Friday, December 25, 2015

Recap of USATF Club Cross Country Masters Championships in San Francisco--Part 3 Men's Age Groups, M60+ and M70+ Teams

December 23 2015. This is the final installment of the recap of the Club Cross Country National Championships held at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on the 12th of December. The first installment covered all aspects of the Women's Races; the 2nd covered Men's Overall and Age-Grading contests in addition to the Men's 40+ and 50+ Team Races.

Men's Age Groups

M40. The coverage in part 2, labeled 'First across the line' covers the race to be first across the line in the Men's 40+/50+ race. While it is often the case that someone from M45 or even M50 is involved in that race, it was not true this time. All of the top contestants were from the M40 group. A brief summary is all that is needed here. Kevin Castille, the swift runner from Lafayette, Louisiana, has dominated every USATF Masters race I have seen him enter from 5K to the Half Marathon. This race was no exception as Castille put his stamp on the race right from the start.  
Castille takes command in the M40 race at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Greg Mitchell from the Bowerman Track Club in Oregon has already won three national championship races this year but it was clear he would not have the speed to match today if  Castille's fast start would be sustained. Mitchell focused on creating a gap between him and the rest of the field.

Greg Mitchell in 2nd place with a big gap on the field at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]
He presumably was concerned about Jacques Salberg who surprised him at the USA Cross Country Race at Boulder in early February. This would be their first meeting at a national championship cross country race since that event. And he could not ignore two runners who were running in their first Club Cross Country race as Masters athletes, Neville Davey and Clint Wells, who won the USATF Masters Marathon at the Twin Cities in early October.
Neville Davey powers uphill with Jacques Salberg trying to close the gap at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Castille hit the first split in 9:11, building a 9 second lead on Mitchell. Mitchell had 8 seconds on a chase pack of 10 runners including Salberg and Wells,. Davey, in the meantime was halfway between Mitchell and the chasers, trying to close the gap.

Jacques Salberg with Clint Wells right behind at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]
By the 2nd split, Castille's lead had grown to 18 seconds over Mitchell, but Mitchell;s lead on the rest of the field was also more comfortable as he had 26 seconds on Salberg and Davey who were now working together in 3rd and 4th. It was 7 seconds back to Wells and another 18 seconds back to a 5-man chase pack. Castille eased into the victory in 31 minutes flat, an impressive race!
Kevin Castille breaks the tape, first across the line overall and for the M40 crown at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Castille doubled his lead over Mitchell in the final third of the race. Mitchell hung tough though even though Davey found another gear late in the race, left Salberg behind and closed to within 11 seconds of Mitchell at the finish.  
Castille 31:00, Mitchell 31:36, Davey 31:47.

Chase Pack forming in the early going with Joshua Gordon [1878], Uli Steidl [2144], Christian Cushing-Murray [to Steidl's right-blue singlet], Alan Black [1834], Chris Magill [to Black's right in yellow singlet], Jaime Heilpern [1815], and Chafi Azerki [2153] at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco. Peter Hammer is visible between Black and Heilpern; Blaich [red singlet] can be spotted by looking over Azerki's left shoulder. [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]


M45. Two great competitors were celebrating their last Club Cross in the M45 category; next year they will meet to contest M50--Kristian Blaich and Peter Hammer. In 2011 Hammer pulled away for nearly a 1 minute gap, taking 2nd to Blaich's 3rd. The next year Hammer did not run, but the next year, 2013, belonged to Blaich who claimed 2nd place with 19 seconds to spare over Hammer. Last year was their closest contest yet as Hammer prevailed by 9 seconds. And, of course they do not have the race to themselves. Cal Coast sends Christian Cushing-Murray and Jerome Vermeulen to contest the event. And West Valley Track Club has Charles Mullane and the new kid on the M45 block, Mark Yuen. At the first split, Yuen was in the chase pack for the overall win in 9:32.6 and had a 10 second gap on Cushing-Murray,
Christian Cushing-Murray [red, white and blue socks], leaning in and pushing up the hill with Peter Hammer to his right and Chris Magill on his heels at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]
with another 3 seconds back to Hammer. Vermeulen, Blaich and Mullane were another 6 - 12 seconds back. By the second split, Yuen had fallen away from the overall chase pack and Hammer had closed to within 6 seconds while 'Cush' was coping with a gap of 9 seconds up to Hammer.

