Friday, March 15, 2019

2019 USATF Masters 8 Km Championship-Age Division Preview

March 14 2019. The first preview focused on the Overall Race and Age Grading Championships along with some speculation about possible record setting performances. Here I take it age division  by division. Online registration ends Wednesday midnight; that means this preview is more complete than the first one. The weather forecast changes a bit each day as well. As of Wednesday evening at 7:30 pm the forecast for Saturday 7:00 AM: Cloudy skies, 49 degrees, 73% humidity and 10 mph winds from the NW. That's not bad! Forecast for the day before is warmer but also windier with winds at 13 mph; the day after--Sunny but colder (39 degrees) less humid (61%). Scattered thunderstorms are in the forecast for Friday afternoon through the evening. Let's hope those stay put or go away entirely. The only reference to lightning bolts should appear in comments on the speed of the athletes.

AGE DIVISION NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

40-44 Women As noted in the earlier preview, Roberta Groner is the favorite to be first across the line overall and so is the favorite to take this division title at the same time. Having the ability to run a 2:31:01 in the New York Marathon and the speed to clock 1:14:51 in the Gasparilla Half Marathon this past month, suggest a sub-28 is possible. Although Jill Braley and Brooke Bray will push in that direction a sub-30 minute effort seems unlikely. An 18:23 5K is the age grading equivalent of a 30:00 8K. Both Braley and Bray have run 5Ks in the low 19 minute range. Braley has shown that she is a tough Cross Country runner, finishing 2nd at both the 2018 5 Km Masters Cross Country Championships in Buffalo and at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee, both over 6 km.
Roberta Groner right at the podium shot for the 2017 California International Marathon where she finished 2nd to Sara Hall center. Carrie Dimoff left finished 3rd Photo Credit-Sean Dulany, Saramento Running Association via Runners World

Bray's only recent National Championship effort I can find is at the 15K in Tulsa, a longer distance that may not be the best predictor of an 8K. There she finished 5th in the division in 1:02:43. Braley appears to have the edge over Bray. Bray should come home in 3rd. If either of those two falter then Bray's Impala teammate, Liz Gottlieb, who finished 6th at the Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta in 20:18, or Jeanette Boyd, who ran 34:41 here last year, could factor into the podium race.
Picks:
Roberta Groner     Jill Braley     Brooke Bray

Men David Angell is a strong favorite to take the Overall win for the third straight year, and that goes for this division as well. He won last year in 25:39. There is plenty of speed in this division which makes picking the rest of the podium a challenge. Sam Teigen finished 4th last year, 26 seconds behind Angell in 26:05. Later in the year he ran a 26:55 in the Ashenfelter 8K and a 2:36:50 at the Chicago Marathon.
David Angell, about to take the 10K Masters Overall (and 40-44)  title at Dedham MA in April 2018 Photo Credit-Michael Scott

His only race I can find this winter is a Half Marathon he apparently used as a workout. Mike Cole, out of Indiana, competes at a Masters National LDR Championship for the first time. He ran a 15:57 5K at a local 5K in Indianapolis in October and clocked a 1:12:40 Half Marathon in the Indy 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, and a 2:38:43 at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in November. Mark Tompkins finished 6th last year here in 26:32. He ran a 28:16 8K at the Newport News One City Marathon in early March. Others who might figure in if any of those stumble include: George Darden, Paul Jones, and Jake Stookey. Darden finished 2nd in this division at the 5K Championships in Atlanta and at the 15K Championships in Tulsa in 16:42, and 51:04 respectively. Those outings suggest a 26:45 to 27 minute 8K is within his reach. Jones showed his toughness in finishing 6th overall on the 8 Km course at the USATF XC Championships in Tallahassee in 28:08. Teigen had a similar outing on the same course in 2018, running a 28:03. Stookey ran a 26:31 on this course in 2017 but struggled later that year and into 2018. By the summer, Stookey was back close to his normal fitness. He ran a 51:47 in the tough Boilermaker 15K and followed that in the fall with a 16:44 5K. He nailed 3rd place in the M40+ race at the Masters 5 Km XC Championships in Buffalo, finishing 47 seconds behind Angell. If his fitness has continued to improve since then, he could well be in the mix.
Picks:
David Angell     Sam Teigen     Mike Cole

