Friday, March 16, 2018

Who's In for the 8K? Age Divisions Updated and Teams

March 16 2018. The Age Division previews that were posted a few days ago have now been updated for all entrants I know of through Thursday, March 15th. There is also a brief discussion of the Team Contests after that. The forecast is holding for sunny and cold, with little wind, at 8 am.


40-44. Of the three who made the 40-44 podium last year, only Jeanette Boyd, is entered thus far. Third in 34:22 last year, that seems a good prediction for this year too.  GVH's Heather Webster seems the clear favorite as I have picked her to be in the hunt for the overall win.
New Hampshire’s Tammie Robie has a couple of recent sub-20 5K’s to go along with 2 sub 1:07 10 Milers and a 1:27:44 Half Marathon. That makes her my favorite for 2nd place.
Heather Webster     Tammie Robie     Jeanette Boyd    

David Angell and Jake Stookey finished 1-3 last year in the Men’s race; the 2nd place finisher, Philippe Rolly has aged up to 45-49. Angell is the returning M40 and Overall Masters champion and at this point is the favorite to defend his title. It does not appear that anyone in the 40-44field can challenge him. Angell was somewhat off his game at the USATF XC Championship due to a freak knee injury and still finished 4th overall. Now he has had several more weeks to recover and train up for Virginia Beach. So I expect him to be close to where he was last year when he won in 25:24.
David Angell earns his first National Championship patch at the 2017 USATF Masters 8K Championship at Virginia Beach

Angell has brought some teammates with him and they appear to be fast but probably not threats for the age division podium. One unknown quantity is James Holbrook; I can find no results for him. Holbrook gave me a heads up that his results are under ‘Andrew Holbrook.’ He runs his 5K’s in the 17 minute range and has a couple of 1:20-ish Half Marathons in the last year. There is already a lot of speed here. The chief contenders for podium spots appear to be Tommy Boles, Paul Jones, Giovanni Pippia, Gabriel Rodriguez, Jake Stookey, and Sam Teigen. The latter two appear to have a slight edge on the others Stookey took 3rd in the age division last year in 26:31. Teigen took 2nd in the division at USATF XC in 28:03 and has exhibited good strength in the longer races. Stookey’s 15:51-16:01 5K’s suggest he has more speed which may be the deciding factor in their match-up . But Boles, Jones, Pippia,  and Rodriguez are no slouches. In 2016 Boles ran a couple of 5K’s right around 17:00 and ran a 28:13 8K; Jones came in 8 seconds behind Stookey at Club XC, with Pippia only 3 seconds behind Stookey and owning a 15:43 5K this year;  Rodriguez ran a couple of 5K’s this past year in 16:43 and 17:10.

David Angell     Jake Stookey     Sam Teigen

45-49. Last year Brent Fields, Keith Schumann, and Derek Miller took the top 3 spots but there appears to be more up front speed in this year’s edition. Fields won in 27:43 last year but he would likely have to take at least half a minute off that time to make the podium this year. Philippe Rolly  took 2nd in the 40-44 division last year in 25:51.
Neither Elliott nor Jonathan Frieder, the swift twins who now run for Garden State, contested this 8K Championship last year. But Jonathan F. finished 3rd in the Masters competition in the Rothman 8K last November in 26:08, ahead of Rolly, and his brother was a minute back. Elliott F. has been on the comeback trail and beat his brother at the USATF XC Championship in early February. It will be interesting to see how their rivalry plays out this year. But it seems possible that both will come home in under 27 minutes. J. Fieder beat Rolly at the Rothman 8K, but Rolly may still have had a little of the Chicago Marathon in his legs (where he took first Masters in 2:34:29. By Club XC Rolly finished comfortably ahead of both Frieders. Musa Gwanzura is the latest entrant. As a citizen of Zimbabwe, he is not eligible for awards, but he could certainly make both the 45-49 and the Overall race more interesting. He finished 8th overall in the 2016 Masters 5K Championship in Syracuse in 15:51.

