Monday, July 2, 2018

ANOTHER BUCKET RACE ROAD TRIP—2018 AJC PEACHTREE 10K OR BUST


July 1 2018. Installment 1. A few years back at a local road race in Indy I was chatting with local Indy Masters Road Race whiz, Lucie Mays Sulewski. She asked if I had run any of the big prominent races, like Peachtree. I said I couldn’t imagine running in Atlanta on the 4tth of July. The heat would be unbearable, wouldn’t it? She replied it was well worth it; the race was early in the morning and was one of her favorite races of all time. I was not interested then, but I tucked it away in the back of my head. Later, when I got to know some of the Masters runners from the Atlanta Track Club, the idea of running Peachtree moved a little closer to the front of my head. By now I have run Joan Benoit Samuelson’s Beach to Beacon 10K, Greg Meyers’ Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K, the Gasparilla 15K, the Gate River Run 15K, the Tulsa Run 15K, the Utica Boilermaker 15K. Maybe it is time for Peachtree? It is definitely a 'Bucket' Race, starting in 1970 with 110 runners and mushrooming to the 60,000 or so today who combine to make it the World's Largest 10K. That legendary distance runner, Jeff Galloway, won that first event adds the cherry on top! When I contacted the Atlanta Track Club they very graciously provided a courtesy Elite Masters seeded entry.
My Seeded Bib # and Maps of Starting and Finish areas for Peachtree


So tomorrow I am off to Chattanooga Tennessee. The plan is to drive about 6 hours or so on Monday and then just leave myself a two hour drive the day before the race. I do not want to do a long drive the day before the race.

Mike Anderson, one of the mainstays of the Atlanta Track Club's Men's 60 and up teams, has reached out to provide lots of helpful information about the race and the setting. It appears I was able to find a good Air BnB location for my overnight before the race. Mike tells me I am only about a mile from the start and can probably jog up Piedmont and turn right onto Peachtree and arrive at the start. My elite number and the special tag on my gear bag should get me and my bag through to the Elite Warmup area. The race starts now at 7 am; they moved it up because it had been getting too hot for the runners who start in later waves and are still going into mid-morning. With a 7 am race start I will probably set my alarm for 5:30 am and try to leave by about 5:45 am. That should get me to the warmup area a bit before 6 am. If I recall correctly I need to get my gear bag in for checking no later than 6:15 am; then I can get into the last stages of warm-up. I expect to run into Mike and one of his teammates, Ken Youngers, at the warmup area. Mike has also offered me a ride after the post-race celebrations. So it should all be pretty convenient.

Early stages of 2018 USATF Masters 8K Championship in Virginia Beach--Me in yellow knit cap running next to 60's friend from Atlanta, Kirk Larson, just before he accelerated and left me behind! [Photo by Pam Fales]

And what about the weather? It is Atlanta in July, so it is not cool, but it is 7 am too. The 3 day ahead forecast shows mostly sunny, 73 degrees and 94% humidity at race time, with winds at 4 mph ENE. At least the wind will not be a factor. By 8 am the temperature will only have risen to 75 although the 'Feels Like' will have moved from 76 to 79. There is also a 3 in 8 threat of scattered thunderstorms starting at 8 am, that could affect us if they move through sooner than planned. Any widespread lightning would cause problems, of course, but the cloud cover that would accompany a little light rain might be welcome. I will be planning on wearing a running hat, possibly soaked in cold water. I have prepped for warm weather running. The last two weeks I have deliberately run later in the morning. Sometimes it has been in the 70's, sometimes even up into the low 80's. So even though I have not been able to match the 90% plus humidity, I have been running in some temperatures warmer than are expected between 7 and 8 am on the 4th.

Most eyes will be on the Elite Athletes in the Open contest and, depending on who enters, the top 'celebrity' Masters. Last year, Bernard Lagat outdueled Abdi Abdirahman  for the Masters men's title while Jen Rhines won her Masters contest more easily. I have not seen an entry list for the USATF Open Championship 10K yet. Even so, there will be many Age Division awards that will be contested, including Men's 70-74. How do my chances look? That's a little tricky. As has often been the case in the past few years, I am coming back from injury problems. I thought, nonetheless, that I could run better than the 48:24 I recorded at the USATF Masters 10K Championships hosted by the James Joyce Ramble at the end of April. [For background information, I ran 44:30 at the end of July last year and 42:19 in April of 2016, so I am used to running faster.] In fact I waited until after the Half Marathon Championships in early June to ask for an Elite entry to Peachtree. I did not want to ask for an entry unless I thought I was pretty sure I could run, and run respectably well. When I ran 1:46 and change at the Half Marathon and had no flare-ups of injuries, I felt confident I should be able to run okay. Recent training has confirmed that I am in better condition now than in late April. So I hope to break 47 with a time under 46 probably out of my reach but not impossible. The goal is to run 46:18 or faster; that would give me an 80% age grading score which is deemed a 'National Class' time. If I can stay well under 47, I have a good shot at winning the Age Division. The only time turned in much under 48 in the last few years was last year when 'Coach' Albert Weiringa, from West Florida, ran 46:04. If Bert shows up and I have a good day, it could be a race to watch! If I do not have a good day, I'll be watching him pulling away from me like he did at Gasparilla last year. And, of course, one never knows who else might show up--there are some mighty fast 70 year old's out there! Next report will be after the race.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Top Masters Athletes Overcome the Challenges of the 2018 Boston Marathon

June 17 2018. The 2018 edition of the Boston Marathon, held on Patriot’s Day, Monday, April 16th, had the most daunting set of conditions the race has thrown at its competitors in some time, maybe ever. Sometimes, as in 2017, it has been too hot. That was not the problem this time. The temperature hovered just above freezing when the Elite Women started at 9:30 AM, and the mercury still only indicated 42 degrees when Des Linden finished the winner, just after noontime. The runners battled consistent 25 mph headwinds with gusts into the lower 30’s and rain.  The conditions were the same for the Elite Men. Like the Women, the race fell to a surprise winner, Yuki Kawauchi, as the top elite runners fell by the wayside or dropped back. 
Marathoners Braving the Elements at the 2018 Boston Marathon Photo Credit-bostonmagazine.com

Some of the older Masters Runners, who started in later waves, saw the temperatures rise almost to 45 and the headwinds dip somewhat below 20 mph for the last dozen miles or so but, of course, they were subjected to the conditions for a longer period of time. Apparently a remarkable 95% of the runners overall were able to overcome the odds and finish despite risk of hypothermia. Everyone who finished the race performed remarkably well and will have the story to tell for years to come. My focus will be on the top US Masters finishers, although I acknowledge top finishers from other countries.  As is my custom, I report age-grades also, but the conditions made for slow times and those slow times mean low age-grade scores.  Be careful in comparing to other races and/or to Boston in other years. I start with the Overall Masters contest and then consider the Age Division contests.

[Disclaimer: Whether discussing the overall results or age division contests, the coverage may suggest a race where all of the runners are aware of other competitors at all times. Under trying conditions, runners in later waves may wind up passing those in earlier waves. Even if competitors start in the same wave, they may never spot the other competitors at the start. In some cases, competitors may be keenly aware of one another but in marathons, even more than at shorter races, the main competition is often inside one's head.]
Overall Masters. Ordinarily one would just pencil in the name Abdi Abdirahman, before the start and feel confident of one’s pick. But on a day when many elite runners were falling by the wayside, there was some doubt for a while. But Abdi never faltered, and had another remarkable ‘top 15’ finish overall, and a comfortable victory margin in the Masters Overall competition and the 40-44 Age Division. Nonetheless, it was probably the first time in a while that another Masters contender actually took time out of Abdi’s lead over the 2nd half of the Marathon. 
Abdi Abdirahman (L) dueling with Dathan Ritzenhein (R) Photo Credit: letsrun.com

The other chief contenders were: Charlie Brenneman from Rocklin CA, near Sacramento; Shaun Frandsen, from Kirkland WA, near Seattle; Jorge Maravilla, from Mill Valley CA, north of San Francisco; and Matthew Wolpert from Ogden UT. John Sharp from Glasgow, Scotland, finished 5th in 2:36:08, with Bryan Rusche of Toronto, Canada in 6th at 2:37:32. New to the Masters ranks, Brenneman had a 2:28:35 in California’s Two Cities marathon and a 2:32:47 in the 2016 edition of Grandma’s Marathon. Frandsen took the Masters win at the California International Marathon last December in 2:28:47 and a 2:31:50 2nd place Masters finish at the Eugene Marathon. Maravilla is also new to the Masters ranks; in 2017 he ran an impressive 2:24: 27 at Boston and was the overall winner of the San Francisco Marathon in 2:28:23. With a 2:50:21 Marine Corps Marathon time and a 2:42:37 at the CIM, Wolpert would ordinarily not have been considered a threat for a top 5 Masters finish. But this was no ordinary day.
Jorge Maravilla winning the 2017 San Francisco Marathon Photo Credit: San Francisco Chronicle


Next to Abdi, Maravilla ran the most aggressive race, hitting the 10K mark in 33:18 and the half way mark in 1:11:29. That was 5 minutes off Abdi’s pace but two minutes ahead of his closest pursuer, Frandsen, who covered the first 10K in 34:14 and clocked 1:13:36 at the halfway mark. Brenneman ran 1:16:55 for the first half and enjoyed a 25 second lead over Wolpert. Maravilla continued to build the gap back to Frandsen through 30K when his lead stood at 2:21. From there on, Frandsen slowly clawed his way back; at 35K the gap was under 2 minutes and by the 40K mark was about a minute. But was there enough race course left? Perhaps not on an ordinary day, but this was no ordinary day. Frandsen found he could still clock close to 4 minutes per kilometer while Maravilla could no longer stay under 4:30 kilometer pace. He had battled the elements and defeated them but could not quite hold off the determined Frandsen who took 2nd to Abdi in 2:34:56, a mere 6 seconds ahead of Maravilla. Frandsen added this 2nd place finish to his Masters win at the California International Marathon last December. Brenneman was 45 seconds back in 4th, with Wolpert 5thAmerican in 2:37:43.

Abdi Abdirahman 41 Tucson AZ 2:28:18  85.84% Age Grade   Shaun Frandsen 40 Kirkland WA 2:34:56 81.60%    Jorge Maravilla 40 Mill Valley CA 2:35:02 81.55

-----------------------------------------------

In the Women’s race international Masters runners took 1st and 3rd through 5th places. Krista Duchene from Brantford Canada, took 3rd overall and won the Masters race in 2:44:20. She was followed by Jessica Draskau Petersson from Gentofte Denmark in 3rd at 2:57:29; Sarah Dudgeon, of Wallingford UK, 4th in 3:00:28; and Angela Switt, Toronto Canada, 5th in 3:00:47.

