Friday, October 26, 2018

Age Division Championships at the 2018 USATF Masters 15K Championships in Tulsa OK

October 25, 2018. The earlier preview looked at the Overall and Age-Grading Championships. Now I turn to the heart of the race, the Age Division Championships. Who will be the 2018 National 15K Champ in their Age Division? The forecast still holds for low 50's and mostly sunny. The forecast on windiness has improved, with the prediction now being even more moderate at 2-3 mph. Talk about 'rolling out the red carpet' for the Elite Masters Runners--we will take favorable weather over frills any day of the week--Thank you Tulsa!

The big news in terms of entries on the last day is that Sean Wade, the 50-54 holder of the 5K American Record at 15:02 has joined us. That will have implications for the Overall Race, Age-Grading and the Age Division. See immediately below for Age Division implications and the end of the Age Divisions for updates on Overall and Age Grading contests..

Age Division Championships.

40-44
Men From the Overall Preview which had David Angell competing for 1st place against John Gardiner, who is in the 45-49 division, it is clear Angell is the favorite for the Division crown. Giovanni Pipia is the closest contender; he finished just 9 seconds behind Angell at the 8K Championships at Virginia Beach in March. Since then Angell has won Masters National Championships at the 10K, 5k, and 5 Km XC. Pipia finished 10th Masters at the Boston Marathon in 2:40:33. That was a very nice time for the challenging conditions in Boston this year. But I can find nothing since. It could be that was an ordeal that set him back or it could just be that his life became busier. In any case it appears he will not be race fit. That is enough to keep Angell as a solid favorite. But I am sure Angell would not be surprised to see Pipia in the lead pack. Apparently his training has been solid. Pipia's Atlanta teammate, George Darden, may well give him a run for 2nd. Darden finished 2nd in the Division at the 5K, albeit well back from Angell. His 16:43 at that race is age grade equivalent to a 51:31 which is quite a bit faster than is likely for anyone else currently registered. And it is possible that Pipia is primarily entered to help his team get the victory although not near peak fitness.  Another National Team Championship is always desirable.
David Angell   Giovanni Pipia   George Darden

Women Melissa Gacek should have this division title well in hand. Her main challenge should come from Michelle Paxton who finished just 16 seconds back from Gacek last year. But I am expecting Gacek to run faster this year, probably a minute faster if this year's and last year's course were the same. Based on Paxton's times this year and last year along with Gacek's, I am guessing there will be a bigger gap this year. Paxton's recent 10K effort in 40:44 is age grade equivalent to a 1:01:59 15K. Gacek's 1:03:03 at the Medtrnic TC 10 Miler earlier this month is age grade equivalent to a 58:40. Brooke Bray, Alice Kassens, and Shannon Mauser-Suing could all break onto the podium. Brooke Bray's 1:07:45 at the NorCal John Frank 10 miler last March is age grade equivalent to a 1:03:02. Her more recent 19:22 at the Morgan Hill 5K is equivalent to a time under 1:01 but it is a much shorter distance and the Morgan Hill course tends to have fast times. Kassens is coming back from an injury. Her first time out post-injury was the 5K in Atlanta. She ran 20:06 and would presumably run faster today. But even the 19:10 is age grade equivalent to a 1:02:04. That suggests she has a good chance of coming in ahead of both Bray and Paxton. Mauser-Suing is a bit harder to figure out. A year ago she ran a 1:24:34. The year prior she ran 3 minutes faster. Given the lack of recent races it seems unlikely that Mauser-Suing is in better condition than a year ago but stranger things have happened. Her 2017 time is age grade equivalent to a 59:33; her 2016 was faster. My guess is that if Mauser-Suing toes the line on Saturday she will be looking for a podium age division finish at the least. [Note: Paxton notified the Race Director on Wednesday that she would not be competing due to injury.]
Melissa Gacek   Shannon Mauser-Suing   Alice Kassens

