Last Sunday was a major day for the fleet-footed Canyonists throughout the Bay Area. Fortunately for our stalwart competitors, the weather gods were most gracious as the day dawned with a light fog that burned off to crystal clear skies and virtually ideal conditions. On center stage for our club was the heralded arrival of the PA-USATF cross country championships in Golden Gate Park, which delivered an ample supply of drama full measure.
First on the docket was the women’s 4.12-mile race, and the course was in perfect condition, compared to most years when things get sloppy due to the rains.Due to some last-minute obligations and obstacles, just two women made it to the start line. (Relatively) new mother Anne Ruminsky ran a solid 27:21, and she was followed by Kimberly Sanchez, whose 28:15 had to represent the most disappointing 53-second improvement over September’s identical race on record. She has been on fire lately and we were hoping for a sub-28:00. Next time for sure!
The master’s 6.19-mile race featured Coach Carl Rose, who was content to get in his daily exercise while doubling with coaching duties. He ran 45:14. Bill Brusher ran 49:18 to place fairly well in the seniors division.
The showcase event for the Strawberry Canyon Track Club was the open men’s race and it was an epic barn burner which netted an overall bittersweet result. From what we can delineate from the very murky overall team scoring we ended up taking 5th overall, a scant few points behind the strong New Balance Silicon Valley and Sacramento Racing Association Elite clubs.
We gave it our very best effort to beat these sponsored clubs, and came up a tiny bit shy, a net result which dropped the club into a tie with the potent West Valley Track Club for a share of the PA-USATF Grand Prix championship on total points. That being said, everyone showed up with their heart and mettle, and we delivered as well as we could on race day.
Special mention must be made of Jonathan McKinley, whose race explosion shocked the entire Pacific Association. Throughout the race I could hear spectators muttering things like: “Who the (expletive) is THAT guy?” Or “He’s going to blow up soon.” “I dunno about that, he looks awfully good.” Indeed Jonathan held on for a blistering 30:48 mark and 5th-place finish, an astounding performance which destroyed our existing club record.
He was followed by Dan Chebot, who’s quietly delivered a monster season, regaining and exceeding his old form from college. He pulled off a very remarkable 32:28, which is over 75 seconds better than his former PR on that course. Sean McFarland was our steady Eddie for the season, balancing a rigorous academic schedule with training and racing duties, notching a solid 32:39 performance. Kris Brown (33:32) and Dan Duett (33:39), who closed with a hard-charging kick, rounded out the club’s scoring five.
Also in the mix were George Torgun (34:18), Rory Runser (34:46, almost a 3:00 PR on that course!), and Richard LeDonne (36:26).
Here are some tidbits about Jonathan’s monstrous race, which is destined to go down as one of the most uniquely astonishing and highest rated performances in club (and maybe Pacific Association) history.
1. No one in our club has ever broker 32:00 on that course, let alone 31:00.
2. Jonathan ran 2:00 (800); 4:22 (Mile); 9:51 (2-mile) in high school (Duxbury, MA).
3. Jonathan is a Cal undergraduate, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering. He is likely to walk on to the open arms of the Cal track team soon.
4. Jonathan had not run any cross country races since high school until he opened up the season for us in November, and he’s never raced that far in his life.
5. Jonathan’s favorite event is the 1500/Mile. He PR’d with a 3:58.45 last spring.
6. Jonathan spent several weeks off of running earlier in the fall, pool running while recuperating from a bout of shin splints. He is effectively combining land running with pool running.
7. Jonathan tangled with and convincingly defeated several notable US Olympic Trials qualifiers. If it was just one guy having an off day it is one thing, but this race was no fluke.
8. The look of sheer shock and awe on the faces of people from other clubs (and spectators) coming over to check him out after the race was … priceless.
9. This was only the beginning as many seem to believe a star was born on Sunday. This massive performance got everyone’s attention. My sentiment, congratulate the man who ran 6.19 miles.
10. The pizza after the race was pretty darn good too!
Golden Gate Park PA-USATF results:
WOMEN (4.12 miles)
Anne Ruminsky 27:21
Kimberly Sanchez-Dias 28:15
MASTERS / SENIORS / SUPER SENIORS MEN (6.19 miles)
Carl Rose 45:14
Bill Brusher 49:18
OPEN MEN (6.19 miles)
5. Jonathan McKinley 30:48
24. Dan Chebot 32:28
28. Sean McFarland 32:39
35. Kris Brown 33:32
36. Dan Duett 33:39
40. George Torgun 34:18
45. Rory Runser 34:46
66. Richard Ledonne 36:26