Thursday, October 13, 2016

Recap of USATF 5K Masters Championships-Age Division Contests

October 12 2016. Top runners from all over the US converged in upstate New York for the USATF 5K Championships at the Syracuse Festival of Races on October 2nd. The competition among the runners to emerge as a National Champion were inspiring!

Note: All times noted below are gun times; net times were from 0 to 5 seconds faster, depending on where the individual runner started.

Start of the Men's Race at theh 2016 USATF 5K Masters Championships at the Syracuse Festival of Races [photo by Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]

Men 40-44. Of the top 6 contenders only one ran close to an even split, Musa Gwanzura. The rest laid it all on the line and then held on. Kevin Castille was going for the Overall Win as well as the Overall Masters Win so he was not going to let the Overall Leader, Omar Boulama, half his age at 22, get a gap on him. Castile hit the halfway mark in 7:21, right on Boulama's shoulder.

Omar Boulama, 22 (L), and Kevin Castille, 44  (R), vie for the lead at the Syracuse Festival of Races- Castille had a commanding lead in the USATF 5K Masters Championship [Photo by Christopher Patruno, age 8/PatrunoElectric@aol.com]

For most of the first half of the race John Gardiner had a couple of steps on David Angell but Angell was hanging in there hoping to at least wind up on the podium on his 40th birthday. By the half way mark it was Gardiner 7:27 and Angell 7:28. Other challengers included Aaron Totten-Lancaster, Christopher Shaw and Gwanzura. But Gardiner and Angell had a gap on them before the 2nd kilometer split.
John Gardiner (R) and David Angell (L), running 2nd and 3rd just past the 2K mark at the USATF 5K Masters Championship [Photo by Gavin Liddell]

At the halfway point Shaw, Totten-Lancaster, and Gwanzura crossed the timing mat in 7:45, 7:47 and 7:55 respectively. With that kind of gap their only hope was that one of the three leaders would fade badly. But not on this day. As noted earlier, Castille rang up a 14:46 for the Masters win, with Gardiner 2nd and Angell in 3rd. At ages 44, 44, and 40, they also comprised the 40-44 podium. I also just learned that Castille took down the US single age 5K record for 44 year old men, replacing Paul Aufdemberge's name on the list.
Kevin Castille wins the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championship while setting a US 5K Record for Men 44 Years of Age [Photo by Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]

Next year Castille and Gardiner will be competing in the 45-49 division. Totten-Lancaster passed Shaw to finish 4th in 15:42 with Shaw 5th in 15:46 and Gwanzura at 15:51.  
Castille 14:46, Gardiner 15:13, Angell 15:20.

Start of the Women's race at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championships at the Syracuse Festival of Races [photo by Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]


Women 40-44. Sascha Scott, the Elite Masters Runner from Syracuse, led the field out and opened a gap of a few meters over the first two kilometers. Although she was a few meters back, the Pacific Northwest's Janet McDevitt was determined to keep close to Scott.

Sascha Scott, leading all runners at the USATF 5K Masters Championship, followed by Open Runner, Catherine Beck (1) and Janet McDevitt (orange singlet) [photo by Gavin Liddell]

Another few meters back from McDevitt was a small chase pack consisting of Holly Ortlund, Heather Webster, and Christy Peterson. McDevitt had closed the gap to Scott by the time they swung 180 degrees to head back to Manley Field House. By the time they crossed the halfway mat, McDevitt and Scott were given the same time of 8:45. Shortly thereafter, McDevitt pushed ahead and then it was Scott on McDevitt's shoulder. Ortlund was 8 seconds back in 8:53 with Webster right on her heels, and Peterson another 5 seconds back. McDevitt gradually pulled away and won the Masters race in 17:41; Scott was only 4 seconds back in 17:45. Ortlund and Webster had quite a duel for the final age division podium spot. But no matter how hard Webster tried, Ortlund held tough and claimed 3rd, two seconds in front of Webster, with Peterson in 5th.
Holly Ortlund happy with her Women's 40-44 Bronze Medal finish just ahead of Heather Webster at the 2016 USATF 5K Masters Championships [Photo by Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]

