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Rage Race Report: 2007 Pear Blossom Run

Medford, OR - While Southern Oregon natives as in the likes of Kyle Gee and The Rage might have a special appreciation for the culture of this part of the state, K.C. Taylor might say "culture schmulture." An even ten miler is what brings him back here year after year, and he could give a rip about whether or not his Toyota pickup fits in or not.

Taylor was raised on a healthy dose of sub-two minute 880's and offers no apologies for his aversion to 15 kliks as opposed to a nice, even ten miler. With all due respect to his friends from across the pond, his yammering while training for this one often includes: What's up with 9.3 miles anyway? If you asked Taylor, it would probably go something like this: So, after having busted your chops with 55 minutes of racing, if you're going to stop there, why don't you just go ahead and get an early start on your post-race French Press while the rest of us finish the race?

As for Mr. T-Bone, it don't matter where it is or how far, baby. This dude knows math and can dial in a pace. The second he heard there would be a side-bet for predicted finishes as he sat down for dinner the night before show time, it was as if he felt sorry for the rest of us. Unbeknownst to us, the language of The Bone was now being spoken: Twenty bucks for the KP. How could we have possibly known that the five spot he lost at Scandia to The Rage a couple summers ago continued to burn deep. More on that later…

But now, it was race time….and it would be the wettest start in the 31 years of running this event.

But no sooner did we begin our final warm up, I couldn't help but notice Taylor doing the unmistakable "did I forget my number" self-pat down. With his panicked self-examination, he realized his snazzy waist number holder thingy he was so boldly jamming down our throats a half hour earlier as we pinned ours on our chests the old fashioned way, was still hanging in the hotel room.


A personal attempt at schlepping his way into the official participants to the race director was met with one of those "You Idiot" stares of disbelief to a nearly four decade veteran road racer, was, in his words, like walking off 18 with an extra club shoved into his golf bag…subsequently pissing away a nice 68.

That would be a DQ, baby.

Suddenly, The Rage began to salivate over the distinct possibility of some age group hardware. But wait! Taylor had come too far not to toe it up…he'd be racing after all…incognito….and we were off!

We'd planned shooting for a first half in 31:00, and I tucked in behind Taylor after the first mile (6:15) and then proceeded to dog him all the way to the turn-around cone at the half-way point, arriving there at 31:11, about nine seconds back…close enough to see him and John Ticer point at each other…along with Leonard Hill, a multi-past Pear Champion. When you can still see those guys after a half hour, you're doing pretty good.

But all of us old guys and everyone else in the field were well back of Sheldon High graduate Matt Barnhart (son of our fellow classmate and South Eugene Axeman Dan Barnhart) who had opened up a serious lead after laying down a 4:58 opening mile.

In an effort to neutralize the whole Taylor's number fiasco, The Rage threw down a negative inward half split at his sorry ass, in an attempt to make the whole issue moot. But Taylor never follows a script, widening the gap between us by about 15 more seconds over the next five miles with his own negative second half split. He peeled just before the finish and slinked off the course, much to the chagrin of some spectators who failed to appreciate what a 1:01:48 feels like for a ten miler.

And then came Gee and Bone…with Bone announcing that he had come within .05 seconds of his predicted finish time! But wait! Let's go to the video tape! Could it be that not one…but two runners (that would be The Rage) wrote down predicted times within one second of each other? Now, the whole matter would be up to Gee to figure out…taking it down to the hundredths of a second. It took all the way to Grants Pass on the way home to determine who won the pot (T-Bone), who treated us all to coffee!

Race Epilogue:

• Matt Barnhart, after sucking the life force out of the field in just the first mile, won it easily in 52.46

• Pop Quiz: Given the above account, who do you suppose misread the menu at dinner and boldly blurted out that he'd take the “Stallion Cut” as rare as you can get it…and was immediately met with the bemused look from our waitress, who responded with "…do you mean the Station Cut…?"

• And the "official" numbers are…

T-Bone 1:07.31
Gee 1:04:54
Taylor 1:01.48
Rage 1:02.16

And while history may show The Rage on the podium with the likes of Mr. John Ticer and Mr. Leonard Hill in the 50-54 age group category, K.C. Taylor should have been on that podium.