Like Abdi in the Men’s race, most would expect Dot McMahan to dominate the Women’s race and, like Abdi, she did not disappoint, racing to a 2:48:57, good for 12th overall and first American Masters athlete by nearly 10 minutes. Other American contenders for a top finish included: Anne Cushman, from Rancho Cordova California, near Sacramento; Brenda Hodge, of York, Pennsylvania, south of Harrisburg; Nancy Jurgens, of Apex North Carolina, near Raleigh; Shannon Siragusa, from Simsbury Connecticut, northwest of Hartford; and Dara Steele-Belkin from Atlanta Georgia.
Dot McMahan won the Masters Title at the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon Photo Credit: NY Road Runners


Last year Cushman took 2nd Masters at the Santa Rosa Marathon in 3:05:54, and then was 9th Masters at the CIM in 2:58:53. Whether due to the warm weather in Boston in 2017 or for some other reason, Hodge only managed a 3:13:27. Later in the year she clocked 3:00:16 at Grandma’s and cracked 3 hours at the TCS NYC Marathon in November with a 2:59:23. New to the Masters ranks, Jurgens ran 3:07:47 in the 2016 Richmond Marathon at age 38 and then last year, at age 39, ran 2:59:49 at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort Marathon. Siragusa finished 21st in her first try at Boston as a Masters athlete in 3:09:35, but her time skyrocketed in the warm conditions of 2017 when she ran 3:46:53. A solid 3:05:20 effort for 2nd masters in the Eversource Hartford Marathon suggested that, in the absence of a hot race, she should be competitive. In her first race as a Masters athlete at Boston in 2015, Steele-Belkin finished 15th with a 2:59:44 effort. The next year she got to battle 20+ mph headwinds although the temps, unlike 2018, were moderate, in the 50’s and there was no rain. Still, her time ballooned to 3:18:58. But that experience may have helped prepare her, if anything can, for the near gale conditions of 2018. Despite the warm conditions in 2017, Steele-Belkin improved to 3:10:24. In November of 2016 she clocked a 3:00:49 at the Richmond Marathon, showing she still had the possibility of cracking three hours in a Marathon.

The race was really tight over the first 10K, with Hodge leading at 41:23, followed by Cushman at 42:13, with Jurgens 9 seconds back. Siragusa and Steele-Belkin were another 12 and 14 seconds back. Jurgens, Siragusa and Steele-Belkin all pushed past Cushman in the next 10K, but Hodge continued to pull away, enjoying a lead of over a minute on the rest of the field. By the halfway mark it was Jurgens leading the chasers at 1:29:16 with Siragusa only 9 seconds back, and Steele-Belkin another 28 seconds back, but now 15 seconds ahead of Cushman. Hodge continued to build her lead as she was two minutes ahead of Jurgens at the 35K mark. Jurgens pushed the gap with Siragusa up to 31 seconds by the 35K mark but just as with the Men’s race, Siragusa found a well of strength to draw on, as she closed with Jurgens and established a gap of 31 seconds by the end of the race. Hodge finished 2nd American in 2:58:50, with Siragusa 3rd American in 3:01:31. Jurgens finished a half minute back as 4th American with Steele-Belkin two minutes further back, and Cushman next in 3:04:44.

Dot McMahan 41 Oakland Township MI 2:48:57 83.19% Age Grade   Brenda Hodge 46 York PA 2:58:50 82.10%  Shannon Siragusa 43 Simsbury CT 3:01:31 78.54%  

Age Division Results

40-44. The Overall Race description above gives the details of how the race unfolded. The age division and the overall podium for the Men was the same; for Women it differed in that Hodge took the 45-49 crown, allowing Nancy Jurgens 40 Apex NC to take 3rd in the 40-44 division with a 3:02:02 76.70%.

45-49. The top contenders were all American, John Barry, Brett Bernacchi, Chris Hartshorn, Mark Hunkele, and Chris Knorzer. Barry’s Athlinks profile is private; all I could find was a 56:53, finishing 3rd in the division in the American Tobacco Trail 10 Miler (2:38:39 age grade equivalent). He had apparently not raced at aboston in the 12014-2017 period either. Bernacchi ran a half dozen half marathons in 2017, with the fastest being 1:15:51 at the BMO Harris Bank Mesa-Phoenix HM. In 2016 he ran 2:40:04 at the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon in Canada. Hartshorn has run the Boston Marathon several times since turning 40. His fastest time was 2:27:58 in 2013. In 2016 when runners encountered a double-digit headwind, his time rose to 2:37:46. Hunkele ran 2:52:58 at the 2015 edition of the Boston Marathon, a day with light rain and double digit headwinds. He ran 2:50:51 later that year at the Chicago Marathon. Knorzer ran 2:35:50 at the 2016 California International Marathon and 2:42:46 at the 2017 Big Sur International Marathon. Knorzer threw caution to the wind and went out quite fast, hitting the 10K in 35:42. He had over a minute on Hartshorn, who had over a half minute on Barry. Bernacchi was taking a more cautious approach with a 38:42 10K,while Hunkele apparently came across in 40:08. After the 15K split, Hunkele’s splits are either missing or obviously wrong (e.g. 30K 3:09:03). He is listed as having a valid finishing time of 2:47:11, good for 5th place. Knorzer was still going strong at the halfway point, clocking 1:17:39; Hartshorn was now 1:15 back. Barry came across the mat in 1:19:28 with Barry almost two minutes back. Knorzer finally started to feel the effects fo the weather and the early pace. By the 30K mark, Hartshorn and Barry had passed him and opened up a lead of nearly a minute, 1:53:29 for Hartshorn to 1:53:38 to 1:54:21. Bernacchi was able to passed Knorzer before the 35K mark and that’s the way things remained until the end. Hartshorn took the 45-49 win, with Barry over a minute back in 2nd and Bernacchi two more minutes back in 3rd. Knorzer was just off the podium in 2:45:16, a terrific time considering the conditions and his early pace. He was followed 2 minutes later by Hunkele and in another minute Moore.

Chris Hartshorn 46 Boston MA 2:39:46 82.99  John Barry 49 Cary NC 2:41:00 84.48  Brett Bernacchi 45 Phoenix AZ 2:43:28.

--------------------------------------------------

In the Women’s contest, Joanna Bourke Martignoni, an Austrian national, took the win in 2:53:19, and Chunhua Liu, a Chinese national living in the Greater Boston area, finished 4th in 3:10:47.

The other main contenders were all US citizens: Ellen Basile, Lisa Bentley, Brenda Hodge, and Suzanne Rinehart.  Basile clocked 3:07:52 in the 2016 BOA Chicago Marathon but had otherwise kept her focus on Half Marathons and below. She ran 1:26:05 in the AirBNB Brooklyn HM and 1:05:40 in the New Balance Bronx 10 Miler. A 1:26:53 in the UA NYC HM left her prepped for Boston.  In 2017 Bentley ran a 1:23:04 Half Marathon in Orlando, and a 3:02:23 in Boston. Hodge, in 2017, ran 3:13:27 in the Boston heat, but followed that with a 3:00:16 at Grandma’s and a 2:59:23 at the TCS NYC Marathon in November. Primarily a triathlete, Rinehart has gradually become more comfortable on the roads. In 2015 she ran 1:37 and 1:43 in two Half Marathons; in 2016 she tried Boston and ran 3:38:31. Apparently heat was more to her liking than headwinds as she ran again in 2017, clocking 3:28:54. When the race started, Hodge had the more aggressive approach, covering the first 10K in 41:23, with 49 seconds on Bentley, another minute or so on Basile, and 3 minutes to Rinehart. There were no major changes by the half way mark, with Hodge crossing the mat in 1:27:48, a minute and a half in front of Bentley, with Basile now only half a minute back from Bentley. 
Lisa Bentley at Boston in 2014 won her age division Photo Credit: triathlonmagazine.com

Rinehart was now over 3 minutes behind Basile. Hodge kept her pace going, just forging a bigger and bigger lead over her American rivals.  Basile, meanwhile, kept chipping away at Bentley’s lead, cutting it to 11 seconds by the 30K and then passed with force in the next 5K. At 35K, Basile had a minute and a half margin, which she pushed to over 3 minutes by the finish. Rinehart closed well, taking over two minutes out of Bentley’s lead from 30K to Boylston Street, but ran out of race course.

Brenda Hodge 46 York PA 2:58:50 82.1  Ellen Basile 45 New York NY 3:06:47 77.81 Lisa Bentley 49 Clermont FL 3:09:59 80.03


50-54

Daniel Descharnais of Quebec, Canada and Alberto Manzanares Elias of Spain finished 4th and 5th in the race in 2:51:56 and 2:51:57.

The top Americans in contention included 2 of the BAA’s finest Masters Runners, Andrew Gardiner and Peter Hammer, along with Douglas Baldwin of St. Paul MN and John Hill of Pleasant Hill CA. Baldwin has run 2:56:30 in the 2016 edition of the Boston Marathon and 2:48:32 last year. In the fall of those years he ran 2:48:59 and 2:43:26 in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon so his times improved consistently from 2016 to 2017. Hill has two prior Boston Marathon times in the last few years. He ran 2:52:45 in the 2014 edition and 2:47:06 in the 2016 edition. In December he has run the California International Marathon, which tends to be faster than Boston. His times have included: 2:41:44, 2:45:44, and 2:44:45 the last three years. Although not a regular, Hammer does run the Boston Marathon every few years. His last two were a 2:45:46 in 2012 and 2:37:20 in 2015. This may be Gardiner’s first Marathon; I have not found other Marathon results for him. Hammer tuned up with a 1:14:44 in the new Bedford HM in March and Gardiner tuned up with a 51:39 in the Boston Tune-Up 15K.  

Hill and Gardiner threw caution to the wind, covering the first 10K in 36:00 and 36:17 respectively. Baldwin was about a minute behind Hill, with Hammer taking a more measured approach to things, over two minutes back from Baldwin. Hill crossed the halfway mat in 1:17:22; Gardiner was now a full minute back, with Baldwin another minute back and Hammer now well over 3 minutes behind Baldwin. Gardiner whittled away at Hill’s lead ever so slightly between there and the 35K mark, reducing the margin to under a minute. Baldwin still had 3 minutes on Hammer. By 40K, Gardiner was within 38 seconds of Hill but his only hope of catching Hill would depend on Hill falling way off his pace and that did not happen. Hill kept it together all the way to Boylston Street, keeping Gardiner 15 seconds back at the end. Hammer, by the 40K mark, was only a minute and a half back and now Baldwin was suffering, as so many of the Open Elite athletes ahead of him had. It took Baldwin almost 12 minutes to cover the last two kilometers; it must have been very painful in every respect. Hammer had no such difficulties though covering the last two kilometers in 9 minutes and claiming the 3rd American spot.

