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.