Wednesday, November 7, 2018

2018 USATF Masters 15K Championships Recap 2--Age Divisions and Teams

November 6 2018. This recap winds up the coverage of the 15K Masters Championships, the final event on the 2018 Masters Grand Prix. It is a great way to finish up the Championship year with a well-organized race over a challenging, hilly course at a venue that has shown, repeatedly that it values Masters Championship races. Heath Aucoin, the Race Director, provides a ten minute head start for the Championship, a complimentary catered pasta dinner at the Technical Meeting the evening before the race, and a penchant for substantial communication to the runners ahead of time. He makes sure they know they are welcome and know how to access hotel sites and have all of the race details they need. With a start and finish downtown, it is one of the most convenient race setups in the Masters Grand Prix. The previous post covered the race overall to be first Masters athletes across the finish line and to perform the best across all age groups in terms of age-grading. Hats off to the Champions noted there: Fiona Bayly doubled up with the Overall and Age-Grading win, while Philippe Rolly (Overall) and Nat Larson (Age-Grading) split the honors for the Men. Those three all won their Age Divisions hndily but there were battles for the remainder of the podium and terrific races in a couple of other Age Divisions. The runners went off from the start under near perfect conditions under fair skies, with a temperature of 51 degrees and light winds.
Start of the 2018 USATF 15K Championships in Tulsa OK--Left to Right across the front-Brent Fields, George Darden, Giovanni Pipia (red singlets), John Gardiner, David Angell (black kit), Mark Hixson, Philippe Rolly, Sean Wade [Photo Credit: Tom Gilbert/Tulsa World]


AGE DIVISIONS

40-44
While David Angell was doing battle with Rolly and John Gardiner for the overall win, he took this division crown as well. Taking it out hard gave him more than 20 seconds advantage on the 2nd runner, George Darden, at the 5K split, with Darden's teammate, and 2nd place finisher overall at Virginia Beach, Giovanni Pipia, 6 seconds back. Would they claw him back? Not today, said Angell, as he increased his lead at 10K to 40 seconds over Darden, with Pipia now much farther back. Angell, to his surprise and that of his rival, Rolly, found himself struggling with the hot pace by the 8 mile mark. But Angell held it together up the long final hill, to take the win in 50:53 despite a strong close by Darden that left Angell's winning margin only 11 seconds.
David Angell captures 2nd overall and wins the Men's 40-44 title at the 2018 USATF 15K Championships in Tulsa OK [Photo Credit: Tom Gilbert/Tulsa World]

Pipia took third in 53:50. Was it the hills or the length of the race or simply a case of not having the same fitness he possessed in March for the 8K? We will perhaps get more clues this next Masters Grand Prix season. This was Angell's sixth Division title in the 2018 Masters Grand prix--dominance.
David Angell 50:53   George Darden 51:04   Giovanni Pipia 53:50

As in the Men's contest, Melissa Gacek, was engaged in the Overall race with rivals from older age divisions. When she took it out hard with Jennifer Malavolta staying right on her, Gacek was also building a gap back to her division rivals. The closest at the 5K mark was Shannon Mauser-Suing, who had run a 1:21:24 Half Marathon in 2016; she was only 17 seconds back, with Rebecca Angeles a full minute behind Gacek. Alice Kassens was only another 14 seconds back behind Angeles, an auspicious start to a race that was only her second since rehabbing an injury earlier in the year. Gacek's chip did not record at the 10K split but it appears she still had a healthy lead. From Facebook posts, it appears she was a few seconds ahead of a running friend, Matthew Schmidt, from the Twin Cities. If so her split was probably around 39:12. Mauser-Suing was in 2nd about a minute back, with Angeles now only 17 seconds back, with Kassens a bit further back from Angeles but closer to Mauser-Suing than at 5K. Although Angeles continued her strong running into the last third of the race,and cut into Gacek's lead a little, there was still nearly a minute between them at the finish line.
Melissa Gacek captures 2nd Overall ane wins the 40-44 title at the 2018 USATF 15K Championships in Tulsa OK [Photo Credit: Tom Gilbert/Tulsa World]

 Angeles passed Mauser-Suing to take 2nd but Mauser-Suing held off a fast-closing Kassens for the final podium spot. Kassens was only 4 seconds back at the finish.
Melissa Gacek 59:33   Rebecca Angeles 1:00:27   Shannon Mauser-Suing 1:01:23

45-49
Philippe Rolly and John Gardiner were jousting for the win while Alan Black and Brent Fields were in the chase pack trying to maintain contact. Rolly and Gardiner hit the 5K mark in 16:35, with Black and Fields 20 seconds back. Although Gardiner fell 20 seconds back from Rolly in the middle portion of the race, he stretched his lead over Black and Fields to 27 seconds. As documented in the earlier post on the Overall Race, Gardiner found a second wind in the last stage of the race and closed considerably on Angell, but not Rolly
Philippe Rolly takes the Overall Win along with the 45-49 title at the 2018 USATF 15K Championships in Tulsa OK [Photo Credit: Tom Gilbert/Tulsa World] 

That surge left Gardiner 20 seconds behind Rolly at the finish, but with a 40 second cushion over Black. Black, in turn, was able to surge away from Fields to claim 3rd by 22 seconds.
Philippe Rolly 50:40   John Gardiner 51:01   Alan Black 51:43