Philippe Rolly     [Musa Gwanzura?]   Jonathan Frieder     Elliott Frieder

The three entrants in the Women’s race so far, Michelle Brangan, Melissa Senall, and Christine Hill,  finished 2-3-4 last year in 32:04, 33:58,  and 34:50. Brangan also has a 1:05:23 10-miler from last fall and Hill has a 36:05 5-miler and a 1:14:20 15K. Senall had a 34:47 8K in November. The finishing order from last year seems a reasonable prediction. 
Michelle Brangan     Melissa Senall     Christine Hill

50-54. Two of the top four from last year, Marisa Sutera Strange, who won it in 29:56, and Karyl Sargent, who finished 4th in 33:34, are entered. It does not appear that any of the others can stay with Strange.

Sargent has two impressive rivals for the 2nd and 3rd spots on the podium. Suzanne LaBurt ran the Ashenfelter 8K in 31:34 and the Fitzgerald Lager 5K in 19:34 last year. Michelle Simonaitis had an impressive set of times in the 2018 Salt Lake City Original Winter Series, clocking 19:46, 40:40, and 1:02:49 in the 5K, 10K, and 15K. Her 10K time is age-grade equivalent to a 32:07 8K; she should be faster at sea level. It looks like a terrific race between LaBurt and Simonaitis for 2nd. If Strange is close to the form that saw her run 37:54 in Dedham at the 10K Championship, she should take the division again. It appears that Sargent will be pressed to stay with them.

Marisa Sutera Strange     Suzanne LaBurt     Michelle Simonaitis

Kent Lemme and Mark Hixson  finished 2nd and 4th last year in 26:34 and 27:03 and none of their other top rivals are entered as yet. Lemme has been on a tear since last October when he finished 2nd in the 5K Masters Championship at Syracuse in 15:56, won the 50-54 15K Masters Championship in Tulsa with a 52:26, and capped it off this February with yet another age division win at the USATF XC Championships over an 8K course in Tallahassee with a 27:36!
Kent Lemme strides to victory in the 50-54 division at the 2017 USATF Masters National Championship in Virginia Beach

Hixson stayed with his teammate, Lemme, for most of that Tallahassee race but let him get away in the last kilometer. The top contenders so far for the remaining podium position appear to be Thomas Schumann who ran 29:30 in the USATF XC Championships over 8 kilometers and Dale Flanders who was only a minute behind Schumann at Club XC will be right there if any of the others are off their best.

Kent Lemme     Mark Hixson     Thomas Schumann

55-59. John Van Kerkhove took first last year in a fine 29:06, ran well at Dedham, but then was injured or in recovery the rest of the year. Van Kerkhove is entered but will face some terrific competition even if he is fully recovered. Nat Larson aged up in the middle of last year and actually took Runner of the Year for both the 50-54 and 55-59 age groups. He ran 27:04 here last year and was running faster at the end of the year when he ran 26:19 at the Rothman 8K, breaking the existing American 55-59 record. He would have to run quite a bit faster here this year than last to have a shot at breaking his own record. Also a recent hamstring tweak may play a role in moderation; we shall see.

Derrick Staley took first in the 10K Championships at Dedham in this division in 35:49, which is age grade equivalent to a 28:29 8K. Gary Droze ran a 17:47 in the 5K Championships at Syracuse which is age-grade equivalent to a 28:58. Timothy Ensign  of Tennessee has been running Club XC for several years, typically clocking around 37 minutes or less on the 10K circuit. This is his first venture onto the USATF Road Championship circuit, at least in the last few years. He has a 29:17 8K to his credit from last November and a 36:46 10K already this year. If Van Kerkhove is fully recovered it looks like a real barn-burner for the final podium spot between those three. And if Staley is not right at his best, 2nd place may be in play as well.

Nat Larson     Derrick Staley     Gary Droze

Doreen McCoubrie and Mary Swan, of the powerful Athena squad, took 1-2 last year in 31:09 and 31:55. So far this year it does not seem there is a rival who can challenge them.

Two runners should compete for the final podium spot.. Suzanne Cordes ran 20:55 at the 5K Championships in Syracuse last year and Kerry Monahan ran 21:10 the year before.  Cordes also came in 4th at the USATF XC Championships in Tallahassee last month, suggesting she has good current fitness. Against  that Monahan can claim strong showings at several long races last year, clocking 1:16:06 in the Bronx 10 Miler and 1:39:17 in the Brooklyn Half Marathon.

