Spring 2016 was yet another successful racing season for the Strawberry Canyon Track Club, as records were set and stunning performances run in nearly every event from the 100 meter dash to the marathon.*
On the Track…
The Berries, one of the only USATF Pacific Association clubs to regularly compete in track meets, took advantage of some competitive fields and ideal conditions to set a slew of top marks and personal bests from January through May.
Among the most impressive performances was Geoff Leonhardt’s establishing of a new club record in the 1500m, with a time of 3:54.71 at the West Coast Last Chance Open, despite battling minor injuries throughout the season.
Geoff Leonhardt toes the line before his club record 1500m. Photo: Carl Rose.
The 5000m, the club’s unofficial favorite event, saw several top 5 club all-time performances for both men and women. Megan Gentes’ running of 17:26.01 at the SF State Distance Carnival was good for #2 in the club record books, while Julia Sizek’s 17:30.69 at the brutally windy UC Davis Aggie Open landed at #4 all-time. On the men’s side, Yohannis Estifanos and Ryan Smith ran fast times consistently all year, steadily improving all the while. In the end, Yohannis’s season best came in at #3 on the club lists at 14:43.33 from the SF State Distance Carnival, while Ryan Smith pulled his personal best down to 14:46.50 at Cal’s Brutus Hamilton Invitation, good for #4 all-time.
The Berries also showcased their burgeoning middle-distance and sprints divisions. Stephen Sloan, a high school senior, ran a 1:57.35 800m at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions, the club’s #2 fastest time. A few weeks prior, Geoff Leonhardt, in his second race of the day, recorded the club’s #5 record with a 1:58.7 at the Brutus Hamilton Invitational. And all the way back to early February, Kyle Bystrom ran the #3 all-time 400m record with a 54.28. Stephen Bailey established club records in the 110m high hurdles and 400 hurdles, while Laura Cummins wrote fresh records in the 100m and 200m hurdles.
Not to be forgotten, there were dozens of additional new PRs run from some truly gutsy races. Kyle Bystrom and Erik Stein in the 800m; Megan Gentes, Ryan Smith, Kyle Bystrom, Cielo Aguilar, and Matt Perez in the 1500m; Geoff Leonhardt, George Torgun, Kyle Dunn, and Matt Weber in the 5000m (George and Kyle both PR’ing for the first time in 9 years!); Mike McKinley in the 3000m steeplechase; and Colin Gannon and Kyle Dunn in the 10000m.
On the roads…
The roads were equally kind to The Canyon this past spring season. In one of the most memorable moments, Alex Battaglino took home the win at the Oakland Running Festival’s open marathon with a time of 2:34:51 on the hilly course. Possibly more impressively, Alex rebounded to record a #4 time on the club’s all-time list with a 53:00 in the SacTown 10 Mile just two weeks later.
Alex Battaglino pleases the crowd as he finishes first overall in the Oakland Running Festival Marathon. Photo: Mercury News.
Also at Oakland, affiliate member Holly McIlvaine won the women’s marathon with a time of 2:58:25. Thomas Harp scored 2nd in his age division in the half marathon with a time of 1:24:43, while in the 5k Ed Hill and Ashley Lin took 3rd in the men’s and women’s open races with times of 17:02 and 20:22, respectively.
Strawberry Canyon was also very well represented at the Boston Marathon, sending five women and three men. Warm weather hit the entire field hard, and some unfortunate circumstances plagued the Berries, but some solid performances were turned in nonetheless. Ashley Lin ran the club’s #7 all-time mark at 3:07:56, Christine Arnerich ran a 3:18:11, and Katie Ellgass a 3:24:52. On the men’s side, Jonathan Briskman ran an impressive 2:34:46, and brother Colin was a few minutes back at 2:42:46. Kevin O’Neill, Kate Ashley, and Meredith Lansdown trained hard and put it all on the line for the world’s most famous race, but fell victim to various non-ideal and uncontrollable circumstances.
In the half marathon, Julia Sizek set the #2 club record for roads, except she did it on the tough, hilly trails at Wild Boar, running a 1:22:52 to win the race outright.
The Berries also dabbled in some unique relays and team races. At the Oakland Running Festival, the open men’s (Matt Weber, Colin Gannon, Kyle Dunn, Ryan Smith) and open women’s (Megan Lang, Megan Gentes, Olivia Hill, Tamma Carleton) teams fielded marathon relay squads which both finished 3rd in their divisions, with times of 2:25:27 and 2:59:21, respectively.
The icing on the cake was the team’s centipede entry at the famous Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco. Here, 14 runners tied themselves together and braved the crowds of 60,000+, running a very solid 48:12 for 12k. In the end, the team finished as the 4th overall centipede. The team consisted of: Colin Gannon, Justin Huang, Matt Weber, Matt Perez, Jack Wallace, Andrew Willis, Tim Keenan, Megan Lang, Julia Sizek, Rob Elia, Elizabeth Stephens, Lucas Wojciechowski, Mike McKinley, and Jonathan McKinley.
SCTC Centipede approaches the finish at Bay to Breakers. Photo: Spire.
The spring racing season came to an unofficial close with the Marin Memorial Day 10k. SCTC was well represented, fielding both open and masters men’s teams, achieving a few fresh PRs and age-division bests. Ryan Smith finished 8th overall with a 31:40, landing him at #4 on the club’s prestigious road 10k all-time list. The open men’s field was rounded out by Kyle Dunn, Colin Gannon, Ed Hill, Matt Weber, Daniel Anderson, and Matt Perez. For the masters, Chafik Azerki and Rob Elia both took 1st place in their age divisions, running 34:10 and 35:58 respectively. Tim Keenan took 3rd in his age division, and Tommy Harp, Bill Salacuse, and Richard Sloan, also ran strong races on the warm day in Kentfield.
Summer means quieter times at weekly practices, but a steadfast contingent will be working out every Monday and Thursday. From June until August, The Canyon will enter it’s only quasi-“off season” with the exception of a few races. Many Berries have their calendars marked for the Wharf to Wharf 6-miler in July, which is just one week before the San Francisco Marathon, in which several runners will compete in the 2nd Half Marathon. After that, things will begin gearing up for the club’s biggest season… cross country.
See you out there.
SCTC Bay to Breakers Centipede post-race. Photo: Kim Sanchez.
*Note: Results and club records are crowd-sourced and prone to errors. If you would like to make a correction or addition to this post, or submit a result for the club records page, please email email@example.com. If submitting a record, please provide a link to results and note that you must have been an active dues-paying member at the time of running the race.