45-49
Men John Gardiner will have to fend off challenges from Alan Black, Jason Butler, and Philippe Rolly. Gardiner won the race overall in 2016 and finished 2nd to Kevin Castille last year, with times a couple of ticks over 50 minutes both times. Butler finished 4th overall two years go and 8th last year but I have not found any results for him this year. That raises a question about race fitness. Black has been active again after an on and off couple of years. He appears to be close to the top of his game. He finished 3rd at the 5K, about ten seconds behind Darden but apparently had some breathing problems. He recently ran a 10.2 K race (go figure!) in 34:37 which is roughly equivalent to a 33:56 10K which is age grade equivalent to a 51:43. If that transfers, it puts him almost a minute faster than Butler ran here last year. Rolly has chased Angell home in the 8K and the 10K this year, finishing only 18 seconds back in 25:57, and a minute back in the 10K at 33:33. If he can replicate that, he should be able to take 2nd place. Should any of those falter, Brent Fields who covered the USATF Masters Half marathon in 1:18:22 seems poised to move up. That time is age grade equivalent to a 55:08 15K
John Gardiner   Philippe Rolly   Alan Black

Women Jennifer Malavolta has two 5K's this year in 18:54 and 18:41. The slower of those two times is age grade equivalent to a 59:30. Assuming Malavolta has put in the miles to be ready for a good 15K, she is the favorite. Jodi Buyyounouski's 1:32:44 in the Urban Cow HM is age grade equivalent to a 1:05:18. Alexandra Newman's 1:34:09 in the 2017 USATF Half Marathon Championship equates to a 1:06:18 15K. Ann Bauermeister's recent 46:09 10K is age grade equivalent to a 1:10:17. That seems to indicate that Malavolta is the one to beat, with Buyyounouski a bit ahead of Newman and Bauermeister.
Jennifer Malavolta   Jodi Buyyounouski   Alexandra Newman

50-54
Men This division just got a whole lot more competitive on the last day of online registration. Sean Wade, the current American Record Holder for the 50-54 5K at 15:02, registered. He won the Masters division of the Aramco Half Marathon in Houston in January of 2017 in 1:12:21. That puts him in the hunt for the Overall win and definitely the favorite for an age division National Championship and a contender for a top Age Grading prize. If he is close to that fitness he could well break 51 minutes. Even if he is off a bit, a sub-52 seems doable. Kent Lemme is not in Tulsa to give battle but two of his running mates from the Greater Springfield Harriers are, Francis Burdett and Mark Hixson. Hixson is Mr. Reliable for the GSH team and a fine runner in his own right. The 34:20 he ran at the 10K Championships in Dedham, for example, age grades to an equivalent of 52:23. Burdett is still not quite at that level although he has been improving rapidly during this year as he returns form injury. He just ran 34:54 at the Lone Gull 10K which suggests something around 53 or so might be possible for him on Saturday. Suffice to say that Wade will not have a cakewalk in the Division--great competition!
Sean Wade   Mark Hixson   Francis Burdett

Women Fiona Bayly, in the hunt for the Overall Win, should take the division crown easily. After  Bayly it could well be a 4-way fight for the two remaining podium positions. Debra Carlson ran 1:09:26 here in 2015 and ran a 1:35:27 in the Cowtown HM. Kris Huff ran a 1:36:41 in the HM Championship at Ann Arbor but times were generally a little slow. Stacy Shaw's 1:34:47 at the Lincoln HM makes her a slight favorite. Laurie Wharton has been coming back from injury for most of the year. Her 5K times have come down steadily to 21:33 at the 5K Championship where she came in just behind her teammate, Huff. At the Macon Labor Day 5K, a fast course, she cracked 20! Earlier in the year she had a 1:38:55 at the Publix Georgia HM but she would probably run that several minutes faster now.
Bayly   Shaw   Huff

55-59 
Men Defending Champion, Nat Larson should take this division with ease as he tries to wrap up yet another age grading win overall. Roger Corey and John Kissane should have a close struggle for 2nd place. They have both run 10K's in the 41 to 43 minute range recently. I will give Corey the edge on the basis that he also has a recent Half Marathons in the 1:33 to 1:34 range.

