Can you name the last team to win FIVE….count em….FIVE consecutive championships, in any sport? Probably not, unless you are an old hockey fanatic from Canada. Not since the Montreal Canadiens, in 1956-1960 has any major sport team won 5 in a row.
Okay, so just maaaaybe the Strawberry Canyon TC Masters running team is not…quite…on the level of a pro hockey team, but then again, I have yet to see Wayne Gretsky, Bobby Orr or Guy LaFleur run even a frickin 5K anywhere near a redwood. Point made! (no save by Vachon!).
The 2010 Masters Team Grand Prix was a dead heat between the Berries and the evil Converse-Asic-Reebok-Mephisto Aggies, coming into Humboldt. Tight, tight tight! “Damn! We’re in a tight spot!” (Ulysses Everett McGill).
Undaunted, the Strawberry Elders took care of business. Armed, or legged actually, with three 51-year-olds an 800 meter-type 47 year old, a wet-behind-the-ears 42-year-old team rookie, along with Coach Carl fresh off a questionable non-drug-tested 1:15 half marathon and the ever-optimistic Alan Dehlinger, the team manhandled the competition.
Jeff Mann hung with the lead masters pack through the turnaround, shoulder-to-shoulder with eventual runner up Iain Mickel, before succumbing to yet another back spasm. Jeff’s 5:40ish pace was reduced to near 6:20ish on the return trip. Nonetheless, he was able to hang on as the team’s top man in just over 1:18, good for 7th master.
Meanwhile Seniors Thom Trimble and Barry Smith were pack-running with a couple of youngsters from the Eugene Hackers Club and a dude in orange. With less than two miles to go, Barry and Thom, both more concerned about whooping each other than the competition, surged away from the neon-clad Oregon punks. The duo hammered each other relentlessly over the last mile, with Thom outleaning Barry over the last 300m – 1:18:35 to 1:18:41.
A scosche further back were the Berry’s final two scoring dudes – Jeff Teeters and Bill Salacuse. While Jeff has run this course so many times he could do it blindfolded, Bill was revisiting the hallway of monster trees for only the second time. Bill’s first journey in 2009 took him just under 1 hour and 29 minutes, placing him 6th on the team. This year, to everyone’s surprise, Bill was nipping at the heals of the 51-a’-deux, Barry and Thom, only 25 seconds back at the turnaround point. Teeters was a few strides back of Bill at that point, as the team’s third corredore de cincuenta y uno. Jeff and Bill worked together most of the way back, with Jeff finishing a mere two seconds up on Bill at the tape (actually there is no tape for 35th place; just sayin). Bill’s time of 1:20:32 was a hugeemungus PR and moved him up over 40 spots and 40 seconds per mile from 2009. 2011 could be scary fast! Jeff placed as the teams 3rd man and 4th senior overall.
Then, there was Carl! Undaunted (Strawberries rarely daunt) by not making the scoring team, Carl employed new and untested training techniques to score a totally satisfactory effort (1:23:29)- coffee tapering! Per Carl….”The chronologically challenged caffeine achievers disdained the hotel’s instant faux-coffee the morning of the race. An instant cuppa Joe would never do before a race as magnificent as Humboldt. The runners, in fact, reached new heights of creative desperation as Thom jerry-rigged the hotel’s coffee pot like a Vietnam Vet with Scott towels in order to facilitate the java junkies (whose initials are Bill Salacuse, Thom Trimble and Carl Rose) acute cravings. Consumption of … fresh ground and stronger, more pure pre-race coffee was especially sweet for Coach Carl, who embarked on a uniquely Spartan, caffeine-deprivation odyssey prompted by a suggestion from Magdalena Lewy-Boulet’s recommendation of four-day, pre-race caffeine taper”. Needless to say, Carl was one hyper chatter box the entire way home!
The seventh man on the course, was Alan Dehlinger. While Alan’s time of 1:29:40 was a wee bit off his Masters PR of 1:17, he did knock off nearly 4 minutes from his 2009 time. (Thom Trimble)
On the women’s side for the Strawberries, Sarah Syed was able to crush her PR by nearly two minutes with a fine 1:35:34 (chip time). Sarah placed 5th in the women’s 30-34 division.