Seen and heard last weekend

December 14, 2009

* The Seattle Running Club squads fared respectably at the USATF club cross-country championships on December 12th in Lexington, Kentucky. The open men were 16th out of 42 complete teams, the open women were 24th of 29, and the 40- to 49-year-old men were 9th of 18. Other Seattle-area clubs competing with distinction were the Snohomish Track Club, which won the men’s 70-and-over team title, and Club Northwest, which had the top women’s 40-49 team and came within 0.7 seconds — the margin by which the Green Mountain Athletic Club‘s #5 runner edged CNW’s #4 guy — of the men’s 50-59 crown as well. In fact, CNW lost both the men’s and women’s 50-59 team races by a combined total of 1 point, since the 50’s women tied for 1st but lost the tiebreaker (the position of the final scoring runner). Individual age-group championships were won by Karen Steen (45-49) of Club Northwest, Joe Sheeran (50-54) of the Eastside Runners, and Bill Iffrig (75-79) of the Snohomish TC.

* The ZAP Fitness men of North Carolina were the talk of the meet, both for their impressive performances (a team win coupled with David Jankowski’s individual victory) and their bright orange warmup outfits, which looked like NASA spacesuits.

* Somewhat less coordinated apparel-wise than the ZAP guys was the SRC’s Dan McLean. Dan’s luggage was delayed en route from Chicago to Cincinnati, so he wound up racing in Mike Lynes’ shoes (with large spikes borrowed from Ben Mangrum), Destry Johnson’s shorts, and a singlet on loan from Adam Lint. Given Dan’s thrown-together costume, it seemed appropriate that he was listed in the results under the pseudonym of “Dan Melon.”

* This meet is often a good place to catch up with old friends. Among those I saw this year were Runner’s World editor Amby Burfoot, whose Raritan Valley Road Runners won the men’s 60-69 division; my former Seattle rival Will Dobbie, now running for the Boston Athletic Association, who beat me by 15 seconds, just as in cross-country races of the past; and my former Club Northwest teammate Dan Franek, now running for the Dirigo Racing Club of Maine, whom I introduced to current teammate Meredith Freimer, who is about to move to Maine. According to the Dirigonians, there aren’t a lot of female distance runners to train with in Maine “except for some 2:35 marathoner and Joan Benoit Samuelson.” On the plus side, though, I’ve heard that Joan is really nice.

* Once upon a time, 31:35 was the 10,000-meter mark that Ben Mangrum needed to qualify for the NAIA track championships. He graduated from the University of Puget Sound in 2000 without achieving that goal, but on Saturday he led the SRC men over the hilly 10K course with a time of 31:34. How far he’s come since his student days!

* How bad was the Days Inn we stayed at? Well, the lobby was covered in sawdust from remodeling; paint was peeling off of the walls of the rooms; Marlene reported seeing a roach-like creature scuttle across the floor; Meredith woke up with fresh bites on her arm, neck, and chin (from a spider?) on two consecutive mornings; and the continental breakfast was meager enough that at least one SRC runner opted for canned vegetable soup instead.

* While stopping in Chicago on the way home, we saw Stanford University running back Toby Gerhart. He looked somewhat somber and tired, as might be expected of someone who just finished 2nd in the closest Heisman Trophy vote in the history of the award. If it makes you feel any better, Toby, the Club Northwest 50- to 59-year-olds lost by even less than you did.

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