Monday, March 12, 2018

Who’s In For the 8K Masters Championship at Virginia Beach--A Look 5 Days Out

March 12 2018. Weather as of March12 2018 prediction for Race Day at 7:45 AM start: Sunny, 33 degrees 61% humidity winds 12 mph NNW—showers holding off until late afternoon. That’s colder than forecast earlier in the week;  the forecast can, and probably will change between now and then so keep an eye to the weather.

Because a lot of runners are likely to enter or be entered by their teams in the early part of the week, this early preview will just look age group by age group and only at those already entered.  This preview is based on those entered as of 11:59 PM on Sunday, March 11. The good news is that there are at least 160 entered now and we are likely to crest 200, what with teams and others yet to sign up. So there will be plenty of great competition—some of that can be seen already. But these previews will need to be updated, no doubt!

40-44. Of the three who made the 40-44 podium last year, only Jeanette Boyd, is entered thus far. Third in 34:22 last year, that seems a good prediction for this year too.  New Hampshire’s Tammie Robie has a couple of recent sub-20 5K’s to go along with 2 sub 1:07 10 Milers and a 1:27:44 Half Marathon. None of the others seem likely to contend for the podium. If the race were held with no added entrants, Susan Hagel of the Colonial Road Runners who runs her 5K’s in the 23-24 minute range and her 10K’s a bit over 47, would be favored for third.

Tammie Robie     Jeanette Boyd     Susan Hagel

David Angell and Jake Stookey finished 1-3 last year in the Men’s race; the 2nd place finisher, Philippe Rolly has aged up to 45-49. Angell is the returning M40 and Overall Masters champion and at this point is the favorite to defend his title. It does not appear that anyone in the 40-44field can challenge him. Angell was somewhat off his game at the USATF XC Championship due to a freak knee injury and still finished 4th overall. Now he has had several more weeks to recover and train up for Virginia Beach. So I expect him to be close to where he was last year when he won in 25:24.
David Angell earns his first National Championship patch at the 2017 USATF Masters 8K Championship at Virginia Beach

Angell has brought some teammates with him and they appear to be fast but probably not threats for the age division podium. One unknown quantity is James Holbrook; I can find no results for him. There is already a lot of speed here. The chief contenders for podium spots appear to be Tommy Boles, Paul Jones, Giovanni Pippia, Gabriel Rodriguez, Jake Stookey, and Sam Teigen. The latter two appear to have a slight edge on the others Stookey took 3rd in the age division last year in 26:31. Teigen took 2nd in the division at USATF XC in 28:03 and has exhibited good strength in the longer races. Stookey’s 15:51-16:01 5K’s suggest he has more speed which may be the deciding factor in their match-up . But Boles, Jones, Pippia,  and Rodriguez are no slouches. In 2016 Boles ran a couple of 5K’s right around 17:00 and ran a 28:13 8K; Jones came in 8 seconds behind Stookey at Club XC, with Pippia only 3 seconds behind Stookey and owning a 15:43 5K this year;  Rodriguez ran a couple of 5K’s this past year in 16:43 and 17:10.

David Angell     Jake Stookey     Sam Teigen

45-49. Last year Brent Fields, Keith Schumann, and Derek Miller took the top 3 spots but there appears to be more up front speed in this year’s edition. Fields won in 27:43 last year but he would likely  have to take at least half a minute off that time to make the podium this year. Philippe Rolly  took 2nd in the 40-44 division last year in 25:51.
Philippe Rolly crosses the finish line in 2nd place overall in 25:51 at the 2017 USATF Masters 8K Championship in Virginia Beach

Neither Elliott nor Jonathan Frieder, the swift twins who now run for Garden State, contested this 8K Championship last year. But Jonathan F. finished 3rd in the masters competition in the Rothman 8K last November in 26:08, and his brother was a minute back. Elliott F. has been on the comeback trail and beat his brother at the USATF XC Championship in early fenruary. It will be interesting to see how their rivalry plays out this year. But it seems possible that both will come home in under 27 minutes.

Philippe Rolly     Jonathan Frieder     Elliott Frieder

The two entrants in the Women’s race so far, Michelle Brangan and Christine Hill,  finished 2nd and 4th last year in 32:04 and 34:50. Brangan also has a 1:05:23 10-miler from last fall and Hill has a 36:05 5-miler and a 1:14:20 15K. The finishing order from last year seems a reasonable prediction. 
Michelle Brangan heading for her 2nd place finish in the 45-49 division of the  USATF Masters 8K Championships, splendid in Green
I hope the race card fills in a little over the next few days. Brangan and Hill deserve to have some competition.

