3/23 – Johnny Mathis ’13: Strawberries Spread PRs On Crackers Like Some Sort Of Hors D’Oeuvre And Bite Down


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 inĀ 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!

– Carl

3/18 – Weekend Update

Across the Bay 12K
Hornet Invitational


Hey Canyoneros-

At the Across the Bay 12K it looks like the masters team took 5th overall with a few of the hitters missing. We’ll be facing an uphill battle for the rest of the year to defend our title as we are being outgunned by the other clubs who seem to be out for blood this year.

For the Canyon, we had the following masters results.

  • Rob Elia 43:13 (1st 45-59)
  • Tim Keenan 43:56 (2nd 50-54)
  • Bill Salacuse 44:55 (great first sub 45 for him and he is in 45-49 AG too)
  • Daniel Sivolella 47:32
  • Thom Trimble 50:00+
  • Eric Gullikson, Jeff Teeters and Rick Massey also ran in the masters race, nursing various aches and pains.

In the women’s race, three Canyoneras competed very well for us.

  • Katy Hollbacher overcame a week with Norovirus and pulled a 47:32 (3rd 35-39)
  • Margot Hutchins debuted for the Canyon with a really nice time of 48:54 (5th 30-34)
  • Julia Gullikson snuck under the 51:00 barrier with a 50:58 (1st 16-19 AG)

The men’s open race had two competitors.

  • Karl Walczak ran 41:13 (5th 30-34), which was on two days / week of actual run training and a year of being injured. Oh, and he didn’t push the effort too hard either. Watch out for this cat.
  • Jack Wallace ran 43:18 for us too.

On Saturday at the Hornet Invitational at Sacramento State, William Chen ran the 800. The race was supposed to be a strong field, but everyone went out slowly and tapered off (relatively speaking). The leader went out in 57.3, William was about 57.8, and finished in second in 1:55.79. Though this time is second on our all-time list, it was a second off of William’s PR so he’ll be looking to drop that next time. It is very hard to run even splits in an 800-meter race, which has a unique physiological component and requires a runner to go out hard and hang on. If William had been pulled through in high 54, he would have PR’d by 1-2 seconds. Onward and upward, next time!

I’ll hope to see many of you giving it a go at next Saturday’s Johnny Mathis meet in San Francisco. Let Niko Conner nwconner91@gmail.com know of your interest! I’ll assist him with registration as best I can.

PS: Off-topic but if you should happen to peruse to this month’s Men’s Journal magazine at most bookstores and turn to pages 88-89, you will see a familiar name associated with the running gear review.


3/10 – Tough Day at Davis

Aggie Open 5KResults

Hola Canyoneros

Nine Berries went to run at the UC Davis Aggies Invite and it ended up being a wind-blown affair which threw times and races off-kilter.

Mei-tung Chen opened up most optimistically, running a 19:52.32 5000 in the wind, wisely tucking in behind a De Anza runner for the majority of the race and somehow managing a 26-second PR, and this was the race of the day for the Canyon.

The breeze kicked up a notch for the men’s 5000, which was a bit disappointing for the athletes who put themselves out there on the line. Perhaps it was a combination of the wind, some poor coaching on my part, feeling under-the-weather, some were not in shape yet, not enough sleep or hydration, etc., whatever it was, some little things added up and four runners ran a good 40-60 seconds slower than their projected ability. (Rory Runser 16:20, Dayu Tao 16:40, Gene Burinsky 16:47, and Jonathan Nolasco 17:25).

With that out of the way the 1500 came next. Jonathan McKinley showed flashes of speed and ran a 4:11.18, his fastest time of the year. I think he will be sub-4:00 before the season is said and done. Irtaza Haider ran a 4:21.15, almost five full seconds off his PR, but probably a stronger performance than his actual PR given the wind.

The 800s came later in the day and both Niko Conner and Brandon Reyes were buffeted by the wind, pulling 2:06 marks. It was Niko’s first track race in many seasons, so he was blowing off the rust, but Brandon got boxed in by a pesky orange-singleted runner and was thrown off his game somewhat. It was a learning experience to be sure as middle-distance races can be characterized by some annoying pushing and shoving tactics.

Anyhow, thank you all for going to that meet and giving it the old college try. We may reconsider this venue next year, as both Davis and Sacramento have proven to be risky in terms of the windy weather for us. And if that many of us were flat, I will certainly need to consider backing some of you off on the workouts a bit between now and the end of the season.




3/3 – NorCal 10 Mile Results


At the Nor Cal 10-mile in Redding our masters team sent seven competitors and came away with a solid second place team finish. It would seem that our team scorers all ran strong races.

Bill Reed edged out Tim Keenan for the third seniors spot. Bill ran 59:50 and Tim ran 59:55 in warm conditions, over a minute faster than Tim ran in 2012.

Bill Salacuse ran arguably his best race as a masters runner with a great 62:16 mark. Thom Trimble is marching along on the comeback trail, claiming the 9th senior spot with a time of 63:37. Alan Dehlinger rounded out the scoring. Jeff Teeters jogged in with a sore hamstring and Rick Massey also finished.

– Carl