Kristian Blaich, powering uphill with Joshua Gordon and Ivan Lieben trying to keep pace at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]
But he still had ten seconds in the bank on Blaich and Mullane and nearly a half minute on his teammate, Vermeulen.  In the end Yuen paid the price for his aggressive running in the early stages as Hammer caught him and went out of the age group in style with a 23 second win.

Pete Hammer of the B.A.A. powers to the finish line, the M45 victor at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]
Yuen toughed it out, though, finishing with a fine 2nd place effort.
Mark Yuen finishing strong in M45 2nd place at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Cush had likewise made the effort early and had to withstand a fierce closing rush by Blaich.
Cushing-Murray [1858] sprints to the finish line, nailing the M45 third place finish, with Blaich just out of the picture, at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

In the end he had just enough for the bronze medal, cruising across the line with Blaich just 2 seconds back.
Kristian Blaich powers to the finish line, just behind Cushing-Murray in M45 4th place, just ahead of M40 Ahrlin Baumann at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

And Vermeulen chipped 8 seconds off of Mullane's lead but also fell short as Mullane took a solid 5th in 33:51 to Vermeulen's 34:02.
Hammer 33:10, Yuen 33:33, Christian-Murray 33:41.

M50. Among the easterners, Nat Larson [MA], a newcomer to the USATF masters circuit, has torn up the roads this fall, winning the 5K and 15K road championships. But Mike McManus  [NY] defeated him at the USATF 5 KM Cross Country Championships at Saratoga Springs. But this race would be twice as long; would that be the equalizer for Larson? And powerful running communities up and down the Pacific Coast were sending runners to keep the gold west of the  Rockies: Mike Blackmore, Bowerman Track Club; Carl Combs, Club Northwest; Ken Ernst, Cal Coast; and Robert Verhees, New Balance-San Diego. McManus left no doubt that he had come on a mission, going out in 9:33.6, still connected to the chase pack for the overall lead. The others were more sensible, with Verhees and Combs nearly a half minute back.
Mike McManus, cruising uphill with a big M50 lead at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

They, in turn had 4 seconds on Larson and 8 on Ernst and Blackmore.
 Carl Combs, heading up the hill in M50 2nd place at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

McManus was still tearing up the course as he came through the second split in 23:05.0. Combs had achieved some separation on his own by nearly matching McManus's torrid pace. At 23:35, he now was 16 seconds up over Larson with Ernst and Verhees locked in a tight battle a few seconds further back in 23:55 and 23:56. Blackmore was now nearly 9 seconds back from them and would need a real surge to get up into the medals. In the end, McManus had done it all right. He did not fade, cruising in with a 26 second victory
Mike McManus powers to the finish, the M50 winner, among the M40s and M45s at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

over Combs who, in turn now had a 16 second gap on the fast closing Verhees. That surge gave him a 7 second gap over Ernst for the third place medal.
Carl Combs finishes strong to take the M50 2nd place medal at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Larson struggled over the last stage of the course but held tough and was rewarded with a top 5 finish in his first Club Cross competition.
Nat Larson heads to the finish, just off the M50 podium at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Blackmore was not able too find individual glory on this day but had the satisfaction of helping his M50+ team to a bronze medal in the very tight team competition.

M55. With Brian Pilcher out with a hamstring, relegated to cheering from the sidelines, other talented runners from west of the Mississippi toed the line to defend their turf. Daniel King, Athletics Boulder, looked to repeat his triumph at Boulder in February when he beat Pilcher at the USA Cross Country Championships. But Joe Sheeran, the tough runner from the Pacific Northwest, was conceding nothing. He had taken 2nd to Pilcher at the USATF 8K road championships, run a 1:17:58  at the USATF Half Marathon Championships and was thought to be even better on the XC trails than on the roads. He won the USATF 5km XC Championship at Carmel IN in 2014. Who were they defending against? The main contender from east of the Mississippi was Dave Bussard, Playmakers Elite, who had won road championships this fall at Flint MI (1 Mile), Syracuse (5K), Tulsa (15K), and Alexandria (12K). Sheeran's teammate, Michael Smith, and Ivan Huff, Asics Aggies, would also have something to say about the outcome. Jeffery Dundas, Atlanta TC, might also be in the mix.
Joe Sheeran [Orange #1950] heads uphill with no M55s in sight behind him at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Sheeran was taking no prisoners in this one, tearing off to a 10:18 at the first split, with King 7 seconds back, and 12 back to Smith.