Women Doreen McCoubrie won this division last ear in 1:03:12 with her teammate, Terri Cassel  in 2nd place, forty seconds back. McCoubrie seems to be running even stronger this year so there is no reason to think she cannot repeat. Cassel should take 2nd but after that, Eileen Brennan-Erler and Suzanne Cordes have comparable 5K times in the 20:30 to 21:30 range, and Michele Keane turned in a 44:51 performance on the challenging 10K at Dedham . The 5K times are a little better than the 10K time I terms of age-grading equivalent but the `0K is a closer distance so may be or relevant. Cordes's last outing at the 5Km XC was also a little off her usual form so it is unclear whether she is at her best.
Doreen McCoubrie   Terri Cassel   Michele Keane

60-64
Men Roger Sayre and Rick Becker renew their rivalry up front in this division. But Sayre has been able to come in ahead of Becker at both the 5K and the HM so this should go his way too. The age grading is another story, though, as Becker is Sayre's senior by 3 years. Brian Nelson should have a clear path to the final podium spot but Boulder's Nate Anderson will try to stay within striking distance.

Women Andriette Wickstrom and Ann Ringlein came in 1-2 last year in 1:09:00 and 1:10:54. Jennifer Teppo of Team Red Lizard should contend for the win this year. her 1:38;40 in the Appletree HM last month suggests she could well run under 1:10, perhaps as low as 1:09. [Hot tip: I was reminded that Teppo won the 55-59 age division at the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in the spring in 1:09:16. If she is in that condition, then she could break 1:05, and might well win by a few blocks. On the other hand, Wickstrom need not despair of winning; if Teppo were in that condition it raises the question of why only a 1:38:40 at Appletree, which describes itself as flat and fast!?]  Joanna Harper who took 3rd last year will have to improve considerably  on her 1:16:01 from last year to have a shot at the podium.
Andriette Wickstrom   Jennifer Teppo   Ann Ringlien

65-69
Men Tom Bernhard is the defending champion. Up until early August it appeared he would reel off several age division championships in a row, as he did in 2017. But his calf started acting up and he lost 5 weeks of training and skipped two road races he had entered early on, the 5K and the 1 Mile Championships. He presumably has at least 6 weeks of reasonable training under his shoes now and decided to compete. My guess is that he feels things are good enough that he can at least go for the Age Division win. My guess is that he can get it. We shall see. In his absence, Kirk Larson moved up and took the victory, his first Age Division National Championship at the 5K in Atlanta. He may well push Bernhard under the current circumstances. But Chuck Smead is also entered and Smead came in a good minute ahead of Larson at the 10K Championship. Bernhard and Smead went 1-2 last year and that is probably still a good prediction for this year. But it will be tougher; look for Smead to push Bernhard all the way. John Hirschberger finished 6th last year in 1:06:58 but he has run stronger this year. His 1:31:40 in the Half Martathon Championships in Ann arbor suggest he could well come in under 1:05. If so, he will give Larson a good run for the final podium position; Larson generally prefers to keep his races under 15K in length.
Tom Bernhard   Chuck Smead   Kirk Larson

Women Suzanne Ray finished 3rd last year between two powerhouses of Women's distance running, Sabra Harvey and Edie Stevenson. Neither is entered this  year so Ray will get a chance to shine and should take advantage of the opportunity with a win by a wide margin. Her times in the Half Marathon and 8K this year suggest she may have a hard time matching the 1:08:59 she turned in last year but she should be able to run 1:10 or so and still win comfortably. Victoria Crisp's  23:36 suggests a 1:16 or so would be a reasonable projection to the 15K. But she may be better at longer races; she clocked a 1:42:10 in a spring half marathon which is age grade equivalent to a 1:11:57. So Ray may have to be on her toes to be sure she takes the gold medal. Betty Wagner's 1:20:48 in the Shamrock 10 Miler suggests a 15K time of around 1:15 to 1:16 is feasible for her, and that should be good enough for the final podium spot.
Suzanne Ray   Victoria Crisp   Betty Wagner