As noted in the Overall recap, Jennifer Malavolta went out hard with the leaders. Whether that was the best tactic overall is an open question. It did serve to put lots of distance between Malavolta and her division pursuers. By the 5K split she already had almost a minute-and-a-half over Jodi Buyyounouski and over 2 minutes on Alexandra Newman in 3rd. Ann Bauermeister, in 4th, was another 48 seconds back from Newman. Malavolta gradually drifted back from the leaders over the middle portion of the course. Despite the best efforts of her divisional rivals, Malavolta pulled away inexorably, building her lead over Buyyounouski to over 3 minutes by the 10K split. Malavolta poured in on from there, taking the division crown by almost 5 minutes.
Jennifer Malavolta finishes third Overall and takes the 45-49 crown at the 2018 USATF 15K Championships in Tulsa OK [Photo Credit: Tom Gilbert/Tulsa World]

Newman's chip did not register at the 10K split so it is difficult to know whether Newman rallied in the middle portion or not. We know that Newman was 51 seconds behind Buyyounouski at the 5K and lost to her by over 2 minutes. Bauermeister finished just off the podium over 3 minutes back from Newman.
Jennifer Malavolta 59:59    Jodi Buyyounouski 1:04:54   Alexandra Newman 1:07:07

50-54
With Sean Wade, the 50-54 American Record holder in the 5K at 15:02, in the race, one might expect it was a complete cakewalk, but Mark Hixson, though overshadowed by his teammates, Kent Lemme and Nat Larson, is very talented. Wade pushed the overall leaders over the first portion of the race, hitting the 5K split in the overall lead at 16:34. Hixson bided his time in the chase group the better part of a minute behind. By the 10K mark Wade had upped the gap to 1:23, but that was the high point as Hixson finished strong to close the gap to under a minute. Wade nonetheless had a strong performance as he took the 50-54 title, but also claimed 4th Overall and 2nd in Age Grading!
Sean Wade finishes 4th Overall, 2nd Age-Grading and wins the 50-54 division at the 2018 USATF 15K Championships in Tulsa OK [Photo courtesy of Tulsa Sports Commission]

Francis Burdett, who finished only 17 seconds behind Hixson at the 5K Masters Championships in Atlanta, had an off day but claimed the final podium spot ahead of Charles Land nonetheless.
Sean Wade 51:32   Mark Hixson 52:26   Francis Burdett 57:27

When the Overall winner comes out of the 50-54 division, it is not at all surprising that she might win the Division by a huge margin. That was the case in Tulsa as Fiona Bayly took the division crown by almost 9 minutes. Three minutes ahead of the division field at the 5K, Bayly  grew that margin steadily in taking the Division gold medal.
Fiona Bayly captures the Overall Masters 15K National Championship, the Age-Grading title and  the 50-54 Division Crown at the 2018 USATF 15K Championships in Tulsa OK [Photo Credit: Tom Gilbert/Tulsa World]

It was a lot closer among Atlanta teammates, Kris Huff and Laurie Wharton, along with local Edmond, Oklahoma resident, Debra Carlson. Carlson clocked 22:01 for the first 5K, earning a 12 second gap to Wharton, with Huff a mere 2 seconds further back. Huff made her move in the middle portion of the race, first passing and pulling away from Wharton and then catching and passing Carlson. But Wharton was having nothing of 4th place as she gradually closed on Carlson and had 2 seconds on her at the 10K mat. Huff continued to pull away in the last 5K, finishing just over a minute ahead of Wharton, who took 3rd by 15 seconds from Carlson.
Fiona Bayly 58:09   Kris Huff 1:07:00   Laurie Wharton 1:08:08

55-59
Nat Larson has not lost a Division race since he turned 55. John Kissane, a fine Atlanta Track Club runner, was his only competition. Larson was gunning for an age grading win and a team win. Kissane was focused on running for his team and having a good outing. Larson took the win in 52:33.
Nat Larson captures the Age-Grading National Championship and the 55-59 Division Crown at the 2018 USATF 15K Championships in Tulsa OK [Photo courtesy of Tulsa Sports Commission]

Kissane was 2nd.
Nat Larson 52:33   John Kissane 1:08:23

Doreen McCoubrie was almost as strong a favorite in the Women's division as Larson was in the Men's. She was gunning for an Age-Grading prize and a top 10 Overall finish. After her, it was competitive though with three Impala runners out of the SF Bay area, Eileen Brennan-Erler, Suzanne Cordes, and Janet Smith, competing for the podium with Atlanta's Michelle Keane and Mireille Silva. McCoubrie hit the 5K split in 20:52 with a minute or more on the field. From there McCoubrie built her lead; she had a  minute margin by the time she crossed the finish line, first in 1:03:18.
Doreen McCoubrie takes 2nd in Age-Grading Overall and Wins the 55-59 Division at the 2018 USATF 15K Championships in Tulsa OK [Photo courtesy of Tulsa Sports Commission]

