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.