallace 17:31
27. Abraham Aldaraca 17:43
35. Matt Weber 19:00
37. Daniel Anderson 19:12

Open Women (3.15 miles)

8. Olivia Hill 19:27
13. Megan Gentes 20:10 (1st 1-19)
16. Megan Lang 20:16
21. Kimberly Sanchez 20:36
25. Jennifer Schick 20:39 (2nd 1-19)
34. Camille Plantier 21:39 (3rd 1-19)

9/14 – NorCal XC Challenge Redding – Men 2nd

An adventurous crew went up to Redding on Sept. 14th in an attempt to snag a men’s open team victory, but the Humboldt Track Club showed up rather randomly. It was a challenge for us to cobble a deep team together for the long drive, that involved an overnight camping expedition. The men’s team took second overall on a hilly and slowish course, and the women entered one lone entrant, Megan Gentes the stalwart.

Women (5K)
5. Megan Gentes 19:59 (1st 1-19)

Open Men (8K)
6. Sean McFarland 27:57
8. Ed Izaguirre 28:22
13. Ryan Smith 29:03 (1st 1-19)
19. Stephen Granger-Bevan 29:44
23. Justin Huang 30:02
67. Dan Andersen 34:37

 

9/7 – Women rule, men survive GG Park XC

Girl Power rules at Golden Gate Park XC with 2nd-place effort; Open Men snag 2nd; Oldies…finished

The blue-collar and blue singlet-clad Strawberry Canyon Track Club brought their hammer and tongs to the no-holds-barred, 4.12-mile Golden Gate Park XC Open meet held on Sunday, Sept. 7th. We fielded full teams for the open women, senior men’s (50+), and open men’s races, but the clear highlight of the day was the race day shocker delivered by women’s team, which had never competed (as a group) in a race of this magnitude.

The SCTC women had been kept on the down-low for a few months, allowing them time to train together, build up a summer base, and to establish a mutual bond. The group’s emergence has been compelling to witness as they all trained in a speedy, tight pack, but would this translate to a strong race-day performance? They had yet to really test their mettle in the heat of competition. This race represented that test as they ended up in a hard-fought battle with four teams vying for second place.

Most of us would have been cool with a solid 4th-place team finish in what was a loaded women’s field, and ecstatic with a third-place finish. But these women, quite frankly, delivered one of the finest team performances in club history, setting the Pacific Association on its collective ear by upsetting three nationally regarded teams, West Valley Track Club, the Impala Racing Team and the ASICs Aggies to take second-place honors behind last year’s 9th-place team at USATF Club Nationals – New Balance Silicon Valley.

Rebecka Oberg went out leading the chase pack for about three miles and had a moment of doubt, but she rallied at the three-mile mark as teammate Tamma Carleton passed her, encouraging her to keep at it. Tamma ended up taking top spot for the Berries, rolling to an outstanding 9th-place overall finish in 25 minutes, six seconds, with Rebecka a slim six seconds behind her in 11th-place. Right behind Rebecka was a very impressive performance from Olivia Hill, who nailed down a sterling 14th-place finish.

Rounding out the scoring team was the Force of Megan as both Megan Gentes (18th) and Megan Lang (19th) finished in an identical time of 25:37.

These women had been so closely matched in workouts we sensed they would finish somewhat close to one another. But they slashed the field with an almost unheard-of 31-second “pack time” (differential between first and fifth scoring runners) an accomplishment which elevated them to an improbable second-place team finish.

Behind the scorers, Camille Plantier had a great breakthrough race in 27:32. Kimberly Sanchez had to work with a sore foot and finish in 28:39. Naomi Wilcox was next for us and finished in 29:39.

The seniors men (50-plus for you whippersnappers) did manage to bring four runners to the line and we seem to have been the 5th-place overall team. Scott Strait finished just ahead of Paul Nolan. Coach Carl crossed the line in 28:31, and 60+ Bill Brusher ended up just running to finish with a time of 36:08.

