9/1 – “I Had No Idea”

Hey Everyone,

Was another fun weekend for the crew making the trip up to Sacramento for the Rebel Rebellion XC race.

In the Land of the Lost, Anne Ruminski served as the sole representative for the women (GET IT TOGETHER GIRLS!) coming in 22nd with a time of 20:20. Nice job Anne!
Unfortunately, the men (Dan C., Sean, Jack, Ben, Old Man Runser, and Dan A.) had to wait until 10:30 for their race start, and things really started to get steamy. In a rather small field, the Berry Boys did their best:
Dan C – 3rd 22:41
Sean – 4th 22:45
Ben C – 17th 24:36
Jack – 18th 24:41
Rory “Old Man” Runser – 26th 26:59*
Dan A – 27th 27:37
*Rory admitted to learning his lesson, and will not be staying up until 3 AM putting together a 1000 piece puzzle of the periodic table in the future.

The day was not yet done, however, as the team plunged into the heart of downtown Sacramento to visit Jim Denny’s, previously featured on Man vs. Food. Among the group, 4 Hubcaps were ordered (pancakes literally the size of a small child … see picture with hungry munchkin for scale), and no Hubcaps were finished.
Despite the gustatory defeat, the trip was a resounding success for the club. Thanks to all who came along! For those of you interested in competing at Golden Gate Park next week, I’ll send an e-mail to the competition list shortly (if you’re not on it and want to be, LET ME KNOW!).
Always,
Sean

 

 

Proliferation of ImPRessive PeRformaces at Marin

Results
Blame Thom Trimble

If the Marin 10K was a dessert, it would be an ice cream sundae, albeit on Monday. This sundae would be loaded with Strawberry topping. Strawberries topping their personal best that is! Who could have PRedicted the PReponderance of PRs at this event? PeRhaps it could be PRedicated on the PRecipitous downhill nature of this flat course, or the PRoclivity of tailwind over the entire loop route? PRobably not. PRformance enhancing drugs? SPaRe me. Its talent baby!

The PRuning of PRevious bests was no doubt due to the PRudent and PeRsistent PReparation of our PRoud members. That, and maybe the fact it was held on a Monday; the day of speed and pain that is familiar to all those who endure the Coach Carl treatment at Edwards each week. You can’t just buy a fast race; you have to make many small installment efforts over many months to earrrrn one.

Enough of the annoying PR-isms. Wah happened? What happened was nearly two dozen Berries traveled to a race known for fast times, fast competition and a kick-ass track finish. Boo yah! It is also one of the few remaining Classic 10K events left in the Bay Area. Devil Mountain? Nah. Mercury News? Gone. Run for the Parks? AWOL. Run to the Far Side? We miss you Gary! All this talent from the East Bay and it’s not till now that many of the Berries are finally reaping the times so indicative of their hard work. The 10K PR was once the gold standard in determining the “wheels” a runner had. “What’s your sign?” Get out of here. In RunLandia, at least back in the 80s and 90s, we judged one’s worthiness with “What’s your 10K PR?” “Bob’s a mid-34” or “Wendy’s looking to crack 40” may seem like pant size estimation or a significant birthday to most sedentarians, but the real runners knew exactly what that meant.

The parade of PRs was led by Digger Lauter with his 32:10; a totally different zip code from his previous PR. Like a minute. Whoa! Right on his tail in 32:11 was ex-Prez Joe Binder. Joe, fresh off an amazing 100K Worlds effort, decided to take a zero off his race distance and sprint a 10K. Who says ultra guys can’t throw down a quality “middle-distance” effort. Not me. Do not look for Joe to be running the 110 HH any time soon, however, despite the extrapolated time prediction of low 14s.

Following those speedy guys on the “A” team was a somewhat-injured Tom Haxton gutting out a 32:54 and recent club transferee George Torgun (33:45) to claim the 3-4 spots. Completing the scoring team, and yet another PR to boot, was Jack Wallace. Jack whacked nearly a half a minute off his previous 6.2 mile best with a 34:28. This PR will not last long if Jack can find another friendly 10K soon. You betcha. As a team, the open guys placed about 3rd or 4th.