Dan King [orange] powers uphill with Francis Burdett, M50, right behind at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]
Smith had a 10 second gap on Dundas and Bussard who had 10 seconds on Huff. Unless the leaders were being reckless, this was not going to be Bussard's usual day.
Dave Bussard [2082] leads a group of runners including Michael Smith [1951] uphill at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Dundas, on the other hand, was putting himself in position to challenge for a medal. By the second split, King had pulled even with Sheeran, both crossing the mat in 24:29 with a 25 second lead on Smith. Dundas had actually pulled slightly closer to Smith, now only 7 seconds back, hoping to challenge for a medal.
Jeffery Dundas [1839] high-stepping up the hill, in contention for an M55 medal at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Bussard, definitely having an off day, was 7 seconds back from Dundas, with Huff another 7 seconds back. Over the last stage, King made a move that Sheeran could not counter, winning the race in 35:31, a 4 second victory.
Daniel King kicks it home for a well-earned, close M55 victory at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Sheeran raced right to the end, though and enjoyed a half minute gap over Smith who nailed down 3rd. Bussard toughed it out, holding off a charging Huff, 36:22 to 36:25, while Dundas's early efforts left him little in the tank for the closing stage. Still a 6th place finish against such a tough field is a real accomplishment.
King 35:31, Sheeran 35:35, Smith 36:03.

M60. Unfortunately, Tom McCormack, the great champion form East Tennessee, is still rehabbing an injury. With that one exception, it was a who's who of veteran runners showing up from West Coast, East Coast and Mountain West to contend for the M60 crown at Club Cross. The West Coast had Tom Bernhard who had won the 1 Mile, 5K and 15K road championships this fall, and Rick Becker who had taken firsts in February at the USA Cross Country Championships in Boulder and the 8K road championship in Brea, but then had not contested any races until the .US National 12K in Alexandria, where he again asserted his mastery. Hometown hero, Doug Steedman, has been a real force oin Pacific association championships but has rarely competed int he USATF national championships. Challengers from the East included: John Barbour, Reno Stirrat, and Mark Rybinski. Barbour had taken the 10K crown at Dedham in April  by just 4 seconds over Stirrat, and Rybinski was 3rd to Bernhard and Stirrat at Syracuse in the 5K. And just to make things interesting, John Victoria, who has been chasing Bernhard all fall, came down from Boulder to compete for the title. It was shaping up as a real rumble. [For extra detail, refer to my recap, part 2, which covered the first across the line for the M60+ and up, which was essentially the same race as described here. ] Becker went right to the front when the gun went off but Barbour kept him from running away as Castille did in the 40+ race.
Rick Becker surges to the front on the M60 field at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]
 By the time they reached the first timing mat, Becker had only a 3 second lead on Barbour.
Stringing out behind Becker at the start is the front end of the field including John Barbour [green], Greg Wagner [1636], Dale Campbell [on Wagner's right shoulder], Reno Stirrat [lime singlet], and Doug Steedman [1504] at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

The rest were being more cautious; it was 26 seconds back to Steedman, Stirrat, Victoria and Bernhard,
M60 chase pack consisting of Doug Steedman, John Victoria, Reno Stirrat, and Tom Bernhard in order at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

and then another 8 seconds back to Rybinski who would have to move up to have any chance at the podium. Becker kept the hammer down throughout the middle portion of the race but Barbour hung tight, right on his shoulder or immediately behind. We can be sure that Becker felt his presence throughout that stage.  It was looking like it would come down to a 2-man race for first and 2nd. Fifteen seconds back,Victoria, Rybinski, Stirrat, and Steedman were enjoying the competitive jostling for the 3rd and last spot on the podium. Rybinski had put himself in a position to challenge for 3rd but it was clearly not Bernhard's day as he fell almost ten seconds behind that group. With 500 meters to go, Becker finally broke away from Barbour, opening up a lead that would grow to 6 seconds by the time they sped across the finish line.
Rick Becker pulled away to win the M60 division at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