Cordes passed the 5K mat in 21:53 with almost a minute lead on Keane and Silva, running side-by-side. They, in turn, had a half minute on Brennan-Erler and Smith. Cordes hit the 10K mark in 44:29, slightly stretching her lead over Keane. Keane was hanging tough though, only 1:22 back and certainly within striking distance. Silva had fallen 20 seconds behind Keane and was aware that Brennan-Erler and Smith were closing in on her, just a few seconds back. Cordes ran strong to the tape, claiming second in 1:07:39. Brennan-Erler was one of the few runners to run negative splits, with the 2nd 5K a half minute faster than the first. The 3rd 5K, even with the long, grinding hill to the finish, was 16 seconds faster than the middle 5K. That enabled her to close on Cordes, but not enough to threaten for 2nd. She was third and had opened u a minute lead on her rung partner, Smith, who finished 4th. Keane was 16 seconds back, with Silva a bit further back in 5th.
Doreen McCoubrie 1:03:18   Suzanne Cordes 1:07:39   Eileen Brennan-Erler 1:08:50

60-64
Rick Becker is a very strong runner, and especially tough on the Cross Country turf, but Roger Sayre had beaten Becker the last two tries on the roads, at the 5K and at the Half Marathon. That suggested Becker would have his work cut out for him. After those two there would likely be aa gap and then a fierce fight for the last podium spot. John Holcomb and Brian Nelson, of Cal Coast, would try to outpace Boulder's Nate Anderson. Sayre took it out hard, leaving no doubt that he was not merely going after the division win but had a chance at Age-Grading glory too. Sayre crossed the 5K mat in 18:37 with Becker taking a more measured approach half a minute back. Holcomb was almost a minute behind Becker but had 20 seconds on Nelson who had 20 seconds on Anderson. Sayre stretched his lead further by being the only runner in the division to run his 2nd 5K faster than his first 5K, hitting the 10K mark in 37:02. Becker was not getting any closer to Sayre but he was pulling away from the rest of the field, upping his margin to almost 2 minutes. Nelson was now only 20 seconds back from Holcomb, and had put more pavement between him and Anderson who was now over a minute back. Sayre brought home the gold medal, finishing strong in 55:59,

with Becker in 2nd two and a half minutes back. It was another three minutes before third place was settled. Holcomb roared up the final hill and built his lead over Nelson back up to 50 seconds. Nelson took 4th, followed by Anderson. Holcomb is amazing; he keeps getting injured and he keeps coming back, seemingly as good as ever.
Roger Sayre 55:59   Rick Becker 58:30   John Holcomb 1:01:39

After finishing second to Honor Fetherston in 2015, Andriette Wickstrom was going for her third straight division win. Jennifer Teppo just aged up to the 60-64 division and ran a dynamite Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in the spring. I also got a tip that Teppo was in top condition. She certainly ran that way, crossing the 5K mat in 21:24. Wickstrom, as befits a seasoned Marathoner, took a more measured approach and was a minute and a half back. In this case, though, it was more the case that Teppo was on fire, adding to her lead with each passing kilometer. In the end she hit the finishing line in 1:08:01,
Jennifer Teppo takes the 60-64 Division Championship at the 2018 USATF 15K Championships in Tulsa OK [Photo courtesy of Tulsa Sports Commission]

over 3 minutes ahead of Wickstrom. Last year Wickstrom and Ann Ringlein had gone 1-2, finishing a little under 2 minutes apart. Even though Wickstrom could not keep up with Teppo, she was able to put distance between herself and Ringlein. Wickstrom had a half minute at the 5K mat and over a minute when they passed the clock at 10K. Wickstrom pulled away over the last long uphill to take 2nd by 3 minutes. Ringlein was 3rd, followed by Cynthia Williams of Atlanta.
Jennifer Teppo 1:08:01   Andriette Wickstrom 1:11:20   Ann Ringlein 1:14:23

65-69
With Tom Bernhard recovered from a calf injury, there was not much drama up front. But John Hirschberger, Kirk Larson, and Chuck Smead provided plenty of dramatic moments in their tussle for the two remaining podium spots. This is Larson's year for firsts--first National Championship (in Atlanta, fittingly, in a race hosted by his Atlanta Track Club), first Masters Grand Prix title, and now running in a race longer than 12K for the first time this century. Larson had driven the course and strategizing that he wanted to be sure to have plenty left for the last uphill fifth of the course. He would not go out too hard. Smead had the opposite strategy. Perhaps uncertain whether Bernhard would have the staying power of past races, going out hard seemed best to him. Hirschberger was just determined to hang with those two as long as he could and hope one or both faded. Bernhard showed no ill effects of the layoff in the first 5K, hitting the mat in 20:29; Smead was only 23 seconds back, with Hirschberger and Larson running side by side over half a minute back. Bernhard kept on pace to the second in the middle third of the race, throwing down another 20:29, stretching his lead over Smead to a full minute. By the finish line Bernhard had taken the victory in 1:01:15, with well over two minutes to spare. Smead did not match Bernhard's pace, but had not slowed down much, clocking 21:06 for his middle 5K. That allowed him to lengthen his lead on the two pursuers to 48 seconds. But in a sign of fireworks to come, one could notice that though their middle 5K was slower than Smead's they were running negative splits, running the 2nd 5K fourteen seconds faster than their first one. The last uphill portion of the course took it out of most runners on this day, and that was true of Smead also. Once they got Smead in sight, Larson took off, leaving Hirschberger struggling to maintain contact. Larson enjoyed that great sensation of reeling someone in, as he powered up the hill past Smead to claim 2nd, 
Race start showing 60's and 70's competitors including Doug Goodhue 301, winner of Men's 75-79; Kirk Larson (to Goodhue's left), 2nd place Men's 65-69; and in the background, left to right, Bruce Kirschner white cap, Paul Carlin (white singlet) 3rd place Men's 70-74; and Robert Hendrick (Blue Team USA singlet) 2nd in Men's 75-79

leaving Smead 17 seconds back. Smead toughed it out all the way to the line, as Hirschberger was closed ferociously, also passing Smead on the last hill. Smead found enough in the tank for one last kick to repass Hirschberger and take third by 4 seconds! 
Tom Bernhard 1:01:15   Kirk Larson 1:03:57   Chuck Smead 1:04:14