Other open notables from the Berry Patch, making up the “B” team, include Bernie Jones in 34:48, new-member Craig Wildman in 35:33 and Josh Seeherman in a PR 37:39. Long way for a two-lapper ya know.

On the more seasoned-runner side, a few Strawberries showed that their expiration date is still well down the road. Darin Banks hammered out an amazing 34:31 to place 5th in the masters div. Following politely close behind was Rob Elia with a 34:52. Neither were PRs, but when you have been so fast for so long, PRs don’t come knockin quite so often.

Tim Keenan continued his streak of 50-54 blue-ribbon efforts with a near-club-record time of 35:28. Finishing 3rd and 4th in that division were Barry Smith (36:22) and Jeff Teeters (36:27). Tim was dropped down to the masters team to earn us a 2nd place finish, while Barry and Jeff led the 4-man senior squad to yet another victory. The three-four hitters on that awesome senior foursome were Thom “back from Oz” Trimble and Eric Gulikson (PR effort of 39:15). Four in a row baby! Watch yer back Spurs! We now officially lead both the masters and seniors LDR Grand Prix. First time in like…ever.

Chris Dodge took up 4th-man duties on the 40’s squad with a masters-PR time of 37:05. Fifth man Bill Salacuse joined Josh on the “38 Train” , which arrived well ahead of schedule in a 37:34 PR. Next stop for Bill and Josh – a 10K pace that starts with a five! Finger-sizzle on that! The masters managed to grab 2nd place ahead of strong Pamakids and Excelsior teams but just behind a resurgent Aggie quintet. Winning is nothing with a weak field. This year’s masters teams are definitely a big step up from year’s past. Makes winning more worthinessy.

Holding down the 4 and 5 holes for the solid open “B” team were Mike Singleton in 38:20 and da coach Carl. Carl gave his all (and even some of his “some”) over that last 300m on the track, to just crack the 40 minute barrier – 39:59 gun (39:56 chip). Carl, who registered under the name of “C Rose” can now use his full name at the next race. Dassa nize.

On the women’s side of the Berry Basket, Anne Ruminsky charged in just under 39 min, with a chip time of 38:58 to claim 29th female, and 8th spot on the club 10K record list. High Schooler Julia Gulikson nearly reeled in her dad with a 39:25. Just 10 seconds down. No wonder dad ran a PR! Her time was good for numero uno in the under 20 division. The PA is hereby warned.

On to the MILE!! (July 15 in San Rafael) BE THERE!!!

4/1 Berry Seniority Rules at SacTown

Results Photos

by Thom Trimble

We’re not getting older… no wait… We are; but we’re not getting a heck of a lot slower! While our top seniors may all be AARP-eligible, that acronym must stand for Another Amazing Race Performance!

Four guys, all over 50 and all averaging close to 60 minutes for 10 miles. All without losing a single tennis ball off the bottoms of their walkers! This ain’t your daddy’s weekend stroll baby!

While the Berry Masters have typically been the headliners at most races, SCTC finally got a chance to flaunt their seniors. With enough 40-49 guys to handle the scoring for the masters, the 50+ guys were able to fly alone. Not only did they win by nearly 6 minutes they went 1-2-3-4 in the 50-54 division (double take!)

The SacTown 10 was truly a 10 as far as most races go. Not only was it pancake flat (maybe a couple small blueberries) and somewhat interesting view-wise, but mother nature brought her “A” Game too. Perfect weather, thank you ma’am. The top-flight fields egged everyone on to some spiffy times also. If it did not start and finish in the same spot you’d be guessing some tail winds or down hills had some part in the speediousity. Fast as in 47:37 for the winner, and 3 more guys in the 48s! First woman was under 57 also. Smokin!

As expected, the Berry Amazing Win Streak of the masters squad came to an end. Even with our top 5 guys we still had to bow down to a nasty, home-team Rebels squad. We would have squeaked out a second, with a couple 50s drop downs, but this day belonged to the ever-deserving senior team. Over 200 years of team at that! The masters still put up some good times, led by Jeff Mann’s club-leading 58:15. Matt Bogdanowicz, who rarely ventures past the 5K mark, nearly addeded a sub-60 shirt to his wardrobe; Running 10 miles in waffle racers (on a pancake course!) was “not a good idea”, Matt uttered after the race. Beats spikes.