Doreen McCoubrie     Mary Swan     Suzanne Cordes

60-64. This event is loaded, although it looks like we may have to wait a bit longer to welcome Tom McCormack back to the circuit as an injury flare-up will keep him away after all. Atlanta will be entering a strong team nonetheless and they have plenty of challengers too. Ken Youngers will lead the red and black contingent. Ken was out of action early last year but came on strong in the fall. He took 3rd in the 5K Championships in Syracuse in 17:48 (age-grade equivalent to a 29:04) and 2nd in the USATF Club  XC Championships in Lexington. Youngers will have his hands full though because the fellow who beat him there by a minute, Joe Sheeran, is entered here as well. Rick Becker, who finished 2nd in Lexington, planned on running but a nasty virus sent him off to the Emergency Room in an ambulance and he lost some precious training time. Roger Sayre is now running for the Boulder Road Runners; he finished 5th in the 55-59 division at Club XC over 10 kilometers in 36:29, age-grade equivalent to a 29:00 8K.

That puts him a tad ahead of Sheeran’s time in the 8K at Club XC. Sayre also ran 55:29 over the challenging 15K course at Tulsa; that is equivalent to a 28:51 8K. As of this writing I expect we will have a chance to greet another champion runner, Brian Pilcher, who missed most of last year after coming within 7 seconds of the American 60-64 8K record at Virginia Beach a year ago. I see no recent times for Pilcher and in the past when coming back from an injury he has needed a race or two before he is really back on top of his game. It will be interesting to see where he is this coming Saturday; he will certainly have some horses to run with-- looks like a real shootout! Ken Youngers will have something to say as well. He finished 3rd at Club XC this year behind Sheeran and Rick Becker. If Pilcher is off his game at all, write in the name of Youngers for third. And there are a few others who always run strong race in and race out. Mike Anderson ran 30:33 here last year; Gary Radford ran 30:17 here last year but then lost most of the year to injury Reno Stirrat was within ten seconds of Anderson last year and within 15 at the USATF XC race in early February.

Roger Sayre     Joe Sheeran     Brian Pilcher    

Mo Bartley and Jill Miller-Robinett of the Impala team took 1-2 last year in 35:23 and 36:00. Bartley is not entered now but Miller-Robinett is. There is stronger competition entered this year than last if the recent Championships are a good indicator. Catharine Utzschneider won the USATF XC Championships in 27:55 in Tallahassee while Miller-Robinett took the title at Club XC in Lexington in 28:27 over what most consider a tougher XC course.

Joanna Harper finished 11 seconds behind Miller-Robinett in 2nd at Club XC, with Patricia Ford only two seconds back from Harper, and Sharon Moore 15 seconds further back.. But Moore turned the tables on Ford at Tallahassee last month and Cheryl Guth was only 1 second back from Ford. All are entered here; it should be another shoot-out!

1qJill Miller-Robinett     Catharine Utzschneider     Sharon Moore

65-69. Kathleen Doswell who finished 4th last year in 42:05 is entered but none of the 2017 podium is entered yet. But the West Coast has committed to the race. The Impala’s Donna Chan and Jo Anne Rowland are in, as are Team Red Lizard’s Jeanette Groesz and Suzanne Ray. If the Club XC Championships at Lexington are a good guide, then Ray-Groesz-Rowland is a good prediction because that’s the way they came in, finishing in 27:46, 27:58, and 30:20.
Chan was 14 seconds behind Rowland and could factor in if she has a good day.

Suzanne Ray     Jeanette Groesz     Jo Anne Rowland

Last year it was Tom Bernhard, Peter Mullin, and Doug Bell, finishing 1-2-3 in 30:38, 30:57, and 31:25. Bernhard and Bell are in. Last year Bernhard was a lock for the 65-69 championship and that is likely to be true again this year. Peter Mullin has a 20:21 5K and a 32:42 8K this February. His time in the Law Week 8K is about a half minute slower than he ran in 2017 but suggests he should be ready to run should he enter. Should Mullin not enter, James Foster and Kirk Larson should compete for the final podium spot. Foster has had the better of the competition recently, coming in ahead of Larson at the 5K Championships in Syracuse (19:25 to 19:33) and at Club XC 33:21 to 34:34. Terry McCluskey, who was one of the dominant players in this division 4 years ago, is returning to action, to race his way back to full fitness before he ages up to 70+ during the summer. Last year he ran a 33:22 5 miler and a 1:09:03 10 miler. Those are competitive times for the 65-69 podium and will be top-notch times in the 70-74 division.