Last year Suzanne Ray had to battle the top runners from across the country in this age division, including Sabra Harvey, Edie Stevenson, and Jeannie Rice. It was a major achievement to make the podium in that group. This year Ray ran unopposed. Ray ran hard in this division  none the less. She was going for an Age-Grading prize and nearly took the top spot, losing out by less than a tenth of a percent to Fiona Bayly. She took the division title in 1:11:06.

Suzanne Ray 1:11:06

70-74
With Gene Dykes pursuing records rather than another national championship the main interest switched to Ann Arbor's Lloyd Hansen and Atlanta's duo of Dave Glass and Jerry Learned. Hansen was over a half minute ahead of Learned at the 5K in Atlanta, with Glass a little further back. But both were closer in Buffalo at the 5 Km Masters Cross Country Championship. Was that a sign that Hansen was just tired from his exertions at the WMA Championships in Malaga, Spain the week before, or was it a sign that Learned and Glass were catching up? Would Paul Carlin, that's me, and Gene French , factor into the race for the podium. Struggling to recover from injuries, the signs did not look good, though we had finished 4-5 last year. I had some reason to hope in August as I was only a minute behind Glass at the 5K and nearly beat him in the 1 Mile at Flint. But Glass reasserted his dominance in Buffalo where French and I both finished well over a minute behind him.Glass hinted at the pasta dinner the evening before the race that all had not gone well recently with his training. If so, it was not obvious in the first 5K. 
Dave Glass (far left #282) gets a fast start as his rivals, Gene French (white cap just behind Glass), and further back, far right of picture, Paul Carlin (white singlet), and Jerry Learned (red singlet, black shorts) try to stay in contact at the 2018 USATF 15K Championships in Tulsa OK [Photo Credit: Tom Gilbert/Tulsa World]

Hansen was trying to run with Kirk Larson, from the 65-69 group and hit the 5K mat in 21:37. By that point, Learned was already almost two minutes behind. Unless Hansen encountered a major problem it seemed unlikely to be close. Glass, though running with Learned initially, was 7 seconds back from him by the 5K mat. I had just passed French before the 5K mark, and had Glass in sight as he turned the corner 12 seconds ahead. Learned, a half minute ahead of Glass, was out of sight. Hansen ran his second 5K four seconds faster than his first, building his lead on the field to well over 4 minutes. As we went up the long hill in the 4th mile, I was gaining slightly on Glass, and I passed him going through the neighborhood with the speed bumps. Clearly his hint had been on the mark as he had an off day. Shortly after that I could see Learned ahead. When we crossed the 10K mat, he had 15 seconds on me. That was as close as it would get. Neither of us sprinted into the finish but Learned handled the last, grueling hill better than I did. He took 2nd by over 40 seconds. I managed to stay upright, but the last 800 meters took a long time. Still I managed to stay ahead of French, taking 3rd by well over a minute. That was my first podium this year. Hansen was also coming back from injuries in 2017 and showed he had come back quite a ways. He took the win with over 7 minutes to spare, his second national championship this year, after winning the Road Mile National Championship in Flint.
Lloyd Hansen 1:05::30   Jerry Learned 1:12:59   Paul Carlin 1:13:40

Irene Terronez competed unopposed and took the win in 1:39:54.
Irene Terronez 1:39:54

75-79
Doug Goodhue, the 'Silver Bullet' has this division well in hand now that he has recovered from injuries that had plagued him from 2015 through the earlier part of this year. Goodhue went out in 21:58 for the first 5K, leaving the field nearly two minutes behind. Robert Hendrick had won a bronze medal at the WMA Marathon the week before in Toronto but did not seem to show too many ill effects. He had over 4 minutes on the rest of the field by the 5k timing mat. David Cohen had set 2 goals for himself, to get on the podium and to beat all of the runners on the Atlanta 'B' team. He made a good start. By the 5K mark, he was in 3rd place, two minutes ahead of Ed Bligh and Andrew Sherwood. All of those gaps grew over the course of the race with no big surprises. Goodhue won by over 5 minutes, running fast enough to take home an Age-Grading prize as well as getting the National Championship; Hendrick took 2nd by an even larger margin, and Cohen enjoyed his trip to the podium with a 6 minute margin over his closest pursuer, Bligh.
Doug Goodhue 1:08:00   Robert Hendrick 1:13:08   David Cohen 1:26:27

Judy Bomer took the 70-74 title last year and moved up an age division this year. She had no rivals in the race as she tamed the hills of Tulsa with a 1:42:52.
Judy Bomer 1:42:02

