A gray Saturday morning welcomed runners to Malaga Cove for the return of the Coach’s Handicap Run, an intra-club run that began in Ed’s Manhattan Beach Track Club coaching days decades ago (though I am pretty sure that all the runners who started those races are all accounted for and not still on the course somewhere).

Over 30 Club Ed runners went to the starting line (according to their designated handicapped time) and dutifully followed the baby powder puffs along the street over the challenging six-mile course. “Well, there may be one or two hills on the course,” Coach Ed admitted, when asked about the degree of challenge ahead.”Just keep on chasing,” he advised.

And chase they did. Most were gung-ho about the run…Race Director Mark Silva was so enthusiastic about the course that he organized the race, marked the course at 5:30am, then jumped into the race at his handicap time and tried to catch all those ahead of him. Sharon Lotesto, back after a long absence, arrived late, slammed on the car brakes, jumped out of her car, and sprinted down the road to join in the fun. (For her inspiring sprint, Sharon was awarded the “Fastest Start of the Day”).

The running loop began down in Malaga Cove by the Palos Verdes Beach and Athletic Club, headed up Paseo del Mar to PV Drive, out along the bluffs, around PV High School, back along PV Drive, and down the hill to the start/finish line. Mark Kerper (“Nice Mark”) and Laura Guzman (ok, “Nice Laura”…although she is our only Laura) were the first two starters (largest handicaps) and the first two finishers (so you can bet those handicaps are going to be adjusted). Overall, Emily Anderson was the fastest female, in 39:45, and Humberto Sanchez was the fastest male, in 37:25 (note the 10K times and believe the coach when he says there are a few hills).

Metronome Factory Model Jake Courtney took home honors for knowing his capabilities by coming within a few hundredths of a second of his predicted run time (…and no, he didn’t stand near the finish line waiting for the clock to strike). Speedster Jon Megeff took home a flashy set of coconuts for his laid-back vacation cruise of the course (he is just coming back from a week-long case of the flu). Renee Williams Smith earned the Biggest Liar Award for declaring a really slow handicap time and then running a whole lot faster. Other award winners included Rick Dodson (who won a container of assorted nuts for his wild and crazy attempt to run 36 minutes on this course), Sabina Helton was our Warrior Runner (for her gutsy run just back from the flu), Sean Ryan ran away with the Baby Jogger Division (thanks to Casey Ryan, who slept most of the way), Pat Wickens grabbed the Old Guy Award (we can only hope to be running like Pat when we grow up!) , and Steve Notaro was awarded the Wiliest Veteran Runner, for bringing his knowledge of the original Coach’s handicap races on this course (circa 1988) to the current group of club runners.

When the race was over, the dust settled, the shouting done, and the excuses in full swing, we all enjoyed an overwhelming assortment of breakfast/brunch goodies and drinks. Thanks to Mark Silva for organizing the race, Dian Silva for taking care of awards, Renee Smith for providing timing support services, and all the runners who participated and brought an awesome table-full of fruits, cakes, drinks, and nourishment to share.