Tom Bernhard     Doug Bell     James Foster

70-74. In the 2017 edition of this race Jim May, Paul Carlin [yours truly], and Gene French claimed the top 3 spots in 35:01, 35:14, and 35:35. All are entered again this year. Tony Gingello, May’s teammate, is in as well. Dave Glass, who was beating almost everyone in the division last fall, is in, now as a member of the Atlanta Track Club. Bill Dunn is also planning on descending to sea level from his high plains training grounds to try his hand at an 8K. In the 15K at the end of the year, it was Glass dominating in 1:06:15, with Dunn a strong 2nd in 1:09:06, me 4th in 1:10:36 and French 5th in 1:11:29. Dunn recently ran a 22:18 5K at altitude so that would be faster at sea level, but how much faster? My hamstring acted up late in the year, interfering with training, and I had poor outings in the two XC Championships, finishing way back. This should be a better outing for me. Glass, Gingello, and French continued their strong running through the Cross Country season, although a couple of West Coast guys were able to run just a wee bit faster than Glass. At Club XC in Lexington, it was Glass 36:24, Gingello 37:13, and Gene French 38:15. At the USATF XC Championships in Tallahassee the order was the same but French was closer to catching Gingello. Glass won it in 36:22 to Gingello’s 37:08 and French’s 37:10. Dunn should bust up that trio though, and I will try to keep them all in my sights!

Dave Glass     Bill Dunn      Tony Gingello    

Kathleen Jefferson won the division last year in 45:54 with Nancy Blount 4th in 1:04:35. Barbara Biasi finished 6th in the 65-69 division last year in 44:55. That should be enough to make Biasi the favorite for the win with Jefferson favored for 2nd.  Judith Robertson was not entered in the Championship last year but ran in the  Mass Participation part of the Towne Bank 8K, finishing in 54:04. That makes her the favorite to finish off the podium.

Barbara Biasi     Kathleen Jefferson     Judith Robertson

75-79. Judy Stewart finished 2nd last year in 56:27 with Madeline Bost 3rd in 1:04:50. Stewart is reasonably fit; she ran 1:00:49 in the Icy 8K in February.  Bost won the division at the Club XC Championships over 6K in 49:15. As they are the only two entrants at present  they are favored for 1st and 2nd in that order.

Judy Stewart     Madeline Bost

Doug Goodhue, the ‘Silver Bullett’, and Bob Hendrick, who just aged up from 70-74, are the two favorites. Goodhue is in recovery mode so it could be very close. The last year he was healthy for the 8K Championships, in 2014, he took the division in 32:14. But his fitness has been on and off since then. Last year he came back from months of rehab and won thhe 1 Mile Road Championship in 6:17. A month later he was headed for a good time in the 5K Championships in Syracuse when his hamstring flared up; he was able to finish and win the division but in 22:45 instead of being at least a minute faster. Hendrick has been on a roll as he finished up his last year in the 70-74 division. He took 3rd in the 70-74 division at the 15K Championships in Tulsa in 1:10:02. In his first outing as a 75 year old, he took the 75-79 division at the USATF XC Championships by over 4 minutes in 38:04. The big question is Goodhue’s fitness. If he is where he was for Syracuse and nothing flares up during the race, he should be the favorite. But if he is not quite at that level or if the hamstring or anything else flares up, the favorite’s role goes to Hendrick.  As it is Goodhue’s first race back since Syracuse, I make Hendrick the favorite. But watch out later in the season!  The last podium spot should be resolved by the battle between Ed Bligh, Jr. of Atlanta and Tony Fiory of Clifton RR. Fiory took 2nd in the division last year in this race in 44:08. Fiory also took 2nd in the 5K Championships in Syracuse in 25:26. Bligh ran 45:04 at Club XC and 45:20 at the USATF XC Championships, both over 8K courses that would be considered more challenging than the flat, fast course at Virginia Beach. That suggests they are closely matched; I will give Fiory a slight edge for his prowess on the roads. His Syracuse 5K time is age-grade equivalent to a 41:41 8K.