TEAMS

40+
The  Impala Racing Team was the top 40+ team coming in from outside the region. The Atlanta Track Club had strong teams at some of the earlier events but were coming in with a team that looked to run well and take the team points for 3rd place to make sure they retained their top position in the Masters Grand Prix.  LRC Racing, out of Lincoln, Nebraska lacked that incentive but had the incentive of winning for their region. LRC's top runner, Shannon Mauser-Suing was in contention for the Overall podium and led them to an early lead. She crossed the 5K mat 1st in 19:44 but was followed by two Impalas, Brooke Bray and Jodi Buyyounouski, in 20:34 and 20:58, with LRC's Michelle Schmidt in 4th at 21:03.
Michelle Schmidt helps her LRC Racing team to victory in the Women's 40+ Division at the 2018 USATF 15K Championships in Tulsa OK [Photo Credit: Tom Gilbert/Tulsa World]

By position they were all even through the first two runners, but time favored LRC, and total time of the first three runners is what determines the win in Championship road races. When LRC's Tonya Beach came across next with 40 seconds over the Impala's Alexandra Newman, that gave LRC the lead in terms of both position and time. Things did not change much over the next 10K except that Schmidt caught and passed Buyyounouski in the last 5K. LRC took the win with their top 3 of Mauser-Suing, Schmidt and Beach averaging 1:03:44 to the Impala's average of 1:04:53. Amy McCracken and Ann Bauermeister also ran for LRC.  Atlanta's Kris Huff, moving down form the 50's and Cindy Williams, moving down from the 60's teamed up with the 40's Captain, Stephanie Whitis, to bring home the third place finish Atlanta needed to stay ahead of the Impalas in the Masters Grand Prix contest. Not only that, but Williams competed well enough in the Women's 60-64 to take the Masters Grand Prix Individual title.
LRC Racing 3:11:10   Impala Racing Team 3:14:44   Atlanta Track Club

As the top 3 spots in the Men's Masters Grand Prix Club contest were settled already, there was no team incentive to participate apart form the glory of a 15K Team National Championship. Atlanta joined the fray but no one else did. Their top 3 runners, George Darden, Alan Black, and Brent Fields averaged 51:38, smoking fast! Giovanni Pipia and Brad Slavens also ran for Atlanta.

50+
Even though the Impala Racing Team could not hope to pass the Atlanta Track Club to move into 2nd place in the Grand Prix, they were aiming for a National Championship. Suzanne Cordes led the way for the Impalas, clocking 21:53 at 5K. The next 3 to cross the mat were all wearing the Atlanta insignia as Laurie Wharton, Mireille Silva, and  Michelle Keane turned in 22:13, 22:45, and 22:46. Half a minute later the 2-3 runners for the Impalas, Janet Smith and Eileen Brennan-Erler sped past within 2 seconds of each other. That gave the early edge to Atlanta because of their 'tight pack.'  Cordes and Wharton retained their 1-2 positions all the way to the finish. But Brennan-Erler and Smith ran negative splits and both were able to catch and pass Keane and Silva before the finish. The Impalas took the win with an average time of 1:08:49 to 1:10:06 for Atlanta. Teresa Quan and Mary Bryan also ran for the Impalas.
Impala Racing Team 3:26:25   Atlanta Track Club 3:30:17

The Greater Springfield Harriers were shooting for their 6th national championship of the season and the Atlanta Track Club was not planning on stopping them. Kirk Larson, from the 60's and David Peterson, from the 70's, dropped down in age to run with their 50's teammate, John Kissane. By running a team they made sure that if a Cal Coast Track Club 50's team showed up, they would not be able to pass Atlanta  to take 2nd in the Masters Club Grand Prix. Even though Francis Burdett had an off day, Nat Larson and Mark Hixson did not. Springfield took the win with an average time of 54:08 while Atlanta was happy to turn in a 1:09:38 average.
Greater Springfield Harriers 2:42:26   Atlanta Track Club 3:28:54

60+
The defending Champion, Team Red Lizard, took the title unopposed this year. Only the strongest teams in the USA could possibly threaten them. But none of those showed up so Team Red Lizard took the National Championship. Jennifer Teppo, Suzanne Ray, and Lyn Bernot powered the Red Lizards to an average time of 1:12:34; Joanna Harper also ran for Team Red Lizard. That would have been good enough to make the podium in the Women's 50+ category, so plenty fast!
Team Red Lizard 3:37:42

The Boulder Road Runners were the defending Champions and wanted to end the Masters Grand Prix year by saying, 'Watch out for us in 2019!' This was Atlanta's year for the Grand Prix but it is anyone's guess how 2019 will unfold. The closest challenger to the Boulder crew was the Cal Coast Track Club. With John Holcomb back most of the way to his usual fitness, they could challenge. If Keith Witthauer can get out of Chemo and train more regularly, Cal Coast could play an even bigger role next year in the Grand Prix contest. Roger Sayre was in a class by himself in the team contest. He went out and hit 18:37 for the first 5K, building a minute and a half lead on the field. John Holcomb led the way for Cal Coast with a 20:02. When his teammates, Steve Brumwell and Brian Nelson crossed the mat in 20:27 and 20:29, it looked like Cal Coast might have a chance. Sayre was likely to give Boulder a big lead out of the first position, but if Cal Coast could come in 2-3-4 with pretty good times, they would have a chance to win. Sayre continued his assault on the course the rest of the way, clocking in at 55:59. Holcomb ran almost as fast as he did last year but his time was still over 6 minutes behind Sayre. Smead caught and passed Brumwell in the middle third of the course and then pulled away. Anderson made the catch in the last 5K section. With Sayre giving Boulder a 6 minute lead and Cal Coast unable to deliver a 2-3-4 punch, that gave the victory to Boulder. Their top 3 averaged 1:01:32. Mark Donelson and Bruce Kirschner, Team Captain, also ran for Boulder. Cal Coast's top 3 averaged 1:03:29.
Boulder Road Runners 3:04:36   Cal Coast Track Club 3:10:25