McDevitt 17:41, Scott 17:45, Ortlund 18:02.
Janet McDevitt wins the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championship [Photo by Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]


Men 45-49. The USATF 10K Champion, Mark Andrews, led the way out for this group as he was trying to stay in contention for an overall Masters medal. Craig Greenslit, Greg Putnam, Tim Van Orden, and Jonathan Frieder were all trying to hang in tight. Andrews crossed the halfway mat in 7:43 with Greenslit three seconds back in 2nd. Putnam was another 3 seconds back with his teammate, Van Orden on his shoulder, and Frieder 4 seconds behind Van Orden. Andrews pulled away over the second half of the race to win the division handily. Putnam and Van Orden were both able to kick it in past  Greenslit, finishing 2nd and 3rd five seconds apart.
Tim Van Orden (R) and Greg Putnam (600) headed for 3rd and 2nd respectively in the Men's 45-49 Division at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championship [Photo by Gavin Liddell]

Greenslit was just off the podium in 15:59 followed by Frieder in 5th. Who would have guessed you could run a sub-16 minute 5K and not finish in the top 3 in the Men's 45-49 age division?
Mark Andrews wins the Gold Medal for Men 45-49 at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championship [Photo by Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]

Andrews 15:39, Putnam 15:53, Van Orden 15:58.

Women 45-49. Knowing that Sonja Friend-Uhl had been out with an injury from early May to early September, and had only one race under her belt, I was reluctant to pick her for an overall medal but given her time in her trial race, thought sure she could manage an age division medal. But Fiona Bayly, Irma Dennard, and Cassandra Henkiel would have something to say about that. Friend-Uhl was not having any of this not contending for an overall medal as she stayed in contention for an overall medal through the first half of the race. She crossed the halfway mat in 3rd overall with a time of 8:48 with Bayly on her heels. It was another 8 seconds back to Dennard, and two more to Henkiel. Friend-Uhl stayed strong over the second half of the race to claim the Bronze medal overall and the Age Division gold in 17:46. Bayly held on for 2nd, six seconds ahead of a hard-charging Henkiel, who had passed and pulled away from Dennard to claim the bronze medal.
Fiona Bayly (413) leading Marisa Sutera Strange (L) and Sonja Friend-Uhl (R) at the 2016 USATF 5K Masters Championships [Photo by Gavin Liddell]

Friend-Uhl 17:46, Bayly 18:02, Henkiel 18:08.
Sonja Friend-Uhl captures the Women's 45-49 Gold Medal and the Masters Bronze Medal at the 2016 USATF 5K Masters Championship [Photo by Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]

Men 50-54. Three of the top 6 men for Age-Grading came from this division so that shows how tough it is. Kristian Blaich won two national championships last year at 10K and 12K before ending the year with an injury. With no races on the books yet this year it seemed unlikely that Blaich would be in prime race condition. Nat Larson has been a top age grader, nearly winning two overall age-grading titles and finishing 2nd in the division at the USATF 10K Championship and winning the Age Division at the USATF 1 Mile championships at the CRIM Festival. Carl Combs has also had a stellar year, finishing among the top 5 age graders at the 8K Championships and finishing first in the division at the USATF Cross Country Championships in Bend OR and at the 8K road Championships at Brea CA. Cal Coast's Rob Arsenault has finished on the podium in the two USATF races he contested earlier this year at 8K and the Half Marathon. Once the gun went off it was clear that Blaich was ready to roll. Larson was able to go with him, with Combs just behind, but Blaich was definitely not nursing an injury. Blaich and Larson crossed the 2.5K timing mat in tandem at 7:51, with Combs 2 seconds back and another 3 seconds back to Arsenault. On the way back Blaich was able to pull away for a comfortable win, 6 seconds ahead of Combs, who had passed and kicked away from Larson to nip him by 2 seconds.
Carl Combs (451) and Nat Larson (454) heading for 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Men's 50-54 division while competing with M40's Weeks (657) and Marcini (564) for the Masters Overall Title at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championship [Photo by Gavin Liddell]

Arsenault was not able to close  the gap and finished just off the podium in 16:08. As it turned out, if you could not run a sub-16 minute 5K you could not earn a medal in the 50-54 division either. Wow!
Kristian Blaich captures the Gold Medal for Men 50-54 at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championship [Photo by Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]

Blaich 15:49, Combs 15:55, Larson 15:57.

