September 26 2021. This Masters 12 km National Championships recap concerns the Age Division Championships that were conducted simultaneously with the Overall and Age Graded Championships. Every athlete who wins an Age Division is a National Champion; few runners ever compete for National Championships, much less win them. The individuals listed below as winners should be proud of their achievement and should be celebrated.
More importantly it was a big celebration of a return to National Championship running, competing against the best runners in the country. It was the first national MLDR competition of any kind since January 2020, the first road race since October 2019, and the largest gathering of Masters athletes for a National Road Championship in known history.
40-44 The recap of the Overall race covered this division well. The overall winner, Roberta Groner, and 2nd place finsher, Maggie Shearer went 1-2 in this division.
|On a perfectly sunny day, in perfect 'shades', Roberta Groner takes the tape as the winner overall of the 2021 USATF Masters National 12 km Championship All Race Photos-Credit Jason Timochko|
The overall bronze medal was won by Perry Shoemaker, though, who is not in this division. The race for the 40-44 bronze medal was hotly contested. The chase pack behind Groner and Shearer consisted of Karen dos Santos, Lauren Jackson, Ciaomhe Kilroy first name Irish, pronounced 'kee-va', and Flora Lai. Those four formed a good chase pack through the early part of the race but eventually Kilroy and Lai dropped dos Santos and Jackson to battle for the final podium spot.
|40's and 45's all mixed in together on the quest for an overall and/or age division podium finish-Karen dos Santos #51, Karen Dunn #232, and Ciaomhe Kilroy #101, with Sara Girotto tucked in behind dos Santos, and Flora Lai behind Dunn|
Lai had a little too much in the tank on this day, pulling away to take 3rd in 47:11, with Kilroy 50 meters back in 47:24. Fifth place went to dos Santos, with Jackson 6th. Shearer, no doubt, echoed the feeling of many in saying that it was a great race. She thanked the organizers and noted how great it was to be racing again with such great competitors!
NATIONAL CHAMPION Roberta Groner 42:14
Maggie Shearer 44:34 Flora Lai 47:11
45-49 The recap of the Overall race also covered part of the race in this division. Karen Dunn and Sara Girotto were in the hunt for the Overall win until Groner et al pulled away. Dunn was able to shake Girotto and win the division.
|Karen Dunn flies to the finish and a W45 win at the 2021 USATF Masters National 12 km Championship--with Flora Lai in background headed for a 3rd pace finish in 40-44|
Girotto claimed a well-earned Silver Medal 90 seconds later. As with 40-44, there was doubt about who would emerge from the strong pack of contenders featuring a classic battle between West Coasters, Brooke Bray and Jodi Buyyounouski Impala and Gwendolen Twist Janes and East Coasters Euleen Josiah-Tanner T.H.E. Track and Heather Webster Genesee Valley. Twist was the one to emerge; the gap between her and the others grew gradually to almost three hundred meters. She took the Bronze Medal. The others never gave in though, and had their own furious battle to the end. Only 17 seconds separated the other four runners who came across the line between 50:07 and 50:24!
NATIONAL CHAMPION Karen Dunn 47:04
Sara Girotto 48:34 Gwendolen Twist 48:52
50-54 Perry Shoemaker, who took 3rd overall, had the win here. The last time a 12 km National Championship was held, Shoemaker took the overall win in 42:14. She came in with different ambitions this time. She was pleased to be a national champion again, this time at the division level; this was her first race since she aggravated a hip issue on her first race of the year on Mother's Day. She came to compete, run her best, and be mindful of the injury. Success on all fronts!
Fiona Bayly who confided later that she actually took 3 short walk breaks during the race over fear of aggravating a bone bruise, took 2nd two minutes later. Garden State teammates, Kimberly Aspholm and Kathleen Beebe and the Impala's Megan Kosser had the final podium position in their sights.
|Kimberly Aspholm #8 and Megan Kossar #268 battle for the W50 podium, along with Jodi Buyyounouski #216 and Megan Kossar a few strides back from Kossar in the blue visor|
Aspholm created a 200 meter gap back to the others in taking 3rd; she broke 50:00 by a single second! Beebe and Kossar finished 4th and 5th 11 seconds apart.
If Shoemaker can get past her hip issue, we can expect to see her at more national championship events: "Thank you, USATF, for continuing the series and for adding even more races for 2022. I am looking forward to racing several of them."
