10/01/05 – Cross Country at the Presidio, SF

In the 4.19 mile race in the sand and hills of the Presidio, the Spartans added lots of excitement at the front of the race. With less than five minutes until the race start, the last carload of Spartans finally drove up. Everyone else is already down at the start while the Spartans are doing race registration and nature calls. But with under a minute to go, even the Spartans are at the line. The starter raises the gun. All runners are tensed for the blast. Oh wait, lookie there, across the field, here comes a lone runner, dashing towards the mass of guys at the other side. He is going to get trampled! The gun goes off. Our very own Frank, veers to the side and circles in at the back of the field.

The Spartans 40’s team of David Woodruff – 25:03; Brian Conroy – 25:40 and Nick Butterfield – 28:12 were able to field a team for the second time in five races with help from 50’s runners Leroy Daleen – 32:56 and Francisco Verduzco – 33:38. They are ninth in the overall standings, hurt in part, by the paucity of runners.

The Spartans 50’s team, consisting of Salvador Martinez – 26:03, Paul Tjogas – 26:38, Art Sanchez – 27:37, Steve Radigan – 28:49 , placed third and are third in the standings.

The Spartans Super Seniors team, Bill Bengivino – 28:34, Leno Fabela – 29:06 and Frank James – 30:35, also placed third and are also third in the standings.

A cramped leg didn’t allow the writer to run. It was interesting to be on the outside looking in – I never have seen how fast some of the masters can run. Even guys as old or older than me. Some guys that I used to beat, ran times that I no longer believe are humanly possible. By watching from the center of the roughly figure eight, two lap course, much of the race could be seen. Here they come, charging down the hill on the way to loop back up to the big hill! The intensity at the front of the pack was incredible. Wild eyes, sweeping the uneven decent, frantically looking for the next turn, warily watching as runners pressed too closely together. Huffing and puffing, coughing and snorting like stampeding horses. It didn’t seem possible they would be able to run another lap at that intensity.

The fire subsided as the faces and backs that I generally see, trotted into view. These guys were obviously slower. They didn’t seem to be working as hard, but you could still see the effort and intensity in their faces. Apparently, many older runners no longer have bodies that allow them to train as long and hard as they once did, so racing performance suffers. Older, slower runners, simply do not have the muscle to sustain high intensity effort, so they do not need as much oxygen to fuel muscles working at lower levels.

The womens’ race was another exciting one. Our team, consisting of Susan Hu, Susan Hu, Susan Hu, Susan Hu and Susan Hu, was not scored because of a lack of name diversity. Some of you other ladies really should join in the fun. At the start, 43 year old Rosemarie Lagunas, a frequent overall woman’s winner, was twenty yards back, in about 6th place. She apparently was beginning to show her age. But around mile three on the long downhill, there she was, in second, only 20 yards behind 25 year old Kathleen Gosnell of Humboldt. Rosemarie was gaining ground. This was going to be exciting. Coming out of the woods with a half mile to go, Rosemarie was already 20 yards ahead, slowly opening the gap. As they ran the lap around the athletic field to the finish, rolls were reversed – Rosemarie, over 50 yards ahead, looked young and lithe with her long open stride and high knee lift. In comparison, Kathy was looking old and tired, plodding along without much spring in her steps. She still would have easily beaten many of the men.

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