10/28/10 – Gerber Cracks 15 at SCTC 5000m + Other Weekend Mayhem!

The Strawberry Canyon Track Club kicked some major…tail at its annual 3200-meter and 5000-meter timetrial last Thursday. Highlights included a terrific battle between Christopher Gerber and Sean McFarland for Alpha Berry status. In the home stretch, timer Joshua Seeherman called out the elapsed time “14:57…58…59…” In fact Gerber cracked the 15:00-minute barrier in a 29-second PR of 14:59! McFarland rolled in at 15:08, narrowling missing his PR and remarking later that he fully intends to ramp up his current mileage of 50 miles per week.

Also netting a fantastic PR was Sam Mealy, a 19-year-old exchange student from Ireland, who clocked 15:31. Galen Reeves (16:14) and Jack Wallace cranked out PR too in 16:14 and 16:16, respectively. Niko Connor slammed his 3200-meter PR by nearly 30 seconds with a stellar time of 9:50. Several others competed in the timetrial as well, see the results page for complete results. In addition to the Strawberries timetrial, Rob Elia (35:39, 2nd 10K) and Dan Stefanisko (17:37, 3rd 5K) competed well in Sunday’s Lafayette Reservoir 5K and 10K race.

Tamalpa Challenge XC

Not to be outdone, ten rough and ready Strawberries made the pilgrimage to the Marin Headlands to run in the beautiful but mucky John Lawson Tamalpa XC Challenge, a hilly 4.25-mile race. In the women’s race Anne Ruminski hammered home in 13th-place overall, a stellar showing for her, in a very impressive run of 27:32. Next across for the Berries was Rebecca Murphy, who continues to race herself back into shape with a time of 35:24. There was only one Berry in the men’s masters race, Tim Keenan. Tim was extraordinarily (and rightfully so) pleased with his race as he beat 3-4 runners he had not beaten in a few years. His time of 24:32 was outstanding and bode very well for the upcoming PA-USATF Cross Country Championships, showing a fitness level he has not demonstrated in two years.

In the men’s open race, six Berries toed the line but all of the competitive teams brought all of their best runners and we settled for fourth-place among the teams despite not running a few of our normal scoring runners. Sean McFarland ran well on roughly 36 hours rest from his 5000-meter timetrial and placed 8th overall in 21:51. Nathan Leefer ran the race of his life and blew out a lot of runners he’d never been on par with and took second for the Berries and nabbed an impressive 13th overall in 22:32, his first top 15 PA cross country finish ever. Tom Haxton shadowed three nervous West Valley TC runners across the finish line as he continues his return to top fitness in 22:41 (17th place). Next to finish was the irrepressible David Yu, still in the process of blowing out the Chicago marathon induced cobwebs, in 23:00 (19th). Dan Chebot rounded out the team’s scoring with a time of 23:10 (23rd). Of note, sixth for the Berries was Keith Gilmore, who turned in an extremely impressive effort of 25:33. This is notable because he is a 400-meter specialist by trade, and his performance was good for a solid 47th place overall in the deep field.

Great job Berries, one and all!

Race photos

10/23/10 – Berries Well-Represented at Shoreline XC

The Shoreline Cross Country race in Mountain View represented a departure from the grinding Pacific Association-USATF cross country courses the Strawberries have had to reckon with thus far this season. In fact this felt more like a road race with some rolling dirt hills to slow things down a bit. However the Strawberries refused to be duped by the comparatively easy course (as well as daunted by the slow lines at both registration and the porta-potties), and instead pushed themselves to very impressive performances across the board.

First up was the women’s race and the Strawberries were again able to field a complete team for the third cross country race this season, although overall team placings are unavailable at this time. Toeing the line was Anne Ruminski, a former UC-San Diego runner who is rounding back into shape. She ran a very swift 19:14 on the 5K course (advertised as slightly longer, but various reliable measurements have this as a true 5K). Anne was followed by the return of Linda Dix-Cooper, who flashed across the line in 20:20. Next across the line for the Berries was Ingvild Saksvik in 20:39. Sarah Syed, who netted a nice PR at the Humboldt Half Marathon six days prior, jumped in the help the team out and was rewarded with a nice 5K PR of 21:19. Rebecca Murphy graciously offered to tempo the race in 24:06 to allow the women’s team to score as a team.

The masters race was a barn-burner as the Strawberries managed to scrape together six runners to score as the (likely after scoring is in) third-place team behind the ASICs Aggies and a resurgent West Valley Joggers and Striders masters squad. Rob Elia paced the masters blasters in 24:50 on the 4.52-mile (average of three GPSs measurements and Google Earth), which was again shorter than the advertised distance. But hey—it’s cross country, line up, race hard and see who you can beat.

Tim Keenan had the masters race of the day, finishing just 26 seconds behind Elia in 25:16. John Foley, who felt a smidge off, was next in 25:38. Chatham Ross cracked the 26:00 barrier with a strong 25:59 which I believe placed him second or third in his 50-59 division. Coach Carl Rose, fresh off his solid half-marathon effort at Humboldt six days prior, managed to average a shade under 6:00-minutes per mile in 27:07. An inspiring Bill Brusher finished in 33:21, which represented a race-fitness improvement in his continued comeback from the ravages of chemotherapy.

