Saturday, February 13, 2016

Recap of 2015 USATF Cross Country Championships in Bend Oregon

February 10 2015. The 2016 USATF Cross Country Championships were held at the Rivers Edge Golf Course located on the slopes of a cinder cone overlooking the Deschutes River as it courses picturesquely through the town of Bend. The official altitude for Bend is 3623 feet [1104.3 meters] but I was told the course itself is at about 4000' above sea level. Altitude can be an issue for most runners although not for the Boulder crew who were dropping a couple of thousand feet. I had heard stories about how treacherous this course was in 2013. But Max King, the terrific Open Elite XC runner from the Bend area, had redesigned the course to take a few of the warts and wrinkles out. What was left was a very challenging and potentially draining, but safe course. I do not know the official elevation changes but it must be a couple of hundred feet from the start up to the top of the course. They run you up a gradually steepening slope to not quite halfway up. 
The Course- In this pic the course looks pretty gentle but don't let that fool you. [photo: Paul Carlin/]

Then you run across the slope and then are directed back down to about the level where you started. Then over and climb up again more steeply, run around a couple of bends with only a slight incline and then they shoot you up again to the very top of the course. There are a few ups and downs and then they head you down a gradual slope to a steep drop of 20 feet or so. That's one place where you can pick up time if you are aggressive and lose it if you are timid. Then you bound down some rolling hills to the lowest point of the course, turn around and head up a slight incline to the end of the first loop. Only three (or two) more to go--Thank you, Max King!

And the weather cooperated nicely. Apparently there had been some snow on the course earlier in the week but it had melted away in the interim. The day dawned clear, with the promise of a high temp of 51. When I arrived around 9:15 it had crested 40 already and there was not a lot of wind. That still feels cold if you are just standing around though so several of us made a beeline for the warming tents near the starting line. It was like the 'hot stove' league with chairs gathered around a heater- a nice perk. 
Getting toasty warm and trading stories before the race [Photo: Paul Carlin/]

The start time for the Masters Women's race (3 x 2K loops) was 10 am while the Men's race (4 x 2K loops) went off at 10:45. Temps were in the low to mid-40's with calm winds sometimes but gusting up to 8-10 mph at times. I noticed 3 guys wearing gloves, one from Southern Cal but 2 from places with cold winters near Spokane Washington and Gunnison Colorado. They all ran pretty well so it was not a handicap.

The recap goes in the normal order but check out the bottom of the blog where I will keep track, for both Men and Women, of an unofficial Overall Race Grand Prix Champion--just for fun this year--no plaque or anything--just your minute of fame on my blog! I will also keep track of an unofficial Age-Grading Grand Prix Champion. Also there is a note about possible future excitement for this Masters Championship.

Grace Padilla, former American record holder in the women’s 3000-meter steeplechase, sprinted with determination up the initial hill and then kicked it into cruise when things leveled out. She made it clear she was going after the win. Cindy Abrami and Sonya Wilkerson formed a chase pack early on. By the end of the first loop, Padilla had a half minute on the chasing pair who, in turn had established a 20 second gap on the 4th place runner, Jennifer Anderson.  
Grace Padilla, stretching her lead on the downhill portion of the course [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

Despite Abrami and Wilkerson having each other to work with, they were not able to take a single second off of Padilla's lead in the 2nd loop. 
Abrami (left) leading Wilkerson (r) as they zoom down the slope toward the last turn before starting the next loop [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]
Abrami did finally drop Wilkerson and start to cut into Padilla's lead over the first half of the last loop. But once Padill reached the top of the course and turned downhill again, she found her stride and cruised downhill, eating up the ground with one long stride after another. Padilla claimed the gold medal with a 24 second victory over Abrami who earned the silver medal. 
Grace Padilla Victorious! [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

Wilkerson came across 22 seconds later to claim the bronze. In a post-race interview with Verity Breen, Padilla credited her coach and husband with helping her to ease back into training following a month long break from training following the Club Cross Country Championships in San Francisco. The break had reduced any residual fatigue and she found her fitness had not suffered much during the layoff. She also mentioned that the move to Highland CA, because of its topography, had generated an increase in hill workouts which was very helpful on a tough, hilly course like the one at Bend. Padilla 25:18, Abrami 25:42, Wilkerson 26:04.