Bob Hendrick     Doug Goodhue     Tony Fiory

80-84. Libby James was expected to compete last year but came down ill right before the race and had to scratch. This year, her health seems fine and I have been notified that she has just entered. She is favored to  win, of course. Will she break the American 8K Record? Anne Clarke set the current record of 52:00 over 27 years ago.
James seems almost sure to break that; a couple of months ago she ran 55:10 in a 10K at altitude. Even without the altitude, it suggests she can break the American record by nearly ten minutes; her 10K time is age-grade equivalent to a  42:51!

Libby James

Alan Rider is the sole entrant in the Men’s 80-84 division. He runs his 5K’s recently in 40 to 42 minutes and his 10K’s in 1:19 to 1:22.

Alan Rider

In the team competitions the Colonial Road Runners, of Virginia, will try to defend their home turf against a host of challengers. They will have their work cut out for them as the Greater Springfield Harriers will try to run the table again this year in the Men’s 50 and up division. The same is true for the Athena Track Club who have won the Women’s 50 and up Masters Grand Prix 6 years running. The Atlanta Track Club will try to defend their W60+ title from their arch rivals, the Impala Racing team out of the SF Bay Area. The Garden State Track Club-New Balance look to dominate in Men’s 40 and up. The defending M60+ champion  Boulder Road Runners will face a stiff challenge from the Atlanta Track Club,  and the Genesee Valley Harriers look to take their second 8K title in as many years in the M70+ division. The Ann Arbor Track Club and the Boulder Road Runners could press them.

M40+ Garden State Track Club-New Balance are the favorites behind the strong-running twins, Jonathan and Elliott Frieder, and Sam Teigen who finished between them at the USATF XC Championship in Tallahassee last month. Despite their strong threesome of Jake Stookey, Volker Burkowski, and Robert Irwin, with Derrick Staley dropping down from the 50’s the Willow Street AC should have a tough time staying with Garden State. They will have to watch out for the Roanoke Valley Elite because David Angell should be able to give them a minute or so cushion up front for James/Andrew Holbrook, Paul Lenkowski and Matthew Wright. The Colonial Road Runners will have a tough time matching their third place finish of last year here.
Garden State Track Club     Willow Street AC     Roanoke Valley Elite

W40+ The Genesee Valley Harriers team of Heather Webster, Murphee Hayes, and Melissa Senall looks to be the strongest in this division, with Shore AC perhaps next after dropping leslie Nowicki from the 50+ and Susan Stirrat from the 60+. The Colonial Road Runners won’t surrender the 2nd spot without a fight, but may have to settle for 3rd.
Genesee Valley Harriers     Shaore AC     Colonial Road Runners

M50+ There seems no reason to think the Greater Springfield Harriers will noto continue to run the table. They have only a skeleton team; I assume the rest of the crew is competing in the new Bedford Half Marathon. But their fastest three 8K guys from last year, Kent Lemme, Mark Hixson and Nat Larson are the ones who came—looks like another set of gold medals for GSH. Mike Nier is not here but the GVH team of Dale Flanders, Tim Riccardi and John Kerkhove should be able to nail down 2nd. Barring any late alterations, the Colonial Road Runners should finish off the podium.

W50+ The Athena Track Club, with Marisa Sutera Strange, Doreen McCoubrie, Mary Swan and Julie Pangburn, is a lock for 1st. It appears the New Balance Tampa crew, which has offered the only strong challenge recently has opted for the Indoor Track Championships. The rest of the podium is tougher to pick. The Clifton Road Runners, GVH, and the Impala Racing Team all have a shot. GVH finished 3rd last year and will hope to move up to 2nd. Kathleen Hayden and Colleen Magnussen return and will have Tracey Vanatta to aid the cause. But with Suzanne La Burt, Laura DeLea, and Kerry Monahan, the Clifton Road Runners should have the speed to take 2nd. The Impala crew of Gina Edwards, Teresa Quan and Janet Smith will give it all they have, but will have a tough time cracking the podium in this loaded division.
Athena Track Club     Clifton Road Runners     GVH

