October 16 2021. Masters Athletes converge on Franklin Park in Boston this Saturday, October 17th for the Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships. This historic course has hosted hundreds, probably thousands of Cross Country races for over a hundred years! It has the honor of hosting Masters athletes in their first national cross country championship since the January 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships. Nearly 300 athletes will hit the turf. The Men 60 and up Race goes off at 10:00 am on Sunday, October 17, with the Men 40-59 to follow at 10:45 am; the Women’s race wraps things up at 11:20 am. Boston is forecast to deliver a gorgeous day with sunny skies, temperatures in the low 60’s. With no rain in the past week, the footing should be firm. This may actually disappoint some who look to XC for a tough, gritty challenge. If anything, it tips the scales slightly in favor of the road and track specialists.
Ginger Reiner, Craft Concept Racing, is the ‘hometown favorite’ to take the Overall Women’s 40+ Championship. The last time Franklin Park was the site of these Championships in 2017, Reiner took the 40+ title.
She ran 39:32 at the Lone Gull 10K on September 19th. The 'defending champion' will face stiff competition from out of state. Lorilyn Bloomer Bowerman took the title at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships in San Diego. This fall she claimed the Stumptown #2 Masters title at 18:59. Maggie Shearer Cal Coast, fresh off a 2nd place finish at the 12 km Masters Championships last month, will attempt to add to her podium finishes at national Cross Country championships. She finished 3rd at Spokane Club and 2nd at 2018 XC Nationals in Tallahassee. Others who will push the pace include Kelly Couch Impala Racing, Kasie Enman Green Mountain, and Marisa Sutera Strange Greater Philadelphia. Couch, who has tried some Hill Climbing recently, finished 6th at Lehigh; Bearcage Hill should be a piece of cake. Enman ran 2:52:45 at the Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, and won the Loon Mountain Race this July with 3000 feet of elevation gain. She and Couch will be the ones you see taking Bear Cage Hill at full tilt! Strange surprised everyone by taking the Overall Championship, at age 55, at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championship in Tallahassee.A victory seems a little less likely this time, but she will be competing fiercely as always.
Top 3 in alphabetical order: Lorilyn Bloomer Kasie Enman Maggie Shearer
MEN's 40 - 59
Some of the top contenders for the top spot in the Men’s 40-59 race are David Bedoya BAA, who was in the top dozen at the 2018 Club Cross Championships in Spokane; Brock Butler Greater Philadelphia, who just took the title at the 12 km Championships in New Jersey; Scott Leslie Central Mass Striders, who has some excellent recent times on the roads; and John Poray Indiana Elite, a newcomer to Masters National Championships, but the owner of a sparkling 32:08 road 10K in April of this year.
Aaron Price BAA, like Reiner in the Women’s race is, in a sense, the 'defending champion', having won the 2017 edition of the Masters 5 km on this same Franklin Park course. He also had a top 10 finish at 2017 Club Cross in Lexington KY.
T.J. Unger HFC Striders had an off day at his last national cross country championship race at Lehigh University in 2019. Unger ran much better 3 months earlier, when he took the title at the Greater Boston TC’s 5 km Cross Country meet, just ahead of Price. Others who will be in the lead pack and might break onto the podium on a good day include: Jason Holroyd, and Donal O’Sullivan both BAA, Matthew Wagoner Greater Philadelphia, and Todd Witzleben Checkers. Like most of the runners here, Bedoya is focusing on the team title, but is always a threat for a top finish at XC. His Lone Gull time of 36:55 suggests he is not as fit as he was heading into Spokane, but should still give a good account of himself. It is almost as good a Lone Gull time as he clocked in 2019, before taking 4th at the USATF-NE XC Championships, finishing just ahead of Unger. It will be interesting to see if Butler runs as strongly as he did in New Jersey. He tweaked his hamstring soon after and it only lasted through Mile 10 of the BOA Chicago Marathon. He has competed in a couple of FSX races [Cyclocross?] since tweaking it, so he may be closer to the top of his game than one might think! Leslie clocked a 33:43 at Lone Gull, finishing behind Unger, but ahead of Price, and followed that with a 53:00 15K at the FN Boston Tune-Up 15K. He is ready to roll. It will be interesting to see how those three sort themselves on the turf. History suggests Price has an edge at XC.