These two had gapped this classy field. That's an accomplishment to be proud of.
John Barbour spent it all out on the course but still finished a strong M60 2nd at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Rybinski eventually surged, and it carried him to 3rd place, with 12 seconds back to Stirrat in 4th.
Mark Rybinski had speed to burn at the end as he sprinted to M60 3rd place at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Steedman held on for 5th in 30:35. Bernhard passed Victoria towards the end of the race, taking 6th in 30:41 with Victoria 7th in 30:48.
Becker 28:58, Barbour 29:04, Rybinski 30:17.

M65. In the early part of 2015, at the USATF XC Championship, it had been Doc Rappole, followed by Ignacio Jimenez and Lloyd Hansen. But everyone knew that Bill Dixon, one of the fastest in this age group, from Brattleboro VT, rarely competed far from home. Hansen, 2014 Runner of the Year in this division, had won all his races last year. But this year he had more challenges, as noted, losing to Rappole and Jimenez earlier in the year, and to Dixon in the 5K Championships at Syracuse. But he had apparently recovered his full competitiveness as he took the 15K and 12K Championships in October and November, nearly breaking the American record in the latter race. But two of the top members of Hansen's Ann Arbor TC 60+ team, were out with injuries and could not compete. Hansen decided to play it cautious and take care of USATF business instead, distributing cards for the 2016 Masters Grand Prix circuit. Jimenez was likewise out. Rappole had sustained an injury early in the fall and was just coming back to full fitness. He finished a distant 3rd behind Dixon and Hansen in the USATF 5K Championship at Syracuse. Presumably his fitness had moved along since then. Who else was likely to be in the hunt? Doug Winn, Bowerman TC, had not been running in USATF events recently but in 2013 when Club XC was in Louisville KY, Winn beat a field that included both Hansen and his currently injured teammates, Terry McCluskey and John Tarkowski. And not only that, he beat them by 4 minutes! But with no recent race times recorded there was a question as to his current fitness. San Diego's Hank Sullivan won the USATF Half Marathon, but he does not compete often in USATF championships.

As expected, Dixon and Winn took it out fast, with both hitting the first split in 11:52.
Bill Dixon [1594] takes the early M65 lead with Doug Winn [1522] keeping in contact at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

It was more than a half minute back to Sullivan, who had 4 second edge on Rappole. Not too long after that, Winn made a move that Dixon could not match and opened up a 9 second gap by the time they hit the 2nd timing mat. The only question was whether Dixon had enough in reserve to make a late challenge. It was well over a minute back to Sullivan in 3rd and then another half minute back to Rappole. Clearly Rappole is not all the way back from his injury. But 2016 could be a different story.  Dixon was unable to make up any ground over the last portion of the course and Winn sped to a 17 second victory
Doug Winn, giving it everything he's got to speed to an M65 victory over the speedy Bill Dixon at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

with Dixon getting a very nice 2nd place by over a minute and a half.
Bill Dixon claims 2nd in the M65 division at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]
 Sullivan chugged along to take 3rd by over a half minute with Rappole in 4th. Whatever Winn has been doing over the last year, it paid off!
Winn 31:29, Dixon 31:46, Sullivan 33:31.

M70.  While the headliners from past years, Doug Goodhue and Jan Frisby were at home nursing injuries, a strong contingent of runners showed up to contest this division. They included Ron Enos, Florida TC/West, a homage, I am told, to Frank Shorter's club of the 1970's. A recent regular on the Pacific Coast circuit, he ran 20:47 at the Carlsbad 5000 and won the Pacific Association XC Championship over this same course in November. Len Goldman, too, focuses his racing on the active West Coast circuits. He has included the USATF 8K at Brea in his race schedule for at least the last couple of years. This February he took 2nd to Frisby in the 8K at Brea in a fine 33:10 and bettered that with a sub-20 at the Carlsbad 5000. No one doubts that Goldman has the speed and strength to put the pressure on! In the absence of Goodhue and Frisby, Przemyslaw Nowicki emerged as a champion over the latter part of the USATF circuit, winning the 15K and 12K championships. Those appear to be the main three with a chance to make it interesting. Goldman made it clear right from the start that he was going to be the front-runner in this race.
Len Goldman [1670] off to a huge early lead in the M70 division, running here with a bunch of M60+ runners at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

