The Strawberry Canyon Track Club knew this San Francisco State Cox Stadium venue was capable of delivering top flight competition and fast times so it’s been circled on our calendar for months. It did not disappoint.
Today was one of those mail-ordered, perfect weather and perfect track days that don’t come around too often and the Canyon Crusaders took full advantage. First up was the Mixed Master’s Mile, and Chris Dodge laced ’em up and gave it a go. He chased a very fast WVTC runner for four laps and was pulled to an excellent mark of 4:45.21, his best mile time as a masters and well up on the SCTC all-time masters list. This was just a prelude as the men’s 1500 was next. William Chen and Jonathan McKinley waged a see-saw duel in section two of the 1500 which pushed both of them to personal bests AND both went under the existing club record by two seconds. William Chen narrowly prevailed in 4:00.12 and Jonathan McKinley surprised the bejesus out of the Cal coaches on hand by scorching a 4:00.39. In heat five, Gene Burinsky showed he is returning nicely to form after missing nearly six months of training during the second half of last year with a solid 4:11.75 mark. Irtaza Haider barely missed his PR by a few tenths with a strong run of 4:16.93. Masters blaster Kevin Downie shot way up on the club’s all-time list with a smoking time of 4:17.98. Matt Bogdanowicz uncharacteristically had to pull off the track with some breathing problems related to allergies, and Jack Wallace had an off day after letting a gap form early, finishing up in 4:31.13 .
Next up was the women’s 400-meter dash and Mariel Gray netted a respectable 1:10.36, a time she is likely to improve in the upcoming weeks.
The 800-meter dash was after the 400 and in the first heat William Chen lined up with some very fast runners expected to go under 1:52. Madness ensued as on a picture-perfect day for lightning fast times, as apparently no one wanted to take the race out at an honest pace. The fastest runners went through at a pedestrian (for them) 58.7 with William pretty much tied for the lead, looking around and shrugging, almost confused. William ended up ratcheting up the pace and running a monstrous negative split (unheard of in the 800 unless someone is capable of going a lot faster). He closed with a 57.69 for a 1:56.39 second-place performance. This was an outrageously strong finish off of a 58.7 opening lap, and after William had pulled off a 4:00-flat in the 1500 as well. These efforts took a lot out of the guys as one by one their initial enthusiasm started wane with respect to running a 4 x 400 at the end of the day and they prudently scratched from the event.
But the fireworks were not over, no sir. Ariel Farrar-Wellman, sprint kayaker extraordinaire, ran a strong 800-meter race, powering down the final stretch and pulling away from the field in her heat with a really nice PR of 2:35.06.
The Canyon continued its impressive performances as three women lined up in the 5000-meter event. Lauren Schmidt ended up establishing herself as somewhat of an instant legend as she ran in clunky training shoes and about three laps in her shoe came untied. She kept popping 84s,85s and 86s and motored away from the rest of the field. She ended up dominating the whole race from wire to wire and shattered the existing club record by 15 seconds with a magnificent time of 17:43.77. Now if we get some FLATs on her with laces that stay tied, along with some super speedy women to run with, that time is coming down…WAY down. Julia Gullikson also ran an impressive race today, averaging 90-second per lap pace and notching a great mid-season time of 18:47.77. Following Julia was Mei-Tung Chen, who has been a PR machine all spring. She sliced another 13 seconds off of her PR despite enduring a stomach bug earlier in the week, hitting the tape in 19:39.52, only nine seconds off of the qualifying standard for the Taiwanese National Meet. Keep your fingers crossed for Mei as she has been making huge improvements all season.
The men’s 5000 was divided into two heats, and the Dans lined up in a loaded first section. Dan Chebot and Dan Duett, both teammates at the University of Rochester, ran smart races and hung tough throughout the event. Dan Duett prevailed over his teammate with a good performance of 15:46.22 and Dan Chebot pulled through in 15:50.70. In the next heat, George Torgun was in an exciting duel with Nick Scalfone of New Balance, and almost pulled out the win, running his fastest 5000 in years with a really nice time of 15:45.74. David Yu swiped Dayu Tao’s number (who opted not to race), and ran a really good comeback effort time of 16:15.00. So David has some work to do but he is obviously coming back.
What a great day to be a Canyonero!