Women 50-54. Marisa Sutera Strange was the defending overall and 50-54 age division champion, a heavy favorite.Those in contention for the other podium spots were Trish Butler, Kathleen Hayden, Suzanna LaBurt, and Karyl Sargent. Strange went right to the front so she could contend with Scott, McDevitt, Friend-Uhl and Bayly for the overall Masters win. She crossed the halfway mat in 8:49 with a half minute age division lead over Butler. Sargent  crossed the mat 5 seconds later, with LaBurt 7 seconds further back in 9:31, and Hayden trailing her by 5 seconds. Strange built her lead the rest of the way, finishing 4th overall and winning the division by over a minute.
Marisa Sutera Strange defending her Masters Championship t the 2016 USATF 5K Masters Championship [Photo: Gavin Liddell]

Butler kept hammering and finished 2nd with a half minute gap back to LaBurt.
Trish Butler claims the Women's 50-54 Silver Medal at the USATF 5K Masters Championships [Photo by Bob Brocl Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]

Hayden passed Sargent but could not get any closer to LaBurt than a final 39 second margin as she finished 4th.
Strange 17:55, Butler 19:02, LaBurt 19:34.

Men 55-59. Defending champion, Dave Bussard, must have felt like he had a target on his back. Not only did he have to worry about his teammate, Kerry Barnett, but knew that Casey Carlstrom would be putting on the pressure and that long distance specialists, Hugh Enicks and Fred Zalokar were dropping down in distance and would likely finish well over the second half of the race unless they got pulled out too fast. And veterans Gary Droze, Matt Ebiner, and Joseph Mora would also be in the hunt. When the gun went off, Barnett, Bussard, Carlstrom and Zalokar surged toward the front of the field, with Ebiner and Enicks not far back and  Droze and Mora hanging back a bit, biding their time.  Barnett and Bussard crossed the halfway mat at 8:18 with Zalokar two seconds back and Carlstrom another 3 seconds back.
Dave Bussard (456) and his teammate, Kerry Barnett (412) leading the way for the Men 55-59 all the way to the finish where they cross in Gold and Silver respectively at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championships [Photo by Gavin Liddell]

Next it was 3 seconds back to Enicks and Ebiner, with Droze and Mora another 8 seconds back. Bussard was able to out-kick Barnett to defend his title by a single second; Carlstrom was 3 seconds further back in 3rd, but all 3 had broken 17 minutes, pretty amazing! Zalokar was not able to maintain the killer early pace but hung tough to hold off a fast-closing Droze as they got 4th and 5th respectively. Ebiner, Mora and Enicks rounded out the top 8.
Bussard 16:54, Barnett 16:55, Carlstrom 16:59.

Women 55-59. It is not often that Hall of Famer and defending champion, Carmen Ayala-Troncoso is challenged in age group contests but she knew she would have to fly to retain her title. Last year she ran 19:14 but the only 2016 race result I could find for her was a 21:07 5K in February. That is normally a time when the Austin, Texas runner would be in top condition. With no races since that time it seemed possible she might be a bit off her best. Several challengers were eager to toe the starting line, including Patrice Combs, Susan 'Lynn' Cooke, Paula Johnson, and Mary Swan. Cooke ran a 19:20 earlier in the year. Although she was the only one with a sub-20, most of the others hould be in under 21 minutes. Ayala-Troncoso took off when the gun went off; she looked like she expected to run a sub-19:30. Cooke, of the Tampa New Balance team was in hot pursuit, with a gap back to Combs, Johnson and Swan. Ayala-Troncoso flew past the halfway mark in 9:39 with Cooke 4 seconds back. It was 8 seconds back to Swan and another dozen back to Combs and Johnson. But Ayala-Troncoso slowed and the wheels came off for Cooke, who had an off day. Swan's 19:51 first half was looking pretty good; she also slowed slightly over the 2nd half but still found herself gaining on the two leaders. Then she was finally past them both, kicking it in to gain a 5 second victory in 19:55.
Mary Swan takes the Women's 55-59 Gold Medal at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championship [Photo Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]