This was a highly anticipated duel between 2015 Masters Grand Prix winner, Greg Mitchell and defending USATF XC Champion, Jacques Sallberg. It was Mr. Smooth versus the Rhythm King. Mitchell is so smooth when he runs it always looks effortless. Salberg, on the other end always looks like he is working the course. He tells his high school charges "Every cross country course has a rhythm; find the rhythm and you can improve your performance without working that much harder." Sallberg found the rhythm in 2015 as he and Mitchell went head to head last year in Boulder. Sallberg moved to the front in the second loop, then let Mitchell take the lead again until finally he kicked away in the final loop to secure a 15 second victory. But Mitchell had his revenge, winning their 8K road duel at Brea with a 21 second margin. Their final meeting of 2015 was at the Club Cross Country Championships at San Francisco. Again Mitchell had the edge with the same margin as at Brea. That history promised a great rematch and we were not disappointed. It was a strong field and several other runners were expected to be in the hunt for gold; perhaps one of those would have greater fitness on the day? 
The start of the men's race was more measured than that of the women's as a group of about 12 runners held together up the slopes, but the pace quickened on the downhill portion and a group of 5 pulled away, establishing a gap. 
Salberg (black singlet) and Mitchell (sunglasses) head to the front with Collins (Army) and ). O. Baumann (#527) right with them

The lead pack of Mitchell, Sallberg, Oscar Baumann, John Howell and newcomer to the Masters ranks, Danny Goodman, had a 5 second lead. Those in the chase pack included Chistian Cushing-Murray, Ahrlin Baumann, Orrin Schumacher, and Liam Collins. John Gardiner, who would normally be a factor, was nursing a sore hamstring and showed up primarily to aid his team. During the 2nd loop that lead pack held together until again there was separating acceleration over the downhill portion, with Sallberg and Mitchell pulling away and establishing a 12 second lead over chasers, Howell and O. Baumann. 

Sallberg blasting away on a short downhill section of the course during lap 3 [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]
Sallberg made a decisive move in the 3rd loop, opening up a 20 second gap over Mitchell who, in turn, had nearly a half minute over Howell with O. Baumann another 6 seconds back.

Mitchell trying to maintain contact on the 3rd loop[Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]
Sallberg was driving now and could not be headed as he surged up the hill at the start of the last loop. He built the lead over the last loop, emerging as the victor by 41 seconds. It was enough of a lead so that he could doff the earmuffs and gloves and toss them to a juniors athlete he had coached to the Championship.
Sallberg the Victor [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

Howell managed to close the gap a bit on the last loop but Mitchell was firmly in control of second place with a 13 second margin at the tape. Sallberg 27:18, Mitchell 27:59, Howell 28:12.

AGE-GRADING. The age-grading scores themselves were, of course, comparatively low because of the difficulty of this challenging cross country course. The top of the Age-Grading podium for both women and men was no surprise. Sixty-seven year old Jo Anne Rowland headed the 
Jo Anne Rowland setting the Age-Grading Pace [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

charts for the women while 61 year old Rick Becker topped the men. The champion runner from Selah Washington had a killer day on the cross country slopes as he topped the contest by 2 full points, an 
Rick Becker tearing up the course to win the Men's Age-Grading [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]
 unusually large margin in USATF Men's championships. Fifty year old Carl Combs, another terrific Washington runner, came in 2nd with overall winner, Sallberg,
claiming a different kind of overall medal in 3rd. 
Carl Combs, with his red-hot gloves on soars on this course, besting some top age-graders in the process [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]
Things were tighter on the women's side as 2nd place finisher overall, 47 year old Cindy Abrami, came in less than half a percentage point behind, with Kelly Kruell, 56, edging the overall winner, Padilla, for 3rd by a mere .03%.  
Women. Rowland 76.62%, Abrami 76.15%, Kruell 75.25%.
Men. Becker 85.45%, Combs 83.49%, Sallberg 82.82%.


M40. This was the same as the overall race as Sallberg, Mitchell and Howell are all in the 40-44 age
John Howell, staying tight up on Mitchell in 3rd place [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

range. Sallberg 27:18, Mitchell 27:59, Howell 28:12.

W40. Grace Padilla, in her last year in the age division, took the title, followed two minutes later by Boise's Jennifer Anderson. Ellen Kramer, a local Bend runner, was able to stay close to Anderson for the first loop, closing it out only 3 seconds back. 
Jennifer Anderson [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

But that had been too much as Kramer slowed significantly over the next loop. By the end Anderson was over a minute ahead but Kramer had, nonetheless, earned a bronze medal at a national
Ellen Kramer [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]
 championship with her sterling effort. Padilla 25:18, Anderson 27:26, Kramer 28:40.

