History of Annual Club Handicap Race

We began running our annual handicap race in 1971.  It was originally called the Cunningham handicap race because it started and finished at Frank Cunningham’s house, which was located just off Summit Road in the Santa Cruz mountains.  The race was an out-and-back course of 7.2 miles.  After the race, we had a nice lunch on the Cunningham property.

We ran the same course from 1971 through 1978, when Frank sold his home and moved to Stockton. Four club members ran the race every year during this period – Ken Napier, Walt Van Zant, Carl Martin, and Craig  Windham. Dick Barrett, whose name is on our weekly trophy, ran the race six out of eight times.  Don Cantrell was the winner of the first race and Ken Napier was the scratch-time winner the first four years and five of the first six years. He held the course record at 41:06.

Ken’s streak of running in every handicap race ended in 1979. Craig  Windham’s streak ended in 1980. Carl Martin’s streak ended in 1981. And, Walt Van Zant’s streak ended in 1984.

We moved to Los Gatos for our 1979 race, starting and finishing at the Blossom Hill Park. The distance of the race was 7.0 miles. We also changed the name of the race to the Shettler Handicap Race in honor of club  member Jim Shettler, who died of a heart attack in 1976 at the age of
42. He was the top Northern California master runner at age 40 and 41 and was leading in 1976 prior to his death.

The handicap race was run at Vasona Park from 1980 through 1983.  The race consisted of three 2-mile loops.  We stopped running at Vasona after 1983 because the park personnel failed to open the gate at the Oak Meadow Park entrance in 1983 until most club members had completed two loops.  Club members were forced to climb an 8-foot fence during each of the first two laps.  Smaller club members were able to squeeze under the gate.

We moved the race to the Carol Stroud residence in Saratoga in 1984.  We ran two 5K loops that year, starting and finishing in front of the Stroud residence. Carol’s house was located at the corner of Horseshoe and Los Gatos/Saratoga Rd.  The course was changed to one 4.19-mile loop for the years 1985 through 1987.

Our next change was to the Russ and Terri Kinsch residence in 1988.  Their home was located in Saratoga near Prospect high school.  We ran a 3-loop course of 1.12 miles each.  The race was followed by a nice dinner across the street from the Kinsch home at a swim pool complex.  We ran races on this course from 1988 through 1995.  The course record holders for this course were Mike Kriege for the men (1989) and Becki Kriege for the  women (1990).

The 1996 race started and finished in front of the Dave and Vicki Garcia home in Saratoga.  The 5K course consisted of 3 loops. No handicap race was held in 1997.

With the exception of the Pandemic Year (2020), all races from 1998 through the present have started and finished in front of the Rich and Judy Collins home in Saratoga.  This race course consists of four 0.76M loops for a total of 3.06 miles.  All races have been followed by a great breakfast put on by Rich and Judy.