Ayala-Troncoso hung tough for second nonetheless coming in way ahead of Cooke.  The Tampa runner also showed herself to be a gritty competitor as she hung on to close out the race against Johnson and Combs, who were closing fast and were only 7 seconds back by the finish.
Swan 19:55, Ayala-Troncoso 20:00, Cooke 20:27.

Men 60-64. In this division, 2012 and 2013 Long Distance Runner of the Year, Brian Pilcher, was going for the American record. He has finally recovered fully from his second bout with a hamstring issue that had interrupted his training and racing in both 2014 and 2015. A few weeks before his 60th birthday he had run a 5K race in California six seconds under Tom McCormack's 16:58 record for the 60-64 group. No one doubted Pilcher's ability to bring down the record. But just to make it more challenging, Pilcher and his coach decided he should go for the 5K record on the 2nd of October and try for the Marathon record 7 days later. That meant he would be going for the record on the heavy legs associated with marathon training. On the other hand, Pilcher argued that the 5K would be a good 'shake-out' run for the Marathon in any case, whether he got the 5K record or not. Top contenders for the remaining spots on the podium included Brian Cummins, Perry Forrester, John Holcomb, Kyle Hubbart, Tom Ryan, and Mark Rybinski. Ordinarily Rybinski would be right at the top of that group; last year he finished 3rd in 18:27. But Rybinski has been rehabbing a hamstring injury and as recently as late August could only jog around the one mile course to help his team score some Grand Prix points. But Rybinski is a game runner and gave it all he had. Pilcher shot out just behind the lead group of the 50-54 year olds, crossing the midway point at 8:07. He slowed a bit thereafter but still had plenty enough in the tank to cruise across the finish line, crushing the record and gaining the age group gold in 16:39 (gun time).  Ryan was in no man's land as far as the 60-64 year old's were concerned for much of the race. He had a 20 second lead on the 60-64 field when he crossed the halfway mat in 8:52. Then it was Hubbart, Holcomb, Forrester, Rybinski and Cummins in a tight pack crossing between 9:12 and 9:17. Ryan stayed strong over the second half of the race, claiming the silver medal with a 7 second gap over the hard-charging Hubbart, who was one of the few runners on the day to run negative splits. As a result Hubbart had almost a half minute edge over Cummins, Rybinski, Holcomb and Forrester who finished in that order within 15 seconds of one another.
One New US Record in the Books for Brian Pilcher, winner of the Men's 60-64 Gold medal and the Age Grading Gold Medal at the USATF Masters 5K Championship [Photo by Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]

Pilcher 16:39, Ryan 18:14, Hubbart 18:21.
[Note: Records are based on net time so Pilcher's new record is 16:38]

Women 60-64. The primary contenders in this division appeared to be Nora Cary, Jill Miller-Robinett, Nancy Stewart. Stewart's two Atlanta track Club teammates, Margaret Taylor and Cynthia Williams, appeared to have an outside shot at a podium finish. Stewart has the only recent sub-20 5K and also has the distinction of being the 2016 W60 10K Champion. Cary has a 5K in the high 20's with Miller-Robinett and the two others in the upper 22 to low 23 range. Once the gun went off and the race was under way it was clear that the only one who was going to stop Stewart today would be Stewart herself. She headed out with the top 55-59 year old runners, crossing the halfway mat in 9:43. She already had a 20 second gap on Cary who, in turn, had a 40 second lead over Miller-Robinett. and then Taylor and Williams followed 15 seconds back. From there the gaps grew a bit but the places remained the same. In the end it was Stewart with a 27 victory over Cary. It was over a minute back to Miller-Robinett who hung on gamely to take the bronze by nearly a minute over Williams and Taylor.
Nancy Stewart wins the Women's 60-64 Gold medal at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championships [Photo by Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]

Stewart 20:03, Cary 20:30, Miller-Robinett 21:53.

