March 19, 2021.The Gate River Run hosts the USATF 15 Km Championships this Saturday. This was the last big race in 2020 before Covid suspended large events. Gate hopes to kick off the post-Covid return of large races.
Road Race Management News reports: “With a field capped at 8,000 runners, the Gate River Run 15K could serve as a bellwether for the near future of large in-person races as the rate of U.S. COVID-19 vaccinations keeps pace with the spread of the virus. … COVID protection protocols include socially distanced wave starts from two separate starting lines, masks required except when running or walking on the race course, and more.“
Emily Sisson and Sally Kipchego are the Women’s favorites for the Elite Open title, with Shadrack Kipchirchir and Martin Hehir the favorites on the Men’s side.
Although this is an Open Competition, there are three Masters athletes in the Elite fields worthy of mention.
Roberta ‘Bobbi’ Groner, now 43, is entered. Although this race is a bit shorter than her favored Marathon length, she will need to be watched by the main Open Elite contenders. She is likely to finish in the top 10. A March 2019 USATF Masters 8K Championship at Virginia Beach in 26:48 is a sidelight to her recent efforts in Open events. She was the top American finisher in the Marathon at the Doha World Championships later that year,, finishing ahead of Carrie Dimhoff and Kelsey Bruce. More recent efforts include a 2:30:12 at the 2019 New York City Marathon, where she finished one place behind Aliphine Tulliamuk. She won the Fred Lebow NYC Half in January 2020, with a 1:16:43.
|Roberta Groner celebrating her 6th place Marathon finish at the 2019 World Championships in Doha Photo Creddit:Alexander Hassenstein Getty Images|
Like everyone else, Groner has been largely sidelined by the Covid Pandemic. I found an entry for her in the Multisport Challenge Division of the Virtual Run and/or Bike Across Maryland from last summer; she biked 462 miles and ran 150 miles in 50:38:17, finishing 18th overall, 4th woman, and 2nd Masters.
David Angell, now 45, a podium fixture the last four years at the USATF Masters 15 Km Championship at the Tulsa Run, and the winner of the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Masters Grand Prix’s for 40-44, is entered on the Men’s side.
This will be his first trip up the Hart Bridge. He was able to run two local 5K’s in Virginia this fall, clocking 15:39 and 16:10, coming out of the Pandemic restrictions. The latter race was over a challenging course. Angell has a good shot at breaking 50 minutes, but it typically takes a sub-46 to crack the top ten Elite Prize Money list. He is a favorite for the Masters Prize Money; if he can collect 1st place Masters it is not too far off what the 10th place finisher in the Open competition gets. The winning Masters times the last 3 years have been 49:19, 52:48, and 51:30. If it takes a similar time this year, Angell will surely be in the hunt!
Maggie Shearer, now 43, has the same goal on the Women’s side. She has a 2nd place finish in the Masters races at the 2018 USATF Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee and a 3rd the 2018 USATF Club Cross Country Championships in Spokane. Shearer has competed at Gate before, finishing 2nd Masters in 2019 in 56:07.
Her last race before the Pandemic was a 2nd place finish in the March 2020 Newport-Spirit 5K Elite race with a 17:48. In the 2020 edition of the Chevron Houston Marathon, Shearer clocked 2:47:23 to take 3rd Masters. If she can come close to her 56:07 of two years ago, she has a good shot at a win; the winning times in 2018 and 2020 were 58:15 and 58:52.
It will be interesting to see what kind of fitness these three top Masters athletes have been able to carry through and out of the Pandemic.
The Elite Women start at 7:54 AM EDT, with the Men’s start at 8 AM as they compete for the ‘Equalizer’ Bonus. Those with subscriptions to USATF.TV may watch the race live Saturday morning, March 20th, starting at 7:45 AM EDT at: https://www.usatf.tv/. There are no guarantees you will learn much about the Masters results unless one of our Masters athletes cracks the top ten. They sometimes keep the finish line video going long enough for an alert viewer to catch those who finish after top ten. All three of the athletes here will start in the Elite field, meaning Groner and Shearer get the same 6-minute ‘head start.’