45-49 Women Michelle Brangan won the division race here last year in 32:30. She clocked 31:31 at a 5 Miler in February so she may be in even better shape for a fast time this year. Jennifer Malavolta should push her for the win. Her 5K times in 2018 were in the 18:45 to 19:15 range. A 1:00 5K is age-grade equivalent to a 31:04 8K. She finished 3rd overall and won the division at the 15K in Tulsa, running a 59:59 on that tough, hilly course. 
Jennifer Malavolta finishing off her Bronze Medal effort Overall at the 2018 USATF Masters 15K Championship at Tulsa OK Photo Credit: Tom Gilbert

That is also consistent with running a low 31's or high 30's 8K in Virginia Beach. The only unsettling information is that I can find no race results for her since early December when she ran a 19:14 5K. Alexandra Newman has proven herself to be a tough competitor with a 3rd in the division at the USATF XC Championships with a  26:02 over 6 Km, age-grade equivalent to a 35:08. She also took 3rd in the division at the 15K Championship in Tulsa, running 1:07:07, age-grade equivalent to a 34:15. Christine Hill took 3rd in the division here last year in 35:16. A 22:16 5K she ran right before Christmas is perhaps not very informative, given the season, but it does not suggest a faster time than 35:16 is necessarily within reach.
Picks:
Michelle Brangan     Jennifer Malavolta     Alexandra Newman

Men Jonathan Frieder finished 2nd in the division here last year in 26:09 and also took 2nd at the Masters 10K Championship in 33:35. He ran a 5 miler this February in 27:10. He should be ready for a good race on Saturday. 
A few hundred meters into last year's 8K Championship race, Jonathan Frieder yellow and black heads off at the front next to the eventual winner, David Angell all black gear[Photo Credit: Pam Fales]

His main challenge should come from Greg Putnam. Putnam has edged Frieder in National Championship Cross Country races a couple of times, but Frieder has the recent edge on the roads. Putnam clocked 34:19 last April in Dedham to finish 3rd to Frieder's 2nd in the division. Putnam ran a 27:56 5 miler on the 1st of January so he too has tested the roads in the cold weather. Both should appreciate the relative warmth in Virginia this coming Saturday. Bob Irwin and Brian Sydow also will have a say in the outcome. In 2017, Irwin ran a 16:50 to take 8th place int he 40-44 division at the 5K Masters Championships in Syracuse. Irwin finished 8th this year, clocking 18:46 in the Masters 5Km XC Championships in Buffalo, two places and 13 seconds behind Volker Burkowski, who finished 5th in the division here last year in 28:09. Sydow finished 3rd in the division at the Masters 5K Championships in Atlanta, clocking a 17:01; he also ran a 16:39 5K on January 1st so he is ready to roll. That is consistent with his fine race in Tallahassee in February where he took 7th overall and 2nd in the division in 28:09.
Picks:
Jonathan Frieder     Greg Putnam     Brian Sydow

50-54 
Women Laura DeLea, Amy Fakterowitz, Mary Shah, and Laurie Wharton appear to be the strongest runners in this division. DeLea finished 4th in the division last year in 33:20. She also ran a 42:45 10K in May but her other 10K's including the NYRR Mini 10K were over 44 minutes. Her 5Ks generally were in the low 20's to mid-21s. Fakterowitz did not run in the Championship last year but she did race a Shamrock 8K in Buffalo NY in 32:55. She also finished 2nd in the Masters Mile Championship in Flint in 5:53 and placed 2nd in the division in the Masters 5Km XC Championships in Buffalo in 21:11. 
Amy Fakterowitz on her way to a 50-54 Silver Medal at the 2018 USATF Masters 5 Km National Championships in Buffalo NY Photo Credit: Andy Martin, Exclamation! Services