What is interesting about Scott is he and Eric Gullikson (who ran a road race, see below) are 59. Keith Duncan is currently 60 and crushing the PA circuit. Only three super seniors are required to score at PA meets. Needless to say this will be an indomitable trio of oldsters for 2015 Club USATF XC Nationals which will be held in San Francisco!

Last but not least the open men ran a smart race. A few teams were no-shows or watered down so they were able to eke out a much-needed second-place team finish to assist their Grand Prix title hopes. Sean McFarland is starting to come back after a summer of foot tendonitis, and he paced the Canyoneros with a good performance of 21:36. Not too far back was newcomer Ed Izaguirre, a strong runner who recently moved here from San Luis Obispo after training as part of the Cal Poly Distance Project. Ryan Smith followed him a few ticks back. Greg Timblin and promising freshman Brandon Kan closed out the scoring for the Berries.

In the next wave, Alex Battaglino seemed to be rounding into form a little bit and he was next. In the chase pack, Stephen Granger-Bevan had a really solid race as did Justin Huang.

Here are the individual results for the racers:

9. Tamma Carleton 25:05
11. Rebecka Oberg 25:12
14. Olivia Hill 25:22
18. Megan Gentes 25:37
19. Megan Lang 25:37
Camille Plantier 27:32
Kimberly Sanchez 28:39
Naomi Wilcox 29:39

66. (23rd 50+) Scott Strait 27:09
69. (25th 50+) Paul Nolan 27:14
Carl Rose 28:31
Bill Brusher 36:08

16. Sean McFarland 21:36
19. Ed Izaguirre 21:47
20. Ryan Smith 21:50
27. Greg Timblin 22:13
28. Brandon Kan 22:17
31. Alex Battaglino 22:26
35. Stephen Granger-Bevan 22:40
Justin Huang 23:01
Edward Hill 23:09
Kevin Hsu 24:40
Joshua Seeherman 27:29

There is also a brief recap from the Walnut Festival 5K and 10K from Tim Keenan:

At the Walnut run, I did a 35:51, neither fast nor slow, but considering there are two 180-degree
turns on the course, and my age, I’ll still take the overall win (edit, he has tried to win this race for 22 years, so congrats to Tim, he can chalk that one off the list).

The rest of the group also turned in stellar individual performances, and though his time was nowhere near what he is capable of when fit, it was a pleasant surprise to see original Pacific Striders club founder Thom Trimble back in a race after a lengthy hiatus. (History lesson, we combined the 1983-2009 Striders aka older guys like me, Tim, and Thom, with SCTC aka new blood in 2009).

The 5K race results:

Eric Gullikson – 18:51 – top 55-59
Keith Duncan – 18:57 – top 60-69
Kate Ashley – 20:22 – 3rd female
Thom Trimble – 22:28 – 3rd 55-59

8/26 – Time Trial, Take 3

The 3rd Annual Strawberry Canyon TX/Cal XC time-trial turned on the fire with an 800 followed by three competitive heats of the 5000-meter time trial. You could see the tumbleweeds start to gather as people showed up in pairs and small groups, either to warm up or watch. The Cal track coaches came to observe the action, and the highlight had to be the remarkable film work of Elliot Jaramillo, who filmed this with all sorts of hand held cameras including one mounted on a remote controlled helicopter for wide angle shots. Who said running can’t hit the big time?? His work is amazing and people should start to really keep an eye out for it.

Shameless plug for Elliot’s web page. Here is a sample of his fine work: https://vimeo.com/103667919

First up was a lone entrant in the 800, Cal freshman Leonardo Valdez Ordonez, who was rabbited by our own Abraham Aldaraca for 500 meters. Hoping to go out about five seconds slower than he did, Leondro whipped through the first 400 in 59 seconds, seemed a little miffed that it was so speedy, but dug in and committed to the quick pace. It paid off with a sizable 4-second PR as he crossed the line in a solid 2 minutes, 6.67 seconds. The light went on for Leonardo, who now visualizes a sub-2:00 in his future.