John Hill 50 Pleasant Hill CA 2:44:29 83.41  Andrew Gardiner 52 Dover MA 2:44:44 84.75  Peter Hammer 51 Needham MA 2:50:50 81.01

-------------------------------------------------

The top 4 contenders were all US citizens including: Corina Canitz, Lina Garcia, Kim Ionta, and Christine Morgenroth. In 2015 Canitz ran 2:56:50 at the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon and in 2017, 2:49:26 in the KP Napa Valley Marathon; in 2016 she ran 2:51:33 at Boston. Garcia ran 3:11:11 in the 2015 TCS NYC Marathon and 3:07:26 in the 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Ionta ran the very warm 2017 Boston Marathon in 3:28:29; three weeks later she ran 3:24:02 in the Providence Marathon. Last October she ran the Lowell HM in 1:28:49 suggesting room for improvement with her Marathon times. Morgenroth ran 3:19:54 at Boston and in the fall 3:14:11 at the TCS NYC Marathon.  She tuned up for Boston with a 1:31:30 at the United Airlines NYC Half.

Canitz was the aggressor, hitting the 10K mark in 41:59, with a 2 minute lead on Garcia and nearly 5 minutes on Ionta. Morgenroth’s chip did not register at 5K nor 10K but judging by 15K and 20K splits was, most likely between Garcia and Ionta, probably closer to Garcia. Canitz showd no sign of giving into the weather, crossing the halfway point in 1:31:56 with a minute and a half lead on Garcia. Morgenroth was now well over 3 minutes back from Garcia and Ionta had cut her gap up to Morgenroth from over a minute at 15K to just 36 seconds. Canitz’s pace slowed considerably over the next 9 kilometers with the result that Garcia had closed to within a half-minute by the 30K clock. Ionta, in that same space had passed Morgenroth and now enjoyed a lead of 16 seconds. Canitz’s struggles continued over the next ten kilometers which took her over 48 minutes but now Garcia was struggling even more, and the gap grew to well over a minute again. 
Corina Canitz on her way to a 2:51:33 at the 2016 Boston Marathon Photo Credit: muisephoto.wordpress.com

Ionta pulled steadily away from Morgenroth and now, at 40K enjoyed a two-minute lead. And that is the way they finished, all conquering the elements to finish 1-2-3-4: Canitz, Garcia, Ionta, and Morgenroth, two minutes behind Ionta.

Corina Canitz 51 Brookfield WI 3:13:35 80.53 Lina Garcia 50 San Juan Puerto Rico 3:16:17 78.43 Kim Ionta 54 Marshfield MA 3:17:16 82.16



55-59

Graham Merfield, resident of Atlanta but GBR citizen, finished 4th in 2:57:11 and Slovenia’s Bostjan Svab and Australia’s Peter Rushen finished 5h and 6th in 2:57:26 and 2:58:58.

The top four American Masters Runners who contested the race were: Tony Bleull, Jeff Duyn, Doug Fernandez, and Scott Sneddon. Bleul has two recent outings at Boston. In 2015 he ran 2:58:22 I the tough 50-54 division where he was not in the top 50, and last year in the warm conditions, his time ballooned to 3:10:10. .Last October he ran considerably faster inth e Grand Rapids Marathon, 2:52:27. Duyn has run Boston twice previously, clocking 2:50:05 in 2015 and 2:51:11 in last year’s heat, capturing 2nd and 4th respectively in his age division. A regular on the age division podium at Boston since 2014, Fernandez clocked 2:34:43 to finish 2nd in the 50-54 division in 2014; 2:47:37 when he finished 9th on a rainy and blustery day in 2015; 2:50:55 for a 4th place age division place in 2016; and a win last year in 2:44:52. Fernandez runs several marathons in most years. This was apparently Sneddon’s first go at Boston, at least in the last few years. He ran 2:44:35 at the 2016 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. Fernandez took  off with the horn, like the true Champion he is, clocking 38:11 for the first 10K, leaving Bleull a minute back, followed a half minute later by Duyn, and it was another half minute back to Sneddon. 
Scott Sneddon running comfortably at the 2015 Montana Marathon Photo Credit: billingsgazette.com

Fernandez, no stranger to Boston’s challenges, backed off a bit in the next 11K and hit the halfway mark in a more moderate 1:24:01. Bleuell had closed considerably, crossing the mat only 18 seconds back. Sneddon and Duyn were just over a minute back from Fernandez so things were tight! The early pace may have drained Fernandex as it did many of the elite Open runners, and he found both Sneddon and Duyn passing him in the next 9K. Duyn crossed the 30K timing mat in 2:02:11, followed only 5 seconds later by Sneddon. Fernandez was now over half a minute back from those two, but had built his lead over Bleuell to almost 40 seconds. Duyn pulled away from Sneddon and Sneddon continued to put space between him and Fernandez. Duyn took the win by 1:18 and Sneddon claimed 2nd with almost 2 and a half minutes on Fernandez.
Doug Fernandez winning the 2014 Harrisburg Marathon Photo: Daniwel Zampogna/Penn Live-newslocker.com

 Fernandez hung tough all the way to the finish to claim his 2nd consecutive podium finish under two very different Boston challenges. Bleuell clocked 2:59:19, a terrific effort on a tough day; breaking 3 hours in 2018, at age 55, will be a worthy story for years to come.

Jeff Duyn 58 Garrett Park MD 2:53:17 85.08 Scott Sneddon 55 Billings MT 2:54:35 82.18 Doug Fernandez 57 Richmond VA 2:57:01 82.52

-----------------------------------------------

Teresa Novik of Canada and France’s Claudine Noiraud finished 3rd and 4th in 3:23:29 and 3:24:00 respectively.

The top American challengers for the podium included: Terri Cassel, Sue George, Heather Knight Pech, and Doreen McCoubrie. Cassel ran 3:27:37 in 2014 but had an unhappy race in the warm conditions last year, finishing in 4:10:49. She came to Boston hoping to enjoy a better outing in 2018. As prep, she captured her age division at the Aramco Half in Houston in January and the Cowtown Half in Ft. Worth TX in 1:28:38 and 1:29:46. Cassel was ready to roll. George runs Boston on occasion. In 2016 she ran the New Bedford Half as prep in 1:36:55 and Boston in 3:48:11. She ran the TCS NYC Marathon in 3:50:59 later that year. She took some time off from Marathons and was ready to try again this spring. She won her age group at the Fitbit Miami Half in 1: 35:06 in late January, and then took age division titles at a 30K and a 20 Miler in early and late March in 2:18:03 and 2:29:50. The 30K time is age-grade equivalent to a 3:19 Marathon. Last year Peck and McCoubrie went 1-2 in 3:10:30 and 3:13:56 in the heat; how would they fare in rainy and blustery conditions? McCoubrie ran 3:16:54 in 2016 also; she did not appear to run a prep race any further than an 8K. Cassel and McCoubrie are teammates on the Athena Track Club that actively participates in and typically wins the 50 and up division in USATF’s Masters Grand Prix circuit.
Heather Knight Pech in celebratory mood after her successful 2017 Boston Marathon Photo: Stowe Reporter at stowetoday.com


Pech took off like she intended to win again; she clocked 44:01 for the first 10K and had the better part of two minutes on McCoubrie and her running partner through the first 6.2, Cassel. 
Doreen McCoubrie captured the 2017 55-59 National Half Marathon Championship in Orange County, California Photo: Paksit Photos-Courtesy of OC Marathon

George was a minute behind them. That set the pattern for the race as each slowed over the course of the race but relative pace remained the same. Gaps grew larger through the race except that Cassel struggled a bit more toward the end than George did, so Cassel’s lead shrunk from over 3 minutes at the 30K mark to just under 1 minute at the finish. In the end it was Pech with the repeat win in 3:10:15, 15 seconds faster than last year. McCoubrie again took 2nd, 7 minutes back this year, and Cassel 3rd American another 7 minutes further back. George crossed the line 55 seconds later.

Heather Knight Pech 56 Darien CT 3:10:15 87.48 Doreen McCoubrie 56 West Chester PA 3:17:26 84.3 Terri Cassel 56 Tulsa OK 3:25:00 81.19

60-64

The primary contenders, all US citizens included Charlie Muse, Kevin O’Brien, Roger Sayre, Doug Steedman, and Michael Young. Muse ran the 2016 TCS NYC Marathon in 2:59:10 and followed that with a 7th divisional finish in 3:09:14 at Boston the next spring in the heat. He tuned up for Boston this year by running 1:25:22 at the UA NYC Half, his fastest half marathon in the last few years. O’Brien finished 16th in the division last year in Boston with a 3:04:52. That improved considerably over his 2016 run where he clocked in at 3:20:36, and his 2015 race in 3:19: 21. The warmth must have agreed with him. Sayre is one of America’s top Masters runners at distances up through a Half Marathon. In 2014 he tried a Trail Marathon in Alaska, taking the age division win in 3:15:51. Subsequently he ran a lot of half marathons and near-half marathons on the roads and trails. In 2017 he ran 2:58:10, at age 59, at the Colorado Marathon. [Like many Rocky Mountain races, it is probably slower due to high altitude but faster due to a steady elevation drop of over 1000 feet. This one, because the gradient is gradual, is probably faster than an out and back nearer to sea level.] Like Sayre, Steedman has focused more on the shorter distance races. But he ran the California International Marathon in 2013 in 3:01:34 and in 2016 in 3:04:44, and in 3:02:41 in 2017, and the Edinburgh Marathon (Scotland) in 2015 in 3:16:32. The CIM is definitely a fast race, given its elevation loss from 366’ above sea level to 26’ above. Young has run lots of other Marathons but has been a regular every year at Boston at least since 2010 when he finished 345th in the 50-54 division in 3:24:03. In 2013 he ran 3:00:43 to finish 25th in the 55-59 division. The next year he ran 5 seconds faster and finished one place higher, no doubt vowing to come back better prepared next year. In 2015 he ran 2:54:25 and finished 7th. But Boston knocks you around a bit. The next year he was back just above 3 hours and the same the year after although, having graduated to 60-64, took 2nd in the division; it was also very warm so times were slower. What would 2018 hold for Young?