M45. By the end of the first lap it was Cal Coast's Christian 'Cush' Cushing-Murray setting the pace 
Carl Combs 562, Christian Cushing-Murray 548, Orin Schumacher 540, Chris Knorzer 576 in the early stages [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

for the 45-49 year olds, with Liam Collins running for the Army out of West Point a few strides off his pace. Six seconds back it was the Santa Barbara teammates, Rusty Snow and Todd Booth. 
Rusty Snow [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]
Christopher Knorzer was 7 seconds back from that pair with Oregon's Matthew Farley 5 seconds further back in 6th. The 2nd loop saw a few changes with Collins falling off of Cush's pace by nearly 20 seconds but Snow moving up a bit to just 5 seconds back. Snow's teammate, Booth, fell back and was running with Knorzer with Farley 10 seconds off their pace. 
Matthew Farley [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

The Santa Barbara duo moved in opposite directions over the 3rd loop; Booth, having an off day, fell back out of contention with a 7:59 loop while Snow threw down a 7:11 as he moved past Cushing-Murray and opened up a 9 second gap. And Farley was running like Snow, passing first Booth and Knorzer but then even passing Colllins before the bell for the final loop was sounded. Snow continued to run away over the last loop, running a 6:55 to take M45 gold. Cushing-Murray's 7:15 last loop was more than enough to give him 2nd place. Farley ran a super last 6:58 loop, but Cush's earlier work in the race paid dividends as Farley could not get any closer than 20 seconds back. But Farley left no doubt about his deserving the bronze as he grew his gap over the 4th runner to nearly 40 seconds by the finish line. Snow 28:28, Cushing-Murray 28:56, Farley 29:16.

W45.   The race between Abrami and Wilkerson for the W45 crown is parallel to their tussle for 2nd and 3rd overall, detailed above. But who would claim 3rd? Would it be Desa Mandarino, up from Santa Barabara, or Eugene, Oregon's Jennifer Brennan
Jennifer Brennan
[Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]
 Mandarino gained the early edge building over thirty seconds over the home state favorite. Did Mandarino go out too fast? Would she pay the price on later loops? Not at all! Mandarino continued to build her lead, extending it to well over a minute by the end of the second loop. 
Desa Mandarino
[Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

And that was the story as Mandarino kept her stride going and, in the end, had a large gap on Brennan. Abrami 25:42, Wilkerson 26:04, Mandarino 27:56..

M50. This was a Pacific Northwest brawl with the pride of Cheney Washington, Carl Combs, taking it out in 7:10, with the Bowerman TC's Eric Williams just off the pace in 7:15. 
Eric Williams
[Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]
 Despite the best efforts of the Oregonian, however, Combs was too strong. Williams followed his first loop with a 7:30 2nd loop but Combs actually went a tad faster in the second loop, clocking a 7:08 for a lead of nearly 30 seconds. Williams ran tight in the 3rd and 4th loops but couldn't catch Combs even though he did take a few seconds back on the 4th loop. Combs came across the line with Williams a half minute back. There was a doozy of a race for the last spot on the podium. Cal Coast's Rob Arsenault and David Olds were locked in a duel with Bowerman's Mike Blackmore. At the end of the 
David Olds 556 Rob Arsenault 547 [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]
first loop, it was Blackmore in 7:27 with Olds and Arsenault 5 seconds back. But Arseanault and Olds closed up the gap on the second loop as all three passed the starting area in 14:08. It was time for someone to make a move and it was Arsenault who was best able to maintain the pace over the 3rd loop as Olds fell 8 seconds back and Blackmore 12. And Arsenault continued to accelerate over the 4th loop, his fastest of the day, putting the podium out of reach for Blackmore and Olds. Combs 29:02, Williams 29:35, Arsenault 30:16.

