Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Exciting Races at the USATF Masters Mile Championships at CRIM Festival of Races in Flint Michigan--Individual Races

August 25 2015. The Masters Elites tore up the roads at Flint Michigan in the Michigan Mile portion of the CRIM Festival of Races last Friday evening. In its 39th running, the CRIM 10 mile run on Saturday is their signature event but the Michigan Mile has added a lot of crowd-pleasing excitement the Friday evening before. And the USATF 1 Mile Road Championship is proud to be part of the event staged by Race Director, Andy Younger and his able assistant, Joe DiMambro. It was a perfect evening for racing. The weather was sunny with temps in the mid-70's, the crowds were gathering for this gorgeous race around the well-groomed campus of the University of Michigan-Flint near downtown. The race course itself has some minor elevation changes, some technical parts where runners move from the road to pedestrian paths and then back to roads, and a gradual up slope from about 1200 to 1500 yards; it is a fair but tough mile circuit.

[Action photos are provided by links to's photo galleries.]

Overall. The Men's races attracted runners from Coast to Coast. The favorites in the Men's races included three West Coast guys, one from the Rockies and one Michigan speedster. Gregory Mitchell (McMinnville OR) came in representing the Bowerman Track Club and holding recent credentials in the form of an impressive win at the 8K USATF Championships in Brea CA in February and a nifty 14:58 5K at Carlsbad. Could he repeat at the shorter distance? Challenging him were two Cal Coast Track Club speedsters, John Gardiner and Jerome Vermeulen. Gardiner was bested at both Brea and Carlsbad by Mitchell but he was coming to Flint with an eye to reversing those results. Vermeulen was a bit of a question mark. In 2014 he threw down a 4:26 in the So Cal Mile but his times earlier this year were not up to that level. Which version of Vermeulen would show up in Flint? Todd Straka took the Master's crown at Colorado's Superior Mile in a blazing 4:23.3. It is a downhill course but there is something about a sub 4:25 Master's Mile that commands respect. The final contender was Clint Verran who had a half hour drive up I-75 from his home in Rochester Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. His 15:11 5K earlier in the year showed plenty of speed.

After a little jockeying at the start, Mitchell and Verran went to the front, with Gardiner hanging tight and Vermeulen and Straka just off the pace. Just before the half mile mark, Mitchell pushed harder at the front, with Verran tight on his shoulder and Gardiner struggling to maintain contact; Vermeulen was trying to stay relaxed in 4th, with Straka in stride behind him. When they turned onto Harrison Street with about 500 yards to go, Mitchell started to pull away from Verran. With a quarter mile to go, Gardiner figured it was now or never. He accelerated past Verran and drew a bead on Mitchell but could not close the gap as Mitchell's acceleration matched Gardiner's. At the final left turn to the finishing straightaway with about 250 yards to go, Gardiner accelerated again but Mitchell was running confidently and smoothly and it looked like the race was his. Then, to the crowd's surprise and delight, with 150 yards to go, Vermeulen kicked into high gear, passing first Verran and then Gardiner. Gardiner stayed with Vermeulen as he tried to run Mitchell down. With 50 yards to go, Vermeulen passed Mitchell to take the lead. But Mitchell was not done; he dug down, found that last bit of speed, recovered and leaned into the tape, edging Vermeulen by a fraction of a second. Their rounded times were given as 4:29 and 4:30. Gardiner came across 1 second back to claim the last spot on the overall podium. Verran also toughed it out to the line in 4:33 for 4th place. He needed it all as Straka was only 2 seconds back in 5th.

Greg Mitchell (#155) shifts to higher gear to edge Jerome Vermeulen (#178) and John Gardiner (#132) at the 2015 USATF Masters Mile Championship at the CRIM Festival of Races
In contrast to the Men, the Women's race had more of a Mid-American flavor. A week before the race it looked like the newly minted Masters runner from Michigan, Betsy Frens, and the talented Indiana Masters runner, Lucie Mays-Sulewski, would add to the excitement. But in the end injury or other commitments kept both runners away.

In the event, the women's affair featured a dominating win by Tammy Nowick of Michigan's Patient Endurance Racing team. Nowick established a gap and held on to win by 12 seconds in 5:29. Her teammate, Serena Kessler, outdueled the pride of Fenton Michigan, Lisa Veneziano, running unattached, who took 3rd another 4 seconds back.

Tammy Nowick winning the 2015 USATF Masters Mile Championship at the CRIM Festival of Races

Age Group Races. 


W40. The podium for this age group is the same as for the overall race except that Veneziano is in the 50-54 age group. Sharon Becker of Fowler Michigan took 3rd in 6:04.

W45. A Playmakers Elite runner, Amy Nemeth, a Patient Endurance Racer, Erin Larusso, and Liz Bondar, an unattached runner from Madison Heights Michigan went toe-to-toe in the 45-49 group, and they finished in that order. Nemeth clocked 5:49 to take the gold by 6 seconds over Larusso, with Bondar another 8 seconds back.