Young went out the fastest at 41:14 for the 1st 10K, with Steedman a half minute back, and Sayre tracking him another 30 seconds back. O’Brien was a minute back from Sayre and Muse 40 seconds back from O’Brien. Little changed from there to the halfway mark except that the gaps got a little bigger. Young hit it in 1:27:33 with a 6 and a half minute spread back across the other chasers to Muse in5th at 1:34:06. At the 35K mat, Young had a 2 minute lead on Steedman who had nearly three minutes on Sayre. Muse was now less than 4 minutes back from Sayre and 3 minutes ahead of O’Brien. Young ad Muse could still cover the 5K from 35K to 40K in about 22 minutes but the conditions had eroded the speed of the others. Muse took almost 5 minutes out of Steedman’s lead in that 5K span and pulled within 2 minutes of Sayre. Young and Muse were both able to clock 9:45 for the final 2 kilometers in taking 1-2 in 2:59:53 and 3:09:05. Like so many of the Open Elite runners, Steedman and Sayre were spent, but they were tough and finished, even though those last 2 kilometers were probably the slowest kilometers they had run in a race in a long time. 
Doug Steedman competing at the 2015 USATF National Club Cross Country Championships in San Francisco Photo: Mike Scott

Steedman’s pace fell off more than Sayre’s did , but Steedman took 3rd with 46 seconds to spare. Sayre was 4th in 3:12:41, three minutes ahead of O’Brien.

Michael Young 61 Orchard MI 2:59:53 84.32 Charlie Muse 61 Boston MA 3:09:05 80.22 Doug Steedman 62 San Francisco CA 3:11:55 79.8

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Canadians Elizabeth Waywell and Lucie Rochon took 1st and 3rd in this division in 3:20:18 and 3:30:19.

The top American contenders were Becky Backstrom, Cory Benson, Karen Kunz, Maggie Mason, and Katherine Wild. Backstrom had run Boston from time to time, in 2008 when she ran 3:04:50 to win the 50-54 division and had a repeat win two years later in 3:03:50. In 2013 she finished just off the 55-59 podium in 3:06:45. She won the 55-59 division at the Green River Marathon in 2017 in 3:24:15 and prepped for Boston with a Hot Chocolate 15K in 1:07:08 in Seattle in March. Benson ran Boston in 2015, clocking 3:40:12, finishing 35th in the 55-59 division. She had an off year in 2016, running just over 4 hours but redeemed herself the following year with a 7th place division finish in 3:45:39. Kunz ran 3:53:08 at Boston in 2014, finishing 84th in the 55-59 division. A 3:33:35 in 2016 netted her a 4th place in the 60-64 division. 2017 was Kunz’s disaster year where her time ballooned to well over 4 hours. Vowing to redeem herself, she was back in 2018 for another try. Mason ran Boston in 3:29:57 in 2014, finishing 17th in 55-59. In the interim she has run the California International Marathon in times from 3:19 to 3:23 and was now back to try Boston again. In 2011 Wild ran the Portland Marathon in 3:38:27 and in 2015 ran the TCS NYC Marathon in 3:52:33. In May of 2017 she ran the Eugene Marathon in 3:35:55 and she was ready for another Boston run. Backstrom started out at a brisk, but measured pace, crossing the 10K mat in 46:22. She had 3 minutes on Kunz and Mason, only 2 seconds apart. Wild was a minute behind them with Benson another minute back in 51:10. At the halfway mark Backstrom was still clicking off the miles and had opened up a 6-minute gap between her and Kunz, who had nearly a minute lead on Mason. 

Wild was a minute and a half behind Mason but now just had a 7 second lead on Benson. Backstrom continued strong all the way to the finish, clocking 3:22:32 as first American and 2nd overall in the division. Kunz continued to lead Wild but her lead was shrinking, from 3 minutes at the 25K to 1:13 by the 35K mat. Wild, in the meantime, closed on Mason between 30 and 35K and at the 35K mat had a 9 second edge. Despite Wild’s best efforts, Kunz ran strong to the tape crossing as 2nd American with just 14 seconds to spare. Benson closed to within 15 seconds of Mason by the 40K mat but then Mason found her stride and kept the 4th place American finish in 3:39:27 to Benson’s 3:39:53.

Becky Backstrom 60 Sammamish WA 3:22:32 86.87 Karen Kunz 62 Rancho Cordova CA 3:38:04 83.06 Katherine Wild 61 Portland OR 3:38:18 81.78

65-69

Roger Turgeon from Quebec, Canada, won the division in 3:16:56.

The top 4 Americans were Martin Keibel, Alan Pemberton, Patrick Rupel, and James Wilson. A true Marathon Man, Keibel has run Boston every year since 2013 and several others each year. In 2013 he finished 7th in the 60-64 division with a 3:07:10. He ran 3:18:30 the next year and then skied to 3:41:56 in the rainy, windy conditions of 2015. After returning to a more normal time of 3:22:33 in 2016, his time climbed again, to 3:43:53, when the conditions turned warm in 2017. How did he cope with 2018 with harsher winds than in 2015? Pemberton ran 3:12:41 in the rain and wind of Boston in 2015. Rupel finished 6th in the 60-64 division at Boston 2013 with a 3:05:29. The next year he won the division in 2:59:08. Could he return 4 years later to take the 65-69 title? Wilson finished 19th in 60-64 in Boston in 2016 in 3:18:40 and came back the next year to run 3:36:58 and finish 91st in the same division with the warm conditions. On e would think Rupel would be the favorite but it was not a day to favor the favorite. Keibel rolled past the 10K mat in 44:21 with Rupel a half minute back and Pemberton a minute and a half back from Rupel. Wilson’s chip did not register but based on 5K and 15K splits, Wilson was between Rupel and Pemberton, probably closer to Rupel. As the only other split where Wilson’s chip did not register was the Halfway mark, I will report the 20K instead. At that point Keibel clocked 1:29:25 and his lead over Rupel was down to 21 seconds; it would shrink to 16 by the halfway mark. Wilson was nearly two minutes behind Rupel and nearly two minutes ahead of Pemberton. After closing up on Keibel by the halfway mark, Rupel ran into some trouble and lost everything he had gained and more by 25K. it was that kind of day. By 30K Keibel’s lead was up to almost a minute. But then it started coming down again as Keibel slowed in the later stages after battling the elements so long. Rupel sped up in the 5k from 35K to 40K and actually passed Keibel just before the 40K mat and at that point was 3 seconds ahead. But Keibel showed some extra grit as he rallied for the final 2K and came home the division winner by 22 seconds—What a race! It’s a shame they could not both win. Wilson came in 5 minutes later; Pemberton cut into Wilson’s lead a bit but was a minute and a half back at the finish.

Martin Keibel 66 Manchester CT 3:18:06 80.42 Patrick Rupel 65 Edmond OK 3:18:28 79.48 James Wilson 65 Brookline MA 3:23:18 77.59

The top 2 finishers in the division were Annie Pedersen of Denmark and Chile’s Rut Guzman Aguayo in 3:55:15 and 4:03:24

The top 4 American finishers included Kristi Berg, Alyn Park, Sharon Vaughn, and Shuko Yamane. Berg has run lots of marathons over the years, but I cannot find any recent Boston Marathon attempts. She won the 60-64 division at the 2014 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in 3:46:42 and then last September at age 64 shew took 3rd in the 60-64 division in 4:05:51. Park finished 2nd last year at Boston in this division in 3:49:08. I cannot find any marathons for Vaughn until October 2016 when she finished 34th in the 60-64 division at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 4:24:17. In April 2017, she ran 3:33:58 to win the 65-69 division in the Big Sur International Marathon. But there must have been some problem that forced them to shorten the race because Athlinks lists it as being 21.0 miles, not 26.2. Yamane runs lots of marathons including Boston. In 2014 she ran 4:26:11 to finish 109th in the 60-64 division. In 2016 she was back, running 4:10:45 to take 63rd in the division. She came back again next year to take 21st in the division in 3:56:18. Now she was getting somewhere!

Park started out like she expected to move up from 2nd last year to 1st this year, crossing the 10K mat in 54:49. Two minutes later, Vaughn sped past the clock, followed 45 seconds later by Yamane; Berg was nearly 2 minutes further back. Although Park and Vaughn were both slowed by the elements, they maintained their paces well so that Park gradually pulled away for a 4 minute edge over Vaughn at the finish and Vaughn kept the rest of the field well behind her, claiming 2nd US finisher by nearly 4 minutes. Yamane and berg had quite the see saw battle though as Berg gradually cut down Yamane’s lead from 1:10 at 20K to 11 seconds at the 35K mat. Surprisingly or not considering they were past the most serious hils, both sped up from 35K to 40K but Yamane sped up more. Berg cut her pace from 6:11 per kilometer to 5:56, but Yamane lowered hers from 6:17 to 5:50. And that increased the gap between them back up to 16 seconds in favor of Yamane. Yamane kept it up all the way to the finish,taking the 3rd spot by 45 seconds—quite a duel!

Alyn Park 67 Denver CO 4:06:22 79.36 Sharon Vaughn 65 Austin TX 4:10:21 75.69 Shuko Yamane 65 Honolulu HI 4:12:19 75.10

70-74

Albert Wieringa, a long-time resident of Florida but still a Dutch citizen and Sweden’s Bj√∂rn Suneson finished in3rd and 4th in 3:50:07 and 3:53:10. Wieringa won the Age Division last year in 3:29:38.

The top American contenders were Thomas Claflin, Gene Dykes, David Howey, and Byron Mundy. A regular at Boston in recent years, in 2014, Claflin finished 83rd in the 65-69 division in 3:59:02. The following year was his high point in the division, finishing 41st in 3:47:36. In 2016 he ran 3:59:01 to finish 94th in 65-69; his 4:34:58 in 2017 led to 254th place in his last year in 65-69. Dykes has also been a regular at Boston; in 2014 Dykes’s 3:09:04 left him 3rd overall (1st American). After taking 2015 off, Dykes won the following two years in 3:09:56 and then 3:09:35. Eight days before the Boston Marathon this year, Dykes ran in the Rotterdam Marathon and took down the US 70-74 Marathon record, cracking the 3-hour barrier in the process with a 2:57:43. One would have thought that would rule him out for Boston but not so. Howey finished 9th overall (5th American) at Boston in 3:30:08 in 2015 and finished 7th (4th American) in 2016 in 3:24:04. In November 2017 he ran 3:30:14 in the Harrisburg Marathon. Another regular at Boston, Mundy ran 3:49:57 to finish 57th in 65-69. The following year it was a 3:30:20 for 11th. Mundy ran almost as fast in 2017, clocking 3:34:33 for another 11th place. Dykes should either be a strong favorite because of his speed in past Boston Marathons or a non-factor with heavy legs after running a fast Marathon 8 days before Boston. Which would it be?
Gene Dykes [#257] winning his division at the 2015 Caesar Rodney Half Marathon in 1:30:46 Photo: usatoday.com

Dykes had no doubt in his mind which it would be as he passed the 10K mat in 43:25, with a 4-minute lead on Mundy and a 5-minute lead on Howey. Claflin, perhaps wary of the weather was another 3 and a half minutes back from Howey. Considering the weather conditions, one would have to conclude that running two marathons in 8 days quite agrees with Dykes. He sped through the half marathon in 1:33:47 and took the win in 3:16:20. It was almost a half hour before another runner in the division finished. By the halfway mark, Howey had passed Mundy and enjoyed a lead of over a minute, passing the mat in 1:43:19. Claflin was another 7 minutes back and appeared to be no threat for the 3rd American spot. By the time they got into their 2nd hour on the course, the elements were wearing down Claflin, Howey, and Mundy. It took Mundy nearly an hour to traverse the 10K from 25 to 35; Claflin took 2 seconds less and Howey did a bit better, keeping it down to around 55 minutes. From there both How3ey and Mundy slowed further but, surprisingly, Claflin managed a quicker pace and pulled within 2 minutes of Mundy by 40K, slipped past in the last 2 kilometers and wound up 3rd American, well behind Howey, but almost a minute ahead of Mundy.