W50. Bend, Oregon's Carol Daubeny was the only entrant and she wins the gold in 30:50.
Carol Daubeny
[Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]
 M55. This was a terrific battle for M55 supremacy between 3 Oregonians and a New Yorker. Bowerman's Michael Gorriaran took it out in 8:17 with his teammate, Steven Kollars 7 seconds back. Genesee Valley's Gary Radford ended the 1st loop another 7 seconds back in 3rd. Bowerman's Richard Punches was another 9 seconds off the pace in 4th. On the 2nd loop each of the top 3 built their lead. Gorriaran now had a 15 second gap on Kollars, with another 27 seconds back to Radford and 19 more back to Punches. 
Gary Radford [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

The 3rd loop saw Gorriaran extend his lead over Kollars but now the fast early pace had depleted Radford a bit as he fell nearly a full minute behind Kollars. More importantly, Punches began inching up and could draw a bead on Radford who was only 14 seconds ahead as they headed up the hill for the final time. Punches pulled away on the downhill to claim 3rd by 4 seconds over Radford-what a duel! Gorriaran 33:50 Kollars 34:45 Punches 36:04.

W55. Kelly Kruell took it out hard but still had only a ten second 1st loop lead over Lynelle Paulick, with Team Red Lizard's Betsy Miller nearly a half minute back and her teammate Joanna Harper 
Kelly Kruell
[Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]
 another 15 seconds behind. Kruell's 2nd loop was only a few seconds slower than her first as she continued to build her lead. 
Lynne Paulick
[Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]
Unfortunately something was going very wrong for Paulick as her 2nd loop was over a minute slower than her first and Miller crept to within 5 seconds with Harper only 24 seconds further back. 
On the third loop Paulick had little left as first Miller and then Harper were able to pass her. Paulick hung on gamely and finished but it was Kruell by 2 minutes over Miller and another minute or so back to Harper
Betsy Miller
[Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

who came in 19 seconds ahead of Paulick. Kruell 29:05, Miller 31:07, Harper 32:18.

M60. This was the Rick Becker show as he started out 2016 the way he finished up 2015. He must have gotten the memo saying, 'Take no prisoners!' Becker surged uphill and stretched the lead downhill to build
Rich Becker building his lead on everyone 55 and up [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

almost a half minute lead over the superb GVH harrier, Mark Rybinski, who, in turn, had a 22 second lead over Boulder's Heath Hibbard and Cal Coast's John Holcomb who ended the first loop shoulder to shoulder. Becker did not let up at all on the 2nd loop and as a result built his lead to over a minute.
Mark Rybinski
[Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

But Rybinski was cranking it out too as he now had over a 50 second lead on Hibbard and Holcomb who were still locked in a tight duel with only a second between them. Becker kept the pedal to the metal, slowing only slightly over the last 2 loops, winning the race by over 2 minutes. Rybinski wa snot threatened for 2nd either as he had over a minute on the two chasers. But which would make the podium? Hibbard made a strong move on the 3rd loop, building a 14 second lead over Holcomb. 
Heath Hibbard
[Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]
 But Holcomb was not done yet. Once they hit the top of the course on the last loop, Holcomb started to close on Hibbard. But it was too late; Hibbard hung tough and bested Holcomb by 10 seconds. Becker 31:08, Rybinski 33:12, Hibbard 34:50.

W60. Impala's Jill Miller-Robinett won this division in a runaway, running a well controlled race with splits of 10:40, 11:11 and 11:02. 
Jill Miller-Robinett [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

Her teammate, Donna Chan, ran a similar race but with slower splits: 11:28, 11:40, and 11:48. Miller-Robinett 32:52, Chan 34:55.
Donna Chan [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

M65. Doug Winn took this division at Club Cross in December and showed here he has lost nothing. But he started cautiously knowing he had a lion of a competitor in Ignacio Jimenez who took 2nd in the USA XC at Boulder last year. At the end of the first loop it was Winn in 8:51 with Jimenez only 2 seconds back. 
Doug Winn [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

Winn cranked up the speed on the 2nd loop for an 8:39. Jimenez turned up his speed too but not by as much as he fell 8 seconds back. Winn hit the pedal again on the 3rd loop, dropping his split by another 6 seconds and that was it for Jimenez who could no longer match the acceleration. Winn's last loop was his fastest at 8:15--what a finish! Make no mistake, Jimenez ran a fine race and his set of splits of 8:53, 8:45, 8:56 and 8:46 was terrific but Winn is on another level right now. 
Ignacio Jimenez [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

It will be interesting to see if Lloyd Hansen can give him something to think about at the USATF 8K at Brea. The steady runner for the Atlanta TC, Jerry Learned, was not on a par with those two but ran a
Jerry Learned 518 leading a group including M60 runners for the Boulder Road runners, Bruce Kirschner 524 and Stephen Parker 525 [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

strong race to capture 3rd a few minutes behind Jimenez. Winn 34:16, Jimenez 35:18, Learned 39:06.