70+
The Ann Arbor Track Club was looking to close out the Masters Grand Prix with a win. They were initially worried about the possibility of a challenge from the Genesee Valley Harriers (GVH). If GVH had entered, then whichever team won the National Championship would also have won the Grand Prix. which could have taken away their Masters Grand Prix win, A 15K road course is not in GVH's wheelhouse, so they decided to skip the 15K and focus their preparation on the Club Cross Country Championships in Spokane, which kicks off the 2019 Masters Grand Prix. With GVH out of the team race in Tulsa, that meant Ann Arbor had a lock on the Masters Grand Prix title, but they would still like to win it with a perfect 500 score. They needed to beat the Atlanta Track Club to succeed. Terry McCluskey, who had been their lead runner at the 5 Km Cross Country Championships in Buffalo, was not able to make the trip after all. That meant that Atlanta had a shot. At the most recent championship in Buffalo, Doug Goodhue, came in 2nd for them, with Lloyd Hansen, #3 and me, Paul Carlin, 4th. Hansen only finished 6 seconds ahead of Jerry Learned and 14 ahead of Dave Glass, Atlanta's #1 and #2. That might give them a chance. Dave Peterson, who sometimes runs for Atlanta was entered and had finished 6 seconds ahead of me at Buffalo. But once I remembered that Peterson is out-of-state, as is Glass, and only one of them at a time runs for Atlanta, there was less reason to worry. And everything went Ann Arbor's way. Hansen had recovered from his exertions at the WMA Championships in Malaga, Spain, Goodhue had another strong run and I had, arguably, my best run since early in the year. At the 5k mat Hansen's mark was 21:37. Twenty seconds later Goodhue came by giving them 1-2. More importantly Goodhue had over a minute and a half on Learned. Glass was only 7 seconds back from Learned, which was good for Atlanta, but I was only 12 seconds back from Glass. They would have to drop me to have any chance at the team title. Then they could worry about catching Goodhue. As it turned out, neither of those was in the cards today. Glass had an off day. Hansen and Goodhue continued building their lead through the entire race. So even though Learned came in 40 seconds ahead of me, Ann Arbor had a strong victory and their 500 points for the Grand Prix win. Ann Arbor averaged 1:09:04 for the win; David Cohen also ran for Ann Arbor. Atlanta averaged 1:16:02 in taking 2nd; Sam benedict also ran for Atlanta. The Atlanta Track Club 'B' team, consisting of Joseph Lenahan, Edward Bligh, and Andrew Sherwood averaged 1:32:06 in taking 3rd place.
Ann Arbor Track Club 3:27:10   Atlanta Track Club-A 3:48:15   Atlanta Track Club-B 4:36:18

Another great 15K Masters Championship was in the books. The Tulsa Federal Credit Union Tulsa Run and its Race Director, Heath Aucoin, put on another great show for the Masters Championship. We will be back in 2019!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

USATF Masters 15K Championships at Tulsa Run-Recap No. 1 Overall and Age-Grading

October 30, 2018. The day dawned on the 27th of October with near perfect weather for a 15K jaunt over the hills of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Temperatures were in the mid 50's with plenty of sunshine and light winds. A new course greeted the Masters Runners--a course that wound through cool neighborhoods with taverns and restaurants, and old, established residential neighborhoods. The course certainly showed off Tulsa to great advantage. 

Overall Masters Championship. In the race to be first across the finish line, it appeared there were four main contenders, although there can always be surprises. David Angell has been tearing up the roads at National Championships the last two years but he has enjoyed more wins this year, taking the titles at the 8K in March at Virginia Beach, then the 10K in late April at Dedham, and the 5K in mid-August in Atlanta. John Gardiner has been his nemesis though. Angell had not beaten him on the roads at Championships until the 5K in Atlanta. At this 15K Championship in Tulsa, Gardiner had the best of their duels in both 2016 and 2017. Would this be Angell's year at the 15K? Sean Wade threw his entry onto the pile on the last day of registration. The renowned runner from Houston and current holder of the Men's 50-54 American 5K Record of 15:02 is a force to be reckoned with, even if 15K is not his best distance. And then there is Philippe Rolly. Rolly has been behind Gardiner and Angell for the last few years, at the front of the chase pack by the end of each race. Arguably his better distances are outside the 5K to 10K races where he has met them. Rolly won the Masters Division overall at the Chicago Marathon last year. We learned after the race that he is in training now for the California International Marathon (CIM) to be held the first weekend in December.