Amy Nemeth winning the W45 title at the 2015 USATF Masters Mile Championship at the CRIM Festival of Races

W50. As well as taking 3rd overall, Lisa Veneziano took first in this age group in 5:45. Nine seconds back was Christine Vincent of Jackson Michigan, and six seconds further back was Birchrunville Michigan's Lorraine Jasper in 6 minutes flat!

Lisa Veneziano, taking 3rd Overall and 1st in the Women's 50-54 age group at the 2015 USATF Masters Mile Championships at the CRIM Festival of Races

W55. This group was a little more spread out than the others, with Portland Michigan's Maryellen Stornant taking the title in 6:11. A half minute back, Colleen Magnussen of upstate New York's Genesee Valley Harriers took 2nd place with plenty of room to spare. She had over a minute lead on Veronica Jackson of Lansing Michigan who claimed 3rd place.

Maryellen Stornant takes 1st place in the Women's 55-59 group in the 2015 USATF Masters Mile Championship at the CRIM Festival of Races

W60. The Women's 60-64 podium featured two women from the Playmakers Elite squad and a runner from Team Ohio. Deborah Feltz of Williamston Michigan took first in 6:58.   Rae Alexander, from Strongsville, Ohio outside of Cleveland, came across the line 25 seconds later to take 2nd, while Feltz's teammate, Jean Bolley of Bath Michigan took third place.

Deborah Feltz sprints to the tape and the win in the Women's 60-64 group in the USATF Masters Mile Championships at the CRIM Festival of Races

W65. Houston Texas's Sabra Harvey had the Women 's 65-69 age group to herself. But it would hardly have mattered. Despite coming off of an injury, Harvey's 6:25, though not up to her usual standard, still merited 14th place overall, and was the top Women's age-grading performance. (See below)

W70. The Playmakers Elite/New Balance team dominated this category, taking all three medals. Ruth Thelen of St. John's Michigan was the runaway winner in 7:58. She had quite a gap on Southfield's Cora Hill and Grand Blanc's Shirley Larsen, who came in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Ruth Thelen winning the Women's 70-74 group at the 2015 USATF Masters Mile Championships at the CRIM Festival of Races

W75. Ellen Nitz of Brighton Michigan took the title in this group unopposed in 9:28.


M40. The description above for the Overall Masters race holds as well for this division. Mitchell, Gardiner, and Verran take 1-2-3 in that order in 4:29, 4:31, and 4:33.

M45. Two of the contenders for the M45 prizes are mentioned in the Overall race as well. Vermeulen and Straka take 1-2 in 4:30 and 4:35. Team Ohio's Charles Novak came up from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio to run a strong race and take 3rd in 4:42.

Final 100 yards-From viewer's right to left--Mitchell, Vermeulen, Gardiner, Straka (in red), Verran (in black) sprinting for the tape for all they are worth! At the USATF Masters Mile Championships at the CRIM Festival of Races

M50. The Genesee Valley Harriers team had the winner of this group in Mike Nier of Rochester NY who ran a blazing 4:52 to take the gold by 7 seconds. But after Nier it was all Playmakers Elite/New Balance as they took the next four places in times ranging from 4:59 to 5:09. Ruben Henderson of Grand Rapids and Eric Stuber of Lansing battled to the wire as only teammates can, with Henderson getting second by a whisker as they were both given a 4:59 time.Tim Lambrecht and Daniel Dixon, Jr. were not far behind in 5:07 and 5:09.

Mike Nier takes the M50 Championship at the 2015 USATF Masters Mile Championship at the CRIM Festival of Races

Ruben Henderson (left) fighting for that half stride he needed to take 2nd place from his teammate, Eric Stuber at the 2015 USATF Masters Mile Championships at the CRIM Festival of Races

M55. How many 55 year olds do you know who can break 5 minutes on a challenging 1 mile road course? Not many I will wager. Elkhart Indiana's Dave Bussard, who runs for the Playmakers Elite team shocked this division with a 4:57! That left San Jose California's Antonio Arreola of the Wolfpack Running Club and Michael Young of Orchard Lake Michigan to battle for 2nd place. Not only does Arreola 'know the way to San Jose', but he also knows his way around the streets of Flint Michigan as he prevailed by ten seconds to take the silver medal in 5:27. Young secured the third place medal for the Wolverine state.

Dave Bussard [#186], closing in on the finish line and the Men's 55-59 gold medal at the 2015 USATF Masters Mile Championships at the CRIM Festival of Races

M60. This division had the largest number of entries and the closest gold medal contest of the evening, even closer than Mitchell and Vermeulen's struggle. Castro Valley California's Tom Bernhard [Excelsior Running Club] and Manlius New York's Mark Rybinski [Genesee Valley Harriers] had an epic duel. Bernhard had gone out hard in the middle of the race to establish a gap. It looked like he would have the race by a large margin. But Rybinski found a higher gear over the last 440 yards or so and closed the entire gap to pull even with fifty yards left. From there the two runners matched stride for stride. Somehow, with a few yards left, Bernhard plumbed the depths of his runner's soul to come up with just an extra bit of bounce to take the title by a fraction of a second. Both were given a time of 5:21 but the photo finish confirmed that the gold medal was Bernhard's by a sliver. Recently installed Hall of Famer, Doug Bell, the pride of Greeley Colorado and the Boulder Road Runners, was just a few seconds back in 3rd, with Houston's Peter Mullin, recent winner of the 1500 meter silver medal at the USATF Masters Track and Field meet, just off the podium.

