8/26 – Time Trial, Take 3

The 3rd Annual Strawberry Canyon TX/Cal XC time-trial turned on the fire with an 800 followed by three competitive heats of the 5000-meter time trial. You could see the tumbleweeds start to gather as people showed up in pairs and small groups, either to warm up or watch. The Cal track coaches came to observe the action, and the highlight had to be the remarkable film work of Elliot Jaramillo, who filmed this with all sorts of hand held cameras including one mounted on a remote controlled helicopter for wide angle shots. Who said running can’t hit the big time?? His work is amazing and people should start to really keep an eye out for it.

Shameless plug for Elliot’s web page. Here is a sample of his fine work: https://vimeo.com/103667919

First up was a lone entrant in the 800, Cal freshman Leonardo Valdez Ordonez, who was rabbited by our own Abraham Aldaraca for 500 meters. Hoping to go out about five seconds slower than he did, Leondro whipped through the first 400 in 59 seconds, seemed a little miffed that it was so speedy, but dug in and committed to the quick pace. It paid off with a sizable 4-second PR as he crossed the line in a solid 2 minutes, 6.67 seconds. The light went on for Leonardo, who now visualizes a sub-2:00 in his future.

There were also three sections of the 5000 for competitors, and there were probably more spectators than entrants. The first heat was designed to see if there were any women capable of walking on to the Cal team. We also sprinkled in a few club members and appropriately seeded athletes.

FYI – All times were rounded UP to the nearest second.

Bradley Afrolian, a UC Santa Barbara transfer, has just left their school’s running club for us, and he responded by winning his heat in 17:13. Jennifer Schtick and Flora Lai battled it out for first woman, and Flora prevailed with a bit more sensible pacing as the first lap went out in 80 seconds. Olivia Hill and Megan Gentes, fresh off a challenging cross country race over the weekend, were content to tempo together. And 60-year-old stripling and Strawberry Canyon TC-er wunderkind Keith Duncan hammered home a very impressive 18:51, a time which he can actually be expected to improve upon.

Full results of the first heat are below:

Heat 1

17:13 Bradley Afrolian (PR)

17:34 William

17:57 Kevin Hsu (PR)

18:14 Flora Lai

18:16 Jennifer Schtick 

18:40 Olivia Hill (PR)

18:42 Megan Gentes

18:52 Keith Duncan

19:09 Danny

In heat two the action was fierce up front as Anthony Joel Castro performed excellent pacing duties, knocking off perfect 72-second 400-meter splits. After it became a battle of wills and Matt Duffy carried the day with a pack of six. Duffy was gamely followed by SCTC-er Ryan Smith, Brian B. Gillis, incoming Cal freshman Brandon Kan, Eoghan Totten from Ireland, and SCTC veteran Sean McFarland trailed just off the pace.

Smith faded a bit and Kan hung on to the leaders for 4K and was on 15:10 pace, and then faded pretty hard in the last 800. Brandon’s performance was actually very impressive and his finishing time did not properly reflect the quality of his effort. An even paced race would have netted him a 15:20-25 mark.

Behind them Torrey Olson and incoming Cal frosh Matt Berberick paced more sensibly. Matt ended up PR’ing by over a minute with a 15:48 mark so he was ecstatic. We also had some other old hands in the race, including Jack Wallace, Rory Runser, Justin Huang and Matt Weber.

Heat 2

14:58 Matt Duffy

15:16 Sean McFarland

15:16 Brian B. Gillis

15:45 Ryan Smith

15:48 Matthew Berberick (PR)

15:49 Eoghan Totten

15:52 Torrey Olson

15:57 Brandon Kan (PR)

16:19 Jack Wallace

16:27 Rory Runser

16:33 Justin Huang (PR)

16:38 Ed

17:55 Matt Weber

The third heat was more spread out. A two-man race ensued up front. Jack Sweeney was hoping to come close to breaking 17:00, which was Tim Keenan’s goal too. They went out a touch hard but Jack was able to surprise himself and hold a personal-best pace. Tim ran a solid effort but fell 12 ticks short of his goal. Kimberly Sanchez worked with Camille Plantier and Jason Tyler Lowe, all of whom netted PRs. It was a nice run for Kimberly because she missed a lot of training over the summer, and it is obvious that her PR has room for improvement. Camille’s summer training paid off with a sub-20:00 and so did Jason’s. Jason was quite pleased but Camille felt like she could have given an even better effort. Look for her to break 19:00 in the not too distant future. Finishing the event for the berries was Steve “Sandal Man” Trutane, who eschewed sandals for bare feet. He completed the 5000 in 21:03.

Heat 3

16:48 Jack Sweeney (PR)

17:12 Tim Keenan

19:37 Kim Sanchez-Diaz (PR)

19:45 Jason Tyler Lowe (PR)

19:47 Camille Plantier (PR)

21:03 Steve Trutane

And props are also in order for Zachary Stauffer, who showed up to the time trial rocking street clothes. The reason? He set yet another marathon PR, this one in 3:00.37 at last weekend’s Santa Rosa Marathon. Yes, thirty-seven seconds off the vaunted three-hour barrier. We’ll blame this one on the earthquake, mmmkay? Great job, Zachary!

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.