3/9 – Romp at the River! Berries Bury Field at NorCal10

They resumed where they left off; the Berry Masters increased their road win streak to five with an decisive win at the NorCal 10 Miler.  The first race of 2012 was in Redding, and unlike most winter events this riverside jaunt was done in overly warm conditions.  With temperatures in the 70s and a nice breeze the times were comparatively modest when lined up against previous results.   SCTC fielded an 8-man squad, hoping to piece together a respectable masters and seniors team.  Approximately 300 runners toed the line for the 10 mile event, but not a huge contingent of PA runners.  Despite a pre-reg roster which listed several of the top age-groupers, many did not show.  This made the club’s task a bit easier.

Short-distance specialist Jeff Mann took the lead early for the Berries, with Tim Keenan and Jeff Teeters not far behind.  Next came Alan Dehlinger and Mike Singleton (who drove up that morning from Modesto!).  Thom Trimble and Bill Salacuse, both running their first PA race in nearly a year, tagged along behind at about 6:30 pace.  Oh yeah, then came Bill Reed, testing out his newly-50 legs.  Newly-50 is the new 40!

Mile 1-ish Bridge and Path

Mile 1-ish Bridge and Path

The first three miles are rolling to flat and included a very scenic view of Mt. Lassen (the only kind there is, if you think about it), along with a trip across the Ribbon Bridge.  The warm weather made the cool tumbling waters of the Sacramento River below look quite enticing.   By 4 miles the fun and sightseeing was over as the course shot up a sizable hill.  Mann continued to lead with Keenan and Teeters in tow.  Reed was moving up quickly, yet politely.  All four were under 6 minute pace at halfway.  Mike, Alan, Thom and Bill S. followed in that order as they traversed the 1.5 mile residential loop.  Mann, the short-distance specialist was reminded of why it was his specialty when his calves began to complain.  Tim took the lead for the club, briefly, before he realized he might have gone out a smidge too fast for such semi-sweltering conditions.   And then alonnnng came Jeff T.  Much like the Republican Primary, with it’s a whack-a-mole leader of the moment, there was yet another front man.  Teeters’ term as club top gun was also brief, as smart-starter Bill Reed took the wheel of the victory express on the return leg.

Bill held the #1 spot to the finish, just missing the 1 hour mark (60 minutes is the new 55!).  Teeters was less than a minute back with a sub-61 while Tim and Jeff M finished shortly thereafter to give the team four men under 63 minutes.

Ribbon Bridge

Ribbon Bridge - 3.5 and 7 miles

Thom eventually caught and passed Alan, but Mike held him off to garner the 5th and last scoring spot on the masters team.  The winning masters team as it turned out.  Mike finished in the mid 66s while Thom just missed skating in under 67 (stupid clock!).  Alan was another minute back followed by Bill with a 70 minute effort.

Since there were no strong contenders in the masters field (or even weeny contenders to be honest), SCTC was able to drop Tim down to the 3-man senior team and allow Bill to score on the first place 40+ squad.  The 1.5x points race gave the masters a 15 point tally, while the 3-man senior squad scrounged 5th(behind all 4-amn teams) good for 9 points.  Both teams faired much better than the 2011 team, which saw the masters in 3rd and no senior team (No Points for YOU!).   More betterly, the arch-rival masters teams (Ags, WVJS, River City) were not able to scare up enough old farts to make a team, giving the Berries an excellent head start to another season title.   Knock on wood  (it’s the new steel!)

It’s legit…uh huh!

NorCal 10 Course Map







07/14 – Mealy Wins 5K in Ireland

Sam Mealy - Kilmore 5KI hope you’re all well and running like gazelles in what is no doubt brilliant Californian sunshine, I’m a little bit jealous to be honest…
Just a quick update from Ireland – it’s been a good week for me: last Wendesday I lowered my 1500m pb to 4.07 and then on Saturday I won a small 5k road race in 15 26 (attached is a photo I think you’ll like, only one I could find). Pity I wasn’t running like that in the spring but that’s life I suppose. I’m doing one more 5k on the track, gunning for around 15 15, and then I’m heading to mainland Europe in August for a month or so for German beer and Croatian beaches, should be swell.
Oh, and for a 10 euro entry fee for that 5k, I won 100 euro, which is about 130 dollars these days – so it’s definitely worth a SCTC running holiday to Ireland, you’d nearly pay for the trip in race wins alone! Do let me know if you’re ever in this part of the world, I’d be delighted to have people to stay with me in Dublin or Wexford.

05/01 – Big Sur, Prize at 5K

Just when you are sure it’s safe to throw in the proverbial towel, the fist of life gives you a high five!

After the Master Berries put together a spiffy team of over 40s at the Zippy 5K, only to be out-zipped by the Ags, we come into the following weekend hoping simply to put some points, any points, on the board. We essentially took our Zippy team, removed our 1, 2, 4 and 6th best runners, and hoped for the best. The primary goal was to find five royal blue singlets in the chute by the end of the race. The “just show up” strategy of scoring. Outkick a sloth or something.

Meanwhile, the open team brought 3 of the 4 from Zippys. No expectations of a team, just enjoy the scenery and wave to the finish camera before entering the chute. Unlike Zippys, the wind was of the tail variety on the outbound trek, and in your face coming back. The fact that the road-impaired marathon was to start at the same location, made the start logistics a bit more cumbersome (not to be confused with a bit more cumber buns). Many 5Kers found themselves up to 2 miles from the start, rather than the usual spitting distance to the chalk line.