|Men's 40-59 Chase Pack at the 2017 USATF 5 km Masters Cross Country Championship |
at Franklin Park in Boston
Poray has been a top runner in central Indiana for the past decade and a half at least. When I started running recreationally there, his name was a fixture at the top of major local races. In looking back on Athlinks, I don't see any XC races on his list. That might ordinarily signal a downgrading of his chances. The fact that the course is likely to be fast for a XC race due to the week's weather suggest that may not make much difference. Holroyd finished 11th at Club Cross in Lexington in 2017. This year he ran 34:42 at Lone Gull and 52:45 at the Tune-Up suggesting parity with Leslie, Price and Unger. O'Sullivan ran 35:02 at Lone Gull, suggesting he was a little off from Leslie et al. But he is also on the comeback trail, so it is possible he will have improved a bit since that effort a month earlier. Waggoner's credentials include a 3rd place finish overall at the recent 12 km Championships in Highlands NJ. He also has a 33:23 10K in March. Witzleben has some August 5K's in the low to mid 16 minute range and took 1st Masters prize at the Pete Glavin XC Series #1.
Top 3 in alphabetical order: John Poray Aaron Price T.J. Unger
The fastest turf athletes in the Men’s 60+ race include: John Barbour Greater Lowell, Dan King Athletics Boulder, Mark Reeder Greater Lowell, Chuck Shields Greater Philadelphia, and Ken Youngers Atlanta. Like Reiner and Price in the other races, Barbour is the defending champion on this course. Barbour is a cross country podium finisher when healthy.
He finished 2nd to Rick Becker at the 2015 Club Cross in San Francisco, and 2nd to Brian Pilcher at the 2016 Club Cross in Tallahassee. A late 2017 injury kept him out of the mix until the 2019 Club Cross at Lehigh, where, having moved up to 65-69, he took 1st in that division while finishing 10th in the 60+ division, right behind Youngers. His 43:38 at Lone Gull gives me pause though. He does not seem to be at his usual fitness. Youngers finished 2nd to Barbour in the 2017 version of this race, but is at the top of his game, having just broken the 65-69 American Record at the 12 km Championships. He finished 5 seconds ahead of Barbour at Lehigh.
Neither King, Reeder, nor Shields contested the 60+ division with Barbour and Youngers in 2017; they were all in 55-59. The three have moved up to the 60+ division since that day. Reeder and King finished 2nd and 3rd in the 60+ race at Club Cross in 2019; Shields was a half minute back from King, but 20 seconds ahead of Youngers.
King has taken down a ton of records on the track this year, from the 1500 meters through the mile and up to 10 miles. It will be interesting to see if he can keep the ball rolling as he returns to the XC turf. I can find no recent results for Reeder. I am award that he ran a 19:32 virtual 5K for the Labor day edition of the Boulder Road Runners Summer Holiday Virtual Series in 2020. With no recent XC or even road times to consider, it is hard to know whether Reeder will be ready to contest for the win or is just running to help his team. Others who might contend include David Westenberg Greater Lowell and Rick Lee Shore. Westenberg is primarily a track athlete, but he has challenged himself over the past two years to run longer distances and take on the turf. At Lehigh, he had progressed enough that he finished only a minute behind Barbour in 20th place. It will be interesting to see if he can stay up closer to the lead pack on Sunday. I would certainly have put Lee in the top list of strong contenders had he not just run a tough Boston Marathon; he broke that American 60-64 record in the 50K earlier this year and won the division at the recent 12 km Championships, finishing the better part of a minute ahead of Youngers.