Completing the 40-49 team, and all finishing within a minute of each other were Steve Kraft (62:17), Mike Singleton (62:48) and Bill Salacuse (63:11). This was Steve’s first PA race (non-relay) for the club since 2010. Mike got some payback on Bill after getting nipped by him at the 12K, but Bill was all smiles anyway, with a lifetime 10 mile PR!

The seniors were the story however. Tim Keenan took the gold medal in the 50-54 class with a great comeback time (59:07) from his disappointing NorCal effort. His main competition came from teammate Barry Smith, not far behind in 59:33. The third man on the team was a surprise – Chatham Ross – who has been on injured-reserve since the end of the 2010 XC season. This was Chatham’s first PA road race since 2006! Jeff Teeters was right on Chatham’s heels into the chute, to finish out the scoring team.

Other Berries not fortunate enough to sneak onto a scoring team included Dan Sivolella (63:19), Thom Trimble (64:39), coach Carl Rose (67:44) and Joerg Herbrechtsmeier (76:26).

SENIORS MEN
1 Strawberry Canyon TC, 4:02:14
20 Points ($150)

Tim Keenan, 50 - 0:59:13
Barry Smith, 52 - 0:59:39
Chatham Ross, 53 - 1:01:38
Jeff Teeters, 52 - 1:01:44

MASTERS MEN
4 Strawberry Canyon TC, 5:07:34
14 Points

Jeff Mann, 48 - 0:58:21
Matt Bogdanowicz, 43 - 1:00:57
Steven Kraft, 48 - 1:02:17
Michael Singleton, 41 - 1:02:48
Bill Salacuse, 44 – 1:03:11

More photos at:
http://www.backprint.com/view_event.asp?PID=bp%1Es%40s&EVENTID=99304

The Blues Brothers – Kraft, Sivolella and Ross

 

3/28 – ATB 12K – Another Title for the Berries

Results

You Can’t Spell “Strawberry” Without a “W”

By Thom Trimble

Strawberries, which are known for reproduction by way of “runners”, reproduced yet another stunning victory in the PA Long circuit. Despite notching our sixth (count ‘em – 6!) race victory in a row, there was little time for victory dances or chest bumps in the chute; it was not until days later that we learned, by the skin of our stems, we had nipped three other strong teams by less than a minute. Fate was on our side, but she did not score (no PA card).

A masterful time by Darrin Banks made up for the lack of two of our top four guys from the last race. His mid-42 was good enough for 6th in the over-40 dudes and 2nd 45-49. Behind him on the scorecard were the event’s top two seniors – Tim Keenan, winning his first PA title ever, and Ironman Barry Smith. Barry’s efforts were all the more amazing as he had just run a trail half marathon the DAY before! Does this man know the meaning of “tired”? Don’t he know he be 52 …and a half! Two marathons of life!

Darrin, Tim (1st Senior!), Barry, and Bill

The club’s second-of-three 52-year olds came in for the next spot on the team. Jeff Teeters, who had an uncharacteristically off day, struggled to a 46 minute effort. That was over a minute slower than last year, despite a nice tailwind through most of the course. Our last scoring old guy was a bit of an surprise. Bill Salacuse, last man at the previous PA event, had no excuse to complain about this effort. After throwing down (and stomping in anger) a slothlike 70+ minute 10 miler at NorCal, Bill got his legs and lungs together big time. Thom Trimble’s “48-or-bust” pre-race prediction for Bill was dead on for the 44 year old. Bill snuck in at 47:57, which was not only a high-fiver of a time, but was also ahead of both guys who hammered him two weeks ago, by over 3 minutes. Nice.

Sixth and seventh guys for the team were Mike Singleton and Thom Trimble (the slowest of the cincuenta-y-dosers) who both came in with times in the 48s. Two other Berries also competed for the club – Christoph Wanner (30) who had the fastest time of the day for the club with his 42 flat, and Milton Lorig (59) who earned the “I ran under my age” award, with a time of 57:27. Unlike NorCal we were unable patch together the “remnants” to score another squad.