He crossed the first timing mat in 12:37.5; it was over a minute before his 2 main rivals, Nowicki and Enos crossed it shoulder to shoulder at  13:40.
Przemyslaw Nowicki [1646] in 2nd, with Ron Enos [white singlet] right behind in 3rd in the M70 division at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

They, in turn, had nearly a minute on the rest of the field. From there Goldman poured it on, increasing his margin to over 2 minutes at the next split. 28:14 to 30:20 for Enos, who had created a ten second gap back to Nowicki. In the end Goldman had a smashing victory, winning the group by well over 2 minutes.
Len Goldman drives for the finishing tape and a dominating M70 victory at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Nowicki closed a bit on Enos but Enos toughed it out to retain 2nd place by 6 seconds.
Goldman 34:26, Enos 37:05, Nowicki 37:11.

M75. Here's what I wrote in the preview. "None of the top finishers from last year are back. Hans Schmid appears to be the favorite. The former American record holder of the M70 10K record, Schmid should be able to handle all comers on his home turf. Ron Mastin, the strong veteran runner out of Atlanta, should take 2nd. His 23:07 at the USATF 5K in Syracuse is impressive. Of course he also ran a half marathon on Thanksgiving. I hope there is no residual fatigue in his legs. Bob Lord should be able to get 3rd based on a 24:59 5K and 51:31 10K earlier this year. Schmid, Mastin, Lord." I stand by what I wrote. How did it turn out? Schmid shot away from the line with Mastin in hot pursuit and Lord a bit further back. Schmid clocked 14:05 at the first mat, with Mastin 34 seconds back and Lord another 50 seconds behind him. Schmid stretched his lead to 54 seconds by the 2nd split before Mastin cut int his lead a bit over the last stage.lishing an M75 lead in the early going, running with
Hans Schmid [1680] establishing an early M75 lead, running with M70 and M65 stalwarts, Morris Williams [red, #1514], and Mike Reif [GVH 1583] at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

In the end it was Schmid in 38:12 with Mastin 49 seconds back and Lord another 3 minutes back.
Hans Schmid sprints to the finish line and a 49 second M75 victory at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Schmid 38:12, Mastin 39:01, Lord 42:57.

M80. Here's my views of the race at the time I wrote the preview: "Bill Dodson has run a 26 minute 5K and a 1:05:07 12K so he gets the nod as favorite. But he will have a battle on his hands from Ralph Garfield who generally runs his 5K’s in 26 to 27 minutes but does have one just under 26. John Brennand will be keeping the pressure on as he is not far back with his 5K’s in around 27 minutes." As it turned out, only Dodson and Garfield made it to the starting line. Dodson took it out fast, building a 20 second lead by the time he hit the first timing mat. Although Garfield tried his best, he could not cut into the lead. Dodson built the lead up throughout the race, finishing in 44:40, nearly a minute ahead of Garfield.
Bill Dodson heads for the finish line and an M80 1st place, gaining the status of being the oldest age group gold medalist at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Dodson 44:40, Garfield  45:35.

Teams.

The M60+ and M70+ teams ran in a separate 8 km race. Team scores were determined by adding up the places of the top 3 runners for each team, with low score winning.