Gene Dykes 70 Bala Cynwyd PA 3:16:20 84.57 David Howey 70 Etters PA 3:44:53 73.83 Thomas Claflin 70 Brighton MI 3:54:09 70.91

-----------------------------------------------------

Japan’s Tamaki Matsuda finished 2nd in 4:17:41 and 4 Canadians, Patricia Dudar, Susan Magher, Jane Wintemute, and Gayle Robinson finished 4th through 6th and 8th in 4:36:44, 4:36:45, 4:37:58, and 4:46:24.

The top 4 Americans included Joanne Neustrand, Jeannie Rice, Nancy Rollins, and Irene Taylor. Neustrand is definitely a regular at Boston. In 2013 she finished 3rd in 65-69 with a 4:12:36 effort and came back a year later with a 4:21:30 for 19th and in 2015 with a 4:25:43 and again 19th place. After waiting out a year, she came back with a 4:26:48 and a 24th place in her final year in 65-69. She would do better in 2018 she thought, at least in terms of finishing position. Rice runs lots of marathons and many other races of varying distances. Like many of her counterparts, she is devoted to Boston though. She ran 3:46:49 in 2014, taking 3rd in 65-69. The following year she won the division in 3:39:34. The next year was an off year by Rice’s standards as she ran ran 3:54:06 and finished just off the podium/ Perhaps that is why she skipped Boston in 2017? Rice was not idle; she ran 3 other marathons at least. The best of those was her winning effort at the Columbus Marathon in 3:29:41. Rollins has been a regular at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, winning 65-69 there in 2014 in 3:43:06 and in 2015 in 3:43:30. In her final year in the division she finished 2nd in 3:46:04. 2017 was an off year as her time skied to 4:01:35 although she did return to the top of the podium, albeit in 70-74. Boston was a bit more up and down for Rollins; she finished 3rd in 2015, running 3:48:55. She returned 2 years later with another subpar, by her standards, effort, finishing 3rd in 4:23:44. She was determined to do better in 2018. Taylor, by contrast, is not a regular at Boston. Hailing from Alaska, she is a regular at the Anchorage Weekend Festival of Races, although running the Half more commonly than the Marathon. She won the Skinny Raven Half in 2013, 2014, and 2017, posting the same winning time of 2:05:13 in both 2013 and 2017. She tried the marathon in 2015, finishing 2nd in 4:55:07. It would seem this should shape up as a duel between Rice and Rollins.
Nancy Rollins running 1:47:18 at the 2016 Door County Half Marathon Photo: Nate Perry

Rice was taking no prisoners as she laid it out in the first 10K in 47:14; it was 5 more minutes before Rollins crossed the mat, taking a much more conservative approach. Neustrand was another 6 minutes back with Taylor a further 6 minutes behind. Taylor was one fo the rare runners who ran a negative split on the day. Covering the first half in 2:23:36 and the 2nd half in 2:23:16. That stood her in good stead as as she almost made the podium, finishing 4th. The early speed of the others left her too far back. Rollins was the only one of the top 3 to run a faster 2nd half marathon on the day. Neustrand ran strong enough to keep Taylor at bay, claiming 3rd with over 8 minutes to spare. Up through the 35K it looked like there was no contest for 1st as Rice had widened her lead over Rollins to nearly 17 minutes. But then as with so many other elite runners on the day, the elements finally caught up with Rice; she had been clicking off her 5K’s in 31-33 minutes. From 35K to 40K, it took her over 45 minutes, and she lost 12 minutes of her lead to Rollins. Rice is a gritty runner, though, who would not give up. Even though it took Rice another 23 minutes to cover the last 2 kilometers, she was determined to finish. Rollins passed her and took the win with 2 minutes to spare. Rice took 2nd place and was almost certainly brought directly to the medical tent.

Nancy Rollins 71 Evanston IL 4:17:01 81.23 Jeannie Rice 70 Concord OH 4:19:11 79.21 Joanne Neustrand 70 Boca Raton FL 4:38:25 73.74

75-79

Villiam Novak of Slovakia took 3rd in 4:15:32.

The top 4 American contenders were Frank Bright, Myung Joon Kim, Kenneth Neil, and John [‘Johnny-O’] Ouweleen. Bright finished 2nd in the 70-74 division at the 2014 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in 3:48:27 and the following spring ran 3:48:37 at Boston, finishing 10th. The following October at Twin Cities, his time grew to 4:07:45, still good for 2nd though. The next year he skipped both but returned to Boston in 2017 with a 4:21:24 for 30th place in his last year in 70-74. Kim ran many marathons on the West Coast, most around 4:30 or so. He decided to head east to try Boston but still ran the LA Marathon in February 2016 in 4:16:48. Two months later he uncorked a 4:04:36 to finish 14th in 70-74. Kim returned and ran a little faster in 2017, clocking 4:02:18 for 9th place in the division. He wanted to be ready for a strong effort for his first Boston try at the 75-79 division. A regular at Boston the last few years, Neil ran 4:01:43 in 2015 to finish 22nd in 70-74, followed by 4:18 and 21st in 2016 and 4:16:42 and 23rd in 2017. Maybe 75-79 would treat him to a better finishing position. Ouweleen has been a fixture of marathoning for many years and almost always runs Boston. He skipped it in 2016 to run in the Virgin London Marathon. In 2013 he was 2nd in 3:23:52 followed by a 70-74 division win in 2014 in 3:28:11. He took 3rd in 2015 in 3:37:59 and then in 2016 enjoyed his trip to London, winning the 70-74 in 3:22:58. Ouweleen returned to Boston in 2017 for the warm conditions resulting in a 4:05:41 and a rare finish off the Boston podium for his first try at 75-79. Ouweleen took off with his usual aplomb, letting the downhills carry him to a 50:28 for the first 10K and a 5-minute lead over Kim. 
John Ouweleen during a training break photo: http://www.tcpalm.com/news/no-headline-tc_spt_runner_6c

Seven minutes later Bright crossed the 10K mat, followed by Neil a minute later. Try as he might the rest of the way, Neil could not close on Bright who ran a well-paced race, covering the first half in 2:12 and the second half in 2:15. Bright took the third spot on the podium with 16 minutes to spare. Ouweleen went through the Half in 1:49:36 over 8 and a half minutes ahead of Kim. That was the largest lead he would enjoy. By the 30K mark it was down to 7 minutes and it kept coming down as Ouweleen’s 5K splits climbed from the 27-28-minute range up to over 30. By 35K the lead was under 5 minutes. Both runners were struggling but Kim not as much as Ouweleen. By the 40K Kim was within 16 seconds and continued strong to take the win with 1:44 to spare as Ouweleen claimed 2nd by almost 14 minutes.

Myung Joon Kim 75 Los Angeles CA 4:11:52 70.45 John Ouweleen 77 Sebastian FL 4:13:36 72.48 Frank Bright 75 Shreveport LA 4:27:15 66.4

-------------------------------------------------

The top 4 Women were all US Citizens: Jo Ann McCallister, Hansi Rigney, Molly Sherwood, and Carol Wright. McCalister finished 3rd in the Boston Marathon last year with a 5:03:46 and ran the Boston Prep 16 miler in New Hampshire in late January in 3:00:54; she was able to maintain fitness at least through mid-Winter. One of the top Marathoners in the country and a regular at Boston, Rigney has finished on the Age Division podium on Patriot’s Day in 2013 to 2017 except for 2016 when she finished 5th. She won 70-74 in 2013 in 4:15:57 and 75-79 last year in 4:53:58. She also won her age division at the Big Sur International Marathon, Chicago and the California International Marathon, all in faster times than her Boston win, unsurprisingly given the heat in Boston. Sherwood has not been a regular at Boston but she had run the last two years. In 2016 she finished 8th in 70-74 in 4:55:22 and finished 4th 75-79 in 2017 with a 5:06:37. Like Sherwood, Wright has recently become a Boston regular, finishing 9th in 70-74 in 2016 with a 4:57:13 and returned in 2017 to claim 5th in 75-79 in 5:26:21. It looked like this was Rigney’s tyo lose. Considering how most favorites did, that might not have been surprising.

As one might expect from these seasoned veterans, no one blew up. But that meant that leads established early typically held all the way to the finish line, with little drama. Rigney ran like the Champion she is, covering the first 10K in 1:02:11; McCalister came across the mat 2 minutes later, trailed by Wright 3 minutes later and Sherwood another 8 minutes back. Those gaps all grew throughout the race with Rigney winning by over 20 minutes, McCalister claiming 2nd with over 45 minutes to spare, and Wright taking the final podium spot with a 25 minute margin on Sherwood. Rigni apparently likes near gale conditions better than heat as she carved over half an hour out of her 2017 time.

Hansi Rigney 76 Carmel CA 4:55:58 77.20 JoAnn McCalister 76 Goffstown NH 5:17:44 71.99 Carol Wright 76 Sandpoint ID 6:03:40 62.9.

80 and Up

Our international guests from Japan and Canada took the first 4 spots and 6yj, with a German resident of Florida 5th:

The lone American entered, James Michie, has run many Marathons including Philadelphia in 2014 where he finished 5th 75-79 in 4:46:25. He tuned up for Boston by taking 3rd in 75-79 at the Chevron Houston Marathon in 4:54:45. The weather was not kind, as we know, but Michie persevered and finished the race in 6:08:01. That was definitely a victory!