M60+ The Boulder Road Runners look for their first win of 2018. But the Atlanta Track Club looks to make it two in a row in 2018 and they are till the favorites, at least until Boulder gets their fast horses, Spale and Hubbart back. Sayre will make it much closer but the trio of Ken Youngers, Mike Anderson  and Phil Richey should be able to hold off Boulder based on recent Cross Country performances. Shore AC’s always dangerous trio of Kevin Dollard, Reno Stirrat and Scott Linell will push them all the way but will probably ave to settle for 3rd. That leaves no room on the podium for Ann Arbor, Cal Coast nor GVH, all with strong teams.

W60+ Without Mo Bartley, the Impala Racing Team will be pressed to repeat their second place effort of last year. Team Red Lizard, with Suzanne Ray and Jeanette Groesz leading the way and with able back-up from Joanna Harper and Betsy Miller, is pretty much a lock for 1st. The rest of the podium is up for grabs. Atlanta took first last year but Mary Richards is not running this year. Their top trio this year of Cindy Lucking, Margaret Taylor and Cynthia Williams may not have quite enough speed to fend off the Impalas. Even without Bartley, the Impala core of Jill Miller-Robinett, Jo Anne Rowland and Donna Chan is tough. And then there is the rejuvenated team of GVH to contend with. Sharon Moore, Cheryl Guth and Cindy Ingalls could well come in smartly to snatch a podium spot. The Impala’s should pull off 2nd place and I make GVH a slight favorite for the last podium spot over Atlanta but it will be close among all three and will likely come down to how some of the individual battles turn out.
Team Red Lizard     Impala Racing Team     Genesee Valley Harriers

M70+ This one is hard to predict. With their new recruit, Dave Glass, Atlanta will be stronger this year but still probably not strong enough yet. Later in the year they will get Jerry Learned who will age up and give them quite a 1-2 punch! It should come down to a battle between GVH and Boulder Road Runners, for 1st, with Ann Arbor having an outside s hot depending on PaulCarlin’s (my) and Doug Goodhue’s current fitness. Boulder will not have Jan Frisby who is dealing with his insertion tendonitis issue so it is up to Bill Dunn, Ray Eck, Elliott Henry and Richard Kutzner. Dunn will have to run strong, around 35 or under and Kutzner ran 36:32 last year but was a little off his game at Club XC so we will have to see what his current fitness is. If Henry or Eck can come in under 38, Boulder will be in good shape. GVH is the favorite; Tony Gingello gives them an up-front guy who should run close to 35 or under.  Jim May won this last year in a tick over 35 but had issue over the second half of the year. He and Keith Yeates were around a minute and change behind Gingello in the Tallahassee XC race. That should give them the tight packing needed for a win here. What about Ann Arbor? The only chance is for Goodhue and I to run down under 36 and perhaps close to 35. If we can do that we have a chance. David Cohen provides steady backup and will likely break 40 and may be able to crack 39. I have been off my game since Tulsa and Goodhue since Syracuse. I expect to run better than I have at the recent Cross Country races but may not have the fitness to compete at the top end of the division. Goodhue is in the same boat and is not likely to be at his prime. We will be happy to get on the podium.
GVH     Boulder Road Runners     Ann Arbor Track Club

W70+ The Colonial Road Runners are the only contestants and will take this one by acclamation again this year. Barbara Biasi, Nancy Blount, Suzanne Gibson, Kathleen Jefferson and Judith Robertson should enjoy the first place plaque and the team gold medals that go with it, as repeat winners!

Colonial Road Runners

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Who's In for Virginia Beach-A Preview of Records, Age-Grading and Overall Contests

March 15 2018. Weather prediction (as of March15 2018) for Race Day at 8 AM [race starts at 7:45]: Sunny, 34 degrees 67% humidity winds 2 mph S—That's one forecast I would love to lock in, especially the wind speed, given an average this time of year (and experienced this week) in the double digits. Showers are now supposed to kick in around 3 pm on Saturday. But keep an eye out, the forecast has been rather variable on wind and even rain although there was never a forecast of more than showers.