Nuff whining. Okay, maybe a bit more. Big Sur is typically about 30 ticks slower than the zippy Zippy, especially if one is not accustomed to steep plummets down drainage ditches, and awe-inspiring yet ankle-twisting sea-side dirt roads. The one-eighty just before the 2 mile mark is bad enough, let alone you then had to negotiate the steep hill back into the wind heading home. I will leave the part about the snow out at this point; (i.e. dis no track meet baby).

With that said, it comes as no surprise that a few of the Strawberries finished the race looking as though they ate cranberries. No be happy. Times measured with a calendar, if you asked them. But not all was a loss. A select few berries (like those $2 single strawberries you buy around Valentines Day!) had a nice effort despite all the rubbish mentioned before. Tom Haxton again smacked down the coast’s best punishment to record a 15:42. Not only good enough for 6th place, but more notably one place better than his Zippy finish and EXACTLY 30 seconds slower. Wud I tell ya? Huh? On the nearly-Senior side of things, Tim “I think I Keen” Keenan threw down a near-3rd-place finish in the masters div! He was actually 4th, but nearly 3rd sound so much more…..medally. Tim threw down a gnarly 17:19, which was a mere 24 seconds off his Zip time. Dude’s got sand legs!

Running is a team sport. The fall back chant of those individuals who had, how you say…”poopy”…races. You know who you are! Team players! Oy oy oy! David Yu said he stunk the place up, despite the high wind, running only 16:24. It wasn’t all that bad, at just 11 seconds over that 30 second “pride” limit. Keith Gilmore actually had the second best over-under time of the group, when compared to Zippys. His 18:04 was only 26 off his 17:38. Sweet! Oh, and don’t be around this guy with 200m to go. Won’t be pretty for you.

The masters team, after Tim, included Jeff Teeters, whose 18:45 was the biggest pant load of the team. A full minute plus off his stellar 17:36 effort the week before. Bad Jeff, no biscuit for you! Following Jeff were the amazing Tres Miguels, who, as I will get to later, saved the frickin day….Plus One! Mike #1 – Singleton dove for the line to beat 19 minutes. His 18:58 being 50 clicks off last week. Mike Maguire, who shows up more for the food and wine, ran on two bad knees and a so-so bottle of Cab the night before, ran a 19:41, while the third Michael – Mr. Plummer – posted a time resulting in a 7:11 pace. When queried about his race, Plummer retorted “Where the F was everybody!?” (I added the “F” part for drama).

Deeeeespite all this terrible news. The masters were able to rise to the occasion and grab victory from the gums of defeat. They won! Won as in One! Numero uno. Ten points. Gold medal, Mucho dinero. Shorter ride home. You get the point. The “just show up baby” tradition of victory by being less worse than the other teams. High …three baby! The well earned victory moves the mature berries into first place in the GP. Awesome. Who needs the stinkin $2 fancy Valentines berries?

To make things even less worse, the open amigos also scored a full team. With the three guys mentioned way up there in paragraph five (yes, it seems so long ago!) Bill Brusher, at almost 60, coming off chemo and running with a bad Achilles, along with Ross Franco – 72 and going strong – provided the open boys with a 5th place title, along with the accompanying prize money (TBD).

For our next act, we are going to win the Open Women’s division at the Marin 10K with two women, a couple of androgynous guys and a squirrel. Go Berries!


04/24 – Zippy 5K

The PA Short Grand Prix kicked off 2011 with the annual running of the pinheads. The scheduling of this year’s event laid a big egg with those who have strong Easter traditions. While not quite the church verses state quandary, the church verses race issue may have contributed to a few no shows.

The Berries were well represented in the old hare division, but were a little short in the bunny category – scoring a strong masters team but needing to hunt for a few scoring members in the open category. The Strawberry bunnies (what, no chocolate?) include Tom “Jack Rabbit” Haxton who flattened this Easter trail in a solid 15:12 to take 7th overall and only 19 seconds off the winning time. David “Fluffy Bunny” Yu was 23rd overall in 15:43, Jack “Dye My PR” Wallace with a PR 16:25 and Keith “Floppy Ears” Gilmore completing the trio in 17:38.

For the old hares, it was a close 1-2-3 for the Berries top three; all sneaking in under 17 and placing 5-6-7 in the masters division. Jeff “Hop to It” Mann hit the line 16:50, with Darrin “L-Eggs” Banks (16:54) and Tim “Peeps” Keenan (16:55) close behind. The fourth man for the club was Bill “Jellybeans” Reed in 17:23, with seniors Barry “Cotton Tail” Smith and Jeff “Jelly Has-Bean” Teeters right on Bill’s tail in 17:31 and 17:36.

Other masters finishing, and scoring for the Open bunnies, included Chris “Cuddly Ducky” Dodge (17:55) and Mike “Bun buns” Singleton (18:08). If your eyes are not rolling yet, keep reading…

Those not fortunate, or fast enough, to score on the bunnies or old hare teams included Dan “Green Plastic Grass” Sivollela in 18:15; Alan “Easter Basket Case” Dehlinger (18:38) and Thom “Bad Ham-String” Trimble in 19:23 (hand timed).

No animals or personal records were threatened in this event, which saw the masters men take home a Silver egg, with the open bunnies settling for something around 7th place. In keeping with the no holiday is too good for racing, the Marin Memorial Day 10K will indeed by held on Memorial Day. However, rumors that WVTC will one-up Excelsior and Tamalpa by placing the Christmas Relays on Christmas day, are not yet corroborated.