Saturday, 7 A.M., October 30th, driving to the base of Mt Tamlpais and the morning sun. What’s this? Low clouds? Rain? Fog? A cold, wet, muddy, miserable race ahead. Oh well, at least it’s a new course and only 4.25 miles rather than 4.6. Wonder where it goes. No longer is there the nice flat mile loop through the tidelands. The web map make it look like it follows the hill countors, maybe less climbing. The dreaded switch backs no more???
Unbelievably, our Sacramento cheer squad, Teri, and I get there early. Must have been speeding. Gorden, a rival for years has backed his pickup into a ditch. Front wheel hanging in the air. Ugly situation. Hope he doesn’t miss the race. It’s cool and cloudy but relatively dry for the mile walk in to the start/finish area. The Spartans began showing up. We are short one man for the Super Seniors team. We will only have 4 not 5 races scored for the year, there goes doing well in the series. Nick notes that today we can fill down and at least score a Masters team. Won’t do well using guys 10 to 20 years older, but a team is a team. That’s cool.
There’s Gorden again, pushing two grand kids in a stroller looking unconcerned about the race. “Hi Gorden! Cute kids. Truck o.k.? Are you racing today?” “Yes and no. I quite.” “What do you mean quit? Just this race or forever” “Forever. I just decided to start walking. Same distances that I used to run.” That’s scary. He’s in his early 60’s. How many years do I have? Hi Frank! That’s the once super runner. Same age. He is trying to come back from a broken hip … and has a heart pacemaker. Oh, hi Bill. Same age. Knees are gone. Once an Olympic qualifier. And here I am, in my “long” practice runs, now reduced to only 3 or 4 miles, I struggle not to quit in the horrible first few minutes. Hi Darrel. He’s in his 70’s. Always out here. Ran for Utah State I think. Nearly last, but he’s still doing what he loves. There goes the ladies’ race. No Spartans. Looks like there are high school girls here from Santa Cruz. So young and alive. Gosh, they are from the COLLEGE … am I OLD?
Hi Barb. Our cheer squad is compleat! Steve says the course is pretty much the same as before, just the beginning and end are different. The clouds clear, it’s sunny and cool. Perfect weather. It’s been just enough rain to make perfect footing. Beautiful course, rolling hills and stately oaks. Oops, here’s the damn switch backs. Gosh, there’s Lino. Why is he behind me? Those weren’t so bad. Am I getting stronger on the hills!!! Or just so slow that they don’t have as much effect. I know I no longer have to slow for sharp turns; I am already going slow enough. A mile to go. Mostly flat and downhill. Love that! What’s this long grade doing here? The 4 mile marker should be just over the top. Well, maybe this turn. The next? I’m dying! There it is .. oh no another rise .. come on catch that guy … finished. Two 50’s guys and 33 seconds behind bionic Frank.
In the 40’s the Spartans were: Dave Woodruff, 47 – 27:51; Nick Butterfield, 47 – 31:18; Lino Fabela, 64 – 32:21; Kurt Gravenhorst, 55 – 35:40, and; Francisco Verduzco, 55 – 36:14. With fillers from the older divisions and only three out of five races to score, we are mired in last.
Our 50’s team was: Brian Conroy, 50 – 28:23; Salvador Martinez, 52 – 28:55; Paul Tjogas, 53 – 29:28; Steve Radigan, 54 – 30:12, and; Jerome Woehl, 60 – 32:15. On the web, something is wrong with the team scores, our last two races are not shown. With them, we are somewhere in first, second or third. Without, it’s fourth.
Here comes the men’s open race. Isn’t that picture perfect – framed by magnificent oaks, a column of young bucks, sweeping through the turn. Gee they look strong. Fast. Let’s walk to the cars. Wow, over there across the meadow the guys are surging up the trail, a mile to the finish. They look good. Still strong. Still smooth. And they are only the “mid-pack” runners.