Lee has been racing a lot and I worry his legs might be a bit heavy on Sunday. He may well prove me wrong though!
Top 3 in alphabetical order: Dan King Mark Reeder Chuck Shields
Age-Grading levels the field across different age divisions by evaluating each runner's time relative to the statistically best time for an individual of their age and gender. USATF MLDR has placed more emphasis on age grading than other ways of measuring the top runners in a national championship.
Several of those with top age grade scores at the 12 km Championships in Highlands NJ are entered here as well. That includes: Nora Cary 97.53 Stella Gibbs 90.56 Suzanne LaBurt 90.43 Doreen McCoubrie 89.04 and Lorraine Jasper 88.87. Laura Bruess finished 10th to Jasper's 9th at Lehigh.
Michelle Rohl is stepping up from the track to the turf. At the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships in Ames IA, Rohl clocked a 4:54 1500 meters that earned her a 100.42% age grade on the track. That track performance may not translate to the turf. But she also ran a 19:12 5K on the roads that earned a 91.84%. Marisa Sutera Strange finished a percentage point behind Cary in age grading at the 2019 Lehigh Club Cross Championship.
Top 3 in alphabetical order: Nora Cary Suzanne LaBurt Marisa Sutera Strange
Based on historical performances, Kenneth Barbee, Alan Evans, Mark Hixson, Nat Larson, Mike Nier, and Tim Van Orden should all contend for age-grading honors, with Larson and Hixson typically age grading a bit higher than the rest.
Nat Larson surges towards the Finish Line amidst younger runners with his teammate, Mark Hixson white singlet in the Background at the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University Photo by Michael Scott
Barbee outran Nier at the 12 km championships so that may mean he has the current edge. Van Orden seems to be off his best, and Hixson has no results I can find since Club Cross at Lehigh where he finished 6th in 50-54 and 9th in age grading. That raises doubts about current fitness.
Top 3 in alphabetical order: Kenneth Barbee Mike Nier Nat Larson
John Barbour, Doug Bell, Dan King, Rick Lee, Mark Reeder, and Ken Youngers would ordinarily be likely to post the top age grades. On the other hand, I argue above that Barbour may not be at the top of his game.
Lee might have a problem due to running the Boston Marathon 6 days in front of the 5 km XC. The only result I know for Bell, though, is a 5:47 virtual mile he ran as part of the Boulder Road Runners Virtual series last year. I see nothing for him this year. It is a similar story with Reeder. Both, like others here, may be running solely for the team prize.
Top 3 in alphabetical order: Dan King Rick Lee Ken Youngers
W40 See Overall race analysis above.
Top 3 in alphabetical order: Kasie Enman Ginger Reiner Maggie Shearer
M40 See Overall race analysis above.
Top 3 in alphabetical order: John Poray Aaron Price T.J. Unger
W45 See Overall race analysis above for including Lorilyn Bloomer among the top division contenders. Alexandra Newman, winner of the 45-49 Grand Prix, had the 13th best 45-49 division time at Lehigh. Murphee Hayes was just 9 seconds back from Newman. Heather Webster was not at Lehigh, But at Spokane Club Cross in 2018, Webster ran two minutes faster than Alexandra Newman. There had been no results online for Webster that I could find but she ran in the 12 km Championships, finishing 5th behind a runner she had beaten by almost a minute in Spokane. That suggests Webster may be a bit off her game. Nor can I find any results for Newman.
Unlike the others, Hayes has several events under her belt already. She ran a 1:45 and change Half Marathon last month and earlier in September finished 6th in the 40-49 division at the Pete Glaving Cross Country series #1.
Top 3 in alphabetical order: Lorilyn Bloomer Murphee Hayes Heather Webster
M45 See Overall race analysis above for including Jason Holroyd and Donal O'Sullivan among the top contenders. Timothy Gavin finished 10th in the 2019 Masters 10 km Championships, 2 minutes behind O'Sullivan.
