If only every runner could be in as poor shape as former Bret Harte High’s Byron Fiscus.
The 22-year-old distance specialist was worried about his performance in Saturday’s third annual Fricot City Challenge 10 kilometer race at Rite of Passage/Sierra Ridge Academy, citing that he wasn’t in as good of shape as he hoped to be, but put doubts to rest.
Fiscus finished the run in a time of 35 minutes, 54 seconds, and now has exclusive bragging rights, having won the last two10 Ks since the race started in 2004.
However, he remained humble, and was glad he had enough in the tank to get the job done.
“I was a little surprised, because I haven’t trained like in the past,” Fiscus, who now works in Sacramento, said. “I think you’re more nervous when you train really hard and are in shape to defend your title. You don’t really have an excuse then if you don’t do well.”
This weekend, Fiscus needed no excuses. He competed against 21 other runners in his event and beat second place finisher Bobby Rodriguez, who competed in the 19-and-under category, by just under a minute. Rodriguez turned in a time of 36 minutes, 47 seconds and earned his share of praise from the champ.
“That guy that finished after me was good,” Fiscus said of Rodriguez. “I think a lot of the kids from the school took off fast early and when you do that, you start to die by the second hill. I think if he could have paced himself better, he could have definitely beaten me.”
Fiscus not only topped Rodriguez this year, but also bested his winning time from last year of 39 minutes, 40 seconds by a significant margin.
Modesto’s Mike Boyer was the only other champion on the day, winning the two-mile in a time of 12 minutes, 14 seconds. He was an all-conference runner in the mid 1980s for Modesto Junior College and despite running between 40 and 50 races per year, offered that Saturday’s routing was most unique in its own way.
“I figured it was going to be hilly, but it was rugged and one of the toughest I’ve seen,” Boyer said. “My time was slow for me, but good considering the course.”
Fiscus mentioned that having run on the course that went from the school though Sheep Ranch Road and back helped him significantly.
“You have an advantage if you’ve run it before, because you know where you know the lay out,” Fiscus said. “You know where to cut the corners and find the straightest line.”
That experience hasn’t come easy for the former high school stand out.
Graduating from Bret Harte in 2001, the Arnold native received a scholarship to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. There he ran for one year on the cross-country team and studied aerospace engineering, before deciding that the school just wasn’t a good fit for him.
“It was difficult running-wise, because the running coach I had was more of a sprint coach,” Fiscus said. “I also decided that rocket science wasn’t for me and that I needed to mature a little bit.”
From there, Fiscus went on to run for Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, where he advanced to the section meet in his first year of cross-country. By the completion of his second year, Fiscus made it to the state meet in cross-country and the state meet in track in the steeplechase.
Fiscus initially had his sights on going to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, but later decided to transfer to Chico State University. There he attempted to walk on to the nationally renowned cross-country team that has placed in the top five at the National Championships in the last four years, but was unsuccessful.
After earning money running a bicycle rickshaw service, primarily giving intoxicated students a safe mode of transport, Fiscus has since started an internship this summer for Contractors Warehouse and hopes to get a fulltime job in marketing after graduation next spring.
With his team running days over, Fiscus says that he hopes to keep competing and even has though about broadening his horizons.
“I would like to step it up and stay fit and would also like to be more competitive,” Fiscus said. “I have gotten more into cycling and would like to try triathlons or Eco-challenges.”
Though considering other interests, Fiscus said he plans on coming back to the area to run the Hernia Hill event on July 2 at Ironstone Vinyards and hopes even more people show up next year as he tries to defend his Fricot City title once again.
“I like that it’s set up a week before the Hernia Hill run and encourage more people to come out,” Fiscus said. “It would be cool if we could get like 100 people to come out.”