This is my final preview for Records, Age-Grading and Overall contests, based on the 195 runners entered as of Wednesday. The Shamrock crew is keeping entries open so late entries could upset the apple cart. I will try to give some updates tomorrow on the Age Division races. There will definitely be some outstandingly competitive races, with a good chance for at least one American Record!

RECORD WATCH. Libby James owns the 5K and 15K American Records for the 80-84 division, not to mention the 5K, 10K, 12K, 10 Mile, and Half Marathon records for 75-79. She entered last year but had to withdraw due to illness just before the race. She is recovered now, as evidenced by her running 26:55 at the Freihofer 5K and a 55:10 in the FORTitude 10K in her hometown of Fort Collins CO (at altitude). In 2016 she broke Anne Clarke's 1990 record by 5 minutes! Clarke also holds the 8K record at 52:00 set in 1991. The likelihood of that record standing after Saturday is about as small as you can get! 

Libby James about to cross the finish line in the 2016 USATF 5K Masters Championship in Syracuse with a new American Record [Photo Credit Bob Brock, cropped by author]

Last year Brian Pilcher was coming off of a stress fracture and still came within 7 seconds of 28:07 set at the precursor of this Shamrock race in 1993. Ordinarily that would make a record attempt this year nearly a sure thing, but he missed much of last year with a hamstring injury in September as he was training up for an appearance at the 5K Championships. So where is his fitness now? 
Brian Pilcher on his way to an American 60-64 Record at the 2016 USATF 5K Masters Championship [Photo Credit: Gavin Liddell]

I am not sure. In the past, though, when coming back from an injury, Pilcher has come to races before he is fully fit--the man loves to race! So I am guessing he will need a race or two under his belt before he can really chase records--although with Pilcher, you never know! He took down the 5K record one week before cracking the Half Marathon, 25k and 30K marks on his way to matching the 60-64 Marathon Record.

AGE-GRADING. Age-grading allows us to compare times over all ages in terms of how close they are to the fastest a person of that (single-year) age should be able to run (generated from statistics on 'World best' times at different ages and distances. The closer to 100 the better the time; the Masters LDR Committee uses the terms World Class for 90+, National Class for 80+. I am starting a campaign to start using the term 'International Class' for the Grades from 85 up to 89.99. [The reference to think about is an international meet like Pan Am Games or USA vs. Jamaica or Great Edinburgh XC where the US goes up against the Brits and the Europeans. Being in the hunt to qualify for those kinds of meets for an Open Athlete would be like having an 'International Class' time.] Enough background--who are the likely contenders? The men's side includes two of the top 3 from last year, Brian Pilcher, 61, and Nat Larson, 55, who scored 92.3 and 91.4 respectively, as well as Kent Lemme, 51, Mark Hixson,52, and Tom Bernhard, 66, who all scored between 89.0 and 90.1. 
Nat Larson heading for the Age-Grading Podium at the 2017 USATF 8K Championship

The uncertainty about Pilcher's condition should make Larson the favorite among the returning runners but I learned that Larson tweaked his hamstring last week. Will that make a difference? Lemme has been running really strong over the last six months. That 89.0 for Bernhard last year is rather low by his standards; he had knee surgery in the winter and then was traveling in  Japan so his fitness was off early in the year. So I am looking for a higher score from him. 
Tom Bernhard about to make the turn back onto Atlantic Avenue on his way to the 65-69 Age group win and a top Age-Grade at last year's 8K Masters Championship

Who else might figure in/ Three names form the Status of Entries who were not here last year need to be considered: Doug Goodhue, 76, Tom McCormack, 64, Roger Sayre, 60, and Joe Sheeran, 60. Goodhue was a fixture on the age-grading podium up through a couple of years ago where some leg problems started to sideline him from time to time. He is currently on the recovery trail so nailing a top age grade is not on his list; he is running for the team. McCormack knocked down the American 5K record in 2014 but in 2015 ran into injury. problems that have kept him away from the Championships circuit. We were set to welcome him back to the fray but there was a flare up a couple of weeks ago and his return is off at least until the 10K in Dedham. Sayre and Sheeran are new faces on the Road Race circuit, despite their age and prowess. Sayre popped into the 15K Championship last October and topped both Lemme and Bernhard in age grade. He was still 59 for Club XC so ran the 10K while Sheeran was running in the 60+ 8K for the first time. Different races but Sayre's age grade was better than Sheeran's. Sheeran is well known as a tough runner at Cross Country  Championships, but has not participated much in Road Race National Championships. He had the top age grade in the 60+ race at Club XC in Lexington this past December, a race in which he was not pressed. Since both Sayre and Sheeran are both 60 now, whoever wins the race between them gets the better age grade. I have been told that Sheeran is the better racer--time will tell. It will be one of many great races to watch!
Nat Larson     Tom Bernhard     Roger Sayre    