There were also three sections of the 5000 for competitors, and there were probably more spectators than entrants. The first heat was designed to see if there were any women capable of walking on to the Cal team. We also sprinkled in a few club members and appropriately seeded athletes.

FYI – All times were rounded UP to the nearest second.

Bradley Afrolian, a UC Santa Barbara transfer, has just left their school’s running club for us, and he responded by winning his heat in 17:13. Jennifer Schtick and Flora Lai battled it out for first woman, and Flora prevailed with a bit more sensible pacing as the first lap went out in 80 seconds. Olivia Hill and Megan Gentes, fresh off a challenging cross country race over the weekend, were content to tempo together. And 60-year-old stripling and Strawberry Canyon TC-er wunderkind Keith Duncan hammered home a very impressive 18:51, a time which he can actually be expected to improve upon.

Full results of the first heat are below:

Heat 1

17:13 Bradley Afrolian (PR)

17:34 William

17:57 Kevin Hsu (PR)

18:14 Flora Lai

18:16 Jennifer Schtick 

18:40 Olivia Hill (PR)

18:42 Megan Gentes

18:52 Keith Duncan

19:09 Danny

In heat two the action was fierce up front as Anthony Joel Castro performed excellent pacing duties, knocking off perfect 72-second 400-meter splits. After it became a battle of wills and Matt Duffy carried the day with a pack of six. Duffy was gamely followed by SCTC-er Ryan Smith, Brian B. Gillis, incoming Cal freshman Brandon Kan, Eoghan Totten from Ireland, and SCTC veteran Sean McFarland trailed just off the pace.

Smith faded a bit and Kan hung on to the leaders for 4K and was on 15:10 pace, and then faded pretty hard in the last 800. Brandon’s performance was actually very impressive and his finishing time did not properly reflect the quality of his effort. An even paced race would have netted him a 15:20-25 mark.

Behind them Torrey Olson and incoming Cal frosh Matt Berberick paced more sensibly. Matt ended up PR’ing by over a minute with a 15:48 mark so he was ecstatic. We also had some other old hands in the race, including Jack Wallace, Rory Runser, Justin Huang and Matt Weber.

Heat 2

14:58 Matt Duffy

15:16 Sean McFarland

15:16 Brian B. Gillis

15:45 Ryan Smith

15:48 Matthew Berberick (PR)

15:49 Eoghan Totten

15:52 Torrey Olson

15:57 Brandon Kan (PR)

16:19 Jack Wallace

16:27 Rory Runser

16:33 Justin Huang (PR)

16:38 Ed

17:55 Matt Weber

The third heat was more spread out. A two-man race ensued up front. Jack Sweeney was hoping to come close to breaking 17:00, which was Tim Keenan’s goal too. They went out a touch hard but Jack was able to surprise himself and hold a personal-best pace. Tim ran a solid effort but fell 12 ticks short of his goal. Kimberly Sanchez worked with Camille Plantier and Jason Tyler Lowe, all of whom netted PRs. It was a nice run for Kimberly because she missed a lot of training over the summer, and it is obvious that her PR has room for improvement. Camille’s summer training paid off with a sub-20:00 and so did Jason’s. Jason was quite pleased but Camille felt like she could have given an even better effort. Look for her to break 19:00 in the not too distant future. Finishing the event for the berries was Steve “Sandal Man” Trutane, who eschewed sandals for bare feet. He completed the 5000 in 21:03.

Heat 3

16:48 Jack Sweeney (PR)

17:12 Tim Keenan

19:37 Kim Sanchez-Diaz (PR)

19:45 Jason Tyler Lowe (PR)

19:47 Camille Plantier (PR)

21:03 Steve Trutane

And props are also in order for Zachary Stauffer, who showed up to the time trial rocking street clothes. The reason? He set yet another marathon PR, this one in 3:00.37 at last weekend’s Santa Rosa Marathon. Yes, thirty-seven seconds off the vaunted three-hour barrier. We’ll blame this one on the earthquake, mmmkay? Great job, Zachary!

