RUNNING: Trkac Racing Team takes on the world in Lyon, France
The Trkac Racing Team is going to the World Championships.
Yes, that’s world as in the entire globe. And yes, that is championships as in the best in said globe.
The team will compete against the best masters athletes in the world from Aug. 4-16. Nine runners will be representing the club in Lyon, France after posting qualifying marks in their age groups and events earlier this year.
Four men: Jim Beckett, Alex Danner, Drue Mathies, and Dan King, as well as five women: Lynne Hurrell, Angela Heung, Rose Asquith, Inka Mims, and Makie Ohler will represent the team in France.
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Most of the competitors are signed on for as many as four events over the course of the meet, ranging from the 800 meters to an 8,000 meter cross country race and the marathon.
Coach Clyde Lehman, the man behind the team’s success, is no stranger to excellence.
During his 17-year career coaching cross country and track, Lehman and Nevada Union placed in the top three in California on three separate occasions, and ranked in the top ten nationally. Lehman retired in 2001.
Instead of settling down, he took his talents to the Trkac club, and in a short period of time the team has seen great success. Since the team started last year, attendance has boomed, as has running culture in the county and the level of running on the team. The team meets three times a week to train, doing everything from track workouts to long runs on the trails of Nevada County.
Although Lehman now oversees the efforts of somewhat older athletes than he used to, the runners on the Trkac squad are no less inspired or dedicated.
“They really are incredible,” said Lehman during the team’s final track workout before departing for Lyon, “They’re ready.”
The club boasts 27 All-Americans this year, and the athletes have improved their fitness and times vastly.
“I’m in better shape now than I’ve ever been,” said Drue Mathies, who will be aiming to set personal bests in all four events he will be running in at the World Championships.
Although he considers himself a marathoner — he will look to break 3:40 in the event at the Worlds — Mathies enjoys the 5,000 meters for its brevity and fast pace.
Inka Mims is also excited for the 5,000 meters, where she has the chance to place in the top 10 in the world for the race.
Makie Ohler, also running four events, had high praise for her new coach as she prepared for the meet.
“It’s so nice because he’s a runner, so he understands us,” said Ohler of Lehman.
Another runner competing at the World Campionships, Angela Heung, has the unique experience of having been coached by Lehman in high school. After a 20-year break from the sport, Heung is excited to be competing on the track once again.
“I never thought I would run track again, so I’ve been really enjoying track,” said Heung, adding that the support of the team is a terrific motivator to run your best.
“The group motivates you to run, it’s really supportive. People are always cheering for you,” said Heung, whose main goal for Lyon is to simply compete in what will be a challenging 40-44 age division.
Alex Danner, who is solely running the marathon in France, reiterated the sentiments of teamwork and support on the club.
“There’s a lot of fast people on the team so there’s always somebody to chase and someone right behind you,” said Danner after the rigorous track workout that included nearly 4 miles of intensive speed work to sharpen the runners’ training leading to the culminating event.
Lynne Hurrell will have plenty to celebrate during the meet, as she will kick off her racing schedule with the cross country 8K on her 81st birthday. She hopes to bring home at least one medal from the four events she is entered in, and seeing as she set three American records this year, she will be well positioned to do so.
Despite dealing with a few minor injuries, Hurrell says she is ready to race and is eager to show the world what she can do.
Lehman is the first coach Hurrell has ever had, and the results have been nothing short of remarkable for the longtime distance runner.
“He keeps us going, he’s a terrific coach,” said Hurrell of Lehman, and added that any and all of the members of the team would say the same.
Kael Newton is a journalism student at the University of Oregon interning with The Union; he can be reached at NCPCIntern@theunion.com.
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