Shah finished 2nd in division at the Cross Country Championship in Tallahassee last month in 26:41 over 6 Km, which is roughly age-grade equivalent to a 22 minute 5Km over similar terrain. Wharton was on the comeback trail in the early part of 2018 but by late summer was able to capture a division 4th place at the Masters 5K Championships in Atlanta in 21:33. Two months later she took 3rd in the division at the 15K Championships in Tulsa in 1:08:08, age-grade equivalent to a 35:18 8K. I give Fakterowitz the edge for her 8K in Buffalo. It appears to be close between the rest and will be quite the race to watch unfold.
Picks:
Amy Fakterowitz     Laura DeLea     Laurie Wharton

Men Kent Lemme ran 26:23 here last year, finishing 7th overall and taking the division title. None of the others returning from last year ran within 2 and a half minutes of that. And even though Lemme's main focus this spring is on prepping with his daughter for a joint assault on three hours at Boston, he should repeat as 50-54 National Champion. 
Kent Lemme sprints to the finish, 8th Overall and the 50-54 National Champion at the 2018 USATF Masters 10K Championships in Dedham MA Photo Credit: Michael Scott

Mike Nier and Joe Shairs appear to be the chief rivals. Nier missed this event last year but he ran 28:33 the first year of the Championship here in 2017. He and Lemme recently met at the Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee, with Lemme taking the honors by 9 seconds. Shairs has not raced Lemme recently at a National Championship but they did meet last April in Dedham, where Lemme ran 33:49 to Shairs time of 35:51. Barring unforeseen difficulties, Lemme should take the division. Nier appears to be fully recovered from the injury that slowed him the middle of last year. If so, he and Shairs should have a tight race--Nier ran 36:03 in Dedham. Later in the year, Shairs ran 36:28 at the Lone Gull 10K. Ordinarily Francis Burdett would also be in the mix. After coming back from an injury that reduced his effectiveness for most of 2017 and the early part of 2018, he ran 16:59 in the Masters 5Km Championship in Atlanta to place 5th in the 50-54 division. But another injury slowed him down slightly in Tulsa and more at Club XC in Spokane. He ran the recent Masters Indoor Championships finishing well back from Nier in the 3000Meter, Mile and 800 Meter races; Burdett loves to compete whether fully fit or not! Lemme should win. I will give the edge to Shairs over Nier on the basis of their Dedham dust up. It is too early for Burdett to contend but I look for him to be a factor at Dedham and thereafter.
Picks:
Kent Lemme     Joe Shairs     Mike Nier

55-59 
Women Even though this division is loaded with talent, Marisa Sutera Strange, the defending Champion, stands out as the clear favorite. As noted in my earlier preview, Strange is favored to land on the podium for the overall race after winning here last year in 30:40; she should take this division Championship along the way. The rest of the field will have to fight it out for the two remaining podium positions. 
Marisa Sutera Strange finishes off her 4th place overall and 50-54 National Championship at the 2018 USATF Masters 10K Championships in Dedham MA Photo Credit: Michael Scott

Suzanne LaBurt finished 3rd in 50-54 last year behind the overall 1-2 of Strange and Michelle Simonaitas in 32:44. Mary Swan finished 2nd in the division last year in 33:49, but ran 31:54 the year before so she may have more speed than last year's result suggests. Karyl Sargent ran 33:25 to take 5th in 50-54. Suzanne Cordes has not run in these 8K Championships at Virginia Beach before but she finished 5th in the division last year at the Masters 5K national championships in Atlanta with a 20:56. She finished 1 second ahead of Swan; those two may well lock horns again. Sargent also came in 22 seconds ahead of Swan at the Masters 5K XC race in  Buffalo. Strange should win. I will go with LaBurt for 2nd based n her strong time last year. And Sargent has the honors at the recent meetings between her and Swan.
Picks:
Marisa Sutera Strange     Suzanne LaBurt     Karyl Sargent