W65. Jo Anne Rowland, the Age-Grading Champion, took this division with very steady pacing, hitting

Jo Anne Rowland
[Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]
her splits in 11:06, 11:12, and 11:11 for a winning time of 33:28. Rowland 33:28

M70. Gary Patton, the track champion from Iowa who runs for the Southern California Track Club, left no doubt as to who was on top of this division. Patton started off conservatively enough with a 9:47 first loop. Paul Caisse , a local Bend runner, had no doubt spotted Patton's 'M70' and stuck close for the first loop, staying within 1 second of Patton. And that was it for Caisse. When Patton matched the pace of his first loop on his second, Caisse started to drop back and was over a half minute back by the end of the 2nd loop. Patton ran a slightly slower 3rd loop but then closed off his gold medal effort smartly with a 9:27 last loop. 
Gary Patton 586 [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

But what happened to Paul Carlin (yours truly) who some expected to give Patton a battle? I hate to admit it but I was psyched out by the course and did not do a good job of finding my M70 counterparts. I am not sure how much difference that would have made as I was running the first loop in survival mode and gave up 55 seconds to Patton and Caisse. 
Paul Caisse 593 [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

Without realizing it (because I could not see either of them) I took a second off of Caisse's lead on the 2nd loop and 5 seconds more on the 3rd loop, by which time I was much more comfortable on the course. I finally spotted Caisse and his shock of white hair, about a quarter of the way into the last loop and thought to myself, I must be gaining on him. Let's see what I can do. 
Paul Carlin 594 and Atlanta TC M70's teammates Morris Williams 521 and Ron Mastin 519 [Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

I gained on him the rest of that loop and was really sailing on the downhill portion but it was not enough. Caisse ran a strong race and closed me out by 12 seconds. He earned his silver medal. The 36 seconds I took out of his lead on the last loop was too little too late. I had left too much in the tank! Patton 38:48, Caisse 41:13, Carlin 41:25.

W70. No entries.
M75. Ron Mastin who finished 2nd in the 2015 Masters Grand Prix in the M75 division, won this race handily and finished ahead of several runners who were from 2 to 25 years his juniors. No doubt he will encounter more competition in races to come. His teammate, Andrew Sherwood finished second. Mastin 45:47, Sherwood 57:55.

W75. The accomplished equestrian, Kathy Kusner had this division to herself and won it in style. 
Kusner 52:52.
Kathy Kusner
[Photo: Michael Scott-Facebook or Shutterfly]

M40+. The Bowerman Track Club of Oregon was intent on defending its home state turf from 3 California clubs, Cal Coast Track Club, River City Rebels and Santa Barbara Running and racing. 
Even though Mitchell was not able to claim the individual title he had the satisfaction of leading Bowerman to an early lead as they placed 5 runners [Mitchell, Howell, Oscar Baumann, Ahrlin Baumann and Orin Schumacher] in the top 7 at the end of the first loop. Cal Coast's Cushing-Murray was in there as well as Santa Barbara's Rusty Snow. John Gardiner from Cal Coast would ordinarily have been tight in there as well but he was in 9th, nursing a sore hamstring. Santa Barbara had a slight edge over Cal Coast as Mejia-Perez and Harding were striding along just in front of Cal Coast's Frisone and SB's Mike Swan just ahead of Cal Coast's Jonathan May. The River City Rebels had Chris Knorzer right behind Booth but then there was a gap back to their 2nd through 5th runners who were in 18th to 21st place. At the end of the first loop it was Bowerman 17, Santa Barbara 59, Cal Coast 66 and River City 89. The handwriting was there for all to see; Bowerman would claim a resounding victory. Cal Coast needed someone to step up if they were going to challenge Santa Barbara for silver and couldn't rest on their laurels as they needed to keep ahead of River City. Cal Coast moved a little closer to Santa Barbara on the 2nd loop as Gardiner and Steve Frisone both moved up a spot or two. That closed them to within 3 of Santa Barbara by the end of the 2nd loop. But that was not sustainable as SB's Booth, Mejia-Perez and Harding all surged back on the 3rd loop to regain a 6 point edge. Cal Coast could not close it over the last loop so Santa Barbara claimed silver. Cal Coast was able to keep River City at bay as 'Cush' maintained his top 7 position and Gardiner held on just outside the top 10. With Frisone hanging tough in front of River City's 2nd runner, Gary Blanco, Cal Coast had little to worry about. And although May could not keep River City's Blanco and Curt Casazza from passing him on the last loop, he did accelerate enough to keep a comfortable margin over the Rebels' 4th and 5th runners, Edward Brooks and Michael Fadling. Bowerman Track Club 18, Santa Barbara Running and Racing 67, Cal Coast Track Club 74.