Men 65-69. Tom Bernhard was gunning for Bill Borla's M65 US record of 18:12. This one seemed even more certain than Pilcher's as Bernhard won this race last year as a 64 year old in 17:36 and ran 17:16 just before his 65th birthday. No one else would likely be close to Bernhard but Hall of Famer, Doug Bell who ran 18:39 here last year and has an 18:47 5K this year was favored to be as close as anyone could get. Not far back from Bell, a rejuvenated Peter Mullin was expected to contend. He took a 3rd in the USATF 10K Championships in 39:42, defeating the great Vermont runner, Bill Dixon, in the process. Bell came in right ahead of Mullin in that race. Although not quite in the same class as those 3, Kirk Larson would be pushing the pace and has an outside shot at a podium spot should any of the others have an off day. Bernhard was actually disappointed in himself as he ran what he called the 'most poorly paced race of my life.' He shot off at the gun, feeling comfortable with his pace but was amazed to find he had overcooked it, hitting the 1 mile mark in 5:20 and the halfway mat in 8:26, at least ten seconds ahead of where he wanted to be. Luckily for Bernhard, his ability is such that even though he 'died' over the last half of the race he still had enough gas to crush the record by well over half a minute and win the age group by 44 seconds. 
Tom Bernhard sets the US 5K Record  for Men 65-69 and takes the Division Gold Medal at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championship [Photo by Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]

The race between Bell and Mullin turned out to be tighter than expected. Mullin surprised Bell by hitting the halfway point in under 9 minutes! Bell flashed across the mat seven seconds later. Try as he might, Bell could not gain on Mullin this time.  
Kirk Larson heading to a top-4 finish in the Men's 65-69 Division with a sub-20 minute 5K at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championship [Photo by Katherine Frontino]

Mullin had a lead of 15 seconds at the finish line. Larson ran a strong second half to keep the rest of the field at bay but could not break onto the podium. 
Bernhard  17:32, Mullin 18:16, Bell 18:31.
[Note: Records are based on net time so Bernhard's new record is 17:31] 

Women 65-69. Kathryn 'Kathy' Martin was aiming to take down Sabra Harvey's two year old US record for the age group of 20:27. Because of the heavy training she was doing to be ready for this record attempt and the World Masters Athletics Championships at Perth Australia later in October, she had posted slower times than usual in her late summer/early autumn races. She ran 19:24 here last year so the record seemed almost sure to fall but there was still a little suspense. No one is quite in Martin's class but Edie Stevenson is not far off. She has three age group national championships already and three World Class times. She ran 21:34 here last year. Behind Martin and Stevenson, Coreen Steinbach and Jo Anne Rowland should battle for the bronze. Steinbach has just moved up from the 55-59 group and appears to have the edge with several 5K races in the 22 minute range. Rowland's best 5K times are in the low 23's but she is a real competitor and will not be counted out. Martin went out at her usual pace, running with the top women from the 55-59 and 60-64 groups, hitting the halfway mark in 9:46. It would be a full minute before Stevenson would cross that mat and another half minute back to Steinbach. She had 16 seconds on Rowland. Martin slowed over the second half of the race but still smashed the record by 30 seconds and claimed the age group gold by well over a minute. 
Kathy Martin sets a new US Record while winning the Gold Medal for Women 65-69 at the 2016 USATF 5K Championships [Photo by Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]

Stevenson had no trouble although she did run a bit slower than last year; she claimed silver with well over a minute's cushion. Not only that, she claimed the US single age 5K record for Women 67 years of age by 14 seconds, replacing Jan Holmquist
Edie Stevenson tkes the Silver Medal in the Women's 65-69 Division while setting the US 5K Record for Women 67 Years of Age at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championships [Photo by Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]

Steinbach ran a nice second half of the race to keep Rowland and Nonie Hudnall off the podium. Hudnall ran a perfectly even pace and so made up 14 seconds on Rowland over the latter part of the course.
Martin 19:57, Stevenson 21:56, Steinbach 23:20.
[Note: Martin's gun and net times were both 19:57 so that is her new record time.]