Three cheers for the Masters Runners who raced in Boston in 2018 and persevered all the way to the finish in near gale conditions. Congratulations to one and all!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Runners Conquer Rolling Hills at the USATF Masters Half Marathon Road Championship



June 4 2018. ANN ARBOR MICHIGAN – The early weather forecasts called for mostly sunny skies and 60 degree temperatures. As we approached the weekend, the forecast started to include the possibility of rain. By Sunday morning the forecast called for a band of heavy rain to sweep through at 8 am, right when teams were supposed to check in at the USATF tent. And it came right on schedule; the skies opened up and the rain poured down. Luckily runners could seek shelter, as pre-arranged, at an intermediate school in the staging area of the start. The heavy rain lasted only ten minutes or so and there was ample time for teams to make it to the tent and check in. The rain picked up a little again as the runners were doing their final stride-outs. But once the race got under way, it was mostly light rain or sprinkles, with mid-60’s temps and moderate wind, followed by clearing for the end-of-the race celebrations. All-in-all, conditions were good for the tour of the scenic rolling hills along the Huron River.



OVERALL INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONSHIPS



The race to be first Masters Athlete across the finish line overall came down to a terrific battle between Greg Mitchell of Oregon’s Bowerman Track Club and David Angell of Virginia’s Roanoke Valley Elite. The lead pack, consisting of Angell, Matthew Folk, Jonathan Frieder, Mitchell, Sam Teigen, and Olivier Vrambout, were taken out at a brisk pace by Mitchell. Once they got onto the scenic 8 mile stretch of Huron Drive, Angell, Mitchell, and Vrambout worked to establish a gap to the rest of the pack. But Mitchell and Angell first pulled away from Vrambout, who was left in no man’s land. Shortly thereafter Mitchell laid down a surge that Angell could not match, pulling away to a lead that grew to 30 seconds by the ten mile mark as Mitchell went through in 53:20.  By that time, Angell’s 53:53 gave him a minute and 20 seconds on Vrambout. Vrambout, in his turn, had about a minute on a chasing pack of three: Folk, Frieder and Teigen.To my surprise, alphabetical order and place order were the same. Despite Folk having run two sub 1:14 Half Marathons in the last year, I failed to see that he could run with Frieder and Teigen who had run so well at the 8K and 10K National Championships this spring. At ten miles it was Folk in 56:12, with Frieder 8 seconds back and another 6 back to Teigen.  Mitchell poured it on over the last 5K to pull further ahead of Angell, breaking the tape in 1:10:36 to Angell’s 1:11:20. Run Minnesota’s Vrambout toughed it out to complete the podium despite a strong closing finish by Folk who cut the ten mile gap in half. Vrambout took 3rd in 1:13:28, with Follk 4th in 1:13:58. Mitchell made it a successful return from an extended injury period, winning his first national championship since the 8K in Brea California in early 2016. 

Greg Mitchell captures the Overall Win at the 2018 USATF Masters Half Marathon National Championships hosted by the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run in Michigan [Photo Credit: Runphotos.com]
Angell just missed his 3rd straight win on the Masters Grand Prix circuit but maintains a comfortable lead for the 40-44 Grand Prix contest. 
David Angell finishes in 2nd place Overall at the 2018 USATF Masters Half Marathon National Championships hosted by the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run in Michigan [Photo Credit: Runphotos.com]

Vrambout conceded that this was perhaps one race too many in a compressed time period. But landing on the podium in a National Championship is memorable in itself. And there are many future opportunities for Vrambout. Folk had a fine debut performance. Frieder and Teigen showed they can run with the best in the Half Marathon and led their Men’s 40 and up team to victory.

Gregory Mitchell 1:10:36     David Angell 1:11:20     Olivier Vrambout 1:13:28



Melissa Gacek, of the Twin Cities Track Club, rolled to a comfortable win in 1:25:03 as the Women’s field split up early with Gacek in the lead and a pack of chasers including Melissa Broyles, Doreen McCoubrie, and Michelle Simonaitis. Gacek’s coach had directed her to run steady 6:20 splits but the rolling hills made that difficult. In fact, Gacek noted that her splits were inconsistent, depending on the extent of uphills and downhills within the mile. Nonetheless, she hit the 10-mile mark in 1:04:23 for a 6:26 per mile average, no small feat considering she had no close competition. Simonaitis, the pride of Draper Utah, was the closest of the chasing runners, and she was over 2 minutes back from Gacek. Meanwhile McCoubrie was trying to stay close but had fallen a minute and a half back from Simonaitis. Still she knew that Broyles might not be that far behind, and she would have been right; Broyles was only 30 seconds back. A strong kick over the last 5K could close that gap. Gacek had the fastest last 5K with a 20:40, to build her lead to nearly three minutes as she claimed victory in 1:25:03. Simonaitis came in smartly with a 21:04, giving her 2nd place with two minutes to spare. McCoubrie was right to worry about Broyles’s kick as Broyles did, indeed, cut into the margin. But McCoubrie was able to tough it out and claim the final spot on the podium by 24 seconds in 1:30:11. Broyles, in 4th, had over three minutes on the rest of the field. This was Gacek’s 2nd National Championship as she added this crown to the one she wore in 2016 at Tulsa in the 15K Masters Championship.
Melissa Gacek takes the Overall Win at the 2018 USATF Masters Half Marathon National Championships hosted by the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run in Michigan [Photo Credit: Runphotos.com]
Simonaitis has now returned to the top flight of Masters Women runners after taking a short break from National Championships in the middle of the decade. 
Michelle Simonaitis finishes in 2nd place Overall at the 2018 USATF Masters Half Marathon National Championships hosted by the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run in Michigan [Photo Credit: Runphotos.com]

McCoubrie managed an Overall podium finish at the age of 56, quite an accomplishment.

Melissa Gacek 1:25:03     Michelle Simonaitis 1:28:02     Doreen McCoubrie 1:30:11



AGE-GRADING CHAMPIONSHIPS



Age-Grade scoring is the best way to compare performance by age across all Masters competitors. Each competitor’s time is assigned a score that is linked ot the statistically projected World’s Best time for the distance for a woman or man of their age. The score is 100 if the performance matches the projected World’s Best; if slower, the score falls. The following identifications are often made: 90% and up ‘World Class,’ 85% -89.99% ‘International Class’, and 80-84.99% ‘National Class.’ The Masters LDR Committee recognizes these distinctions in awarding Gold, Silver, and Bronze Elite Performance Medals for the relevant performance levels. The top 3 age grade scores for men and for Women merit gold, silver, and bronze commemorative medals and the top 5 age grade performers among the Men and the Women win cash prizes at this event. There were terrific perfomances and very close contests for both Women and Men.



Suzanne Ray, 66, of Oregon’s Team Red Lizard, took the Women’s crown by running 1:42:55 for an 89.06. This is her first Age-Grading Championship. Ray has been ‘knocking on the door’ in recent Championships, taking 5th at the 8K and 4th at the 15K last year. 
Suzanne Ray gave all she had to capture the age-grading crown, her Age Division title and lead her team to the 60 and up team title at the 2018 USATF Masters Half Marathon National Championships hosted by the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run in Michigan [Photo Credit: Runphotos.com]

Patrice Combs, 60, was only .27% behind with her 1:34:50 time, after finishing 4th in age-grading at the 10K in Dedham. 
Patrice Combs finishes in 2nd place Age-Grading at the 2018 USATF Masters Half Marathon National Championships hosted by the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run in Michigan [Photo Credit: Runphotos.com]

Doreen McCoubrie, 56, finished off the Age-Grading podium by recording a 1:30:11 that age-graded at 88.57. That gives McCoubrie her second podium finish in two tries, along with her third at Virginia Beach. Michelle Simonaitis, 52, who ran 1:28:02 for an 86.29 and Ray’s Team Red Lizard teammate, Jeanette Groesz, 68, who ran 1:53:01 for 83.57, took home 4th and 5th place prize money.



Club Northwest’s Rick Becker had the top Men’s score. Becker, 63, ran 1:20:18 for a World Class Age Grade of 91.45. 
Rick Becker captured the age-grading crown at the 2018 USATF Masters Half Marathon National Championships hosted by the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run in Michigan [Photo Credit: Runphotos.com]

Becker’s Coaching duties at Track and Field and Cross Country have limited his entries in National Championships, but he has made them count when he fits them in. He took 2nd in the Men’s 60+ race at Club XC last December, 2nd at the 8K in Brea 2016, and in the 10K at Dedham the same year. This medal will go alongside the one he won at the 2016 XC Nationals in Bend OR. Gene Dykes, 70, of the Greater Philadelphia Track Club, pushed him with a 1:26:34 that age-graded only .37 of a percent lower. 
Gene Dykes finishes in 2nd place Age-Grading at the 2018 USATF Masters Half Marathon National Championships hosted by the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run in Michigan [Photo Credit: Runphotos.com]

That is his second consecutive 2nd place age-grade, after finishing behind Nat Larson at Dedham. Dave Walters, 62, of Lisle Illinois, was less than a full point back in third, having run 1:20:37 for 90.21.  Roger Sayre, 60, who ran 1:19:07 for a 90.18, and the overall winner, Mitchell, 44, who scored 87.77, took home prize money for 4th and 5th age-grade scores.



AGE DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIPS



40-44

As the top 5 overall Men’s finishers came from this age division, the summary of the Overall Championships provides the details for this division.

Gregory Mitchell 1:10:35     David Angell 1:11:20     Olivier Vrambout 1:13:28



The Overall Winner, Melissa Gacek, came from this division, as did 4th place finisher, Melissa Broyles. In this renewal of the battle of the two Melissa’s, Gacek enjoyed a bigger margin over Broyles in this contest than she had in the 5th 3rd River Bank Run a few weeks earlier. Gacek had a 4 min8ute margin over Broyles in that race. Here the margin was a bit over 5 minutes. Broyles had almost 20 minutes on the 3rd place finisher (from Ann Arbor), Lauren Kachorek.

Melissa Gacek 1:25:03     Melissa Broyles 1:30:35     Lauren Kachorek 1:49:55



45-49

This was projected to be a duel between Garden State Track Club’s Jonathan Frieder and Philippe Rolly; Rolly beat Frieder by 12 seconds in the 8K Championship in March and by 2 seconds in the 10K Championship at the end of April. Would this have been Frieder’s breakthrough against Rolly? Perhaps, but we will not find out. Rolly, either because of injury, duty, or other possibilities, was not able to run the race. Frieder is quite dominant on the roads in this age division right now against all except the very top runners. And he proved it again, forging a 3 minute margin over Atlanta’s Brent Fields by the 10 mile mat and brought home the win in 1:14:20. Fields, in turn, built a 6 minute gap back to the 3rd runner in the division, Eric Green, by the 10 mile mark, and added to it over the last 3 miles as he claimed 2nd.

Jonathan Frieder 1:14:20     Brent Fields 1:18:22     Eric Green 1:26:52

When the Genesee Valley Harriers were unable to field a complete team for the Women’s 40+ division, the two runners who had entered decided not to make the trip. That left Erin Larusso, the Ann Arbor Track Club runner from Ypsilanti Michigan, unopposed. Larusso took the win with a nicely paced race.