Michelle Brangan     Christine Hill

50-54. Two of the top four from last year, Marisa Sutera Strange, who won it in 29:56, and Karyl Sargent, who finished 4th in 33:34, are entered. It does not appear that any of the others can stay with Strange.
Marisa Sutera Strange almost catching the 2nd place Masters finisher in the 2017 USATF Masters 8K Championships in Virginia Beach

Sargent has two impressive rivals for the 2nd and 3rd spots on the podium. Suzanne LaBurt ran the Ashenfelter 8K in 31:34 and the Fitzgerald Lager 5K in 19:34 last year. Michelle Simonaitis hd an impressive set of times in the 2018 Salt Lake City Original Winter Series, clocking 19:46, 40:40, and 1:02:49 in the 5K, 10K, and 15K. Her 10K time is age-grade equivalent to a 32:07 8K. It appears that Sargent will be pressed to stay with them.

Marisa Sutera Strange     Suzanne LaBurt     Michelle Simonaitis

Kent Lemme and Mark Hixson  finished 2nd and 4th last year in 26:34 and 27:03 and none of their other top rivals are entered as yet. Lemme has been on a tear since last October when he finished 2nd in the 5K Masters Championship at Syracuse in 15:56, won the 50-54 15K Masters Championship in Tulsa with a 52:26, and capped it off this February with yet another age division win at the USATF XC Championships over an 8K course in Tallahassee with a 27:36!
Kent Lemme strides to victory in the 50-54 division at the 2017 USATF Masters National Championship in Virginia Beach

Hixson stayed with his teammate, Lemme, for most of that Tallahassee race but let him get away in the last kilometer. The top contenders so far for the remaining podium position appear to be Thomas Schumann who ran 29:30 in the USATF XC Championships over 8 kilometers and Gregory Dawson who recently clocked a 30:08 in the Icy 8K.

Kent Lemme     Mark Hixson     Thomas Schumann

55-59. John Van Kerkhove took first last year in a fine 29:06, ran well at Dedham, but then was injured or in recovery the rest of the year. Van Kerkhove is not entered yet but the GVH entries are expected to come in soon. He already has some terrific competition. Nat Larson aged up in the middle of last year and actually took Runner of the Year for both the 50-54 and 55-59 age groups. He ran 27:04 here last year and was running faster at the end of the year when he ran 26:19 at the Rothman 8K, breaking the existing American 55-59 record. He would have to run quite a bit faster this year than last to have a shot at breaking his own record.
Nat Larson [right], the current American 8K record Holder for Men 55-59,  strides toward the Age-Grading podium and a 27:04 at the 2017 USATF Masters 8K Championship

At least right now, conditions do not seem propitious. Derrick Staley took first in the 10K Championships at Dedham in this division in 35:49, which is age grade equivalent to a 28:29 8K. Timothy Ensign  of Tennessee hs been running Club XC for several years, typically clocking around 37 minutes or less on the 10K circuit. This is his first venture onto the USATF Road Championship circuit, at least in the last few years. He has a 29:17 8K to his credit from last November and a 36:46 10K already this year.

Nat Larson     Derrick Staley     Timothy Ensign

Doreen McCoubrie and Mary Swan, of the powerful Athena squad, took 1-2 last year in 31:09 and 31:55. So far this year it does not seem there is a rival who can challenge them.
Doreen McCoubrie heading for the 2017 USATF 8K 55-59 title

Two runners would compete  for the final podium spot if the race were held today. Suzanne Cordes ran 20:55 at the 5K Championships in Syracuse last year and Kerry Monahan ran 21:10 the year before.  Cordes also came in 4th at the USATF XC Championships in Tallahassee last month, suggesting she has good current fitness. Against  that Monahan can claim strong showings at several long races last year, clocking 1:16:06 in the Bronx 10 Miler and 1:39:17 in the Brooklyn Half Marathon.