The Announcer sent the runners off with a voice command and the runners headed down 3rd street. The advice circulating among runners before the start had been to restrain yourself in the first mile for pacing purposes. But advice is one thing and actually doing it in a competitive situation is a different challenge. 
'Get Set, Go!' The Start of the 2018 USATF 15K Masters Championship  hosted by the Tulsa Federal Credit Union Tulsa Run [L to R across the front: Brent Fields, George Darden, Giovanni Pipia, John Gardiner, David Angell, Nat Larson, Francis Burdett, and  Mark Hixson] 

A lead pack of Angell, Gardiner, Rolly, and Wade quickly formed, with a chase pack consisting primarily of the Atlanta Track Club's contingent of Alan Black, George Darden, Brent Fields, and Giovanni Pipia. Black won the National 1 Mile Road Championship this year in Flint. At the 5K, Darden, Black and Fields finished 8-9-10, almost a minute behind Angell and Gardiner in 1st and 2nd. Pipia did not run the 5K but earlier in the year had surprised many by finishing 2nd to Angell ahead of Rolly. Would Pipia be able to spring another surprise? The Greater Springfield Harriers duo, Mark Hixson and Nat Larson took a more measured pace. By the 5K mat just after the first uphill, there was essentially no separation among the first 4 as they all clocked between 16:35 and 16:37. The Atlanta chase pack went past in 16:55 to 16:58 with Pipia trying to maintain contact 5 seconds back. Shortly after the 5K mark, there is a long hill and Gardiner fell back a bit. In that stretch Angell was the one pushing the pace but whenever they would hit a downhill section, Wade would push the pace. Rolly was content to hang with them, assuming he would have to try to match a killer surge at some point. In the stretch through the park after mile 5, Angell and Wade started to pull away from Rolly. In the next section through a residential neighborhood with speed bumps, Angell gained a few steps but by Mile 6, he heard someone closing, assuming it was Wade. To Angell's surprise, it was Rolly. They ran together until the turn around on the far side of the 23rd Street Bridge. 
Philippe Rolly starts his surge on the 23rd Street Bridge as Angell stays on his heels at the 2018 USATF Masters 15K Championship 

With just under 2 miles to go Rolly discovered, to his surprise, that Angell was starting to struggle with the pace. Rolly gained a few steps over the next half mile and then powered away up the last 1.5 miles of uphill grind before the course finally flattens right before the finish. It was a great and surprising victory for Rolly; his time was 50:40. As Angell turned onto the final hill he caught a glimpse of Gardiner who had recovered and was closing. Angell found the strength to hold off Gardiner for 2nd but could not catch Rolly. 

Philippe Rolly captures the 2018 USATF Masters 15K Overall National Championship in downtown Tulsa Oklahoma 

Angell was second in 50:53, with Gardiner third 8 seconds back and, closing even harder, Darden in 4th another 3 seconds back, followed by Wade. Rolly said after the race, "I have never beaten Angell or Gardiner in 6 tries before this. I am really surprised that I won. Perhaps it is the Marathon training. I am a little disappointed with the time, as I felt I have the conditioning to break 50 minutes. But it is a very hilly course. My goal was to run with the leaders at 5:20 pace for as long as possible. When we were on the bridge just after 7 miles, I saw Angell slowing down from our previous pace. At first I was confused, but waited until after the turnaround and made my move. I finished hard over the last mile and no one caught me. It was a great confidence builder in my training for the CIM."
Philippe Rolly 50:40   David Angell 50:53   John Gardiner 51:04

In the Women's Overall Race it was the third duel between Melissa Gacek and Fiona Bayly. Gacek won in 2016, with Fiona Bayly 2nd and in 2017 Bayly was the winner with Gacek 2nd. Who would win the rubber match? Both have had strong seasons. Bayly has been on the Masters podium or just off at several very competitive road races in the New York City area from the Fifth Avenue Mile to the Brooklyn Half Marathon. Perhaps her best predictor from those efforts was her 1:23:19 in the United Airlines New York City Half Marathon, which is age grade equivalent to a 58:40 15K. But she had a time in the Brooklyn HM that was a minute faster.  Gacek had two impressive 2nd place Masters finishes to polish her resume. She ran 1:41:21 at the 25K in Grand Rapids in May and 1:03:03 at the challenging 10 Mile Run in the Twin Cities in early October. Michelle Paxton who finished 3rd last ear had to scratch due to injury. Jennifer Malavolta has won two 5K's this season in 18:54 and 18:41. If she has the distance fitness for a 15K, those times suggest a time under an hour is within reach. Shannon Mauser-Suing ran a 1:24:34 half marathon in 2017 but in 2016 in that same race she ran 3 minutes faster. If she is in shape to run a 1:24 Half Marathon, she can break an hour in a 15K, but she has no races this year. Is that due to injury or something else preventing her from training? In either case, she is not race sharp. When the race started, Gacek's plan was to take it out hard, establish herself at the front and stay there if possible. She and Malavolta covered the first mile in 5:59. Gacek tried to drop her over the next mile, pushing on the tangents. Then right at three miles, Bayly came past both of them at speed. By the 5K mark, which Gacek hit in 19:27 she had left Malavolta 8 seconds back. But by then Bayly was 15 seconds ahead and pulling away. And that was pretty much the story the rest of the way as Bayly kept tripping off the miles and Gacek could only hold her in sight 1-2 blocks on the straightaways. Gacek seemed to close a bit on a downhill stretch around 10K, but then at the next uphill Bayly pulled away again. In the end Bayly had a fine victory, her second consecutive in 58:09, over half a minute faster than last year. 
Fiona Bayly captures her second consecutive USATF Masters 15K National Championship on the streets of downtown Tulsa Oklahoma 