W40+. Although it was not clear until the last loop, the race between Santa Barbara's Cindy Abrami and Team Red Lizard's Sonya Wilkerson for 2nd and 3rd would also determine the W40+ team outcome. Abrami and Wilkerson were side by side at the end of the first loop but as long as Santa Barbara's Desa Mandarino and Lynne Paulick stayed ahead of Red Lizard's Betsy Miller and Joanna Harper, whether they finished 1-2 or 2-1 did not really matter. If we credit Abrami with the lead it was Santa Barbara 8 to 13; if we give it to Wilkerson, it was Santa Barabara 9 to the Lizards' 12. Nothing significant happened on the 2nd loop. Abrami and Wilkerson were still 'joined at the hip' and Paulick had grown her 29 second lead over the Lizards' 2nd runner Miller from 29 seconds to a full minute. At that point the team race seemed in the bag for Santa Barbara but then the wheels apparently came off for Paulick. [I hope not because of an injury or other mishap.] But in any case the 1 minute lead evaporated as first Miller and then Harper passed her. That meant the 2nd and 3rd runners for both teams had 5 points (3 and 6 for SB, 4 and 5 for TRL) so it fell to the leaders to duke it out for their team and the 1 point win! As it turned out Abrami was the stronger and the Santa Barbs took the gold back south and the Portlanders had to settle for silver--still a great outcome! Santa Barbara Running and Racing 10, Team Red Lizard 11.

M50+. Neither River City nor Santa Barbara brought a Men's 50's team so this division was a dust-up between Bowerman and Cal Coast. But Bowerman did not have the same dominance in this race; that was evident by the end of the first loop. Bowerman did have the top 2 team spots in the division with Eric Williams and Mike Blackmore but then it was a sea of royal blue as Cal Coast brought David Olds, Rob Arsenault, Jeff Ambos, Andy Diconti and Thomas Schumann into the transition area ahead of Bowerman's Patrick Wagner, Dan Franek, and Michael Gorriaran. So at that stage it was 25 for the SoCal runners and 30 for Bowerman. Wagner made a strong effort on the second loop to break up Cal Coast's top 5 but to no avail. After that it was just a question of minor reshuffling but Cal Coast's 5 held tough to claim the victory with 24 points to Bowerman's 32.

M60+. This was the closest team race of the day as Cal Coast (with John Holcomb, Keith Witthauer, and Perry Forrester) took on a different set of challengers in this division. The 2015 Club Grand Prix winners, Colorado's Boulder Road Runners brought a somewhat weaker team than they finished off the year with as both John Victoria and Doug Bell were nicked up. Boulder had picked up a new recruit to swell their ranks however as Stephen Parker joined stalwarts Heath Hibbard, Devin Croft, and Bruce Kirschner. And the Genesee Valley Harriers sent a team all the way from upstate New York, with regulars, Mark Rybinski, Tim McMullen and David Bowen. Neither Cal Coast nor GVH had any room for error; all 3 of their runners had to deliver. Rybinski ran his usual strong race for GVH and it was clear that barring unforeseen developments he would net the team first place as he was 22 seconds ahead of Boulder's Hibbard. But Cal Coast had the next 3 spots with Holcomb, Witthauer and Forrester in that order. That gave them 12 point sand the first loop lead. GVH's McMullen came through the transition area with a 14 second lead over Boulder's Croft but both Parker and Kirschner were ahead of Bowen. That left GVH and Boulder tied at the end of the first loop. The top 4 spots did not change the rest of the way but Boulder's Croft moved up to break up McMullen and Forrester. It was not enough to catch Cal Coast as long as Forrester hung tough in 7th which he did. But Boulder had enough to hold onto 2nd as long as Parker and Kirschner hung in there ahead of GVH's Bowen. Despite his best efforts, Bowen was not able to close on those two and Boulder had their silver medal. Cal Coast 14, Boulder Road Runners 15, Genesee Valley Harriers 17.