NATIONAL CHAMPION Perry Shoemaker 46:09
Fiona Bayly 48:17 Kimberly Aspholm 49:59
55-59 This division belonged to Lisa Veneziano, the new National Champion and American Record holder, pending ratification.
Three minutes later the battle between Greater Philly teammates, Doreen McCoubrie, Shore's Suzanne LaBurt and New England's Mimi Fallon shook out. La Burt was able to put some distance between herself and the others.
Lisa Veneziano closes fast to claim the American W55 12 km Record and the title of National W55 Champion!
McCoubrie got third; 20 meters back it was Jasper and another 20 back to Fallon. What a race!
NATIONAL CHAMPION Lisa Veneziano 46:13
Suzanne La Burt 49:38 Doreen McCoubrie 51:03
60-64 The Impalas flew in from the Bay Area of San Francisco with the aim of dominating the 60's competition and they did. You can imagine the celebration when they came across the line 1-2-3. Nancy Simmons took 1st,
followed by Stella Gibbs and Suzanne Cordes. Mimi Newcomer and Candace Stanton ran strong, national class times, but had no answer for the Impalas.
NATIONAL CHAMPION Nancy Simmons 51:14
Stella Gibbs 52:11 Suzanne Cordes 53:14
65-69 This was the Nora Cary show! Cary smashed the American Record and is the 12 km National Champion!
Susan Olesky, Kathy Ortega, and Susan Stirrat, contested the other podium spots. Olesky had the best day, snagging the Silver medal;
|Susan Olesky brining it home to take 2nd place in the W65 contest at the 2021 USATF Masters 12 km National Championships|
Stirrat claimed the bronze with almost 4 minutes to spare.
Asked to comment on the race, Cary explained, "I was aware of the record and the possibility of breaking it, but was going to keep quiet until I actually accomplished it....It was good fortune that the 12K Masters Championship was on my home turf on a flat course. This was the race I was targeting all year, and was thrilled with the results....My ultimate goal was to win the age grading in this very competitive field; that is what I was most excited about!"
NATIONAL CHAMPION Nora Cary 51:09
Susan Olesky 1:05:17 Susan Stirrat 1:07:26
70-74 Jo Anne Rowland has been absent from the Masters National Grand Prix circuit for a few years. She came back with Impala teammates, Irene Herman and Donna Chan. They were going up against some of New Jersey's finest, including Joann Coffee and Barbara Donelik. Rowland returned in style, carving out a 150 meter lead as she crossed the finish line in first! Donelik ran a strong race, age-grading above 86.0%, but it wasn't fast enough to catch Rowlands,
Donelik took 2nd,
followed 90 seconds later by Coffee. Herman was just off the podium in 4th.
NATIONAL CHAMPION Jo Anne Rowland 1:03:59
Barbara Donelik 1:05:01 Joann Coffee 1:06:36
75-79 Kathleen Davies had this division to herself. Did she scare away the other competitors? Probably not, but she took the National Championship in their absence!
NATIONAL CHAMPION Kathleen Davies 2:02:21
80-84 In contrast, three rivals contested this division. At least they all knew they would wind up on the podium! The favorite was Heide Moebius, but all three are strong runners. The last time we held a 12 km national Masters championship in 2015 in Alexanria, Moebius was there, winning the 75-79 division! Moebius took the win this time too, carving out a 400 meter lead over Sandra Folzer.
Imme Dyson took 3rd.
NATIONAL CHAMPION Heide Moebius 1:17:38
Sandra Folzer 1:21:00 Imme Dyson 1:47:47
Note: No splits were provided by the Timing Company. It was easy to find Strava posts for many of the male competitors, but not so easy for the female competitors. Any split times below are either self-reported or are from GPS as posted on Strava.
40-44 As noted earlier, Brock Butler came to the Jersey Shore along with his Greater Philly teammates, Chris Naimoli and Matthew Wagoner, and they went an impressive 1-2-3 overall. All three are in the 40-44 division so they also swept 40-44. Butler and Wagoner will be in the 45-49 division when they run this race next year. Dickson Mercer, James Osborn, and David Angell were worthy opponents but despite their best efforts, wound up in 4th, 5th and 6th in times ranging from 41:13 to 41:31. All three of the chase pack averaged close to 5:30/mile-Mighty speedy!
Angell, in his last race before aging up to M45, summed up the thoughts of many: "It's been a long time coming, so it was fun to see old friends again and get back to racing each other. The course was flat, but the general feeling was that times were a touch slower than expected due to strong winds on the way out and warm conditions on the way back. But it was nice to have a good group of guys to battle with."