Tom Bernhard (left) and Mark Rybinski battling to the finish line in the 2015 USATF Masters Mile at the CRIM Festival of Races

M65. Earlier this year, Bemus New York's, Doc Rappole [Genesee Valley Harriers] had an upset win over the 2014 M65 Runner of the Year, Lloyd Hansen, at the USA Masters Cross Country Championships in Boulder Colorado. Friday night he showed that it was no fluke; he can win on the cross country paths or on the roads. He has speed as well as grit. He took first by a wide margin in 6:02. Nineteen seconds back, Gainesville Georgia's Jerry Learned [Atlanta Track Club] nailed down second. Wyoming Michigan's Dave Minier [Ann Arbor Track Club] took 3rd in 6:43.

Doc Rappole surges to the tape to take first place in the Men's 65-69 division in the 2015 USATF Masters Mile Championships at the CRIM Festival of Races

M70. A huge field also sought the Men's 70-74 crown. It was expected to be a showdown between the 2014 M70 Runner of the Year, Doug Goodhue, and the fellow who had won all of the 2015 races so far while Goodhue was injured, Jan Frisby.  Goodhue of Milford Michigan and a mainstay of the Ann Arbor Track Club is known as 'The Silver Bullet.' He has won a huge number of national championships over the years and was not only the age group runner of the year last year but several years in a row before that. Frisby hails from Grand Junction Colorado and was a dominant force on the roads in the 1990's, a two-time runner of the year when he was in his fifties. Since that time he has been nationally competitive when healthy but has battled a variety of ailments over the years. He is having his best season in years as he has been essentially free of any new injuries for the past six months. Goodhue sustained a knee injury at the very end of 2014 that kept him from being able to perform at his usual level. By late spring his name was starting to show up in local race results around Michigan and it was clear his times were not far off his recent bests. In the event it was Goodhue's night to sprint for the win, and a clear 11 second victory over Frisby. Gerard Malaczynski of Bloomfield Hills Michigan, and part of the 4 x 800 meters relay team that set a Men's 70 and over world record on the indoor track in 2014, took 3rd.

Doug Goodhue claims the Men's 70-74 Title at the 2015 USATF Masters Mile Championships at the CRIM Festival of Races

M75. Dexter Michigan's Harlan van Blaricum, who runs for the Ann Arbor Track Club, took the M75 trophy unopposed in 8:20.

Harlan Van Blaricum approaching the finish line in first place in the Men's 75-79 division at the 2015 USATF Masters Mile Championships at the CRIM Festival of Races


All of the above results are based on first runner across the finish line. USATF wants to compare how a 68 year old did relative to a 53 year old and a 41 year old, and the tool for that purpose is age-grading. Based on extensive statistical evidence, a standard is generated for each single age (by sex) that represents the fastest someone has run at road races from 5K to the Marathon. That has been updated now to include standards for the one mile road race. Age-grading scores are the result of comparing the time actually run to the standard. An age-grading score of 100% is achieved when a runner matches the fastest time run up to the recent past. A score of 90% is considered world class and a score of 80% is national class. Performance medals are awarded to all who achieve the 80% standard.


Sabra Harvey.............Houston Texas...........66............6:25................90.77%
Lisa Veneziano..........Fenton Michigan.......50............5:45.................83.68%
Lorraine Jasper..........Birchrunville PA.......53............6:00.................82.90%
Christine Vincent...   Jackson Michigan......51............5:54.................82.44%
Maryellen Stornant...Portland Michigan.....55............6:11.................82.29%


Jerome Vermeulen....Simi Valley CA.........48.............4:30.................94.10%
Todd Straka..............Boulder Colorado......48.............4:35.................92.38%
Dave Bussard...........Elkhart IN..................55.............4:57.................90.28%
Tom Bernhard..........Castro Valley CA.......64.............5:21.................89.94%
Gregory Mitchell.....McMinnville OR........41.............4:29.................89.73%

Performance Medals. In addition to the individuals who won Age-Grading prizes , all of the following earned performance medals, in age-grading order:

Women--Tammy Nowick, Julie Pangburn, Amy Nemeth.

Men--John Gardiner, Doug Goodhue, Charles Novack, Mike Nier, Doug Bell, Ruben Henderson, Clint Verran, Eric Stuber, Mark Rybinski, Christian Cushing-Murray, Tim Lambrecht, Christian Blondin, Esteban Vanegas, Jan Frisby, Daniel Dixon, Peter Mullin, Lee Shaw, Ron Zywicki, Alec Nevalainen, J.D. Pepper, Eric Green, Dale Flanders, Antonio Arreola, Thomas Preiss, Josh Harter, Michael Young, Gerard Malaczynski, Doc Rappole, Michael Kessler, Wally Hayes.


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