W60+. The lone entry was the Impala Racing Team from the Bay Area. Impala's Jill Miller-Robinett, Jo Anne Rowland, and Donna Chan raced around the course and won the race 1-2-3 for 6 points and the gold medal. Impala Racing Team 6.

M70+. The Atlanta Track Club  brought a 70's team but none of their usual rivals, the Shore AC nor the Ann Arbor TC made the trip this year. So Atlanta's Ron Mastin, Morris Williams and Ed Bligh just had to finish the course to claim their first gold medal of the season. And step lively they did, uphill, downhill and cross-slope to claim the victory with, of course, a perfect 6 point team score. Atlanta Track Club 6.

EXTRAS. That takes care of the official USATF results and awards Now I cover 3 unofficial contests, one for this race only and two for the circuit.
1. Team Age-Grading.  The Men's team with the top 5 score across all age groups is declared [by me] the Overall Men's Team Age-grading Champion of the 2015 USATF Cross Country Championships . Perhaps not surprisingly the Bowerman Track Club took this title with Cal Coast  in 2nd and Santa Barbara in 3rd. Bowerman was led by Eric Williams 4 Mike Blackmore 7 Matt Farley 9 Greg Mitchell 10 Doug Winn 11. They relied on 2 M50's, 2 M40's and an M60. Cal Coast had Christian Cushing-Murray 6 David Olds 8 Rob Arsenault 14 Jeff Ambos 15 Andy Diconti 23--an M40 (for another year or 2) and 4 M50's. Santa Barbara claimed third with Rusty Snow 5 Ignacio Jimenez 17 Todd Booth 28 Marcelo Mejia-Perez 34 Steve Harding 36--an M40 then an M60 and then three M40's. Bowerman Track Club 41, Cal Coast Track Club 66, Santa Barbara Running and Racing 120.

For women it's the same approach but because of smaller women's teams, top 3 only. Impala took the crown thanks to Jo Anne Rowland 1 Jill Miller-Robinett 6 Donna Chan 9--their W60's team. Second age-grading prize goes to Team Red Lizard's W50 team of Sonya Wilkerson 5 Betsy Miller 7 Joanna Harper 8. Santa Barbara Running and Racing gets 3rd with Cindy Abrami 2 Lynne Paulick 10 Desa Mandarino 11. Impala Racing 16, Team Red Lizard 20.

Congratulations to Bowerman and Impala!

2. Overall Race Grand Prix Champion. USATF's Masters LDR Committee decided to set up an Individual Grand Prix with awards presented at the end of the year to the top 3 point-getters in each Age Division. But there is nothing for Overall Masters Race winners--the first across the line. This tally will correct that at least in terms of publicity although not in terms of a USATF Award. To keep this manageable and easy, only those who finish in the top 5 earn points--10-6-4-2-1.

So the leaders at this point are: 
Men. Jacques Sallberg 10 Greg Mitchell 6 John Howell 4 Oscar Baumann 2 Rusty Snow
Women. Grace Padilla 10 Cindy Abrami 6 Sonya Wilkerson 4 Jennifer Anderson 2 Desa Mandarino 1

3. Age-Grading Grand Prix Champion. Same rules as above except it's based on Age-Grading standards for each race.
Men. Rick Becker 10 Carl Combs 6 Jacques Sallberg 4 Eric Williams 2 Rusty Snow 1
Women. Jo Anne Rowland 10 Cindy Abrami 6 Kelly Kruell 4 Grace Padilla 2 Sonya Wilkerson 1.

Congratulations to the early leaders of these two Grand Prix contests. Stay healthy, keep coming out for USATF races and see if you can stay in the top 5. There will be plenty who are looking to knock you out and take your place.

There may be added excitement in the future. Bill Quinlisk, Referee and Vice-Chair of Masters LDR, noted that representatives of the Cross Country Council are working to get IAAF to initiate a Masters event for the World Cross Country Championships. If that is successful, these Championships would be the Selection Event for that race.

Congratulations to the 97 Masters Athletes who contested and completed the USATF 2015 Masters Cross Country Championships on a terrific, challenging course in Bend Oregon. I hope we see double that number at least next year! And in the meantime, head to Brea California on the 28th of February for the USATF 8K Championship at the Brea Classic 8K.

1 comment:

  1. Nice coverage of all the Masters races that day, Paul. Nice photos too. Thanks!