I cannot find any current results for Gavin more recent than a 1:17:51 Half Marathon in early 2020. Jonathan Bishard ran a 1:14:28 HM at Grandma's in 2019. In January of this year, he posted a 34:23 10K and a couple of 5K's in the low to mid 16's.
Top 3 in alphabetical order: Jonathan Bishard Jason Holroyd Donal O'Sullivan
W50 Amy Fakterowitz, winner of the 2019 50-54 Grand Prix, finished 14th in this division at Lehigh. Primed for XC, she has already won her division at the Pete Glavin XC series 5K in 21:19.
Megan Kossar finished 5th at the 12 km last month in 51:05 and has a couple of 5K's under 20 earlier this year. Jody Dushay ran a 42:40 10K as part of the Ironman Wisconsin Age Group Tri. Julie Craig and Kara Haas could break up that trio to land on the podium.
Top 3 in alphabetical order: Jody Dushay Amy Fakterowitz Megan Kossar
M50 Even though his age is not given in the results, I suspect the Mark Callon who ran 1:14 and change at the San Jose HM is the Mark Callon, who had several West Valley teammates in that race, and is entered here. Callon has a 16:31 5K at Morgan Hill last year. Tim Harte has a 1:16:07 HM to his credit this year and also owns an 18:35 5k XC outing in August. Michael Nahom finished 4th in 50-54 at the Spokane Club Cross Champs in 2018. His outing at Lehigh was not as successful although he still finished 27th. His races this year are a mixed bag, but he ran a fine 47:21 8-Miler in July, roughly equivalent to a 36:14 10K. Gregory Putnam finished 2nd at the 12 km Champs last month in 41:52.
Putnam is firing on all cylinders; he had a 16:58 5K and a 58:31 10 Miler earlier this year. One cannot see the name Tim Van Orden in the list of entries and leave him off a list of podium contenders. Two years ago he won the USATF MRoad Mile in Flint, and had many top finishes at Dedham (10K) and Syracuse (5K) in previous years. But Van Orden seems to be off his best. He finished 16th in his 45-49 division at Lehigh. He had no results this year until he ran 1:02:50 in a 10 Miler on October 2nd. Although a fine time for most, that is off his standard. This division is highly competitive. Others who could challenge for the podium include: Todd Callaghan, Keith Guilfoyle, Robert Murray, Joseph Shairs, Todd Straka, and Paul Vandegrift.
Top 3 in alphabetical order: Mark Callon Michael Nahom Gregory Putnam
W55 Suzanne LaBurt finished 2nd to a record-breaking 12 km performance at the Highlands Championships in 49:38, equivalent to a 40:59 10K. Michelle Rohl broke American Records at the 800 and 1500 meters at the Outdoor national Masters championships in Ames IA this summer. She also has a 19:12 5K to her credit.
Marisa Sutera Strange, winner of the 2019 55-59 Masters Grand Prix and the 2019 Club Cross 6K at Lehigh in 23:54, also has a 19:10 5K to her credit. Mimi Fallon ran 51:14 at the 12 km to finish 5th. She ran 25:59 at Lehigh, taking 16th place in W50.
Top 3 in alphabetical order: Suzanne LaBurt Michelle Rohl Marisa Sutera Strange
M55 Kenneth Barbee finished 3rd at the 12 km Champs in 37:07 and ran a 27:47 8K earlier this year. He finished 4th at Lehigh. Alan Evans ran 2:51:51 at Grandma's Marathon this year, and finished 6th M55 in 37:13 at Lehigh. He ran 45:01 at the 12 km Champs last month to finish 7th; it is equivalent to a 37:07 10K. Over the last few years, Mark Hixson has typially been among the top performers in his age division. That includes a 35:57 at Lehigh where he was 6th in M50, his last year in that division But I can find no results for him this year. That lowers my confidence that he is in top form. Nat Larson ran two seconds faster than his teammate, Hixson, at Lehigh, but that took 1st in M55. Larson had surgery during the pandemic but showed he has mostly recovered by finishing 2nd in M55 at the 12 km Championships in 43:14, equivalent to a 35:37 10K. Mike Nier ran 44:20 to take 4th M55 at the 12 km Champs in Highlands, and ran 19:00 at the first of the Pete Glavin XC series. He took 4th M55 at Lehigh in 37:07.