M60+: Thirty-six teams lined up to contest the team championship. From Seattle to Atlanta to Lowell , Massachusetts to San Diego and many points in between, they headed to San Francisco for the biggest team race of the season. Who were the main contenders? Last year's top finishing clubs included Atlanta TC, Ann Arbor TC, Cal Coast TC, Shore AC, Genesee Valley Harriers and Greater Philadelphia TC. Of those top  6, only Atlanta, Cal Coast and Genesee Valley returned and they were not necessarily sending the same team. Atlanta's top two 2014 runners were not on the 2015 team but both Cal Coast and Genesee appeared to have stronger teams to send this year. Neither Club Northwest nor the Tamalpa Runners made the trip across country last year to compete in Bethlehem PA.. It was clear that Northwest would be a formidable opponent this year. Club Northwest is led by Rick Becker who was expected to contest for the top individual spot. Tamalpa, on the other hand, was a solid team with no headliner. Still, if their pack ran tight and well, they might have a shot at the podium. The Boulder Road Runners had expected to send a team that could contest for the top spot. But one of their top runners, Hall of Famer, Doug Bell, got dinged up a week before the race and had to pull out. Even without him they expected to compete for a podium spot at least. Greater Lowell convinced Bill Dixon who doesn't usually travel very far for races, to make the coast-to-coast trip to compete alongside John Barbour who was in shape to challenge for the top individual honors, or so they thought. Dixon, at age 68, is still a mighty runner but it is not easy to compete against guys just entering the division from below. So let's follow those six teams, Boulder Road Runners, Cal Coast TC, Club Northwest, Genesee Valley Harriers, Greater Lowell Road Runners, and Tamalpa Runners. [As with the others, I adopt the roughly accurate method of pretending that these are the only 6 teams competing and assigning places within those teams.]

Boulder Road Runners: Devin Croft, Heath Hibbard, Bruce Kirschner, John Victoria.
Cal Coast TC: Dale Campbell, Brendan Gallaher, John Holcomb, Tomas Rodriguez, Keith Witthauer.
Club Northwest: Michael Allison, Rick Becker, Greg Beyerlein, Scott Harvey, Jerry Zyskowski.
Genesee Valley Harriers: Bill Beyerbach, Frank Gioia, Tim McMullen, Doc Rappole, Mark Rybinski. 
Greater Lowell Road Runners: John Barbour, William Dixon, John Goodwin, Denny LeBlanc.
Tamalpa Runners: Roberto Donaire, Keith Duncan, John Hirschberger, Glen Misono, Donald Porteous. 

There was a lot of blue and some orange up front as the runners got into their rhythm. 
Early going in the M60+ team race at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

The blue was Cal Coast but there were two shades of orange, Northwest and Boulder Road Runners not to mention a green, Lowell, and a red, Genesee. By the first split it looked like Cal Coast might be headed to a big victory. Campbell and Wittauer were running side by side in 5th and 6th with Holcomb a few strides back in 8th. [19]
Mark Rybinski [GVH] leading Cal Coast's Dale Campbell [beard] and Keith Wittauer [cap] in the early going at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

They had no one to challenge Northwest's Becker in 1st, but there were not many others who could, including his teammates. Beyerlein was part of the chase group in 7th 
Greg Beyerlein [1540] trying to maintain contact with the main M60+ chase pack at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

but it was a long way back to their 3rd runner, Zyskowski.[29]. Lowell was in somewhat the same position in that Barbour was challenging for the lead in 2nd, although their 2nd two were closer,  with Dixon in 14th and Goodwin in 18th. [35] Boulder's Victoria was at the front of the chasers in 3rd and Hibbard a bit further back, in 12th, but still close. 
Boulder's Heath Hibbard keeping Northwest's Beyerlein in his sights at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

They would need either Croft or Kirschner to move up to challenge for gold. [38]. At this point, Genesee was even with Boulder, pairing Rybinski's 4th with Beyerbach and McMullen in 15th and 19th. [38]. Without anyone in the front group, Tamalpa was lagging a bit, but they had a pretty tight group; if they could move up in a pack, they could do some damage. It was Donaire and Duncan in 16th and 17th 
Tamalpa's Roberto Donnaire [1666], keeping pace with Cal Coast's Tomas Rodriguez at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

with Misono 3 places back. [53].

The second split saw no change at the very front but there was enough change after that to see that Cal Coast might not cruise through to the finish unchallenged. Not that Cal Coast wasn't doing well; they were. Wittauer was in 5th with Campbell and Rodriguez 8th and 9th. And Holcomb wsn't far back in 11th. If any of the first 3 falter it is nice to know a 4th runner is in position to fill the gap. [22]. But Northwest's Beyerlein had moved up slightly and Zyskowski 4 positions, to complement Becker. [24]. They were now only 2 points back from Cal Coast. But Greater Lowell was keeping pace with Barbour still up in 2nd, Dixon moving up 4 spots and Goodwin 5. [25]. Boulder couldn't be counted out tyet, with Victoria and Hibbard in 3rd and 7th but Croft needed to surge if they were to make the podium against this kind of competition. [28]. At that stage, Genesee and tamalpa were battling for 5th. Rybinski was in the chase group up front still but Beyerbach and now Gioia were in 16th and 19th with McMullen one place, but more than a few strides, back in 20th. [40]. The Tamalpa runners had all moved up so they were now a real threat to Genesee  with Duncan in 12th and Misono just a few strides back. Ten seconds later Donaire crossed the mat. [41]