8/23 – SCTC Women Second at Ancil Hoffman

Team photo

SCTC women take 2nd at Ancil Hoffman!

The Strawberry Canyon Track Club brought five women to the starting line at the Ancil Hoffman 6K XC race in Carmichael, CA, which was inexplicably flip-flopped with Santa Rosa and became an August race. Regardless, all five women turned in a gutsy effort.

Finishing 5th overall was Olivia Hill, who turned in a well-paced performance, crossing the line in 22 minutes, 47 seconds. Next was Megan Gentes who went out a little hard. She was 6th in 22:57. Megan Lang rounded out the scoring for the Megans, posting up a time of 23:23 in 9th place. Next across the line was the ever-improving Kate Ashley, whose 19th place finish in a solid time of 24:48 represented the club well in her first-ever cross country race. (We appear to have another convert!) And despite spending the bulk of her summer rehabilitating her hip, Kimberly Sanchez bravely toed the line and hung in there to finish in 25:32 (24th place), which helped the berries take second-place!

In combined scoring they finished a scant 9 or so points behind the Impalas, which was good for the second team overall. This is the highest team finish in a PA-USATF race ever recorded for the Strawberry Canyon TC women so a hearty congratulations is in order!

And we all know who among us is waiting in the wings. This was just the tip of the iceberg. Our women’s team might be a top-15 team in the country (better?) when everyone is on the line and fit. Suffice it to say, the other clubs might want to think about getting a little bit nervous right about now…

6/26 – Three Crowns, Masters on the Track

Three. Crowns.

Hello Canyoneros-

Congratulations to Richie LeDonne for winning the Triple Crown in our local East Bay Trail races. He won the Tilden Tough Ten (miler) in May in 57:00-flat. He placed second in the very challenging Lake Chabot Half-Marathon in 1:18.17, and closed his title run out with a victory in the Woodminster Trail race in Oakland’s Redwood Park in 54:38.

Jack Wallace ran 1:31.39 and 1:02.16, and seniors runner (59 years young) Scott Strait ran 1:41.24 and 1:14.16 for those two latter races to place very well also.

At the Pacific Association USATF Masters track championship, the Berries made some serious noise on the oval.

Kevin Downie won the 40-44 400-meter event in 1:00.26; and took second in the 800 in 2:20.95. But the 1500-meter race was there the real excitement was.

M1500 (40-44)

1. Chafik Azerki 4:26.02

2. Kevin Downie 4:27.48

M1500 (45-49)

2. Matt Bogdanowicz 4:38.90

M1500 (50-54)

1. Tim Keenan 4:42.38 (seniors club record!)

2. Bill Brusher 5:59.00

5/11 – Berries Deliver at USF Last Chance meet / Portola 5K / Senior Games

Theraplay 5K

Portola Valley (hilly and competitive PA-USATF road race)

Chafik Azerki 16:28 (3rd 40-49)
Tim Keenan 17:32 (5th 50-59)
Keith Duncan 18:48 (2nd 60-64)
Eric Gullikson 19:35
Jeff Teeters 19:38

University of San Francisco West Coast Last Chance Meet

Cox Stadium at San Francisco State

W 1500 Rebecka Oberg 4:40.48 (club record)
M 1500 Abraham Aldaraca 4:12.43
M 5000 Ryan Smith 14:58.71 (PR) #3 all-time SCTC 5000
M 5000 Alex Battaglino 15:06.21 (PR) #7 all-time SCTC 5000
M 5000 Lauri Takacsi 15:38.55
M 5000 Rory Runser 16:00.88_
Rory and Lauri did a half-ironman the week prior to their race and it took a big bite out of them.

M 4 x 400 team (Abraham, Alex, Lauri, Ryan) 3:58.81 ummm….whelp … #2 all-time SCTC list

Oxy Invite

Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA

W 5000 Megan Lang 18:03.27 #4 all-time SCTC 5000

Seniors Games

Palo Alto, CA

Bill Brusher competed in the 800, winning the 60-64 age group in 2:56.42.