Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pacific Association Long Distance Running 2012 Awards

It's always great to see one of our local clubs step up to perpetuate the tradition of these annual banquets to recognize our local long distance leaders (see a report on the 2008, 2009, 2010 season editions). Last Sunday night, at the Pyramid Alehouse in Berkeley, the annual LDR awards banquet was hosted by the illustrious Impala, certainly the most competitive all-women club in the country, if not in the world. Per the program: "The Impalas are proud to have over two dozen sub-3 hour marathoners, 6 Olympic Trials qualifiers in 2008 and 14 Marathon Olympic Trial qualifiers in 2012. The Senior team (W50-59) has won the Club Cross Country National title 6 out of the last 7 years." And, naturally, the Impalas got more than a dozen awards this year again. It's good for our Quicksilver gals that the Impalas haven't ventured into the ultra world... ;-)

Speaking of ultra, the ceremony actually started with us, before the three other LDR categories which are: Cross-Country, Road Racing Long (>10K), Road Racing Short (<=10K). Our Mountain and Ultra Trail (MUT) committee co-chairs, Bill Dodson and Hollis Lenderking, distributed the 12 individual and 4 team awards. After an amazing 2011 where our club took home the 4 team awards (Men, Women, Mixed, Overall), our Team Captain, Greg Lanctot, thought it was a good idea to leave a few to others to ensure a more open competition... ;-) We ended up grabbing only the Women division title this year as a result yet, 8 out of the 12 individual awards.
Here are all the MUT award recipients (a few of us had run a fat ass 50K in the morning and Kat was still on the course in the afternoon, missing the photo opportunity by a few minutes), from left to right: Bill Dodson (M70-79, Stevens Creek Striders), Charles Savage (M60-69, Tamalpa, 20 times Western States finisher!), Jean Pommier (M40-49, Quicksilver), Dan Decker (M50-59, Quicksilver), Amy Burton (W30-39, Quicksilver), Clare Abram (W40-49, Quicksilver) and bending in the first row, Toshi Hosaka (M30-39, Quicksilver):
The three missing awardees from our Quicksilver Club were: Marc Laveson (M20-29), Karen Bonnett (W50-59) and Kat Powell (W60-69)

The award ceremony was orchestrated by our new LDR Chair, Tom Bernhard, who took over this key role from his club mate, Tyler Abbott who was recognized this evening with a Lifetime Service Awards for his 12.5 years of volunteering at this positions. Tom shared a few facts and numbers to illustrate how strong our association is, and how fortunate and grateful we are to have such an amazing support organization for our sport in North California. The Pacific Association is the oldest one out of 54 associations in the country. Most of the other associations don't even have the concept of Grand Prix, much less any staff to support their operations. Certainly, we must be the association to have 4 active Grand Prix, involving 1,400 participants out of 4,600 adult members. 1,200 of these participants actually compete in at least 2 Grand Prix with 100 logging points in 3 Grand Prix. The MUT Grand Prix counted 265 participants this year.
The other Lifetime Service Award was given to Hollis Lenderking who has been the MUT Chair since 1992, that is the year after the MUT Grand Prix started. With 20 years in this position, Hollis has become the icon of our North California ultra running community. He remains very close to it as he only stepped down last year to become co-chair, sharing the position with Bill Dodson. We are very grateful to Hollis devotion to our Grand Prix and the thousands of hours he has spent organizing our competitions when not volunteering at aid stations himself. A huge thank to Hollis for these 22 years (and counting!), and to Bill for stepping up!
After the MUT and cross-country awards, Mark Winitz introduced the two keynote speakers of the evening: Lisbet Sunshine and Dena Evans.