NATIONAL CHAMPION Brock Butler 39:52
Chris Naimoli 40:19 Matthew Wagoner 40:29
45-49 Christopher Shaw ran with the Overall lead pack through Mile 4. After that, Butler and Naimoli pulled away and Sahw and Wagoner were left to fight it out for the Overall Bronze medal. Wagoner had a bit too much in the tank for Shaw as he held him off by 5 seconds. His effort was good enough to make him the 45-49 National Champion though!
|Christopher Shaw takes the M45 Win at the 2021 Masters 12 km Championships!|
Nicholas Thompson was not able to stay with Shaw today, and probably spent a bit of time in No Man's Land.' He did a good job of pacing though, staying int he low 5:30's for Miles 4 through 7 as he gradually caught back up to Osborn 40-44 almost, finishing 2 seconds back. That effort was good enough for the Silver Medal in 45-49. Marco Cardoso and Mark Williams were not tempted to run with the lead pack. They settled into the middle of the chase pack. I imagine Cardoso knew of Williams by reputation. He is one of the fastest Masters middle distance runners in the country. Cardoso certainly did not want to have to rely on out-kicking Williams in the last half mile! The two were close for the first mile, hitting it in 5:45. After that, Cardoso kept his pace down around 5:48 to 5:53 per mile. Williams, who, as he indicated later, was running in a race 'a bit out of his wheelhouse' was content to cruise along in 6:05 to 6:14 per mile pace. That allowed Cardoso to build a substantial lead by the end of Mile 7. Williams took ten seconds out of that lead in the last half mile, but Cardoso had enough of a gap to take 3rd with 90 seconds to spare. Williams, in turn, had 45 seconds on his teammate, David Szostak, who claimed the 5th slot. After the race, Cardoso posted, "Quite intimidating...event...but with the support of my teammates from GSTC, I was able to enjoy it and have some fun! Looking forward to more of these intimidating events!"
NATIONAL CHAMPION Christopher Shaw 40:34
Nicholas Thompson 41:19 Marco Cardoso 44:04
50-54 A week before this Championship, Craig Godwin posted on FB "...took a really nasty fall, going first into some sharp rocks...multiple medical vehicles responded...broken nose, stitches in my face, left hand all messed up..." I wondered if he would show up at all. I guess we will say it was just part of his national championship prep. It was a very competitive group that showed up. Everyone ran a national class time or better and there was, in the end, less than 2.5 minutes between first and 7th. When the gun sounded, Gregory Putnam took off like he intended to compete for the Overall win. He hit the mile in 5:21! Godwin was a little more moderate 30 meters back, and Terry Davidson another 40. The rest of the crew, Elliott and Jonathan Frieder, Keith Guilfoyle, and Joe Hegge formed a tight chase pack 30 meters back from Davidson. Over the next two miles, Godwin cut Putnam's lead to under 30 meters, but then Putnam threw in a serious 4th mile, dropping his pace by 7 seconds/mile to expand the lead to 80 meters! Godwin saw Putnam way up ahead and maybe started to wonder if he had enough time to reel him in. The only way to tell would be to try. Godwin threw in a 5:27 mile as Putnam continued with a 5:32. Godwin gained another 3 seconds in mile 6, and a big 7 in mile 7 to close within 15 meters with just a half mile to go. By then Putnam had little enough left to fight off a spirited finish. A spirited finish is exactly what Godwin had left as he surged over the last half mile to take the win with 28 seconds and well over a hundred meters to spare.
Like Godwin, Davidson started to make progress closing on Putnam in mile 5. He made progress but Putnam hung tough and never made it easy. Putnam held him off to take 2nd with ten seconds to spare. After Davidson crossed the line, the chase pack approached the finish with first Elliott, then Jonathan Frieder folowed by Guilfoyle and Hegge, all within about a minute of each other. It was an impressive comeback for J. Frieder. Starting in mid-May, elliptical and core strength work substituted for 'real' running. By late July, running was starting to be a two day a week enterprise, along with the core work and elliptical. By mid-August, Frieder was up to 5 running days per week and did not get back to 7 runs per week until the last week in August. To average 5:45 per mile over a 12 km course is a tribute to the dedication Frieder showed in his elliptical and strength training...and to many workouts with twin brother Elliott once he was ready to run! Terrific efforts all around. As I noted, the lowest age grade from the crew was an 83.79%! Wow!
