The Strawberry Canyon Track Club showed up in force to compete in the highly anticipated Marin Memorial Day 10K race. The course has long been reputed for its fairly fast layout and typically features ideal conditions, however crisp and cool weather was not to be. After a prolonged unseasonably cold spell, temps crept into the 70s and felt positively East Coast-ish on an unusually muggy morning for the West Coast, slowing times down a few seconds per mile on the somewhat shadeless 10K course.
Still, a little hot air did not deter the mighty berries, which brought 18 entrants to the starting line of one of the most stacked and competitive races of the Pacific Association spring season. The open men were fronted by Sean MacFarland who gets race of the day honors. Prior to this race, he’d never broken 33:00 for a 10K, although you knew that was ancient history watching him train and race 15:22 5ks in the past couple of months. Still, he smoked his 8K PR (26:07) at the 5-mile mark (25:40) and rolled for home, also brushing aside the 32:00 barrier with a scintillating gun time of 31:59, good for 14th overall and a 10K PR of over a full minute.
Closely following McFarland was arguably our most consistent open road race performer, David Yu, 16th, who continued his amazing run and snipped two seconds off his 10K PR in 32:11 in another huge effort. El Presidente Joseph Binder held off a closing charge by WVTC runner Todd Rose and managed to PR by 11 seconds in 32:29 (17th place overall), all this while in recovery mode from hammering a 50-mile race less than two months ago. Jack Wallace (who arguably ties David Yu for the club’s open performer MVP) cracked the 35:00 barrier for the first time with yet another PR (34:54) in 45th place. Helping out the open team in scoring was Coach Carl, who is fighting his way get back into shape and ran the equivalent of his Zippy 5K pace despite battling a nasty chronic plantar fasciitis injury (39:18). The open men finished fifth overall in the team standings.
The Open women were paced by the effervescent Elizabeth Scott (39:30 gun time), the 23rd woman overall. She pulled a ‘Mokhtar,’ going out a bit hard and tailing off during the last half, often part of the learning curve for a younger runner. Rachel Casanta, trying to work through a debilitating lower lumber injury, was the team’s second and only other open woman, coming in at 43:34, exactly 7:00 per mile pace, and placed 8th overall in her 35-39 age group.
The Master’s men benefitted from the presence of its senior stalwarts to claim second-place overall in their division to the host club Tamalpa Runners. Pacing the master’s men was Jeff (THE) Mann in 35:03 gun time, which nailed down the 5th master’s spot. He was followed by master’s newcomer of the year Darrin Banks, whose 35:29 earned him 10th master’s overall. Tim Keenan, returning from his weeks-long abdominal injury, put down a very respectacle 37:08 to help out the masters squad.
Perhaps tying Sean MacFarland for race of the day honors was senior Jeff Teeters, whose been doing training runs with the ever-dangerous Darrin Banks. Teeters went beserk on the competition and shocked everyone but himself with a great time of 35:30, better than his Zippy 5K pace and a performance which earned him a fantastic second-place overall in the 50-54 age group. Thom Trimble had a very strong race and rolled through the finish line with a great 50-54 performance of 36:17, scoring as our 3rd senior. Dwight Smith (4th senior) endured some achy knee issues and still closed well and managed a time of 36:24 to complete the master’s scoring team.
Rounding out the rest of the strawberries was Coach Carl Rose (39:18, 20th overall 45-49 AG), David Altena (42:44), Sam (The Professor) Sagiv in 43:35 (18th 50-54 AG), Ken Bright (43:00-flat), Mike Plummer (43:02) and the irrepressible Ross Franco, who at age 71 finished the race at roughly 10:00 per mile place in 1:03.28. The berries senior runners, despite dropping down two of their best runners into the master’s ranks to ensure second-place in the master’s division, still finished as the third senior’s men’s team overall.
It was yet another outstanding day for the Strawberry Canyon Track Club, which continues to make its presence felt on the Pacific Association circuit, in local track meets, and even in the trail races. Other than the San Rafael Mile, there will be no more PA-USATF road races until the Humboldt Half marathon in October, however cross country season will arrive sometime in late summer. (by Carl Rose)