And that's The Truth - The Rage (4/26/07)

Rage Race Report: 2006 Pear Blossom 10 Mile Run

Medford, OR—The quiet calm that normally defines this southern Oregon community was broken just about the instant that K.C. Taylor’s ride pulled into downtown Medford.

Rage & Vendley proudly model their tee shirts. Photos courtesy of Todd Bosworth.

The anticipation of the arrival of “The Flintstones” was as evident as the human gauntlet1 that immediately formed between Taylor’s Toyota and the YMCA’s front door, where these otherwise reclusive gazelles2 (Taylor, Boz, Gee and Rage) would be picking up their race packets.

1Notes: While this particular use of the term “gauntlet” consisted only of two people (e.g. Ken Vendley and Eugene runner Liz Wilson), their presence was still quite impressive. Arguably it still would qualify at least as a semi-gauntlet.

2The terms “reclusive” and “gazelles” may also be liberally applied in this context, but it’s MY article.

You could sense that the expectations were high for a repeat of their Run for the Shamrock 10k performance a few weeks back, where the mother of all Flinstonian finishes (e.g as in Bam-Bam times two and a half over a period of 14 seconds) took place.

Refusing to give in to an obviously sore calf, a tough but unfortunately defenseless Taylor offered his old standby technique he falls back on to deflate liberally inflated rib cages in his presence when his usual pre-race favorite status is in jeopardy: Talk smack.

"Beware of the wounded bear," he attempted.

Yeah, right. We’re all scared, Kace (the dude was visibly limping). So you think he’d get a little sympathy? With this group? Yeah, right. After being subjected to his post-California International Marathon cell phone calls for over 500 miles up Interstate 5 which required a full taxation of every frigging cell tower between Eugene and Sacramento to repeatedly hear his superb sub-3:00 effort told as only Taylor could tell it, the general sentiment on this particular trip was: Calf schmaff, pal. You’re going down.

So if it wasn’t Taylor, who was the pre-race favorite? All three contenders looked strong, but Gee pretty much ruled himself out after repeatedly defending his preference to Carpenters' music over the Rolling Stones, prompting a near revolt inside the Toyota culminating with K.C. pulling over just south of Roseburg to eject him out of the vehicle, until Rage’s admission he was an America fan saved him.

Gee: You want some of this? Bring it.

That left Rage and Boz. With Rage steadfastly rejecting Taylor’s assignment of 3:1 odds on Rage, having recently looked at Boz’s back the entire Shamrock 10k plus some impressive quarters earlier in the week, Rage knew Boz was strong. The real question mark was Gee, who had joined Taylor for recent visits to the Londos massage table.

Nuf said. Let’s get on with it.

The Pear Blossom course is an out and backer, with a small bump right around the turnaround point being the only wrinkle in an otherwise perfectly flat course. My first mile was slower (6:24) than it felt…never a good sign.

As usual, Boz took charge and was about 40 yards in front of Taylor, Gee and Rage. Gee was running chatty and relaxed, as if to say: “What’s the problem, Rage?” He even provided me with a course tour on property in his family right along the course. I was thinking I needed to start feeling better soon, or this was going to get ugly.

It took us over five miles to catch up with Todd, and we now had a threesome for the inward half, after K.C. amazingly hung on as long as he did. As expected, things got a lot quieter in miles six and seven, as we all gauged how much we had left in the tank.

Right when we hit seven miles, it was clear it was going to be Gee’s day. He started to pull away and Todd and I couldn’t go with him. He proceeded to ring up a half a minute on us over the last three miles, and left me limping into the shoot looking for Betty, Wilma…and Londos. So where’s Bam-Bam you might ask? Today, it looked like he was hangin’ with Tabatha. The numbers tell the story:

Gee 1:02:32
Boz 1:03:13
Taylor 1:06:46
Rage 1:03:04
Vendley 1:00:50
Wilson 1:01.00

And that’s The Truth.

The Rage (4/16/06)

Relax girls...these four are taken
Website Editor's Note: Click the picture for a larger view. Personally, I wouldn't if I were you. Way too disturbing. - ce
Relax girls...these four are taken

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Date and time page last updated: 03/14/2013 4:41 PM