Spartans cross-country championships recap from Sunday Nov 22nd

Hello Spartan cross-country runners, enthusiasts, supporters, wanna-be’s, et. al.

The season’s final cross-country meet was held yesterday under typical cross-country conditions at Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Friday’s rain soaking made the course more xc challenging and muddy. The attendance was larger than in past years for all three races (women’s race, men’s masters race, and men’s open race). The day’s race schedule started with a light misty rain with cool temperatures and a soggy course.

The Spartans men’s senior team was tied for 6th place heading into this race. Unofficially, it appears that the Spartans broke the 6th place tie and will finish 6th after besting a Pacific Striders team. This was the best we could hope for as the Rebels from Sacramento have too much cushion for us to catch them. The other four clubs are Tamalpa, WVJS, Empire, Aggies which are much stronger than we are. These are actually considered super-clubs in terms of numbers and participants. We will wait for the final results however.

Ten Spartans journeyed to the race to lace-em-up and toe-the-line. All of the xc races are highly competitive but this one takes it up another notch as the top teams vying to be atop the leader board pull out all stops. They seem to find another few runners, some who are rested, uninjured from a long season, and some hungry to get mud on their shoes. Anyway, those teams that bolster their troops for this race usually end up scoring better. The Spartans did the same by pulling in Pat’s twin brother Mike who was instrumental in our efforts to probably out score the Pacific Striders.

Joining the TEN Spartans for the event were Susan, Kurt, Art, Sal, Steve, Bill, Jay, Paul, Mike, and Pat.

As in many of the races this season, Susan kicked off our participation. The women’s race is usually first and Susan was present to toe the line with a very fine women’s field. We didn’t get too much of a chance to watch her race as we were out on the course checking it out before our race which closely follows. Susan ran a strong race, helped cheer us on in the master’s race, and joined us for pizza later. Susan is very gracious and her participation, congeniality, and efforts are very well appreciated by the Spartans. We need more “Susans” to join us. Later at the pizza party, I told Susan that throughout the years we have had many good female runners join us from time-to-time. However, very few have participated in xc like Susan has. I think Claire was the last one and she did very well but was much younger than the rest of our troops. Only a few times in the past have we been able to field a women’s team. Thank you for running with us Susan! By the way, I don’t know how you did it, but it seems like you did not get covered with mud like the rest of us….

Kurt played “mudman” not “sideman” early in the day, “sideman” later in the day. Word has it that Kurt was going to “wear the mud” like a true Spartan from battle for his remaining days. Kurt has been a glorious warrior all season and seemed to end his season on a very positive note. As we all know, there are runners in all parts of the pack that we measure off of. These runners seem to help gauge your performance and effort during a race. I think all of our Spartan runners finished ahead of the “Ratti” this race including Kurt. Either Julius ran a bad race or the Spartan runners ran well…I choose the latter. There was one moment after the race where we were near our bags. Kurt was standing in the rays of light and he looked like a Spartan after battle (missing the head dress)…it would have been a glorious picture….Kurt looked to be contemplating the moment and thanking the Spartan gods above for surviving another contest..and living to run another day. Thank you for running with us Kurt! By the way, Kurt is now technically a super senior. Just maybe we could field a super-seniors team next year…..we are getting more to choose from. Jerome, Leno, Bill, Kurt, Cisco, ……..

Art….we did not know whether Art was going to show or not…..ahead of time. It seemed like we did not get confirmation. ..last we heard was that Art was planning on coming and Sal would come but probably not run….I guess we just didn’t know whether Art was going to ride in the Spartan chariot or not. So, Sunday morning we waited about 10-15 minutes and just figured he was going otherwise. Well, just before the start of the men’s masters race, I see Art running to get his number and get to the starting line. Art has pulled this move several times this season. I was just happy to see Art at the race and getting to the starting line on time. I heard the story earlier about the Tamalpa race at Marine Headlands… .Thank you for running with us Art!