Early estimates of our team finish had us placing either 2nd or 3rd. Wrong. River City had a strong 5-man contingent, but that contingent was contingent on all five having valid PA cards. One little piggy did not, and we know what happened to that 5th piggy! No score for YOU! The evil Converse-Reebok-Asics-ShoeTBD Aggies also had a fab-five at the starting line, looking like the clear #1 seed. But, that seed did not sprout; the Ags pulled a “Missouri” (NCAA hoops reference) and did not pull through. This was mostly due to Jose Aispuro’s pulled hammy from NorCal. So, the Ags, sans Jose, piled up a few too many ticks of the clock to surpass the efforts of the Berries and had to settle for #2.

New Balance Excelsior was back from the dead with their strongest team since the Cretaceous period. Led by Usain’s older and slower brother – Richard Bolt – along with new-master Dan Rhodes, the New Bs threw a scare into the field of old uns’. But again the quality dropped off before their last man hit the chip mat and they settled for third, only 32 seconds down on us. The Pamakids were not kidding around either, as they threw down a AAA effort with Andy, Anthony and Adam all under 45 minutes. Their 4-5 guys were no slouches either, as they tallied only 52 seconds more than SCTC for fourth. Four teams within one minute! A reminder to lean at the tape and not leave anything on the course (unless you’re the 5th piggy). Yaaay us!

Results can be found here.

3/24 – SF State Johnny Mathis Results

A grim, wet day greeted the 11 rough and ready Canyoneros who descended upon the vaunted San Francisco State University’s track facility like a giant blue tsunami. For the most part, it was a very, very good day for us indeed, despite the steady, bone-chilling precipitation.

Matt Bogdanowicz lined up in the masters Mile against the formidable Rene Sepulveda of the ASICs Aggies as his main competition. A trio of runners ran the first lap in mid-74 and then Matt threw in a 34-second 200-meter surge and never looked back. Bogdanowicz powered his way through the rest of the mile relatively unchallenged in 4:53.06, winning by roughly 30 meters and thereby keeping Jeff Mann’s Johnny Mathis Masters Mile title within its rightful place in the Strawberry Canyon family.

We entered one open woman in the 1500-meter event, Mariel Gray, who had a tough day at the office. She succumbed to an untimely asthma attack and had to live to fight another day after two laps, jogging the rest of the way and finishing in 6:19.59.

Later in the morning, there were several open men’s 1500 heats. Ethan Mark ran his first 1500 of the season and threw down a decent time in the rain (4:06.76), and will improve upon that as the season wears on. Gene Burinsky sliced another second off of his fresh PR set recently at UC-Davis and came home with an impressive 4:10.44. Kai Proschan missed his PR by two seconds in his first 1500 of the year and rode home in 4:20.96.

After a hiatus for the Strawberries (much) later in the day was the open men’s 5000-meter event. The rain did not let up even a tiny bit and in fact it intensified. Most runners conceded that it would be a tough day to set a personal-best on such a wet and sloppy track. NOT SO said the almighty Strawberries!!

Six hardy Canyoneros lined up in the 40-person 5000-meter heat, combined due to the miserable weather as volunteer officials were literally leaving the track before the end of the meet. But neither rain nor sleet nor snow nor hypothermia would daunt the mighty Berries. Joseph Binder showed a little of the Barry Smith gene, blasting a solid tempo on Thursday with Tom haxton and coming back 46 hours later to race in the 5000. King Joe delivered a fantastic race and powered through lap after lap, moving and threading steadily up the field. Using his He-Man ultra-marathon strength he ended up clocking a VERY impressive time of 15:20.50, a four-second PR and took an amazing fifth place here! Next up in the PR department was the first of four PR’ing freshmen Rory Runser, the lanky one who raced yet again in training shoes aka “clunkers.” He too, went out like a seasoned veteran, threaded his way up through the field and smoked a fantastic 12-second PR in 15:44.34. Next across the line was a tiring Digger Lauter in 15:47.75. He felt “off” the whole race, and despite missing his PR by four seconds, he had expected to significantly eclipse that mark in this race.