Doreen McCoubrie     Mary Swan     Suzanne Cordes

60-64. This event is loaded, although it looks like we may have to wait a bit longer to welcome Tom McCormack back to the circuit as an injury flare-up of will keep him away after all. Atlanta will be entering a strong team nonetheless and they have plenty of challengers too. Ken Youngers will lead the red and black contingent. Ken was out of action early last year but came on strong in the fall. He took 3rd in the 5K Championships in Syracuse in 17:48 (age-grade equivalent to a 29:04) and 2nd in the USATF Club  XC Championships in Lexington. Youngers will have his hands full though because the fellow who beat him there by a minute, Joe Sheeran, is entered here as well. Rick Becker, who finished 2nd in Lexington, planned on running but a nasty virus sent him off to the Emergency Room in an ambulance and he lost some precious training time. Roger Sayre is now running for the Boulder Road Runners; he finished 5th in the 55-59 division at Club XC over 10 kilometers in 36:29, age-grade equivalent to a 29:00 8K.
Joe Sheeran winning the USATF Masters 60+ Race at the 2017  Club Cross Country National Championships

That puts him a tad ahead of Sheeran’s time in the 8K at Club XC. Sayre also ran 55:29 over the challenging 15K course at Tulsa; that is equivalent to a 28:51 8K. As of this writing I expect we will have a chance to greet another champion runner, Brian Pilcher, who missed most of last year after coming within 7 seconds of the American 60-64 8K record at Virginia Beach a year ago. I see no recent times for Pilcher and in the past when coming back from an injury he has needed a race or two before he is really back on top of his game. It will be interesting to see where he is this coming Saturday; he will certainly have some horses to run with-- looks like a real shootout!

Roger Sayre     Joe Sheeran     Brian Pilcher    

Mo Bartley and Jill Miller-Robinett of the Impala team took 1-2 last year in 35:23 and 36:00. Bartley is not entered now but Miller-Robinett is. There is stronger competition entered this year than last if the recent Championships are a good indicator. Catharine Utzschneider won the USATF XC Championships in 27:55 in Tallahassee while Miller-Robinett took the title at Club XC in Lexington in 28:27 over what most consider a  tougher XC course.
Jill Miller-Robinett heading for victory at the 2017 USATF Club Cross Country Championship [Photo courtesy of Mike Scott]

Joanna Harper finished 11 seconds behind Miller-Robinett in 2nd at Club XC, with Patricia Ford only two seconds back from harper. All are entered here.

Jill Miller-Robinett     Catharine Utzschneider     Joanna Harper

65-69. Kathleen Doswell who finished 4th last year in 42:05 is entered but none of the 2017 podium is entered yet. But the West Coast has committed to the race. The Impala’s Donna Chan and Jo Anne Rowland are in, as are Team red Lizard’s Jeanette Groesz and Suzanne Ray. If the Club XC Championships at Lexington are a good guide, then Ray-Groesz-Rowland is a good prediction because that’s the way they came in, finishing in 27:46, 27:58, and 30:20.
Jeanette Groesz finishes off her Silver Medal run in the 65-69 division of the 2017 USATF Masters 15K Championships in Tulsa [Photo courtesy of the Tulsa Sports Commission]

Chan was 14 seconds behind Rowland.

Suzanne Ray     Jeanette Groesz     Jo Anne Rowland

Last year it was Tom Bernhard, Peter Mullin, and Doug Bell, finishing 1-2-3 in 30:38, 30:57, and 31:25. Bernhard and Bell are in but Mullin has not yet been heard from. Last year bernhard was a lock for the 65-69 championship and that is likely to be true again this year.
Tom Bernhard completes the northerly passage of the Boardwalk on his way to 65-69 victory at the 2017 USATF masters 8K Championship in Virginia Beach
Mullin has a 20:21 5K and a 32:42 8K this February. His time in the Law Week 8K is about a half minute slower than he ran in 2017 but suggests he should be ready to run should he enter. Should Mullin not enter, James Foster and Kirk Larson will compete for the final podium spot. Foster has had the better of the competition recently, coming in ahead of Larson at the 5K Championships in Syracuse (19:25 to 19:33) and at Club XC 33:21 to 34:34. Terry McCluskey, who was one of the dominant players in this division 4 years ago, is returning to action, to race his way back to full fitness before he ages up to 70+ during the summer. Last year he ran a 33:22 5 miler and a 1:09:03 10 miler. Those will be top-notch times in the 70-74 division.