The open men really tore into the top runners and marked themselves as serious competitors in the region as they brought 16 runners to the starting line. Although they settled for third overall among the teams behind the ASICs Aggies and Transports, these two teams brought everybody and were also top five teams at USATF Club Nationals in cross country last season, so there was no shame in finishing in arrears to either of these sponsored clubs.

Christopher Gerber struck the very deep and competitive field like a bolt of lightning and his 7th-place performance in 22:20 was his best performance of the year thus far. Sean McFarland went out a tad hard and fought his way him, almost catching Chris Chavez and settling for a great time of 22:40. Greg Timblin continues to impress and pulled off a superb race in 22:52, although he appears to just be rounding back into form! Joe Binder was next for the Strawberries scoring team in 23:26, while newcomer Tom Haxton placed fifth for the Berries in 23:27. Sam Mealy was the first 19-and-under runner and cranked out a 23:33, while Nathan Leefer was the seventh man in 23:39. For complete results on how all of the Berries fared, please see our results section.

Photos

10/17/10 – Masters Five-Peat at Redwoods

Can you name the last team to win FIVE….count em….FIVE consecutive championships, in any sport? Probably not, unless you are an old hockey fanatic from Canada. Not since the Montreal Canadiens, in 1956-1960 has any major sport team won 5 in a row.

Okay, so just maaaaybe the Strawberry Canyon TC Masters running team is not…quite…on the level of a pro hockey team, but then again, I have yet to see Wayne Gretsky, Bobby Orr or Guy LaFleur run even a frickin 5K anywhere near a redwood. Point made! (no save by Vachon!).

The 2010 Masters Team Grand Prix was a dead heat between the Berries and the evil Converse-Asic-Reebok-Mephisto Aggies, coming into Humboldt. Tight, tight tight! “Damn! We’re in a tight spot!” (Ulysses Everett McGill).

Undaunted, the Strawberry Elders took care of business. Armed, or legged actually, with three 51-year-olds an 800 meter-type 47 year old, a wet-behind-the-ears 42-year-old team rookie, along with Coach Carl fresh off a questionable non-drug-tested 1:15 half marathon and the ever-optimistic Alan Dehlinger, the team manhandled the competition.

Jeff Mann hung with the lead masters pack through the turnaround, shoulder-to-shoulder with eventual runner up Iain Mickel, before succumbing to yet another back spasm. Jeff’s 5:40ish pace was reduced to near 6:20ish on the return trip. Nonetheless, he was able to hang on as the team’s top man in just over 1:18, good for 7th master.

Meanwhile Seniors Thom Trimble and Barry Smith were pack-running with a couple of youngsters from the Eugene Hackers Club and a dude in orange. With less than two miles to go, Barry and Thom, both more concerned about whooping each other than the competition, surged away from the neon-clad Oregon punks. The duo hammered each other relentlessly over the last mile, with Thom outleaning Barry over the last 300m – 1:18:35 to 1:18:41.

A scosche further back were the Berry’s final two scoring dudes – Jeff Teeters and Bill Salacuse. While Jeff has run this course so many times he could do it blindfolded, Bill was revisiting the hallway of monster trees for only the second time. Bill’s first journey in 2009 took him just under 1 hour and 29 minutes, placing him 6th on the team. This year, to everyone’s surprise, Bill was nipping at the heals of the 51-a’-deux, Barry and Thom, only 25 seconds back at the turnaround point. Teeters was a few strides back of Bill at that point, as the team’s third corredore de cincuenta y uno. Jeff and Bill worked together most of the way back, with Jeff finishing a mere two seconds up on Bill at the tape (actually there is no tape for 35th place; just sayin). Bill’s time of 1:20:32 was a hugeemungus PR and moved him up over 40 spots and 40 seconds per mile from 2009. 2011 could be scary fast! Jeff placed as the teams 3rd man and 4th senior overall.

Then, there was Carl! Undaunted (Strawberries rarely daunt) by not making the scoring team, Carl employed new and untested training techniques to score a totally satisfactory effort (1:23:29)- coffee tapering! Per Carl….”The chronologically challenged caffeine achievers disdained the hotel’s instant faux-coffee the morning of the race. An instant cuppa Joe would never do before a race as magnificent as Humboldt. The runners, in fact, reached new heights of creative desperation as Thom jerry-rigged the hotel’s coffee pot like a Vietnam Vet with Scott towels in order to facilitate the java junkies (whose initials are Bill Salacuse, Thom Trimble and Carl Rose) acute cravings. Consumption of … fresh ground and stronger, more pure pre-race coffee was especially sweet for Coach Carl, who embarked on a uniquely Spartan, caffeine-deprivation odyssey prompted by a suggestion from Magdalena Lewy-Boulet’s recommendation of four-day, pre-race caffeine taper”. Needless to say, Carl was one hyper chatter box the entire way home!