And the Berries were not done PR’ing in the driving rain, not by a long shot, as Cameron Bronstein rumbled home in 16:08.72, which represented a nifty 11-second PR for the freshman. Mr. Consistency Jack Wallace came across next, and delivered a modest 2-second PR although he is just rounding back into fighting shape. Still, in this game, we have all learned to take any PRs, whether large or small, with utmost gratitude. Coming across next was an elated frosh in Irtaza Haider, who had all but given up on the season after a tough race at UC-Davis two weeks ago. But he stuck with it and dropped 32 seconds off of his Davis time and walloped his PR by 18 seconds, and sailed home with a very respectable mark of 16:25.65.

So in all there were five out of six PRs in the 5000, and another strong PR in the 1500. Great job everyone, for running in conditions rivaling the 2011 PA-USATF cross country championships. frankly I think we can’t wait to see what everyone does on a dry day.

.Here is a link to the 2011 SF State Johnny Mathis results: http://www.sfstategators.com/documents/2012/3/24/Mathis_Results_032412.htm?path=wtrack

10/25 – Women’s Team Shines Brightly at Shoreline XC

The Strawberry Canyon Track Club sent its strongest ever open women’s team (and its motleyest ever open men’s team) to the Shoreline Challenge Cross Country race in Mountain View. The women’s race in particular, was a major barn-burner and a coming out party of sorts for the Strawberries.

The Pacific Association races are somewhat random affairs. For some races, a good number of the top runners stay home, while others are star-studded battles. This year’s Shoreline XC field was stacked almost beyond measure. Virtually all of the PA teams sent their top runners and it promised to be a thriller.

The women’s course was changed to a 3.0-mile cloverleaf-styled course on the dry gravel and choppy hills adjacent to Google’s offices and the Shoreline Amphitheater. Overall finishing results indicated times slightly were slower time than a track 5000.

In a dramatic see-saw affair, Carola Conces and Rebecca Eckland battled and pushed each other to arguably the best race of their lives, and in doing so burned off of a lot of their rivals. They both hit 5:36 at the mile, kind of looked at eachother and more or less thought to themselves: “WTH?? Oh well, let’s try to hang on.”

Going with their natural strengths, Rebecca would surge ahead on the downhills and Carola would surge past her on the uphills. Finally in the final 200 meters, Carola had opened up about three seconds on Rebecca and vanquished the cluster of four runners behind her. While Carola was clear of a lurking group of three other runners, Rebecca now had to pass two strong Impalas (including 1:19 half-marathoner Michelle Meyer), and also needed to fend off a challenge by the ever-dangerous speedster Nicole Campbell of West Valley Track Club.

While Carola sailed to the finish, leading a string of runners in her wake, Rebecca responded to the challenge, put her head down, and unleashed a sizzling final kick, outgunning the other three women for the finish, and fought back to within one second of her teammate, Carola (17:30-12th place), who placed just ahead of Rebecca (17:31-13th place).

Suffice it to say they had both just delivered an absolute monster of a race that even left the announcer a little baffled.

Debuting and finishing third across the line for the Strawberries was Maria Monks, the mighty MIT mathlete and graduate student at Cal. By her own admission, maria said she knew she had gone out a little hard, but she also attained her pre-race season-opening goal of (18:10 on the nose, 22nd place) which was a solid debut run for her. Maria beat some very good PA runners and she is only gong to get stronger and stronger, which will bode very well for the Strawberries in the future.

Next across the line for the Berries was the ever-reliable Cal sophomore Christine Bowlus, who despite missing out on a complete warm-up and coming into the race a bit fatigued this week, still was able to hammer home a strong run of 18:34 (34th place). The Berries fifth woman was Elizabeth Ottenheimer (19:41-58th place) who has been our most consistent participant in the PA fall cross country race circuit. The former teenage distance prodigy is making a good comeback after many years away from running with consistency, and it’s only a matter of time and hard work before she puts it all together.

