2004 San Francisco Fire Department Interstation Competition - May 8, 2004
By Jim Gallagher

27th annual ‘Interstation Competition’ was held under near perfect weather on the Lake Merced perimeter 4.5 mile course. Temperatures remained mild throughout the race ranging through the low 60’s as a light cloudy overcast gave way to intermittent bursts of sunshine. The greatest beneficial component of weather was the negligible wind velocity. At times, the wind appeared absolutely still-breathless.

Just prior to the nine am start time runners were gathered at the start line, race instructions were imparted, and then, Chief Rich Brocco issued commands, “Runners to your mark”, “Go”! The race began as runners en masse exited from the parking lot toward the eastward pathway. Entering the pathway first, a group of ten runners galloped closely. Within this lead pack were mostly familiar front runners, jostling for advantage as the pathway arched inwardly through the first quarter mile. Emerging beyond the half mile mark seven runners remained in contact: Larry McDonnell (Stn 16), Mars Rivera (Stn 3), Dustin Novo (Stn 43), Victor Rodriquez, Andy Sobozinsky (Stn 3), Walter Villavicencio (Stn 7) and Joe Hallisy (Stn 10).

As the lead runners sped past the one mile mark, Mars Rivera, the defending Interstation Competition Champion, was trailing Larry McDonnell by a small margin. Dustin Novo, Victor Rodriquez, Walter Villavicencio and Joe Hallisy were following a short distance behind. As the lead pair edged toward the two mile mark it appeared that two contenders - McDonnell and Rivera - would once again duel throughout the race.

Rivera continued to shadow McDonnell as the duo rounded the bottom of the Lake and headed westward up the back side of the course. At this point McDonnell began to extend his lead, first gradually, then with short bursts in which the separation points widened suddenly. By mile three, McDonnell had established an insurmountable lead.

McDonnell Wins Unprecedented Tenth Title.

McDonnell crossed the finish line 26 minutes after Chief Brocco’s race starting command winning the 2004 San Francisco Fire Department Interstation Competition Championship. Larry was followed by Mars Rivera earning first place in the 30-34 age division. Lake Merced course record holder, Andy Sobozinsky was third overall, winning the Master age division championship for the fourth consecutive year.

Joe Hallisy finished seventh overall to win the Grand Master Division for the second time in the past three years. Heather Buren was the first woman and becomes the 2004 Woman’s Interstation Competition Champion. Congratulations to our new and returning champions.

Personal Records

Two runners achieved personal best times on the Lake Merced 4.5 mile course: Tom McGuire (Station 7) ran an impressive 31:29 to slash one minute and three seconds from his previous best time of 32:32. Tom’s station mate, Thomas Busby also ran his best, trimming 45 seconds and breaking 40 minutes for the first time. Throughout Thomas’ run he kept asking where or how far is it to the four mile point. Once he saw the four mile marker, he poured it on to the finish.


Walter Villavicencio finish fifth overall, second in the Master division, and lead his station 7 team to an awe inspiring seventh straight title in the Multi-Company division of the Interstation Competition. Walter’s effort goes well beyond his athletic ability exhibited in the race. He has been the station team leader, prime motivational source, and principal organizer of the most successful station team in the 28 year history of our Interstation Championship race.

Dustin Novo and volunteer Cyndi Lucero provided sufficient points to secure Station 43 their fifth consecutive victory in Single Company Division.


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