Men No one can stay with Nat Larson, in this field. Last year Larson's racing accomplishments culminated in him being named 2018 Age Division Runner of the Year (for both 50-54 and 55-59) as well as winning the Individual Masters Grand Prix. He ran 26:51 here last year in the 50-54 division. 
Nat Larson heads to the finishing tape and his Bronze Medal overall finish and 55-59 Gold Medal at the 2018 USATF Masters 5Km Championships in Atlanta GA Photo Credit: Michael Scott

Gary Droze and Gary Leaman won't risk their race trying to stay with Larson; they will be intent on racing one another. Leaman ran 28:25 here last year to take 2nd in the 55-59 division, 36 seconds ahead of Droze. But the honors were reversed at the Masters 5K Championships in Atlanta, where Droze had the edge, taking the division bronze medal in18:16 to Leaman's 18:43. That will be one of the many races within the race that will be fascinating to watch. Larson should win with a large margin. The Droze-Leaman question is tricky. I should give the edge to Leaman because he won over this diastance, 8K. On the other hand, Droze won the most recent time they met in Atlanta. Droze also has an 18:22 and 18:27 5K in January. Against that Leaman posted a 1:22:39 Surf City Half Marathon in early February. In some ways Leaman's effort tis mor eimpressive but it suggests an emphasis on endurance over speed whereas Droze has stuck with speed. I'll go with Droze in a toss-up.
Picks:
Nat Larson     Gary Droze     Gary Leaman

60-64 
Women Although she has not competed here at Virginia Beach before, Patrice Combs should take the division win. She took the Women's 60-64 titles at both the 5K and the Half Marathon in 21:48 and 1:34:50. 
Patrice Combs, after cresting the last steep hill, turns the corner and heads for the finish and her 60-64 National Championship at the 2018 USATF Masters 5Km Championships in Atlanta GA Photo Credit: Michael Scott

GVH's Sharon Moore and Atlanta's Cynthia Williams are longtime rivals in this division. In this race last year Moore took 3rd to Williams's 4th place by 8 seconds...although that race was complicated by Williams being in the pileup at the start. But then Moore also beat Williams in August  in  Atlanta at the 5K Masters Championship by the same 8 second margin. In between Williams beat Moore at the 10K Championships in Dedham 49:43 to 50:07. At their most recent meeting at the XC Championships in Tallahassee, Williams took 3rd to Moore's 4th 29:29 to 29:56. Based on that recent outcome and the bad luck that Williams had last year, I will give Williams the edge.
Picks:
Patrice Combs     Cynthia Williams     Sharon Moore

Men Although Roger Sayre, the defending Champion, was looking forward to a rematch with Brian Pilcher, BP's withdrawal leaves him the clear favorite. He came within 5 seconds of Norm Green's 28:07 American record set on this same course 26 years ago. 
Roger Sayre, running 'on air' as he rounds the last turn before the finish and his 60-64 National Championship at the 2018 USATF Masters 5Km Championships in Atlanta GA Photo Credit: Michael Scott

Sayre was chased home by Joe Sheeran and Brian Pilcher. Will he be able to run as fast as last year without his rivals? Ken Youngers was only a half minute back last year. But he was also that far back at the XC race in Tallahassee so it is unlikely Youngers can catch Sayre. But he should take 2nd this year. The athletes most likely to give Youngers a race are his teammate, Jeffrey Dundas and Norm Larson. When Dundas has been healthy and fit he has been fast. At Tallahassee in 2018, Dundas ran 30:19, 32 seconds faster than Youngers. Of course Youngers ran 30:15 this year and Larson was only 5 seconds back. But Dundas ran an 18:42 5K in early February, age-grade equivalent to a 30:42. That suggests he  is not quite fit enough yet to compete for a podium spot. Derrick Staley ran 29:30 here last year suggesting he would definitely be pushing those 3. But he has a hamstring ding that may slow him down. Others who will be right there if anyone falters include Mike Anderson, Brian Nelson, Phil Richey, and Reno Stirrat.
Picks:
Roger Sayre     Ken Youngers     Norm Larson