Overall the impressive women’s team unquestionably turned some heads, and placed a convincing 4th behind the big three in the PA: the ASICs Aggies, New Balance Silicon Valley and the Impala Racing team. There is work to be done but this race instilled some confidence and demonstrated nicely how our women’s team could potentially close the gap on the established teams.

The “open” men’s team entered a hodge-podge crew in their race, but we put five brave (hapless?) souls on the line nonetheless (six if Irtaza is counted, but he was not a PA-affiliated member at the time of the race).

This combined open and masters men’s race took place on a new course of 4.0 miles, and featured a race field that was decidedly less competitive than the women’s race (other than the slew of ASICs Aggies top guns who represented their club at their home race). It was noted that we had the widest age-range spread of any open team (from Rory Runser and Irtaza Haider at age 18, to Bill Brusher at 60).

Joe Binder was motleyest crew runner numero uno for the Strawberry Canyon Track Club, and he utilized this race as a bit of a rust-buster and post-ultra-season-opener after nonchalantly scoring a team gold medal and lifetime achievement for the United States in the IAU World 100K championships in the Netherlands last September by taking 19th in the world. Ironman Joe rumbled home in 21:03-17th place, and will really help us out in the home stretch of the season.

Next across the line was Rory Runser, who ran a decent time of 21:46-31st place. Following Rory was (unscored) Irtaza Haider, who almost set a 4-mile PR on the choppy course with a time of 22:15-44th place.

Then it was up to the “old guys” to close out the scoring for the Strawberries. Seniors all-around MVP Barry Smith had yet another strong performance in the 50-54 age division and finished in 23:51-approx 5th senior. Cross Country masters MVP Daniel Sivolella came across next in 24:23, and super-seniors MVP William Brusher (age 60) closed out the scoring with his time of 28:47 and 12th in his age group.

The men’s team appeared to have finished 5th overall and will concentrate its efforts at future races. Such is the nature of the beast on the very crowded PA-USATF race docket.

9/24 – Garin XC Write-up

A baker’s dozen Strawberry Canyoneros rolled out to the hills of Hayward and took on Garin Park’s very challenging 3.15-mile course. It’s always a bit of a crapshoot trying to convert cross country courses to PRs, but finishing times were 1:15-1:45 off of track 5K PRs across the board, depending on the overall pace.

The masters men’s race was a decidedly mixed bag and the team finished fourth by a narrow 1 pt. margin behind the West Valley Joggers & Striders crew. The best masters news of the day was the electrifying performance of Nick Bingham, a fairly new Strawberry masters runner training with the Jeff Mann crew out of Reno. Nick drilled the course in 17 minutes, 10 seconds, and notched a rousing victory, also turning heads with a nine-second win over the formidable Jaime Heilpern of the ASICs Aggies.

Following Nick was Chris Dodge, who had his best race as a masters runner. His 18:51 mark was good for a strong 21st-place showing. Following Chris was an irked Jeff Mann (26th – 19:18), whose uncooperative back has been his long-term bane on these more jarring race courses. Dan (Mr. Consistency) Sivolella was next (28th) in 19:24. It should be noted here that he has shown up for the most cross country races of any of our masters runner this fall so great job Daniel! Coach Carl Rose jumped in so the club could field a scoring team but he didn’t help out much. He was way out in 64th in 21:56, representing a huge drop-off in fitness, something which was expected given he has not run a serious workout since last fall. (Thanks bum achilles!!).

The open men all ran very good to stellar races at Garin, though they were a bit undermanned and thus narrowly edged by the West Valley Track Club for second place by two points. Pacing them was the Strawberry Canyon juggernaut Greg Timblin, who continued his assault on the PA cross country grand prix. His time of 15:56 was just seven seconds off the old course record, a record which was broken as he pushed a resurgent Neville Davey to break it by nine seconds.

Fourth overall for the Berries in 16:08 was Tom Haxton, who may have run his best race yet for the Strawberry Canyon crew–he will be quite the sledgehammer in November. Behind Tom was Sean McFarland who ran a very solid 16:14 and appears to be coming back well from a bit of a general fatigue deficit. (This is good news for the Berries and bad news for the un-Berries). Dan Chebot (17:08-14th) is just coming back after missing a huge amount of training, and was satisfied with his effort, and Jack Wallace (17:27-16th) rounded out the scoring with a strong close at the end. It should also be mentioned this was a 21-second Garin Park PR for Jack, who’s been running on it since his days as a harrier at Albany High School.