Marisa Sutera Strange and Doreen McCoubrie are the top women returning from the 2017 age grading competition here, at 93.7 and 92.2. 
Marisa Sutera Strange giving everything she's got to the dash over the last 400 meters to finish 3rd Overall and acheve a top age grade at the 2017 USATF Masters 8K Championship

Their teammate, Mary Swan, scored 90.0%. Strange had some minor injury issues that kept her out of the 1 Mile Championship and slowed her down at the 5K and over the Cross Country season. Despite feeling somewhat off her game, Strange finished 2nd  to Sabra Harvey at both Cross Country Championships, finishing ahead of McCoubrie at Tallahassee and ahead of Jeanette Groesz, 68,  in Lexington KY. Groesz is entered here and is favored for the podium. She and McCoubrie should be close; both were within a percentage point of Strange in their respective races. Swan was further back in those two XC races but she may be one of those runners who prefer the roads to the turf.
Marisa Sutera Strange     Jeanette Groesz    Doreen McCoubrie

OVERALL CHAMPIONSHIP. The top women returning from last year are Athena Track Club teammates, Marisa Sutera Strange, Doreen McCoubrie, and Mary Swan, who took 3rd - 5th in 29:56, 31:09, and 31:55. 
Doreen McCoubrie leaves King Neptune behind as she heads for the Finish Line and a top age grade at the 2017 Masters 8K Championship

The runner who seems most likely to challenge is Heather Webster of the Genesee Valley Harriers.

Heather Webster [#1044} running with Marisa Sutera Strange [#1002] at the 2016 Club Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee
She finished 6th overall at the 10K in Dedham in 38:32 and finished 3rd overall at the 2016 Club Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee, coming in just ahead of Strange.
Marisa Sutera Strange     Heather Webster     Doreen McCoubrie

The top returning men from last year are David Angell, from the Roanoke Valley Elite and his Northern Virginia rival, Philippe Rolly, of the Capital Area Runners. They finished 1-2 last year in 25:24 and 25:51. Angell also took the Overall title at the 10K national championship and made the podium at almost every other Championship in 2017.He won the Masters Grand Prix Individual title handily. 
David Angell leading Derek Jones on his way to the overall title at the 2017 USATF Masters 10K Championship at the James Joyce Ramble in Dedham MA [photo courtesy of Scott Mason]

Since their race last year, Rolly has won the Masters title at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2:34:29. 
Philippe Rolly captures second place at the 2017 USATF Masters 8K Championship

Seven weeks after that, Jonathan Frieder was able to come in 18 seconds ahead of Rolly in the Rothman 8K in Philadelphia. Was that due to Rolly still having the Marathon in his legs or is it a sign that Frieder has the upper hand? We shall see. And Jonathan’s twin brother, Elliott, was able to beat Jonathan at the USATF XC at Tallahassee but he has not yet beat Jonathan on the roads. So that is another wrinkle to watch out for. Nat Larson was also able to come in ahead of Rolly in Philadelphia, but not Frieder. So, is Larson in the mix too? And what of Larson’s hamstring tweak? And if Larson is in the mix, what about his teammate, Kent Lemme, who was able to kick away from Larson at the USATF XC Championship in Tallahassee in early February? Both Lemme and Larson came in ahead of Angell at the XC championship in Tallahassee. But Angell had suffered a freak knee injury a few days before the race and was running with KT Tape. My guess is that he has largely recovered 6 weeks later.
David Angell     Philippe Rolly     Jonathan Frieder
It should be a great day for racing!