NATIONAL CHAMPION Craig Godwin 41:24
Gregory Putnam 41:52 Terry Davidson 42:02
55-59 Another tough division, 55-59. Usually this has gone to Nat Larson. But Larson was not quite at the top of his game, although he is not far off. After missing training time to surgery during the Pandemic, Larson has been pushing his recovery. This was his first race in almost two years; it is also tough to dominate a division when you are in your 4th and final year in the division. In the early going, Brian Crowley was out in front of this division, running with some early 50's and 40's. A chase pack followed and midway back through that chase pack was Larson, with Mike Nier, Dale Flanders, and Kenneth Barbee tucked in right behind. When Crowley threw down a second 5:43, and then a 5:45 for the third mile, he had a clear gap over everyone except Larson, to no one's surprise and Flanders, to the surprise of a few. As if sensing there may have been too many rivals close to him, Crowley decimated the chasers by tossing in a 5:26 on the turn-around 4th mile and a 5:27 in the 5th mile. That left Larson dozens of meters back and Barbee and Nier over 200 meters back, with Flanders trying to maintain contact with those two. Crowley backed off the accelerator for miles 6 and 7 but still found his lead growing. After he crossed the line with the win, it was a full minute before Larson came across in 2nd place.
|Brian Crowley cruises into the Fnish Line with the M55 National 12 km Championship safely in hand!|
Barbee won the duel in mile 6 when he opened up a sizable gap; Nier was able to cut into it in Mile 7, but Barbee hung tough to take Bronze with 80 meters back to Nier. Flanders took 5th 5 seconds later, followed soon after by Harold Porcher and Alan Evans. Larson did not begrudge Crowley the win, noting that competition in the division is tougher than ever. He also gave thanks ot the Frieder brothers for inadvertently providing good, steady pacing for him. He also noted that "...it's nice to get back into racing and to see all the other runners." Crowley, racing in his home state, commented "It was great having this event so close to home. It was a nice breezy day for a race on the shore!"
NATIONAL CHAMPION Brian Crowley 42:07
Nat Larson 43:14 Kenneth Barbee 43:59
60-64 I thought this would be a tight race between newcomer, Rick Lee and Roger Sayre, back on top of his game after dealing with an injury during the pandemic interruption. I knew Matt Ebiner had been putting in some solid workouts and thought he had a chance to disrupt those two. I had not given much thought to Joseph Mora who I remembered from the 2016 USATF Masters 1 Mile Championships when he won M55 in 5:06. But I had not heard much about him since. He must have been dealing with injuries or other matters. He is now back to the top of his form. Rick Lee led this group of four out in 5:45 for the first mile. That was too fast, probably for all of them. Lee, however, decided to stay with a big group, in part because of the headwind, and was willing to pay the price of covering mile 2 in 5:48 and mile 3 in 5:51. The others all backed off, hoping that Lee might come back to them later in the race. The fast pace hurt Ebiner, and apparently caused a flareup of his hamstring , which bothered him early and apparently got worse. After the turnaround he had to back off his pace even more. Lee's big group broke up just before the turnaround but the wind was not a factor on the way back as he clipped off 6 minute miles the rest of the way, and picked it up over the last half mile to finish 1st by a wide margin.
A minute and a half later, Sayre was approaching the finish line at a terrific clip. Who was that next to him striving might for might at the same time, an M50 or M55 runner? No, it was Mora. Sayre gave it all he had, calling on all the fast twitch muscles he had nurtured during his rehab. It was just enough as Sayre edged Mora for the Silver Medal by a single second! Ebiner, tough runner that he is, came in 4th, less than a minute later, despite his difficulties during the race. Another minute saw Michael Salamone come in 5th, followed closely by George Buchanan and Robert Reynolds. Lee, who is new to serious racing at a national level noted that, from the start, he was "...well rested...legs felt good despite last week's marathon."