Sal came but was not planning on running. He has been nursing some injuries and aches and pains as I understand it. For the Tamalpa race, as customary for Sal, he pulled off another selfless feat…by basically sacrificing himself for the better of the team. He did this so that we could field a team at Tamalpa while he went back to park the car. He then ran back to join the race after it had already started. This is the kind of person Sal is. Yesterday, Sal took another hit for the team…..he wanted to run if he could. He was told a short time ago from a medical professional that he should quit running….and that it was bad for him…Sal decided he was going to run. He ran and did not do too bad all things considered. He too finished ahead of the “Ratti measure”. Thank you Sal…

Steve came, ran, and then joined us for pizza later. Steve ran a good race and is healthier than the last time he ran this race. Sure, like all of us he has some aches and pains but keeps going. Steve has run some 31 consecutive Napa marathons… …he met my brother Mike who has some 26 consecutive Cal International marathons… ..both are record holders, both are Spartans…. both resilient! They exchanged stories yesterday. Steve too exceeded the “Ratti measure”. Glad to have you back joining us Steve. Your presence, participation, and efforts are truly welcome. You are one of the original Spartans…. .Thank you for running with us again!

Bill said he would be there and sure enough he was. Bill is a man of his word… are most true Spartans. Speaking to Jan, Bill’s spouse, they have been “computer-less” for awhile now so he has not been able to keep us posted via email. Anyway, Bill was present and ran a superb race….indicating that he had run some 2 minutes faster than last year….that is some achievement on this wet/soggy course. Bill, we may be able to field a super seniors team next year ??? Just a thought, but maybe a possibility. Thank you for running with us again! Also, we should give much thanks to Jan for being there as a supporter. Thank you Jan!!

Jay steered the Spartan chariot to the field of battle. He parked the chariot among the others. The Spartans assembled and prepared for another memory. Jay was ready for an easy 6 miler after participating in several ultras recently. Jay ran well, bettered the “Ratti mark” and joined us for pizza afterwards. We were hoping to fill the Spartan chariot but only Mike and I joined Jay. Jay liked the conditions we had and proved to be one of our most resilient Spartans this year. Thank you for running with us Jay! You are now a bigger part of the club.

Paul joined us again for a good day of some cross-country action. Paul is our connection to the east bay. Paul ran a good race but admits he did not do his homework for cross-country this year. The result, less performance. However, sometimes you can do the homework and still have less performance! That is frustrating and very discouraging, but it can happen.
Paul was kind to offer pizza at his house after the race for those that could make it. His wife (Deb) is always very supportive of us visiting and this year we tried to make this all a little simpler by just ordering some pizza. Paul had a pretty good season but has had some injuries this year. Next year Paul will have a better year.

Mike joined us again as he has in the past, even after having run a 5k on Saturday! Mike ran a strong race and always seems to maintain a high fitness level. He especially likes to measure himself off the Rebels who originate from the same area where he lives. Mike provided us the extra needed scoring punch to (probably) knock out the Striders for the end of season team scoring. Thanks for joining us Mike and good luck in the 27th edition of the Cal International marathon in a few weeks. We were all glad that you could join us for the season finale!

I ran about as well as last year but I think the course was wetter this year. As it turns out, my overall placing I think was identical but the overall race was like 20 runners larger this year. When the course is wet, it makes it more difficult to run a faster time. With my groin injury, I am thankful for being able to run as well as I did..but each lap I got significantly slower as the pain increased. Three miles is about my limit… It is particularly frustrating when you can not accelerate and respond when someone passes you. Oh well. As the saying goes, there’s always next year.

Afterwards, we journeyed to Paul’s house in Piedmont for some refreshment, pizza, and conversation/ discussion about the season and future. Attending were Paul, Susan, Steve, Jay, Mike, and I.

Paul always has some good comments and suggestions about the direction of our running group/club.

Topics mentioned were:

1. Is there any interest in putting together teams for this years Christmas Relays ?? Who wants to run, who wants to organize teams ?
2. Recruiting more female runners and younger runners.
3. A cross-country training camp before cross-country season next year (probably in August)…location TBD.
4. July 2010 (this coming summer), National Master’s T & F meet in Sacramento.
5. Bay Area senior games in April…
6. World master’s games….July 2011….will even have a cross-country race in the heat! Probably the granite quarry course that Sac State uses. Nice course!
7. Possibility of getting more runners from Pacific Striders ??
8. All of us seemed interested in cross-country again next year.

Many thanks to all of you who helped make our season a memorable one. I think we had a successful season and have a lot to be thankful for….you can include you own personal thanks into your Thanksgiving blessings. Nick and Cisco were not able to join us for the last event. Maybe next year…

I hope to send out one last season ending email in a week or so…..

Thanks everyone as we wait for the final results….


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