Erin Larusso 1:38:20



50-54



I had this division pegged as a duel among GVH’s Alan Evans, Playmakers Elite’s Eric Stuber, and the Ann Arbor Track Club’s Paul Mayer. Those were all good picks; unfortunately I overlooked Evans’s teammate, Mike Nier, who is GVH’s mainstay at distances from a mile up through the 10K. I had not seen a recent race for him at the Half Marathon distance or greater, so undervalued his potential. I saw that Nier had run 3:23:14 at Boston in 2017. That was under very warm conditions, so the time was not a good indicator of fitness for long distance. All ran strong races but Nier gradually established his dominance in the middle stretch of the rolling hills along Huron Drive. He crossed the ten mile mat in 1:00:41, with over a half minute lead on Stuber. Stuber, in turn, had a little over half a minute on Mayer and Evans who were separated by only two seconds. Nier powered all the way to the finish where he enjoyed a final margin of over a minute on Stuber who finished 2nd. The duel between Mayer and Evans ended with Evans steaming away for a commanding lead by the time they had traversed the last long hill into the finish. Evans was one of the few runners who was able to accelerate his pace over the last 5 kilometers; it gave him the final podium spot. Mayer could not stay within a half minute of Evans but he kept a two minute margin on Dale Flanders, who finished 5th.

Mike Nier 1:20:21     Eric Stuber 1:21:32     Alan Evans 1:21:57



Michelle Simonaitis, who finished 2nd overall, ran away with the division, creating a 7minute gap on the field by the 10-mile mark and adding to it over the last 5 kilometers for a fine victory. Atlanta’s Kris Huff, and GVH’s Carol Bischoff were the two main contenders for the remainder of the podium. Huff gradually pulled away on Huron Drive, opening up a minute and a half lead over Bischoff as she hit the mat in 1:13:32. Huff almost doubled that margin, as she was able to finish strongly up the hill and into the finish. Bischoff enjoyed a 7 minute lead at the tape over Atlanta’s Susan Welch who finished 4th.

Michelle Simonaitis 1:28:02     Kris Huff 1:36:43     Carol Bischoff 1:39:36



55-59



I had this correctly as a battle between Connecticut’s Jim Zoldy and Garden State’s Gary Leaman but my research skated on by Rick Torres, in error. I should have noted at least that he ran 1:22:04 in the Kentucky Derby Festival Half Marathon at the end of April. That would certainly have focused my attention on Torres as one of the favorites. In any case, Zoldy certainly ran like the favorite, carving out nearly a two-minute lead on the field by the ten-mile marker. It was much tighter for 2nd and 3rd as Torres held a half minute lead on Leaman. Leaman, in the meantime, was holding the rest of the field at bay; no one else was closer than 5 minutes at the ten mile clock. All three runners held their pace well over the last 5 kilometers. Zoldy hit the finish line with a little over two minutes to spare back to Torres who, in turn, had 50 seconds on Leaman. Tim Lambrecht, Jaime Hartges, and Jeff Rothstein finished a tightly packed 4th, 5th and 6th , all finishing within a minute of each other 8 minutes back from Leaman.

Jim Zoldy 1:21:05     Rick Torres 1:23:11     Gary Leaman 1:24:01



Finishing 3rd overall, Doreen McCoubrie had no trouble leaving her division rivals behind. By the ten-mile mark she had a 4 and a half minute gap on the field. But there were tight races for 2nd and 3rd and for 4th and 5th. Beth Ann Deciantis and Kelly Dworak were locked together heading down Huron Drive. Deciantis gradually grew a half minute lead by the ten-mile mark. Dworak was close; if she had saved extra for the final 5 kilometers, it could get interesting. Both runners stayed on pace though and Deciantis crossed the line 6 minutes behind McCoubrie, but with almost a minute to spare back to Dworak. Ann Arbor’s Nancy Schubring had built a 3-minute lead on the Impala’s Janet Smith by the ten-mile mat. Ordinarily that would be enough. But then the wheels came off for Schubring as her pace slowed and she faced the long uphill to the finish. Smith was probably unaware of the change but continued her steady pace, feeling good that she had saved enough to power up the final hill. In the end, Smith had taken two and a half minutes out of Schubring’s lead, a fine finishing job. But Schubring held tough up the final hill and across the line to claim 4th in 1:41:36.

Doreen McCoubrie 1:30:11     Beth Anne Deciantis 1:36:12     Kelly Dworak 1:37:02



60-64



I knew this division was loaded. As noted above, the top 3 runners in this division took 3 of the top 4 age-grading prizes; the next two finished just out of the prize money in 6th and 7th—wow! Roger Sayre had broken 1:20 in a couple of Half Marathons last year and he looked like he was intent on doing it again. He cracked past the ten-mile clock in 3 ticks under an hour. But Rick Becker was only 41 seconds back, on pace also for a sub-1:20, and Dave Walters, in 3rd within striking distance another 33 seconds back. Three minutes back, Dave Burkhart, the noted triathlete, had a minute gap on a 3-man chase pack of Ann Arbor TC’s Michael Young, Norm Larson of Vermont, and Shore AC’s Reno Stirrat, all within 27 seconds of one another. Sayre powered through to the end, enjoying another sub 1:20 Half Marathon, hitting the finish line in 1:19:07. Becker hoped, no doubt, to close over the last 5 kilometers but found his pace flagging a bit. But the good work put in over the first ten miles plus his tenacity was sufficient to keep Walters at bay. Walters cut into Becker’s lead but in the end it was still a comfortable 19 seconds. Burkhart’s pace suffered the most of these top athletes but, like the triathlete he is, was able to keep the other contenders behind him as he fiished 3 minutes back from Walters. Young closed strong, taking 24 seconds out of Burkhart’s lead but he was still 44 seconds back, followed by Larson and Stirrat in 6th and 7th. Seven 60-64 runners finished under 1:27—amazing!

Roger Sayre 1:19:07     Rick Becker 1:20:18     Dave Walters 1:20:37



Just like in the 10K Masters Championship at the end of April, Patrice Combs owned this division, building a 9 minute lead in the first ten miles and finishing it off with style and taking the win with a lead of well over 10 minutes on the field. Meanwhile the Team Red Lizard teammates, Lynn Bernot and Joanna Harper, were clicking off the miles. Bernot crossed the 10-mile clock in 1:20:59, with Harper three minutes back. Chasing those two were Ann Arbor TC teammates, Mary Aseltyne, and Carol Poenisch, who passed the 10-mile clock 4 minutes and 6 minutes after Harper. All four stayed on pace so the margins grew slightly over the last 5 kilometers except that Poenisch creeped a little closer to her teammate, finishing only 1:34 back at the finish line. Bernot claimed 2nd in 1:08:01 with Harper in 3rd place, four minutes back, keeping a gap of over 4 minutes back to Aseltyne who finished 4th.

Patrice Combs 1:34:50     Lynn Bernot 1:48:01     Joanna Harper 1:52:07



65-69



This division, too, was tightly contested with the top 4 finishing within 5 minutes of each other. Heath Hibbard, the  fleet trail runner out of Colorado, was the favorite based on his 1:03:10 at the 15K Masters Championship in Tulsa last October. It appeared he could well break 1:30. Hibbard certainly ran the first ten miles as if he planned on breaking 1:30, passing the ten-mile clock in 1:07:00. John Hiirschberger ran 1:34:31 at the HM Championships last year but I downgraded his chances based on a relatively slower 1:14:20 effort at the Norcal 10 Miler earlier this spring. That time suggested he might not be fit to run much faster than 1:4. I figured Terry McCluskey would be closer to the low 1:30’s as he ran 1:11:06 in the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. Hirschberger showed that the Norcal race was either an off day for him or perhaps one he was just running as a training run. In fact, he was running faster than last year, only two minutes back from Hibbard, running the first ten miles of this HM five minutes faster than he ran the Norcal 10 Miler. Perry Linn, from Iowa in his first National Championship outing, was only 13 seconds back from Hirschberger, and the better part of a minute ahead of McCluskey. With just over a minute between 2nd and 4th with 5 kilometers to go, the podium would turn on who had the most left. Hibbard had no trouble over the last part of the race, claiming first while stretching his lead to almost 3 minutes. Hirschberger was not able to stretch his lead but was able to take 2nd with an ample one minute lead over the third place finisher. One of the few reversals of fortune on the day took place as McCluskey had a strong last 5K and Linn struggled; McCluskey took 3rd with a half minute to spare. But there is no shame in a 4th place finish in a national championship on one’s first outing. And Linn kept several strong National Championship veterans behind him in the race. There was one other outstanding performance in this age division that does not jump out form the results listing. When I saw Jerry Learned before the race, I observed KT tape all over the front of his legs. His new dog is apparently very excitable about getting down the stairs and out the front door. A few days before the race, the dog lunged down, catching Learned off guard, and he was dragged down the stairs, acquiring the injuries that required the tape. No race for him, right? Then you do not know Jerry. When the Atlanta Track Club calls, he answers! You need one more runner for a 40+ team tyo get points from the Half Marathon. “Count me in if all you need is for someone who can run and finish, not go fast.” And run he did. It must have been painful. Ordinarily he would be running the race well under 1:40, perhaps under 1:35. It took him over two hours—Now that’s a teammate’s teammate!

Heath Hibbard 1:28:47     John Hirschberger 1:31:40     Terry McCluskey 1:32:46



Team Red Lizard had the two entrants in this division. Both Suzanne Ray and Jeanette Groesz have been running strongly over the last year at National Championships. Ray has generally had faster times although the age difference means Groesz sometimes had the age grading edge. In the 10K Championship at Dedham, however, Ray finished behind her teammate, and with a slower time than anticipated. Was that just an off day or was there some lingering injury issue? Ray certainly put that question to rest over the first ten miles as she passed the digital clock at the ten-mile mark in 1:17:34, seven minutes ahead of Groesz. Ray carried her pace strongly into the finish, winning with a margin of just over ten minutes.

Suzanne Ray 1:42:55     Jeanette Groesz 1:53:01



70-74

Right now, Gene Dykes is enjoying life, running pretty much any distance he chooses from 3000 meters to 100 kilometers on the track on the roads or on the trails. He broke the Men’s 70 and up American Record for the Marathon with a 2:57:43 at Rotterdam in early April and broke the Men’s 70-74 American Record for the 10K at the end of April with a 39:02. In early February he had won his age division in the Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Run in just under 24 hours. If your jaw is dropping right now, join the club! He was a strong favorite to take this division by a ton and he did not disappoint. He crossed the 10-Mile mat in 1:06:17 with a four minute lead on a remarkable runner in his own right, Lloyd Hansen, the 2014 Men’s 65-69 Road Runner of the Year. After dealing with some sciatica and other issues, Hansen is on the comeback trail. Not quite all the way back, he is still formidable. Hansen had a 5 minute lead on Dave Glass who took three 70-74 National Championships last fall at distances from 5K to 15K on the roads and the XC turf. Glass, in turn, had five minutes on the rest of the filed. With such separation, it is not surprising that is the finishing order also. Dykes pushed his lead to 6 minutes by the time he crossed the finish line; Hansen upped his margin over Glass to 6:45. Paul Carlin [That’s me!], was over 7 minutes back in 4th. I have been trying to shake a left hamstring issue for over two years and finally have nearly done so. But my conditioning is way off. I hope to be closer to Glass and the others in the fall, but time will tell. Przemek Nowicki and Curttis Walker were another 2 and a half minutes back in 5th and 6th.