The seventh man on the course, was Alan Dehlinger. While Alan’s time of 1:29:40 was a wee bit off his Masters PR of 1:17, he did knock off nearly 4 minutes from his 2009 time. (Thom Trimble)

On the women’s side for the Strawberries, Sarah Syed was able to crush her PR by nearly two minutes with a fine 1:35:34 (chip time). Sarah placed 5th in the women’s 30-34 division.

Full Results

Humboldt Half Photos

Printroom – Photos of SCTC Members

10/06 – Presidio Challenge – Masters Win, Open Men Grab Second

Apologies are in order for any of Strawberries who may have suffered physiological and psychological torment after we managed to hornswoggle them into running the Presidio Cross Country race. The next race will be flatter…we PROMISE.

Yep.

In the midst of a cool fall morning haze, THIS race featured insane hills in the form of sand dunes, elbow-to-elbow contact in its single-track bottlenecks, and several harrowing hairpin turns while barreling full-tilt down a hill covered with gravel. In general, all that was required to make this an official cross country course was a couple of irritated Spanish bulls sent forth by mischievous residents of Pamplona. Or, perhaps a hapless harrier was reminded of the infamous Vietnam War movie entitled “Hamburger Hill.” We were, after all, at the Presidio U.S. military base, all that was needed was a little errant shrapnel to spice things up. Suffice it to say, it was NOT Rupp certified.

But I digest (although it took a good three hours for me to not feel like puking afterward).

First on the docket was the men’s masters race, which provided a rude awakening in terms of how to initiate a morning race jaunt. Perhaps the race organizers opted to sacrifice the hobbling and hapless old guys, enlisting us to tamp down the soft course for the young bucks, and managed to call it a race.

It didn’t matter… the undaunted Strawberries left the excuses to the others, brought in a couple more stallions and took the masters team victory, avenging a one point masters loss the previous week at the Garin XC race in a good battle over Tamalpa, Asics Aggies and New Balance Excelsior.

First across the line for the berries and third overall in 18:39 was the amazing Rob Elia, who ran a fantastic race. He was able to turn the tables and beat Jeff Hongo by six seconds, who’d managed to edge him at Garin the previous week. Following Rob were brilliant performances by John Foley (19:01–just starting to get fit)) and Tim Keenan (19:07), both of whom ran great races and placed 9th and 10th overall, respectively. Rounding out the scoring for the berries was the tough as nails Barry Smith (19:36, 2nd 50-59 age group) in 15th and Dan Stefanisko (19:37) 16th, who hung on gamely despite falling twice in the race. The master’s men won the team scoring 44-58 over the fully loaded Empire Runners and other strong squads.

Finishing out of the team scoring but running a strong race for the second week in a row was Coach Carl Rose, who outkicked four runners in the last 150 meters to claim 31st place in the deep field. Dan Sivolella showed a lot of improvement over his Garin performance and followed Rose, coming home in 44th place. Middle-distance 50-54 age group ace Ian MacLeod, was next 51st in 21:30.

Not to be outdone were the open men which took second to Transports (49 points scored to Transports 41) and beat the powerful West Valley Track Club. For the first time in Strawberry Canyon TC history we had the long-awaited opportunity to showcase Sean McFarland and Christopher Gerber in the same race.

The dynamic duo hammered tooth and nail with the rest of the field. McFarland shared the lead with eventual runner-up Lenin Zapata at one point, while Gerber shadowed them closely. In the end McFarland almost caught Jonathan Charlesworth of West Valley Track Club at the finish line, but he settled for 4th overall (16:38), while Gerber took 6th in 16:41, both were blazing fast times and indicative of sub-15:00 (sub-14:50 IMO) 5K fitness.

Next across the line was a great season-opening run by Greg Timblin, a former NCAA Division 3 runner out of Nebraska-Wesleyan. He’d been controlling his paces in workouts but threw in a finish that reminded one of Adam Goucher, taking a look back at the three runners he’d dropped as he charged toward the finish line. Timblin was a very impressive 9th overall in 17:14. Next on the berries scorecard was Nathan Leefer who ran a solid race in 17:37 (16th place), and capping the scoring was Dan Chebot (17:47 in 19th).

The berries were not finished jamming though, as Dan Duett (college teammate of Dan Chebot’s) rolled in next in 18:23 (26th place). He was followed by two 800-meter specialists, Niko Connor (29th in 18:28) and Joshua Seeherman (51st in 20:22).

One berry competed in the women’s race, Emily Bartlett, who missed last week’s race at Garin due to prior obligations. Still, she wanted to get a race in. For her efforts it would seem no good deed goes unpunished. Emily came away with a badly scraped up and bloodied knee due to a hard spill at the base of the hill where there was gravel on the turn-around. She hung in gamely during her race, showing some of that NCAA-level steeplechaser’s toughness she acquired as a collegiate runner at Cornell University, and finished 30th overall in 23:26.

Thank you David Yu for coming out and taking photographs on Saturday, and many thanks to Greg Timblin for putting together a great Flickr slideshow with David’s use of his camera. David sat this one out in his preparation for the Chicago marathon.