6/26 – Three Crowns, Masters on the Track

Three. Crowns.

Hello Canyoneros-

Congratulations to Richie LeDonne for winning the Triple Crown in our local East Bay Trail races. He won the Tilden Tough Ten (miler) in May in 57:00-flat. He placed second in the very challenging Lake Chabot Half-Marathon in 1:18.17, and closed his title run out with a victory in the Woodminster Trail race in Oakland’s Redwood Park in 54:38.

Jack Wallace ran 1:31.39 and 1:02.16, and seniors runner (59 years young) Scott Strait ran 1:41.24 and 1:14.16 for those two latter races to place very well also.

At the Pacific Association USATF Masters track championship, the Berries made some serious noise on the oval.

Kevin Downie won the 40-44 400-meter event in 1:00.26; and took second in the 800 in 2:20.95. But the 1500-meter race was there the real excitement was.

M1500 (40-44)

1. Chafik Azerki 4:26.02

2. Kevin Downie 4:27.48

M1500 (45-49)

2. Matt Bogdanowicz 4:38.90

M1500 (50-54)

1. Tim Keenan 4:42.38 (seniors club record!)

2. Bill Brusher 5:59.00

4/27 – Canyon train rolls at Brutus

An unseasonably miserable weather front did nothing to dampen the spirits of the Strawberry Canyon Track Club, as our spirits neither dampen nor daunt, and we had a remarkable team showing by most of entrants in the Friday edition of the Brutus Hamilton Open meet at UC Berkeley.

Earlier in the afternoon, Kris Brown toed the line on a track that resembled a pond, and he bodysurfed his way to a 4:11.43 1500-meter race in a pretty substantial downpour.

The rest of the team competed in the 5000-meter races. First up was the irrepressible freshman Megan Gentes, who lined up in the second heat of the women’s race. The first lap was slowish, 87 seconds, but this set things up well for her. The pace ground down to a steady stream of 84- and 85-second laps. Megan hung tough, lap after lap and almost set a 3200-meter PR en route. There were a couple of points in the race where it looked like the field might have gapped her but she willed herself back into the group.

One by one the group splintered and she found herself in the top eight, then top seven, and then she was in fourth place as she worked hard to pass tiring runners in the last 1200 meters. She looked exhausted with 600 to go but carried on with a masterful performance as she sensed she a chance to break the magical 18:00 barrier.

Megan started winding things up and churning her arms with 250 meters to go, and it there was a pause before her legs responded. With a little grimace, everything started to go into top gear as she really took a run at the mark. Making the turn for the home stretch we knew she would break 18, and it became a matter of by how much. Megan cranked it up down the stretch and crossed the line in 4th place, turning in an excellent time of 17:56.35, which ranks second on the club’s all-time list. Stellar job to Megan!

The men’s races were next and the pesky, swirling winds kicked back up a tad. Former SCTC-er Jonathan McKinley debuted in a Cal uniform and pulled off an impressive 14:39.11 rust-buster for his first-ever 5000 on the track.

In heat two, we had seven Canyoneros, if you’re willing to liberally include a couple of very fit Cal Triathletes who entered as SCTC runners. (We happily adopt one-another’s namesakes as needed). This electrifying race turned into a compelling battle of wills between teammates and mutual friends, who brought out the best in oneanother. Everything seemed to click as a pack of 11 came through two laps in good position.

As the pace sizzled through the second mile reached in the 9:37-9:40 range, most of our competitors knew they were in a position to set personal bests. Around that point, the race developed into a trio of two-man SCTC races within the race itself. Ryan Smith and Alex Battaglino waged a see-saw duel, matched in intensity between the battle of wills between Lauri Takacsi and Richie LeDonne. Rory stayed a little behind them, working hard with each passing lap. Dennis Roth and George Torgun were not having their best day as they fell off a bit and worked together.

Coming around with 200 to go Alex and Ryan made the mad dash for home, and Alex prevailed with a 15:13.34 mark, which was five seconds off his PR. Ryan Smith, the precocious freshman pulled out another PR, this one by nine seconds, in 15:14.63. Just behind him was a great battle between Lauri Takacsi, who was receiving lots of love from a raucous Cal Triathlon Club rooting section which also showed a lot of support for our runners. Richie narrowly edged Lauri in a terrific time of 15:20.59 to Lauri’s 15:21.02. Richie missed his PR by less than one second and Lauri absolutely horse-pounded his PR by an astounding 35 seconds. He will easily break 15:00 with some race-specific track work.

Trailing just behind the two was Rory Runser, who’s been so consistent in setting personal bests. He did it again, dipping under the 15:30 barrier with a strong performance of 15:29.33. This made five Canyoneros who came in under 15:30 in a seriously impressive blanket finish.

Dennis Roth (15:53.14), and George Torgun (15:56.66), were a little off their game and still broke 16:00. In the final race (heat three), Jack Wallace showed the effects of working long hours at two jobs and ran 16:27.

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