Gene Dykes 1:26:34     Lloyd Hansen 1:32:34     Dave Glass 1:39:19



75-79



The only runner Robert Hendrick has to worry about in this division, even on an off day, is Doug Goodhue, who bested him at the 10K Championships in Dedham at the end of April on what Hendrick described as an ‘awful’ day of running for him. Hendrick was only talking about the quality of his run. He acknowledges that Goodhue is a great champion and will have no trouble winning championships once fully recovered from injury. Goodhue, of course, was otherwise occupied on this day, being the Race Director. As this was his last hurrah, it will be different next year; it will be great to see him out on the Dexter-Ann Arbor course again. Even though Hendrick had another off day as he was having foot problems, he still passed the 10 mile mat in 1:23:25 with a 7-minute lead on the field. Despite his difficulties, he kept most of that margin all the way to the finish line, crossing in first with a 6 minute gap back to  the field. Charlie Patterson and David Cohen were engaged in a fierce battle for 2nd and 3rd. The issue was still undecided at the 10-mile mark even though Patterson had begun to pull away. Cohen was only 46 seconds back from Patterson’s 1:30:50, close enough so that if Patterson ran into trouble on the closing hill or if Cohen had saved more for the end game, there was time for a reversal. Instead. Patterson had the stronger finish as he pulled away on the final hill to enjoy a final margin of almost 3 minutes. Andrew Sherwood, the ‘Dean’ of the 75-79 HM competitors at age 78, finished in 4th.

Robert Hendrick 1:54:51     Charlie Patterson 2:00:39     David Cohen 2:03:29





TEAMS



Even though there were not as many teams entered as we expect at shorter distances, there were still plenty of spirited contests.



40 and up



The Garden State Track Club-New Balance had a genuine complete team entered while Atlanta had a ‘let’s get some points for finishing’ team. Atlanta started with Brent Fields, 46, who usually competes on the 40’s team and added Mike Anderson, 61, and Jerry Learned, 69, from their 60’s team. Garden State is formidable and would be tough to eat even if other genuine 40’s teams showed up. They added this title to their win at the 8K and their podium finish at the ultra-competitive 10K National Championships in Dedham. Garden State had Jonathan Frieder 1:14:20, Sam Teigen 1:14:58, and Aaron Cooper combining for the win with a 1:16:04 average; that’s cooking!

Garden State Track Club-New Balance 3:48:12     Atlanta Track Club 4:52:41



A fight between the Genesee Valley Harriers and the Ann Arbor Track Club was anticipated in the days leading up to race day. GVH had two runners entered who typically run on their 40+ team, Caroline Bucci and Melissa Senall.  Surely they would find a third runner to field a complete time by packet pickup. Ann Arbor was scurrying to put a team together but they were successful by the end of packet pickup. To my surprise GVH was not able to get a third runner for a 40+ team and saved Bucci and Senall the trouble of a trip to Michigan. That meant Ann Arbor only needed 3 of their 5 members to finish to win the day. It was a much better effort than that! Ann Arbor TC took the title with scoring members Melissa Broyles 1:30:35, Erin Larusso 1:38:20, and Nancy Schubring 1:41:36. Mary Aseltine and Carol Poenisch were not that far back as insurance n case any of the top 3 faltered.
Ann Arbor Track Club 4:50: 31



50 and up



The Ann Arbor Track Club, the Genesee Valley Harriers, and the Playmakers Elite-New Balance all had a strong horse to lead the way but which team woul dhave the depth to take the team title? GVH's Mike Nier was the fastest of the three leaders with a 1:20:21, followed by Eric Stuber of Playmakers in 1:21:32, with Paul Mayer leading the way for Ann Arbor with a 1:22:35. But a 1 minute or even a 2 minute lead after the first runners are in is not necessarily enough cushion to guarantee a team win. Depth is critical, and GVH had it. Their #2 runner, Alan Evans, came in just 25 seconds behind Stuber, giving them a strong 1-2 punch. After Mayer, the next runner in also wore the GVH singlet, Dale Flanders, coming across the finish line before either of the #2 runners for Ann Arbor or Playmakers. That gave GVH the team championship, and left Ann arbor and Playmakers to fight over the remaining podium positions. When Ann arbor's #2, Brian Zubatch, came in 3 and a half minutes ahead of the Playmakers #2, Tim Lambrecht, things were looking good. But as the Baseball Philosopher, Berra said, "It isn't over until it's over." Playmakers #3, Jaime Hartges, finished just a half minute after Lambrecht. That gave them a chance...but 14 seconds later it was over as Ann Arbor's #3, Jeff Rothstein came in to finish off their scoring. GVH won with a 1:22:21 average, followed by Ann Arbor in 2nd, averaging 1:28:00, and Playmakers 3rd averaging 1:28:44. Ann Arbor also ran a 'B' team consisting of Brian Harreld, Tassos Valtadoros, and Eric Barr that averaged just over 1:40 in 4th place.
Genesee Valley Harriers 4:07:03     Ann Arbor Track Club 4:24:00     Playmakers Elite New Balance 4:26:10

I had the Impala Racing Team pegged as the favorites but then their #1 runner, Dana Blum, did not show up. The other change from the expectation was that Atlanta chose not to field a 60 and up Women's team, allowing Patrice Combs to drop down and be the lead runner on the 50 and up team. Combs was the first #1 runner to finish at 1:34:50. followed by GVH's Beth Anne Deciantis a minute and a half later. When Atlanta's Kris Huff finished just a half minute behind Deciantis, that left Atlanta looking good for the win. Still, when Carol Bischoff finished just 3 minutes after Huff that gave GVH a little hope; they were 4 minutes back but a strong showing in the #3 slot could overcome that. But not today. The Impala's #1 runner, Janet Smith, came in next but then Atlanta's Maureen Martin finished almost two minutes ahead of GVH's reliable #3, Colleen Magnussen. That gave the win to Atlanta with a 1:38:58 average as GVH took 2nd with a 1:40:59 average. Once Smith's teammates, Teresa Quan and Irene Suzuki finished, Impala claimed 3rd with a 1:49:58 average.
Atlanta Track Club 4:56:52     GVH 5:02:57 Impala Racing Team 5:29:52

60 and up

Not only did the Boulder Road Runners have the top #1 in Roger Sayre, they had stronger #2 and #3 runners also; Boulder dominated. Sayre finished anywhere from 6 to 9 minutes ahead of the #1 runners for other teams when he finished in 1:19:07. When Boulder's #2 and #3 runners, Martin Lascelles and Heath Hibbard, finished just 6 seconds apart in 1:28:41 and 47 respectively, ahead of the #2 runners for all other teams, that slammed the door. Boulder had the win with a 1:25:32 average. The race for the remaining podium spots was a real shootout between Ann Arbor, New Jersey's Shore AC, and GVH. Michael Young drew first blood, coming in at 1:25:52 but Shore's Reno Stirrat came in less than a minute later. If either Ann Arbor's or Shore's #2 could come in before GVH's #1, that would pretty well shut out GVH. But not this time, as Mark Rybinski, on the comeback trail after rehabbing a hamstring injury for well over a year, trailed Stirrat by just a minute and a half. Shore got the edge back from Ann Arbor when their Kevin Dollard came in a minute and a half ahead of Ann Arbor's Terry McCluskey. GVH still wasn't out of it though as their #2, Kevin Clinefelter, was the next runner in, two minutes back from McCluskey. GVH needed the next finisher to be theirs though. But not this time as Scott Linnell came in for Shore AC and closed the door on both Ann Arbor and GVH, taking 2nd team honors with an average of 1:31:45. Hugh Kuchta was next across the line, netting the 3rd place finish for Ann Arbor, averaging 1:33:26. GVH's Doc Rappole had a strong run, finishing a few minutes later, leaving GVH just off the podium with an average of 1:35:58.
Boulder Road Runners 4:16:35     Shore Athletic Club 4:35:14     Ann Arbor Track Club 4:40:17

I had expected Atlanta to challenge Oregon's Team Red Lizard for this division title but n such luck. The Red Lizards won it unopposed, adding it to their first place finish at the 8K and their 2nd place at the 10K where they faced tougher opposition. Suzanne Ray led the way with a 1:42:55, followed by Lynn Bernot in 1:48:01, and Joanna Harper in 1:52:07. That gave them an average of 1:47:41.
Team Red Lizard 5:23:03

70 and up

In my preview I speculated that Ann Arbor's Lloyd Hansen could stay with or come in ahead of Atlanta's Dave Glass. If that happened and I [Paul Carlin, Ann Arbor TC] could manage to stay ahead of Atlanta's #2, that should leave our teammate, David Cohen in a good position to close out the win for us. Hansen is on the comeback trail; at last year's HM Championship, he managed a 1:35:51 and then lost to Glass by a half minute at Tulsa. The 12K he ran earlier this spring on a tough 12K course suggested he could run 1:35 or 1:34 and that is about where I figured Glass would slide in. As it turned out, Hansen's last few w3eks of training must have gone very well as he ran two minutes faster than I expected. When Glass ran into some problems and finished over 6 minutes back from Hansen, Ann Arbor was in good shape. I had hoped to break 1:45 but I was not ready for that. Still, my 1:46:48 brought me across the finish line 2:43 ahead of Atlanta's #2, Curtis Walker, giving Cohen over 9 minutes to work with. As the 75-79 recap above indicated, Cohen and Atlanta's Charlie Patterson were locked in a tight battle for podium honors. Patterson won the battle for 2nd individual honors in 75-79 but Cohen stayed within three minutes, closing the door on 1st place. Ann Arbor averaged 1:47:37 to Atlanta's 1:49:50.
Ann Arbor Track Club 5:22:51     Atlanta Track Club 5:29:29



Next up on the Masters Grand Prix circuit is the USATF Masters 5K Championship hosted by the Atlanta Track Club’s Atlanta’s Finest 5K, on Saturday, August 18 in Atlanta Georgia. The Atlanta Track Club is one of the premier Track Clubs in the country. Do not miss this exciting event!