65-69
Women Kathleen Allen, Donna Chan, and Patricia Travis all ran here last year finishing in 4th, 6th, and 8th in 39:47, 42:30, and 45:29.  
Kathleen Allen competing in the Women's Masters race at the 2019 USATF Cross Country National Championships in Tallahassee FL Photo Credit: Michael Scott

Kathleen Doswell finished 4th in 217 in 42:05. Doswell and Chan will have to fight it out for 2nd and 3rd.
Picks:
Kathleen Allen     Kathleen Doswell     Donna Chan

Men Tom Bernhard won this last year in 30:12. It looked like Tom McCormack would be challenging but apparently his back is acting up. I have been told he will not compete. With Doug Bell also out with back problems, Bernhard should have no problems. I have no information on Bernhard's fitness so assume he is ready to roll. He was running well at the end of last year.
Tom Bernhard heads for another 65-69 National Championship along with a 4th place in Age Grading over all age groups at the 2018 USATF Masters 10K Championships in Dedham MA Photo Credit: Michael Scott

The fight for the rest of the podium should be between George Braun, Kirk Larson, and Joseph Reda. Braun ran 31:44 last year to take 12th in M60 and has aged up. Larson took 5th in this division in 32:07. Reda does not race often in National Championships. In 2014, Reda finished 2 minutes ahead of Larson in the 12K. In terms of more recent efforts, Reda ran a 1:23:29 20K last year which is age grade equivalent to a 32:06 and a 'Joe' Reda ran a 31:22 8K in Monona Wisconsin. I will give Reda the edge for 2nd and opt for Braun over Larson for 3rd. Braun has been active in the Colorado altitude this winter, as has Larson with Club XC and USATF XC in Tallahassee. But Braun was faster last year.
Picks:
Tom Bernhard     Joseph Reda     George Braun

70-74
Women Suzanne Gibson, Barbara Biasi, and Judith Robertson ran here last year, finishing 1st, 2nd, and 4th in 46:38, 47:36, and 55:31. The 'wild card' in this year's entries is Barbara LoPiccolo. I can find no recent road race results for her. I did find a reference, however, to a Barbara Moenich LoPiccolo who was a star athlete at SUNY Cortland in 1968-69 on the 1st Women's Intercollegiate basketball and softball teams and was inducted into their Hall of Fame. In 2011 she was the USATF Women's Pentathlon Throws Champion for W60-64. If this is the same person, as seems likely, she is clearly an athlete to be reckoned with. I will go out on a limb and pick her to win. But Gibson and Biasi are strong runners; Gibson has run a 28:51 5K this March, equivalent to a 48:12, and Biasi has run a 49:35 8K so both have got the kinks out. I may be giving LoPiccolo too much credit; she may just be running for the fun of it. But she is traveling from NY so it is not just a casual entry. It will be interesting to find out.
Picks:
Barbara LoPiccolo     Suzanne Gibson     Barbara Biasi

