Empire Open Recap

The results are now posted on the PAUASTF website http://www.pausatf.org/data/2011/XCEMP2011.html. The preliminary indications are that our Seniors team took sixth behind Empire A, WVJS, Pamakids, Tamalpa and Empire B.

It was overcast and cool as the Spartan chariot headed up towards the Redwood Empire. We arrived about an hour early for the 9:00 am Masters race, which was the first race of the day. The sun didn’t really come out until after our race, so it was somewhat cool, although humid. The course was more beautiful than I remembered but much rockier then I remembered. The scree fall at doublecross dam was not angled towards the bottom as before, so it was much steeper and more treacherous. The blackberry bushes along the dirt path next to the lake have grown larger and narrowed the path in some places to single track. (Note to berry pickers – don’t pick any blackberries in the area adjacent to the start line, Art and I pissed there).

Five intrepid Spartans toed the starting line, Art, Nick, Sal, myself and Sal’s nephew, also named Sal. Sal’s nephew, who is 42, was the first Spartan to cross the finish in 22:19. He would be a fine addition to our team, if we had four other teammates to run with him. Ex-Spartan, Jose Pina, running for WVTC, won the masters race for the second week in a row. WVTC only had four masters runners, not enough for a full team. If we could get a few other masters (maybe Tom Gardin), maybe we could entice Jose to come back and run for us.

The newly minted 50 year old duo from Empire, Don Stewart and Ty Strange were the first two seniors in. They finished a second apart. Arturo Rodriguez led the Super Seniors and Carl Petersen triumphed in a tight Veterans race in which the first three finishers were 8 seconds apart.

Nick continued to improve over his 2010 performances, as he finished almost two minutes ahead of last year’s time. Sal is holding the line as he finished in approximately the same time as last year. Art is coming back from an injury and doesn’t have the necessary endurance yet, but it was good for him to get a race under his belt and start to get ready for the upcoming races. The last time I ran Empire was five years ago and I was about 1-1/2 minutes slower, but I was encouraged that I beat a couple runners who had beaten me at Santa Cruz and finished closer to others.

The nice thing about being the first race, is that you watch the other races and not have to worry about your race or warming up for it. The Open Men’s race was next and it was over before you knew it. Jonathan Charleworth (WVTC) won the race in 17:24. Aggies runners swept the next three places and looked to be well on their way for a team victory, until their 4th runner came in 17th. It was up to Jeff Hongo to complete the Aggies Open team and he finished 30th. We’ll see if that holds up.

The women’s race was last. Julie Nacouzi was the runaway winner. Nacouzi, who is only 17 years old, was the western regional champion and third in the National Footlocker Cross Country championship for high school girls. She matriculated at nearby Montgomery High School (less than a mile from Spring Lake Park), but somehow was representing Buffalo Chips (go figure). Chris Lundy, from Impala was second and Valerie Young was third overall and first master. Sarah Tabbutt was the first senior women and newly minted Super Senior Sharlet Gilbert (there’s a blast from the past) was first in her division.

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