By the end, Beyerlein and Zyskowski had continued to move up just enough for Northwest to claim the title by 5 points over Lowell
Jerry Zyskowski [1542] kicks it in to seal the M60+ team win for Club Northwest at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Barbour held on for 2nd and Dixon, to no one's surprise, closed with a rush to pass all but one of the blue singlets, so Lowell eased past Cal Coast, another two points back. 
John Goodwin sprints to the tape to seal the M60+ team 2nd place for Greater Lowell at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Wow! That was close! What a hard fought race by all the competitors. 
Dale Campbell kicks it in to assure Cal Coast a spot on the M60+ team podium at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

And there always has to be a 4th place team; this time it was Boulder, ten points back. They ran well but this was not their day. They will have to be content with a Club Grand Prix title over the whole season, not a bad consolation prize. Genesee outlasted Tamalpa  to get into the top 5, a real honor on this day!
Club Northwest 38, Greater Lowell 43, Cal Coast TC 45.

The rest of the top ten included: Boulder Road Runners, Genesee Valley Harriers, Tamalpa Runners, San Diego TC, Syracuse TC, West Valley R&S, Empire RC of Sonoma County.

M70+. Six teams contested this division, just enough so my artificial way of keeping track of points at the splits is completely accurate. What a deal! 

The top three last year were Shore AC, Atlanta TC, and Clifton Road Runners. The first two of those made the trip to San Francisco. There they encountered the local club, and probably the favorite, behind Len Goldman and Hans Schmid, the Tamalpa Runners. The West Valley Joggers & Striders also look to be contenders for the podium. With their perennial lead runner, Doug Goodhue, out, the Ann Arbor TC, a longtime podium club, did not make the trip.   

Atlanta TC Ed Bligh, Ed Bligh, Ed Bligh, Ed Bligh, Ed BlighEd Bligh, Ron Mastin, Charlie Patterson, Frank White, Morris Williams.
Pamakids: Keith Johnson, Keith Johnson, Keith Johnson, Keith Johnson, Theodore Jones, Antonio Rossmann
Shore AC: Ralph Garfield, John Kuhi, Przemyslaw Nowicki,
Tamalpa Runners A: Bob Cowdrey, Bob CowdreyLen Goldman, Fred Martin, Hans Schmid.
Tamalpa Runners B: Darryl Beardall, Russ Kiernan, Mike Moser.
West Valley J&S: Bill Dodson, Bob Lord, David Norlander.

 Len Goldman was determined to lead his Tamalpa team to victory and set out at the gun at a wicked pace. Nowicki decided to adopt a more cautious pace. By the time they reached the first timing mat, Goldman was up by a minute, 12:38 to 13:40. Even more importantly for Tamalpa, Schmid and Martin were in 3rd and 4th. [8] Atlanta was running a tight pack, 5-6-7-8 and 9 with Mastin, Bligh, White, Patterson, and Wiliams. [18] 
Part of the Atlanta TC M70+ Pack, Ed Bligh [1506], Morris Williams [1514] and Frank White [1512] at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Kuhi came across in 11th and Garfield in 14th to give Shore AC [27] points. West Valley's Lord came in just ahead of Kuhi in 10th and was followed by Dodson in 13th and Norlander in 15th. [38]. 
West Valley's Bob Lord moving up through the field in the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Atlanta's only chance for gold depended on Mastin and Bligh getting ahead of Tamalpa's 2nd and 3rd runners.  Shore needed their 2nd and 3rd runners to break up the Atlanta pack to have any chance of catching them for 2nd place. 
Shore AC's John Kuhi trying to move into the top 10 in the M70+ team competition at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Meanwhile West Valley needed Dodson and Norlander to move up with Lord.

