Last but not least the Strawberry Canyon Track Club fielded full open men’s and masters teams at the First Annual Ancil Hoffman Cross Country Challenge 6K race on the namesake golf course in Carmichael near Sacramento.
Talk about a sucker’s course!
The first mile was hard-packed dirt and grass, almost dead flat with a little bit of single-track and minor turns. Most runners would have hit this at what would be close to a road-race split. The second mile featured a few rolling nubs they called hills, probably only adding 5-6 seconds or so to the overall time of that mile. All good so far!
The THIRD mile was a bit of a shock, as the course went from very speedy to rather hairy. The course started undulating wildly with several short, sharp, steep, twisty and root-strewn uphills and downhills. The final uphill may have only been less than 100 meters, but if someone was three feet in front of you that meant you were treated to an unobstructed view of their … hamstrings and other … assets. This mile was about 20 seconds slower than the others, however it spilled out onto the fairly flat grass field with a minor hill or two, where the final 1200 meters or so returned to a faster course.
The open men’s team continues to impress the Pacific Association, this time netting three finishers in the top seven. One thing worth noting about the open men’s team is none of them had ever broken 15:29 for a 5K prior to joining in the Berries, but they are currently beating guys with PRs quite a bit faster than theirs.
Leading the open men and shocking the field was the very humble Greg Timblin in 4th place, who laid claim to Berry Numero Uno status in an amazing race time of 18:17. Christopher Gerber, who felt a bit fatigued, finished next in 18:25 (5th) followed by Sean McFarland’s 18:30, who took a strong 7th despite battling a head cold.
David Yu continued battling through his Chicago marathon-induced malaise and managed asolid 15th-place finish of 18:59. Kyle Braam followed David as the fifth and last scoring Berry and streaked past a rival runner and across the line. Braam ran his best race of the season, 19:23 in 17th-place.
The scoring team finished second overall to Transports, however five more Berries competed and finished the 6K race. Nathan Leefer, feeling the effects of his remarkable Tamalpa Challenge race the weekend prior, had a bit of an off-day and cruised home in 19:42, good for 21st overall. Hot on his heels was 800-meter specialist Niko Connor, who is demonstrating the best distance fitness he has ever shown. Connor took 22nd overall in 19:45. A hapless soul tried to sneak by Niko and outkick him but the 1:58 800-meter runner wasn’t having any of that and blew by him.
Keith Gilmore (21:21, 34th-place), Nick Toda (21:36) and Joshua Seeherman (22:15, 39th-place) rounded out the finishes for the Berries.
The master’s men had to scour their grizzled ranks, but were able to field a scoring team as East met West, and they came away with valuable third-place team points. The race was held close to the halfway point between the Sierras and the Pacific (although Jeff Mann would later point out it is considerably further from Reno than the East Bay). Jeff and one of his sidekicks, Sir Bill Reed, rolled down from Reno, while Tim Keenan, Jeff Teeters and Coach Carl Rose made it over from the East Bay.
Jeff made his trip worthwhile, pulling off a very strong race performance and nailing third-place overall with a great time of 20:22 over the 6K course. Following Jeff was Tim Keenan, who delivered another potent race (20:55 good for 10th-place). Tim was followed by Bill Reed (who was sporting an old school Pacific Striders’ singlet since he did not have the Berries current model available to him). He finished 20th overall in 21:55. Coach Carl was next in 22:22 (23rd-place), while Jeff Teeters tempo’d the race in order to allow the Berries to field a complete team and score the points. He finished in 22:37 in 25th-place.
Next up for the Strawberry Canyon TC harriers is the final race: the uber-competitive Pacific Association USATF Cross Country championships held on November 21st in Golden Gate Park.