Gacek finished gamely up the final hill to claim 2nd in 59:33, holding off Malavolta who claimed third 26 seconds later, 
Melissa Gacek 208 helping Jennifer Malavolta to walk off post-race fatigue at the 2018 USATF Masters 15K Championship in Tulsa OK 

with Mauser-Suing coming across the finish line in 4th a minute and a half later.
Fiona Bayly 58:09   Melissa Gacek 59:33   Jennifer Malavolta 59:59

Age Grading Championships
On the Men's side of the competition, Nat Larson, 56, was the favorite. He took the Gold Medal in Age Grading, symbolic of the best overall performance relative to age across all age divisions. Larson took the gold at the 5K in Atlanta, winning out over a formidable field with a 94.26%. He added that to age grade victories this year at 8K (92.90%) and the 10K (93.90). But he would have a challenger he has not faced before to my knowledge, Sean Wade, 52, the aforementioned 5K American M50 Record holder. Also in the field were Rick Becker, 63, who came in ahead of Larson in Age Grading at the USATF Cross Country National Championships in Tallahassee and also took 1st at the Half Marathon in Ann Arbor, Doug Goodhue, 76, a ten-time USATF Age Division Runner of the Year, and Roger Sayre, 60, who finished 2nd to Larson at the 8K. Tom Bernhard, 67, who has been on his share of age grading podiums, is always a threat. Medals go three deep and prize money five deep. Larson, ran 52:33, finishing 9th overall and grading at 91.94%. 
Nat Larson crosses the finish line in 52:33 to claim Age-Grading Gold at the 2018 USATF Masters 15K National Championship in Tulsa OK

Wade, 4th Overall, took 2nd in the Age Grading competition from his 51:32, grading at 90.48.
Sean Wade speeds to the Finish Line in 4th place Overall to claim a a Silver Age Grading Medal at the 2018 USATF Masters 15K National Championship

 Larson's teammate, Mark Hixson, 53, had a good day at the office, covering the hills and dales of Tulsa in 52:26 to grade at 89.72% and make his first age-grading podium at a National Championship! Sayre made his mark again, clocking 55:59 for 89.53% with Goodhue in 5th at 1:08:00 and 88.58. Becker was less than a half percentage point back, followed by Bernhard.

Five years ago the Age-Grading podium for the 15K Masters Championship in Tulsa consisted of Brian Pilcher, who is currently rehabbing a hamstring injury, Goodhue, successfully back from leg injuries and 5th place finisher in Tulsa this year, and yours truly, Paul Carlin, hoping to finish my comeback from off and on hamstring injuries since April 2016, and have a good 2019. The only one of those three who is close to the fitness of that day, in the context of age-grading, is Goodhue. He is an inspiration to all of us who have struggled with injuries and fitness. Hurray for the Silver Bullet and his remarkable comeback! 
Nat Larson 56 91.94   Sean Wade 52 90.48   Mark Hixson 53 89.72

The top returning age-grading scorers from last year on the Women's side of the competition were: Suzanne Ray, 67, Fiona Bayly, 51, Andriette Wickstrom, 63, and Doreen McCoubrie, 56. Their Age grades ranged from 87.87 to 92.22. McCoubrie and Ray were both on the Age-Grading podium for the Half Marathon and for the 8K McCoubrie was on th epodium and Ray was top 5. They have kept up their strong running this year. This is the first National Championship race of 2018 for Bayly and Wickstrom, but Bayly's Brooklyn Half Marathon of 1:22:19 age graded well over 90 and Wickstrom's City of Lakes Half Marathon of 1:37:08 graded just over 90%. I had a hot tip from one of my West Coast correspondents to watch out for Jennifer Teppo who was very fit and had just turned 60. As it turned out the top two returning from last year were the top two this year but in reverse order. Bayly was on fire on Saturday and everything fell into  place; her 58:09 age graded at 90.89%, over two percentage points higher than last year. Most folks who were repeat runners from last year went the other way on Age-Grading. Ray moved up from 4th to 2nd this year based on her 1:11:06 and 90.80%. Hixson and Sayre were close in the Men's competition but these two were even closer, a narrow win for Bayly!
Doreen McCoubrie keeping her pace cracking over the 23rd Street Bridge after mile 7--Good enough for a Bronze Age-Grading Medal at the 2018 USATF Masters 15K National Championship

McCoubrie's 1:03:18 closed off the podium with an 88.87. But two more went home with virtual cash jingling in their pockets. Teppo hit 1:08:01 to grade at 87.19 [my 'hot tip' was on the money!] in 4th
Jennifer Teppo approaches the Finish Line where she will claim the Women's 60-64 crown and a 4th Place Age-Grading Finish Overall in the 2018 USATF Masters 15K National Championship in Tulsa OK [Photo courtesy of Tulsa Sports Commission]

and Wickstrom's 1:11:20 scored 86.66 to land in 5th, one percentage point ahead of Suzanne Cordes.
Fiona Bayly 51 90.89   Suzanne Ray 67 90.80   Doreen McCoubrie 56 88.87

The next post will focus on Age Divisions and Teams. The spirited competition celebrated above permeated the event.

Photo Credits: Except for the one photo with the Tulsa Sports Commission watermark and the photo of Jennifer Teppo immediately above, all photos are by Shane Bevel Photography, LLC and Heckenkemper.