SALEM, Ore. -- Reaction time in any sprint event is critical. In Sunday's finals of the boom run at the 2010 STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Series Championship in Salem, Ore., it was a case of crazy-fast, and just a little bit TOO fast.
Defending STS champion Alyse Schroeder rocketed off the line with a .03-second reaction time in her first heat against Katie Rick to lay down a time of 10.74, the second-fastest time all week and a benchmark that Rick would have to try to beat in the day's second heat. Rick responded by exploding off the line and blazing through the red course in an unofficial 10.68.
Unofficial because she broke the infrared sensor at the starting line and false-started, disqualifying her run and giving Schroeder her second straight STS boom-run title.
"The first run, I had a really nice start," Schroeder said. "It's five beeps, and on the sixth beep you get to go. As soon as it starts going 'sssss' on 'six' on the sixth beep, that's when you try to go. That's how everybody tries to time it, but even if you move your foot or bend your knee a little bit, you're done."
According to STS officials, that's exactly what Rick did on her false start. The Plymouth, Minn. STS veteran bent her left knee forward just a millisecond too quickly at the start, tripping the automatic timing sensor. The false start was visually confirmed by a race official.
"She ran a 10.74 in her first run, and I hadn't broken 11.5 since my first run here," Rick said. "To break 11 to get in the 10s, I was going to have to have a perfect start, a perfect run and I was going to have to push it. From what I overheard, Alyse had .03 on her reaction time on her first run, which is incredible. That's all anticipation. I knew that if I was going to have any chance at all of winning, I'd have to really push the start."
Rick lost her balance on the first log on the way back from the turnaround in the first heat, finishing over 1 ½ seconds behind Schroeder and forcing her to anticipate the sixth starter's tone on the second run. She ran a quick, clean second heat, stumbling slightly on her final stride and pitching forward across the finish line in a dead heat with Schroeder.
"Katie ran fabulous and had an amazing race," Schroeder said. "It's unfortunate that she false-started, but it's so, so hard to get that timing down. I've false-started many times, and it's the worst feeling in the world."
Schroeder's gold-medal run typified her entire week. She routinely had the fastest times of the day in both the quarterfinals and semifinals, and appeared to be the most balanced and steady on the logs through six heat runs and several practice runs.
"I felt like I ran fabulous all week," Schroeder said. "I felt like I was stronger this year than last year, so it's been a relaxed week."