If I went by Lehigh results, I would put Dale Flanders and John McMahon well below that group. But Flanders is having his best year in a while, finishing just behind Nier and ahead of Evans at the 12 km Championships, and running his 5K's in the upper 17 minute range. Mcmahon has a sub-17:30 5K and finished 20 seconds ahead of Nier at the PG Cross Country #1. Jason Cakouros, Scott Grandfield, John Hogan, and Scott Siriano atre all having good years and could factor in on a good day.
Top 3 in alphabetical order: Kenneth Barbee Nat Larson John McMahon
W60 Last month Laura Bruess set the American W60 Record for the one Hour, 15K and 10 Mile runs on the track. In 2019 she finished 3rd W55 at Lehigh, and this year ran a 46:26 10K at alitude. Stella Gibbs ran 52:11 at the 12 km Champs in Highlands to finish 2nd, equivalent to a 43:01 10K. In her last national championship race as a 55-59 year old, Lorraine Jasper ran a 51:09 to finish 4th at the 12 km championships, equivalent to a 42:11 10K. She finished a half minute ahead of Bruess at Lehigh.
Mary Cass ran 42:58 at the Lone Gull 10K, inserting herself into the conversation for the podium. Another newcomer to the 60's, Mary Swan is always a threat; she finished 4 seconds behind Bruess at Lehigh. She has a XC race under her belt already, a 22:57 at the first of the Pete Glavin XC series, where she finished 3rd 50-59.
Top 3 in alphabetical order: Laura Bruess Stella Gibbs Lorraine Jasper
M60 Dan King has been on a tear for the last year, breaking 1500 meter and 1 mile records ont he track and on the roads. He recently took on the challenge of breaking longer American Records on the track at One hour, 15K and 10 Miles. He accomplished that mission, covering 16.45 kilometers in the hour and crossing 15K in 54:30 and 10 miles in 58:37. King, of course, has been known for years as the toughest XC runner in his age range who is not named Joe Sheeran. Hardly anyone else can stay close to King. The only other guy who has done it is Mark Reeder who finished 2nd at Lehigh, behind Sheeran and just ahead of King. I cannot find any results posted since that 29:34 excursion around the 8K ourse in Bethlehem PA. He ran in one of the Viirtual competitons in the middle of 2020 but was not at his best then,. Is he now? Rick Lee broke the American 50 km Record earlier this year and won the 12 km Championship in 44:16, equivalent to a 36:28. He seems poised for a good effort at the 5 km Xc except for one complication. He ran the Boston Marathon 6 days ahead of the race, clocking 2:49 and change. It might be tough to come back and run a competitive 5 km XC race. it wil lbe fun to see how well he manages the trick.Timothy Riccardi ran 31:33 at Lehigh to finish 15th in M60, and has a 21:17 5 km outing at the Pete Glavin XC series. Chuck Shields finished 10th M60 in 50:11, equivalent to a 41:20. But his forte is XC; he ran 30:17 to finish 4th at Lehigh. Seeveral others have been running well and will make their presence felt: Casey Hannan, Peter LaGoy, Jay Littlepage, Joseph Mora, and David Westenberg.
Top 3 in alphabetical order: Dan King Rick Lee Mark Reeder
W65 Nora Cary won the 12 km Championship at Highlands in 51:09 and had the highest age grade at 97+%. She finished 3rd in W60 at Lehigh in 26:09. Several of her rivals in this race ran that one also.