As an Impala herself, Lisbet spoke about the challenge and gratification of balancing an elite running career with a full-time job and raising children. She particularly insisted on the importance of a support network and gave credit to the Impala coach for discovering her talent while she was just a recreational runner and proudly logging 15 miles a week at the time. Lisbet earned a spot on the Olympic Trials with a marathon PR of 2:45:11 at Twin Cities.
The second keynote speaker, Dena, shared her passion for coaching at Standorf and her long family heritage and connection with this illustrious academic and athletic institution. Dena showed us a scrap book where her great grandfather collected artifacts about the track and cross-country Standford teams in the early 1900s (e.g. some race results from 1906 and 1909).
Born in Panama, Dena's mother also attended Stanford in 1965 and transmitted to Dena epic stories and anecdotes of that time (e.g. the Pan Relay and Armory races, or the potholes in the dirt track). Dena's speech was fun, enthusiastic, passionate, fast flowing, picturesque, including many anecdotes both personal and from other elite athletes and showing a lot of experience as well as caring for the legacy she inherited; all the best ingredients for a successful coach!
My teammates were nice enough to stay until the end of the ceremony where the Runners Of the Year were announced. And the wait meant a lot to me as some were exhausted. Toshi has spent the whole weekend mixing back packing (2 nights in the woods) running (2 back to back fat asses, the 2nd Saratoga and the Los Gatos Overgrown) and hiking for a total of 90 miles on the trails. As for Judy, his wife, she had been working for 2 days (nurse) and slept for only 2 hours before picking Toshi in Los Gatos. An ultra and exhausting life and weekend...
And, yes, my name was in the envelope again, for the 4th time since 2007, how cool!

Jon Olsen has an amazing track record which his 95% UltraSignup ranking reflects. Most of his finishes are in the top 3 and I'm amazed as the progress he has made these past years. So much that he made the 24-hour USA Team last year, with the second longest qualifying distance for Team USA with 158.53 miles at the North Coast Spring event in 2012. He also placed 7th overall at the 100K world championships with an amazing 6:48:52!

As for me, I'm just a Grand Prix "stud." After several years with the FFA (Fédération Francais d'Athlétisme) I became a USA Track & Field member in 2006 and earned my first points in the ultra Grand Prix when I ran my first 50-mile at Firetrails (and winning the Rookie Award, a very special bottle of wine autographed by co-race directors and ultra legends Ann Trason and Carl Anderson ;-). Needless to say, the race happening in October, it was too late to compete in the Grand Prix but this race plus Helen Klein 50-mile and Quad Dipsea triggered the idea to give a full try in 2007. I won my age group in 2007 which led me to try again in 2008 and the pattern has repeated itself 6 times... Overall I ran 4 of the Grand Prix races in 2006, 9 in 2007, 11 in 2008, 12 in 2009, 11 in 2010 and 2011, 8 last year and 1 earlier this month, for a total of 68 out of the 78 ultras I ran so far. Evidently, I'm... hooked! ;-) And, per Hollis' nice words, just getting better and more consistent.

I was nominated and awarded the UROY in 2007. Nominated again in 2008 when Erik Skaden was chosen. 2009 was Victor Ballesteros versus Chikara Omine, with a repeat in 2010. Last year, I was on a business trip in the Middle East and didn't even know I was nominated again (Dave Mackey was the obvious winner). Anyway, the 2013 PA UROY award naturally went to... Jon , not for his participation in our local competitions (none in 2012 as he was focusing on the world championships) but for his elite achievements at the international level. Congratulations to him and Suzanna Bon who is our other 2013 Ultra Running of the Year (Suzanna was 5th overall at last years' 24-hour world championship in Poland with 231 km or 143.5 miles!):
A big thank to the Impalas for stepping up this year to host this ceremony. And to the volunteers who give their time all year around to support our sport, and all the competitors who provide so much emulation to strengthen our association and make it so prominent, nationally and internationally! See most of you on the roads or trails again, the 2013 season is on already!


Scott Dunlap said...

That's quite a talented group of runners, you included!

Hollis rules. Serious props to that guy.

Sree said...

Congratulations Jean! Quite an honor and you are inspiring!

Anonymous said...

survolé ce blog avec cependant arrêt sur le livre de Dena et bien sûr sur tes succès...bravo again!