Men 70-74. It appeared this would be a cakewalk for Gary Patton, the track specialist who decided to contest a few more road races this year than most years to celebrate turning 70.  He has run strong all year, winning the 8K XC and 1 Mile road Championships and finishing 2nd at the 8K and 10K. The last runner to beat him this year, Paul Carlin (yours truly), sustained a hamstring injury right after the 10K championships and still lacked a full push-off on the left side. It seemed that the only other runner with a chance might be Jan Frisby who is the current holder of the single age 5K record for 70 year old's, 20:20, at the Syracuse Festival of Races. If he had worked hard over the summer, lost a little weight, and regained some of his 2016 fitness, he could definitely push Patton. Przemek Nowicki, who had a quad problem at the 1 Mile Championships in August, had recovered from that and had a good month of training. He ran 21:13 here last year and I expected him to run that fast or faster. Jim May ran 21:08 on the track and had two recent road 5K's in 21:12 and 21:23. My notes on another contender, Dave Glass, a newcomer to USATF competition, was that he had run his 5K's in the low 21's and had a 27:28 4 mile run. It seemed unlikely he would be able to match Patton, Frisby, May and Nowicki. When the gun went off, Patton surged away from the field, with May and Glass not far behind. Then came Nowicki, followed by Frisby and then me. When I passed Frisby after the first 400 meters, it was clear Frisby had not had a productive summer of training. Patton kept pushing and crossed the halfway mark in 9:48. Still Glass was only 7 seconds back with May another 5 seconds back from him. Although Nowicki was 24 seconds back from May, if he were focusing on negative splits he would be in good position to contend for the podium. I was happy to come along 20 seconds after Nowicki, with the same time as Richard Kutzner, the long distance specialist from Arizona who won the M70 division at the USATF Half Marathon Championship this year. Glass could not hang with Patton over the 2nd half of the race as Patton unleashed his ferocious kick when he got close to the finish and grew his winning margin to 13 seconds. 
Gary Patton going at full tilt well past the finish line. No one will catch him at the tape! He wins the Gold Medal for Men 70-74 at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championship [Photo by Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]

Glass proved that he was no fluke however. His earlier times were probably in races where he was not pushed; when competing with strong runners Glass showed he could compete and earned a Silver Medal in the process. May could not hang with Glass but he hung tough and took the bronze with over a half minute to spare. 
Dave Glass takes the Silver Medal for Men 70-74 at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championship [Photo by Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]

I surprised myself by coming up next to Nowicki with 600 yards to go. Nowicki was having an off day despite his good training, but when he saw me, that woke him up and he roused himself, kicked it in and took 4th by a second. I got 5th with Kutzner now 24 seconds back in 6th.
Patton 20:03, Glass 20:16, May 20:55. 
[And yep, Patton did get Frisby's single age SFoR record with his net time of 20:00.] 

Women 70-74. With record-holder and defending champion, Jan Holmquist, out with an injury, the podium was open for a terrific competition between Dianne Anderson, Mary Casey, and Sue Gardinier. Gardinier ran 27:49 last year but has no races in 2016. Anderson had not run as fast as Gardinier but has been active on the USATF circuit this year. Her 47:40 8K at Brea would be roughly equivalent to a 28:45 5K. If Gardinier is not at her best, a 28 minute 5K might be good enough to win it all. Casey should not be in contention with those two but appears to be strong enough to take 3rd handily. Anderson was certainly game. She hit the halfway mark in 13:04 with no F70 bibs in sight. Gardinier was indeed not at her best as she struggled across the same mat in 14:32, 5 seconds behind Casey. Anderson had no trouble over the second half waltzing across the finish line in 27:16 for a strong win. Even if Gardinier had been able to match her 2015 time, Anderson would have had a handsome win. As it happened, Gardinier showed her pluck in coming from behind at the halfway point, surging past Casey to claim the Silver medal with a 16 second edge over Casey. Casey had no trouble keeping the rest of the W70 field at bay and off the podium.
Sue Gardinier takes the Silver Medal in the women's 70-74 Division at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championship [Photo by Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]

Anderson 27:16, Gardinier 28:58, Casey 29:14.