By the 2nd split, Atlanta's Mastin had passed Tamalpa's Martin and built a 7 second gap on him. Schmid was still nearly a minute ahead in 3rd however so Tamalpa had 9 points now. And Atlanta's Bligh was still nearly a minute adroft of Tamalpa's Martin, leaving them with 4th, 6th and 7th (Patterson) for 17 points. Shore AC's hold on third place was a little more tenuous as Pamakids's Jones and West Valley's Dodson had moved ahead of Kuhi; that raised Shore's total to 29. West Valley's Lord had also moved up a couple of spots, breaking up the Atlanta pack. But their 3rd runrd runner, Norlander, had slipped a couple of spots so West Valley had only improved a single point to 37.

As it turns out, there were no major changes over the last portion of the race, although Shore's Kuhi did recover the two spots he lost in the middle stage of the race. Tamalpa's Goldman, Schmid and Martin finished in 1st, 3rd and 5th for 9 points and a dominating win. 
Fred martin seals the M70+ Team win for Tamalpa Runners at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

Second went to Atlanta with Mastin, Bligh,, and Patterson in 4th, 6th, and 7th and 17 points. 
Charlie Patterson gets the job done, nailing the 2nd place finish for Atlanta TC's M70+ team at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

With Kuhi moving back up, Shore AC had claimed 3rd place with Nowicki, Kuhi and Garfield in 2nd, 11th and 14th for 27 points.  
Ralph Garfield, Shore AC's 3rd runner, cloes the door on the rest of the field, assuring Shore of 3rd place in the M70+ Club competition at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Masters Championships in San Francisco [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook]

West Valley finished with Lord, Dodson,and Norlander remaining in 8th, 12th and 17th for 37 points and 4th place. Pamakids edged the Tamalpa B team 50 to 51 for 5th and 6th.
Tamalpa 9, Atlanta TC 17, Shore AC 27.

Teams in 4th through 6th place included:  West Valley J&S, Pamakids, Tamalpa-B.

That finished a clean sweep for the West Coast teams contending for Men's Championships. 
40+: Bowerman TC (Oregon)
50+: Cal Coast TC (So Cal) 
60+: Club Northwest (Washigton)
70+: Tamalpa Runners (Bay Area, CA)

Congratulations to all of the contestants and teams who made the 2015 Club Cross such a tremendous and memorable event.
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 I thank my readers for their patience in waiting for this recap to be posted. Many deadlines for other matters got in the way. I thought it would be up before Christmas but Christmas has come and gone.. Nonetheless I wish you a Merry Christmas and to all a Good Night!


Next up--Look for a summary and commentary on the 2015 Individual and Grand Prix Results and a look ahead to 2016.  Before we know it, the February 6th USA Cross Country Masters Championships in Bend Oregon will be looming before us.  


6 comments:

  1. Paul, Thanks for all your hard work in putting this article together, made for some compelling reading. Just to clarify regarding the 70-74 year old runners, Ron Enos lives in the San Diego area and competes in the San Diego/Imperial Association. I think the name of his club, Florida TC, is a homage to Frank Shorter's old club that he ran for back in the 1970's. I compete in the Pacific Association and I was the winner of the PA XC Championship for 70-79 age group held in November. It was an advantage to have raced on the championship course prior to Nationals. My time at the PA Champs was 9 seconds faster. Thanks again. Len

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  2. Len, thanks for the explanation on Enos's 'Florida TC' singlet.I was grasping at straws to come up with some explanation. And congrats again on a great win! I doubt that 'home court' advantage counted for much.

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  3. Paul:
    See you in Brea the end of February. Maybe we can catch up a bit then, hope Jan and Doug will be back competing.
    Len

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  4. Looking forward to Brea, Len. And, no doubt that we want to see Doug and Jan healthy and competing at the top of their game in 2016!

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  5. Paul,
    I have really enjoyed your reviews and recaps of races. My wife who is my biggest fan loves this site as well. If you see me at a race please introduce yourself. I will be racing the USA XC meet in Bend and 8k in Brea. Thanks again for this site. Rick Becker

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  6. Rick, thanks so much for your kind words. I have certainly appreciated the opportunity to comment on your outstanding performances. If all goes well, I will be in Bend and look forward to meeting you.

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