Tom Bernhard     Doug Bell     James Foster

70-74. In the 2017 edition of this race Jim May, Paul Carlin [yours truly], and Gene French claimed the top 3 spots in 35:01, 35:14, and 35:35. French and I are entered. May and his teammate, Tony Gingello, are likely to be entered soon. Dave Glass, who was beating almost everyone in the division last fall, is in, now as a member of the Atlanta Track Club. Bill Dunn is also planning on descending to sea level from his high plains training grounds to try his hand at an 8K. In the 15K at the end of the year, it was Glass dominating in 1:06:15, with Dunn a strong 2nd in 1:09:06, me 4th in 1:10:36 and French 5th in 1:11:29. Dunn recently ran a 22:18 5K at altitude so that would be faster at sea level, but how much faster? My hamstring acted up late in the year, interfering with training, and I had poor outings in the two XC Championships, finishing way back. Glass, Gingello, and French continued their strong running although a couple of West Coast guys were able to run just a wee bit faster than Glass. At Club XC in Lexington, it was Glass 36:24, Gingello 37:13, and Gene French 38:15. At the USATF XC Championships in Tallahassee the order was the same but French was closer to catching Gingello. Glass won it in 36:22 to Gingello’s 37:08 and French’s 37:10. That seems a reasonable prediction for the 8K road championship.

Dave Glass     Tony Gingello     Gene French

Kathleen Jefferson won the division last year in 45:54 with Nancy Blount 4th in 1:04:35. Barbara Biasi finished 6th in the 65-69 division last year in 44:55. That should be enough to make Biasi the favorite for the win with Jefferson favored for 2nd.  
Kathleen Jefferson, 3 miles into the race, pacing her way to victory in the Women's 70-74 division at the 2017 USATF Masters 8K Championship in Virginia Beach

Judith Robertson was not entered in the Championship last year but ran in the  Mass Participation part of the Towne Bank 8K, finishing in 54:04. That makes her the favorite to finish off the podium.

Barbara Biasi     Kathleen Jefferson     Judith Robertson

75-79. Judy Stewart finished 2nd last year in 56:27 with Madeline Bost 3rd in 1:04:50. Stewart is reasonably fit; she ran 1:00:49 in the Icy 8K in February.  Bost won the division at the Club XC Championships over 6K in 49:15.

As they are the only two entrants at present  they are favored for 1st and 2nd in that order.

Judy Stewart     Madeline Bost

Doug Goodhue, the ‘Silver Bullett’, and Bob Hendrick, who just aged up from 70-74, are the two favorites. Goodhue is in recovery mode so it could be very close. The last year he was healthy for the 8K Championships, in 2014, he took the division in 32:14. But his fitness has been on and off since then. Last year he came back from months of rehab and won thhe 1 Mile Road Championship in 6:17. A month later he was headed for a good time in the 5K Championships in Syracuse when his hamstring flared up; he was able to finish and win the division but in 22:45 instead of being at least a minute faster. Hendrick has been on a roll as he finished up his last year in the 70-74 division. He took 3rd in the 70-74 division at the 15K Championships in Tulsa in 1:10:02. In his first outing as a 75 year old, he took the 75-79 division at the USATF XC Championships by over 4 minutes in 38:04. The big question is Goodhue’s fitness. If he is where he was for Syracuse and nothing flares up during the race, he should be the favorite. But if he is not quite at that level or if the hamstring or anything else flares up, the favorite’s role goes to Hendrick.  As it is Goodhue’s first race back since Syracuse, I make Hendrick the favorite. But watch out later in the season!  
Robert Hendrick [orange singlet] strides to victory in the 75-79 division at the 2018 USATF XC National Championship in Tallahassee FL [Picture courtesy of Mike Scott]

The last podium spot should be resolved by the battle between Ed Bligh, Jr. of Atlanta and Tony Fiory of Clifton RR. Fiory took 2nd in the division last year in this race in 44:08. Fiory also took 2nd in the 5K Championships in Syracuse in 25:26. Bligh ran 45:04 at Club XC and 45:20 at the USATF XC Championships, both over 8K courses that would be considered more challenging than the flat, fast course at Virginia Beach. That suggests they are closely matched; I will give Fiory a slight edge for his prowess on the roads. His Syracuse 5K time is age-grade equivalent to a 41:41 8K.

Bob Hendrick     Doug Goodhue     Tony Fiory

80-84. Libby James was expected to compete last year but came down ill right before the race and had to scratch. This year, her health seems fine and I have been notified that she has just entered. She is favored to  win, of course. Will she break the American 8K Record? Anne Clarke set the current record of 52:00 over 27 years ago.

Libby James [center, far side] closes in on the finish line and a new American 5K record of 25:11 for Women 80-84 at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championships
James seems almost sure to break that; a couple of months ago she ran 55:10 in a 10K at altitude. Even without the altitude, it suggests she can break the American record by nearly ten minutes;  her 10K time is age-grade equivalent to a  42:51!

Libby James

Alan Rider is the sole entrant in the Men’s 80-84 division. He runs his 5K’s recently in 40 to 42 minutes and his 10K’s in 1:19 to 1:22.

Alan Rider

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