Men 75-79. The defending champion, Ron Mastin, who ran 23:07 last year, has been injured since April; it seemed unlikely he could compete for the podium. That left it open for contenders Matt Lalumia, Joseph Saley,  and George Tooker. Tooker seemed capable of breaking 26 ith lalumia capable of breaking 27 minutes and Saley perhaps under 27:30. I had not prepared a prediction for a late entrant, Roger Robinson. Had I known he would enter and had I seen his 23:10 at a recent 5K, I would certainly have installed him as the favorite. Robinson certainly ran as if he expected to win. He hit the halfway mark in 11:07. His closest competitor, Tooker, was a minute behind, with it being another half minute back to Tony Fiory who was having a terrific day. Not predicted to be in contention, Fiory had 43 seconds on Saley and 46 on Lalumia. Robinson had no problem, rolling home in under 23:00, serving notice to Mastin that even if he is fully recovered next year, he may well have a battle on his hands. 
Roger Robinson wins the Gold Medal for Men 75-79 at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championship [Photo by Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]

Over two minutes later Tooker came across the line to claim the Silver medal. Tooker had run strongly over the second half of the course, building his margin over Fiory from a half to a full minute. And Fiory had also built his margin over Lalumia to a minute and 24 seconds, as Lalumia had passed and stayed ahead of Saley over the second half.
Robinson 22:45, Tooker 25:13, Fiory 26:14.

Women 75-79.  The defending champion, Madeline Bost, was not able to cme to Syracuse to defend her title. Margie Stoll was the favorite as the only entered runner who regularly runs 5K races in under 30 minutes and she did not disappoint. She crossed the halfway mat in 13:13. Four minutes later Christa Maier, whom I had picked for 3rd, came across in 2nd place. My pick for 2nd, Estelle Hahn, took a more measured approach and crossed the mat 9 seconds later in 4th. I had been worried that Fran Rowe, who looked like a contender based on her spring races, but had a slow 5K recently, might not be in the hunt for a podium finish here. But she showed that I might well be wrong by hitting the halfway point 6 seconds ahead of Hahn in 3rd.  Stoll kept up her pace over the latter part of the race, claiming the gold medal with a margin of victory of over 8 minutes. At some point over the last half of the race, Hahn must have caught up with Rowe and then they went forward together from there. They passed Meier and finished with the same timme although Rowe, in second, must have had a fraction of a second lead.
Fran Rowe (L) earns 2nd place by a fraction of a second over Estelle Hahn (R) in the Women's 75-79 Division at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championships [Photo by Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]

Stoll 27:18,  Rowe 35:54, Hahn 35:54.

Men 80-84. I had the order picked well in this one but it was much closer for the gold medal than I had thought. Wade Stockman was the defending champion;  I thought he would win easily. Jon Desenberg gave him a lot to think about. Stockman went out in the lead but Desenberg was determined to stick with him. Stockman crossed the halfway point in 15:12 with Desenberg only two seconds back. Two minutes later we discovered a similar battle for the last podium spot. Sam Graceffo hit the halfway point in 17:15; I thought Fritz Schlereth would be quite a bit behind at that point but he, too, was running a gritty race and was only 5 seconds back. Graceffo could take no more for granted than Stockman could. Stockman held strong, pulling away from Desenberg over the last 2 kilometers to claim gold with nearly a minute margin. 
Wade Stockman successfully defends his 2015 title, taking the Gold medal for Men 80-84 at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championship [Photo by Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]

Desenberg was in 2nd, well ahead of Graceffo. Like Stockman, Graceffo pulled away after the halfway point to claim the third podium spot with a wide margin.
Stockman 31:16, Desenberg 32:12, Graceffo 35:49. 