70-74
Men The big news here is that Gene Dykes, having just won the WMA 70-74 Marathon Championship, breaking his own American record in the process and finishing within a half minute of the legendary Ed Whitlock's World Best mark, has decided to skip the 15K to focus on breaking the Half Marathon record. At the 5K in Atlanta, it was Dykes, followed, in order, by Lloyd Hansen, Jerry Learned, Przemek Nowicki, and Dave Glass, the defending 15K Champion. Nowicki is not entered but the other three are. Hansen came in almost a minute ahead of Learned and another half minute ahead of Glass in Atlanta. Both were much closer to Hansen at the 5 Km XC in Buffalo but Hansen was just back from a week at the World Championships where he ran an 8K XC, a Half Marathon and a 10K all in the space of 9 days. And Hansen likes the HM. At the HM Championship in Ann Arbor he had over 6 minutes on Glass. Learned was even further back but that was due to a fluke non-running related injury incurred a few days before the race. Terry McCluskey has been in the mix as well but he has scratched. Gene French and I, Paul Carlin, have been off our game of late but we have hopes of getting a bit closer to the podium this time around.
Lloyd Hansen   Jerry Learned   Dave Glass

Women Irene Terronez finished 2nd to Judy Bomer last year in 1:39:03. Bomer has moved up to the 75-79 division this year. If Terronez can come close to matching her time from last year, she should take the 70-74 crown easily. Carol Rhodes will have a hard time breaking 2 hours, but will be quite happy with 2nd place; those 95 points would give her the 2018 70-74 Masters Grand Prix win.
Irene Terronez   Carol Rhodes

75-79
Men Since his comeback from injury took off this spring, Doug Goodhue, ten-time USATF Divisional Runner of the Year, has won the 10K, 5K, 1 mile, and 5Km XC races. There is no reason to think he will not win this one too and finish up with a perfect 500 points for the Grand Prix. Robert Hendrick will give him a good fight but when both are healthy, Hendrick has been the first to acknowledge that Goodhue has the edge. Hendrick returned a month ago from the WMA Championships in Malaga Spain with a Bronze Medal in the Half Marathon. He will be quite happy to walk away with a Silver Medal from this event. Dale Summers who ran 1:22:04 in the Medtronic TC 10 Miler earlier this month appears to be capable of running  around 1:16 or so int he 15K. That would be fast enough to keep David Cohen of Ann Arbor at bay and claim the final podium spot.
Doug Goodhue   Robert Hendrick   Dale Summers

Women Unless someone enters between now and the race, Judy Bomer just needs to finish. Of course she showed last year she could do much better than just finish as she ran under 1:40. That probably scared off any potential competition.
Judy Bomer

Updates for Overall and Age Division

Michelle Paxton, who finished 3rd overall here last year, notified the Race Director today that she would be unable to race due to injury. As I had Paxton picked for third, that means I move Shanon Mauser-Suing  up.
Melissa Gacek   Fiona Bayly   Shannon Mauser-Suing

Sean Wade threw his hat in the ring. That means there will be one more runner in the lead pack. He is a terrific runner, no doubt. Were this a 5k or maybe even a 10K, I might be inclined to pick Wade for a top 2 spot but it seems to me that both Gardiner and Angell have better recent half marathon times. What I found for Wade was a 1:12:21 at the Aramco HM in January 2017. Angell ran 1:11:20 on a rolling hills HM course in Ann Arbor and John Gardiner ran a 1:10:48 in the 2017 HM Championship which was deceptively difficult as much of the second half of the race was uphill. My guess is that once Gardiner and Angell throw in a surge in the middle of the race that Wade will be with the chase pack, but he may prove me wrong. Wade may well be the rest of the rest. Philippe Rolly, Giovanni Pipia and Alan Black will battle all the way, but if they are close at the end, Wade's closing speed is likely to be decisive.
John Gardiner   David Angell   Sean Wade

Age-Grading
Gene Dykes is skipping Tulsa and Sean Wade has entered. If Wade can run around 51:00, that would age grade over 91%, leaving him in the mix for an Age-Grading award. Larson ran 52:20 last year on the challenging hilly course and that was good for a 91.5%. He age graded at 94% in the 5K this year, and holds the 55-59 American record at that distance.
Nat Larson   Sean Wade   Rick Becker



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