Men Terry McCluskey came on strong at the end of the season, finishing 2nd to Gene Dykes at the 5 Km XC Championships in Buffalo and took 1st prize in 70-74 at Club XC in Spokane. He also took 1st at the very competitive (for Masters athletes) Naples Half Marathon  this January in 1:33:46. Two runners could challenge him-his teammate, Lloyd Hansen--and Jerry Learned Last year Hansen came in ahead of McCluskey at the Half Marathon and the 5K Championships. At the 5K, it was Hansen-Learned-McCluskey in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in 20:46, 21:37, and 21:58. Hansen has also run strong in the Salt Lake City Winter series clocking 20:22 in the 5K, 42:30 in the 10K, and 1:04:39 in the 15K. Again I have a conundrum. I should pick McCluskey because he has beaten Hansen the last two times they met. But both were Cross Country races. The last three times they met on the roads, at the Half marathon, the 5K and the 1 Mile, Hansen beat McCluskey--and this is a road race. Hansen's race prep has been more oriented towards shorter races, and he has been racing at some altitude, so maybe that's a factor that favors Hansen. Let's go with Hansen and then McCluskey but it is clearly a toss-up.
Lloyd Hansen flying to the finish and a 70-74 National Championship at the 2018 USATF Masters 1 Mile Championships in Flint MI Photo Credit: Carter Sherline/Frog Prince Studios

Learned has displayed a lot of toughness in his running over the last year and a half. The last 6 months he has been ahead of his teammate, Dave Glass, who can't quite come all the way badck from some niggling injuries. Who else might upset the apple cart. Doc Rappole just moved up to 70-74 this year. He won the 65-69 division 5 years ago when the USATF XC CHampinships were in Boulder CO, so he has a pedigree. But he was over a minute behind Learned at Tallahassee so he probably has a ways to go before he is competitive with Learned. His teammate, Jim May, finished 5 seconds back of Rappole at Tallahassee and is always dangerous as well.
Picks:
Lloyd Hansen     Terry McCluskey     Jerry Learned

75-79
Women Madeline Bost, perennial Masters Individual Grand Prix winner and defending Champion,
 Madeline Bost on her way to a 75-79 Silver Medal at the 2019 USATF Cross Country National Championships in Tallahassee FL Photo Credit: Michael Scott

will take this division unopposed unless there is an entry on Friday in this division.

Men Hall of Famer, Doug Goodhue, has been a USATF Age Division Runner of the Year eleven times, 8 of them consecutive. He is working on a new streak now and has it up to two. Last year he won that award and the Masters Individual Grand Prix and was Captain of the team that won the Club Grand Prix-not a bad year! Last year at this time he was still on the comeback trail and just ran to help the team. But he came roaring back, taking first in the division in every race he entered after that one. By the end of the year, he took the 5K championship in 22:30 and the 15K Championship in 1:08:00--wow!
Doug Goodhue kicks for home and another 75-79 National Championship at the 2018 USATF Masters 5 Km National Championship in Buffalo NY Photo Credit: Andy Martin, Exclamation! Services


The only guy who had any hope of staying with him last year was the 2017 Individual Grand Prix Champion,  Robert Hendrick. But even he could not stay within a minute of Goodhue in the 5K nor within 5 minutes at the 15K. Goodhue ran 38:23 last year when not fully fit; he should run much faster this year. No one else in the division is likely to break 40. David Turner ran a 42:02 8K in January, which makes him my pick for 2nd.  Tony Fiory  took 3rd last year in 42:48. William Ash was further back. Al Swan did not race last year but in 2017 he clocked 58 minutes and change.
Picks:
Doug Goodhue     David Turner     Tony Fiory

80-84

Women Tami Graf, the American record holder for this division in the Mile Run at 11:29, will take 
Tami Graf pushing up the last incline to the finish, establishing a new 80-84 Road Mile American Record at the 2018 USATF Masters 1 Mile Championships in Flint MI Photo Credit: Carter Sherline/Frog Prince Studios

this division unopposed unless there is an entry on Friday in this division.

Men John Elliott, a national champion many times over, will take this division unopposed unless 
John Elliott heads for the finish line, collecting yet another National Championship, this one for the 80-84 division at the 2018 USATF Masters 5 Km National Championship in Buffalo NY Photo Credit: Andy Martin, Exclamation! Services

there is an entry on Friday in this division.

90-94 Richard Soller, who took the 5K title last year in Atlanta, looks to add this title to his collection. He will take this division unopposed unless there is an entry on Friday in this division.

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