Former Bates College decathlete Andrew Tibbetts was out of the scoring but not at all dissuaded as he continued to demonstrate great improvement as an endurance athlete. His time of 18:11 was good for 26th place. Following Andrew was former Swarthmore College sprinter Keith Gilmore in a strong race (18:38-30th-place). Joshua Seeherman, the former Penn University 800-meter runner, has shown good endurance improvement this fall, and sliced roughly 30 seconds off his former Garin XC course PR. He steamrolled across the line in 19:24 in 35th place.

Sadly, though three of the Strawberry Canyon women (Elizabeth Ottenheimer, Carola Conces, and Christine Bowlus) made the trip to the race, errant directions caused them to arrive only seconds before the start. They opted to salvage the morning with a scenic long run in the park.

9/13 – Golden Gate Park Cross Country Results

The “pre-season” is over and cross country is now in full swing as the Strawberry Canyon Track Club did battle in the fiercely competitive races at Golden Gate Park on 9/11. Most of the runners had very strong performances and there were a few off-days.

First was the women’s 4.14-mile race on a fairly dry course, and the Strawberries had two women entered in the very stiff field. Rebecca Eckland, who’s overcome a lengthy bout with and rehabilitation process from Achilles tendonitis, had a terrific opening race, placing 11th overall in an exceptional time of 24 minutes, 57 seconds. Cal sophomore and triathlon club transplant Christine Bowlus ran a very strong race herself, smoking the course in 26:30 and taking 24-place overall. Christine also won her 19-and-under age group at the prestigious race so great job Christine!

The men’s masters race was next and the Strawberry grays managed to field a full team, which apparently placed fifth or sixth overall. Dan Stefanisko paced the masters men with a solid 24:03 performance, good for 20th place overall in the stacked field. Barry Smith was the 5th senior (50-59) and snared 27th place in a time of 24:23 in a very good effort. Next for the Strawberries was Chris Dodge, who had a breakthrough race in 24:40 (33rd place). Dan Sivollella also had an impressive performance in 24:48 (36th place), which was well over two minutes faster than last year’s effort. Darrin Banks rounded out the team’s scoring but after returning from a work stint in Asia, he had a very tough day, straining his calf after the first lap, effectively taking him out of the race and forcing him to hobble in on the second lap (62nd, 26:21). To add insult to injury, he was listed as a Santa Cruz TC member! Bill Brusher finished in 31:34 in his first tour of GG Park as a 60-year-old, and he was 14th in his age group.

The open men’s race was even more stacked as perennial PA-USATF race winner Phil Reid of the Asics Aggies was relegated to an unaccustomed third-place finish behind Ghiliat Ghebray and Bolota Asmerom, both of whom were timed in one of the fastest times ever recorded on that course (19:54)

Greg Timblin continued his monster season with a 7th-place overall showing in a deep field with his blistering time of 20:43. He had to kick down the very talented WVTC runner Malcolm Richards to get 7th and the only thing I can say is the man is on fire. Next across was Tom Haxton, who has been overcoming TDF issues. He had a very good and tweak-free run in taking 15th-place overall, just behind Neville Davey in 21:09. Sean McFarland was understandably a little miffed at his 23rd-place time of 21:37. Dan Chebot, coming off a lengthy injury of his own and still somewhat off of form, was next for the Berries in 22:24 (36th place). Right on his heels and rounding out the scoring was the Swiss middle-distance wunderkind Christoph Wanner, who negotiated the lumpy course in 22:31 (39th). This rounded out the scoring team and the Strawberries appear to have taken 4th among the open men’s team spots.