Women 80-84. The top woman in this division was the remarkable Libby James from Boulder Colorado. We noted earlier that she broke the US record for this division by over 4 minutes. Naturally she won the division handily. She had well over a 4 minute lead by the time she hit the halfway mark in 12:19. She did not slow down much thereafter claiming her record and her division title in 25:14. 
Libby James (yellow singlet) Heads to the Finish Line and a new US 5K record for Women 80-84 and the Division Gold Medal as well at the 2016 USATF 5K Championship [Photo by Katherine Frontino]

Tami Graf had almost as strong a hold on the silver medal. She crossed the halfway point in 16:53, nearly two minutes ahead of Anny Stockman who was the third runner across the mat but Edna Hyer was only a half minute back in 4th. There was plenty of time to make up that sort of deficit. Graf did not falter in the second half, clipping along to take second place with three minutes to spare. Hyer ran a good second half of the race but not as strong as Stockman, who pulled away to claim the bronze medal by over a minute.
James 25:14, Graf 35:02, Stockman 38:13.
[Note: James's record time is her net time, 25:11]

Men 85-89.  USATF hardly ever has a race where there are three or more 85-89 year olds contesting the top spots but that's what the Syracuse Festival of Races had this year. David Rider had won this race in 2014 with a time of 33:06 but had not raced since then as far as I could tell. Still that seemed strong enough to make him the favorite. Edward Doucette had run a 3.5 mile and a 3.8 mile race this year but his times suggested he would be pressed to break 38 minutes in a 5K. Those two clearly had an expected gap on Sheldon Kall who ran 52:31 here last year. It turned out to be much closer than I anticipated. Apparently Rider had not lost too much ground during his two year layoff from road racing. He crossed the halfway mat at 17:11 but far from running at 12:15 per mile pace, Doucette was clipping the miles off at 11:15 per mile pace and was only 16 seconds behind Rider. That was not much of a cushion. At least that is what rider must have thought as he put a little more distance between him and Doucette over the last mile and a half. In the end Rider had the gold medal with 22 seconds to spare. Doucette took 2nd with no trouble; Kall claimed the gold medal. Kall ran faster than his 2015 time by over 5 minutes.
David Rider takes the Gold Medal for Men 85-89 at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championship [Photo by Bob Brock Images/rhbrockj11@me.com]

Rider 35:43, Doucette 36:05, Kall 47:15.

Men 90 and up. Just when  Willis Moses was finally going to get some competition in his 85-89 age group, he left it and moved up to 90 and over where he took the gold medal unopposed. But any 90 year old and many younger men would have had a tough time taking the medal from him if they had been fit enough to show up. Moses hit the halfway point in 18:15 and did not slow much over the second half of the course. He finished in 39:13 for a fine race. Breaking 45 minutes at 90 would be great; breaking 40 is really something!
Willis Moses headed to the Finish Line and another Age Division Gold Medal, this time for Men 90-94 at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championships [Photo by Katherine Frontino]
 Moses 39:13 

This was a tremendous Championship Event with highly competitive runners in every Age Division. Congratulations to all who came to Syracuse and competed!

 The final post for the 5K Championship will cover Teams, Elite Performance Medals and my Overall Masters Race and Age-Grading Grand Prix computations.

4 comments:

  1. I am a little confused. I looked at the official results and Roger Robinson was not credited with first place age geoup 75 -79
    In fact his name does not appear

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    1. Craig, sorry I missed this when it came in. I relied on the Official Results. I will pass your comment on to one of the race officials who was present at the 5km Masters Cross Country Championship.

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    2. One last thing, I saw that Roger Robinson's residence is listed as Wellington, New Zealand, a gorgeous place for running especially if you like running up and down hills and mountains. But if he is not a US citizen, Robinson would not be eligible for any USATF prizes. That could be a factor in his decision not to enter the USATF Masters 5K Championship at the Syracuse Festival of Races.

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  2. Craig, I checked. You are correct that Roger Robinson was the first 75-79 year old to cross the line. But he did not enter the Championship. In fact there are two races that are run at the same time. Some runners choose to enter the National USATF Masters 5K Championship. Only runners 40 and over my do so. But many runners who are of Masters age do not choose to do so. Roger Robinson was apparently one f those runners. Clearly he would have been competitive but you cannot win without entering the race.

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