The closest two were Alda Cossi who finished 18th in 30:50 and Cynthia Williams who ran 30:15 to finish 14th. Margaret Taylor was just a bit behind those two.
Top 3 in alphabetical order: Nora Cary Alda Cossi Cynthia Williams
M65 John Barbour is a tough Cross Country runner; he ran 30:43 at Lehigh to take the M65 title. He ran 19:49 at 5K in late August but then ran an unexpected 43:38 at the Lone Gull 10K in mid September. Does that signal a temporary problem or something more long lasting? Ken Youngers broke the American M65 Record at the 12 km with a 45:05, equivalent to a 37:08 10K. George Braun, Brian Cummins, and James Foster all have the potential to wind up on the podium.
Foster finished 3rd in the 60-69 division at the Loon Mountain race with 3000 fet of elevation gain. So does Reno Stirrat who has been battling oneproblem after another for the past two years. His recent training has been going well, but a podium finish is probably too mch to expect from this XC warrior.
Top 3 in alphabetical order: John Barbour James Foster Ken Youngers
W70 Anne Pelletier is unopposed.
M70 Doug Bell has a long history of top age division finishes at national XC championships. He ran a fast 1 Mile in one of the Virtual challenges in 2020, but I cannot find any recent results for him. Kirk Larson also just moved up into this division. He finished 12th in M65 at Lehigh in 2019 with a 35:00.
He has a 43:14 10K on his list from this year. Don Morrison, who won the 12km Championship in September, is an injury scratch. Jerry Learned finished 2nd to Morrison at the 12 km in 55:36. My former age division is a puzzle. Keith Yeates ran 38:49 at Lehigh, finishing 20 seconds ahead of me, to claim 15th in the division. He ran 25:21 in the first PGXC race this fall. If things break his way, he could wind up on the podium.
Top 3 in alphabetical order: Doug Bell Kirk Larson Jerry Learned
W75 Anne Molloy is unopposed.
M75 Dave Glass won the 12 km Championship in 56:16, with Ezequiel Garcia 2nd in 57:02. Jim May has a 46:58 10K from earlier this year and then ran 55:43 to take age division honors at Falmouth.
Jan Frisby was looking to do better than he did at Highlands. He had run two 5K's in the upper 24 minute range at altitude. If that was just an off day and his trianing has gone well since, he may make up for it in Boston.
Top 3 in alphabetical order: Dave Glass Ezequiel Garcia Jim May
M80 Bill Borla has been a top Masters runner for decades. He has run a 54:28 5 miler this year. Roland Cormier won the 12 km championship in September with a 1:17:11, equivalent to a 50:55 5 miler.
Tony Fiory finished 3rd to Cormier in 1:22:05, equivalent to a 54:09 5 miler. Stan Edelson ran a 28:04 5K in April, equivalent to a 45:32 5 miler. Philip Pierce ran a 51:43 5-Miler in July.
Top 3 in alphabetical order: Roland Cormier Stan Edelson Philip Pierce
W85 Tami Graf is unopposed.
Team Races are an important element of Cross Country championships. The BAA looks well positioned to control the Men’s 40+ race, with Garden State, Greater Philadelphia, and the HFC Striders jostling for the podium. Greater Springfield has owned the 50+ division for the last few years and should continue atop the podium, despite strong challenges from the Central Mass Striders and Genesee Valley Harriers. In the Men’s 60+ contest, it looks like Athletics Boulder and Greater Lowell dueling for the win, but the Genesee Valley Harriers, Greater Philadelphia, and Shore could also play a role. 70+ looks like a spirited fight between Atlanta, the Boulder Road Runners, and GVH. In the Women’s contests, the Impala Racing look strong for the 40+ win, although GVH will press them. Greater Philadelphia has the runners to take the 50+ win, but will have to withstand challenges from Checkers, HFC, and Shore. Greater Philadelphia should also dominate the 60+ race, with Atlanta and Liberty AC in a tight battle for 2nd and 3rd.