The ne’er daunted Strawberries continued to pour it on as several other blue singlet clad harriers barreled across the finish line. George Torgun was 41st in 22:50 in his first race as a Berry; Gene Burinsky was next in 23:33 (51st), and Bernie Jones took 58th in 24:15. Remember Mr. Jones because he used to be very, very fast and he might be the guy who gets in shape and blows up next year. Right behind Bernie was Andrew Tibbetts, the former Bates College decathlete, who had a very good run in 24:17 (59th); Keith Gilmore was hot on his heels in 24:20 (60th-place), and was a little ambivalent about his race. Last but certainly not least was 800-meter specialist Joshua Seeherman, who sliced 37 seconds off of last year’s time in a great race, and he negotiated the course in a respectable time of 25:02 (66th overall).

8/31 – Strawberry Canyon TC 5k Time Trial

A fired up crew of Strawberry Canyon tracksters and friends showed up for the Strawberry Canyon Track Club’s 5000 and 3200-meter challenge on Wednesday, Aug. 31, which was graciously timed by University of California head track coach Tony Sandoval and assistant coach Ann Detmer and photographed by Tom Liu. Roughly 7-8 Cal runners came out to encourage the runners, and a strong sense of espirit de corps was established when two Cal guys each paced one mile of the first heat of the 5000.

There were several compelling storylines in both heats.

The fast heat was small but mighty. Sean McFarland rolled to a 14:59 effort, looking pretty comfortable the whole time. Kenny Rakestraw had fallen off his bike so he had missed a little bit of training, however he managed to notch a strong 9:37 mark at the 3200-meter mark, which stands as tied with David Yu for second on the club’s all-time list. At 11 laps, the throbbing in his deeply gashed (and healing) elbow was too disabling as Kenny fell off the pace and then dropped out, living to fight another day. Tom Haxton was cruising along but his “wonky” hamstring started to twinge at the 2K mark so he opted to pull off the track and save his ammo for a later date.

The real race was among three guys who were scrambling to break 16:00. Christoph Wanner managed to fight his way across the line in first with a time of 15:53, a PR. Next was Rory (no last name), in 15:54, also a PR. Kai Proschan had trained hard all summer for this and drilled a monster PR and scored a 15:58 in a very gutsy effort.

The second heat was very dramatic and 12 runners were entered based on the 16:30 cut-off time for heat one. One of the intriguing runners was Kathleen Uyttewaal, an incoming freshman who’d been working out with the Strawberries for a spell, and this time-trial was her one and only audition to make the Cal team. Despite the fact she went out a (cough) little hard, Kathleen settled down and thanks to excellent pacing work by Strawberry Canyon TC graduate student and orienteering god Jonas Kjall. Kathleeen closed very well and netted a roughly one-minute PR in 17:21! Needless to say the Cal coaches snatched her up as a walk-on for the Cal cross country team before she had even managed to cool down.

Eric Thomas and Darrin Banks went out hard in heat two, opening a gap on the rest of the field early. Eric was able to sustain his pace a little better and finished in 16:37, while Darrin Banks netted a masters PR of 16:50, a 45-49 age group time that should rank very highly on the Strawberry Canyon Track Club’s all-time list. Newcomer Chris Fuentes made his presence known with a solid 16:54 performance, and only looks to be getting faster. Not to be outdone, Tim Keenan, who just hit 50, recorded the fastest ever track 5000 in club history in 17:03, a time he was quite pleased with.

In tow was an even more remarkable performance turned in by NB Excelsior runner Tom Bernhard, who popped a 17:06 at the tender age of 60 years old!! This would be an American track record by 12 seconds if it were ratified. Hanging on to the Tim and Tom train was Keith Gilmore with a mark of 17:09, which he netted despite a very fast first half of the race.

Meanwhile, whipping down the straight-away with her long, powerful strides was Kathleen, the precocious Cal freshman, who had everyone yelling and cheering for her as she blitzed across the line in a sterling time of 17:21.

Grinding out a sub-18:00 on the heels of his 50K race last weekend was Barry Smith (17:58). Varun Pemmarju was next in 18:04, and he and Jeff Teeters (18:16) pulled Ethan Veneklasen (Asics Aggies masters runner) to a 12-second PR in 18:18. Elizabeth Ottenheimer turned in a strong performance in her comeback to running, netting a 19:18 and Steve (Sandal Man) Trutane, completed the race in 20:05.