NATIONAL CHAMPION Rick Lee 44:16
Roger Sayre 45:51 Joseph Mora 45:52
65-69 This was one of the most anticipated division races, because of the strong likelihood that Brian Pilcher, who was back after a string of injuries, appeared to be in shape to break Terry McCluskey's American Record. Not only that, Pilcher had already pointed out that Ken Youngers might be more of a barrier to him getting a new record than the time itself was. Joseph Reda who won the 2019 M65 Masters National Grand Prix looked pretty solid for third although Boulder's Jack Pottle, another newcomer to the national circuit, might give him a fight. Youngers was kind enough to deliver a play-by-play of the Pilcher-Youngers duel for the win and the record. Youngers passed Pilcher a quarter mile into the race and Pilcher tucked in. Through most of the first three miles, they stuck with a pack of 15-20 younger guys but needed to cover the first two miles in 5:46 and 5:52, a pace much faster than record pace and one that Youngers felt he could not sustain, especially into the wind. Youngers slowed the next mile to 6:09, a pace that allowed him to start feeling comfortable again; Pilcher did not pass when Youngers slowed down. They ran alone for most of mile 4 at 6:02 pace but had Francis Burdett, an M55 runner, in their sights. He helped pull them through the turnaround before they passed him at about mile 4.5. Shortly after that, Youngers was conscious that Pilcher was, for the first time, not right on his heels. He covered miles 5 and 6 in 6:03 and 6:04. At mile 6 Youngers sensed a runner coming up behind him, closing at a good clip. Initially worried it might be Pilcher, Youngers breathed a sigh of relief when it turned out to be a 50's GVH runner and the #2 woman, Maggie Shearer, who strode past. Youngers held the 6:04 pace all the way into the finish line, realizing he had the new American Record and the Gold Medal.
Fifteen seconds later, Pilcher crossed the line in 2nd; Youngers had not realized he was that close. It was close for a 12 km race, but not as tight as many woud have thought; Pilcher was over 50 meters back when Youngers finished. Pilcher noted that "Ken is a great Champion. I made him bear most of the brunt of the wind on the way out and he brought it home strong!" I hope both of these champions stay healthy so we can see how this rivlary plays out over the next couple of years. What other records might they take down? Almost four minutes went by before Reda sped across the line, averaging under 6:40 per mile. Pottle claimed 4th a minute and a half later, followed by Kevin Dollard in 5th. For anyone wondering what Pilcher has targeted for the rest of this year, I asked if he was thinking of going after the incredible M65 Marathon record of Clive Davies, 2:42:49. He replied, "Clive's record is by far the toughest one, i might try a 5k, 10k, half and i have the dipsea nov 7 and tallahassee in december. I think Ken is doing Jacksonville instead so we will see the comparative half times."
NATIONAL CHAMPION Ken Youngers 45:05
Brian Pilcher 45:20 Joe Reda 49:08
70-74 In terms of reputation it appeared this division would go to Gene Dykes in a walk. Dykes has not recently exhibited the kind of speed he had in 2018 when he set the American M70 10K record at 39:04. Still he had run a 41:57 10,000 meters on the track at the Outdoor MTF Championships in Ames just two months earlier. No one else could match that kind of speed. But then I heard that he had sustained a hamstring injury in the Hood to Coast Relay, that he would only be running to help out his team. else in the field. That seemed to throw things wide open. Jerry Learned, who finished third in the M70 Masters National Grand Prix would certainly factor into the race. I thought Peter Auteri and Fernando Moura came in with better fitness. That may have been true on paper but Moura did not race on Sunday, and Auteri was not the only threat to learned taking the Gold Medal. I overlooked Don Morrison, who had run a 51:28 7 Miler in early September. The age grade equivalence for that is a 55:09 12 km, not as fast as Moura seemed capable of, but a bit faster than Auteri.
In the end, that is how it turned out. In the absence of Moura, it was Morrison who made the big move that no one could answer, and captured the title in 54:48. Learned, always a tough competitor, came across the line 48 seconds later in 2nd. A minute and a half later Auteri claimed the bronze medal. A little over a minute later, Will Charles finished in 4th.
NATIONAL CHAMPION Don Morrison 54:48
Jerry Learned 55:36 Peter Auteri 57:06
75-79 One of the top M70 runners, Dave Glass turned 75 just before this Championship. He would be a formidable opponent for anyone hoping to take Gold. The runners most likely to challenge included Julio Aguirre, Jim May, Ezequiel Garcia, and Jan Frisby. Something prevented May from competing; I was out with insertional Achilles tendonitis. Frisby had run a 24:40 5K at altitude a couple of weeks before this race which converts, if we give some credit for altitude, to around a 59 minute 12 km. That did not look to be fast enough to make the podium, but Frisby has sometimes shown remarkable improvement in a short period of time. Frisby was a 3-time Division Athlete of the Year when in his 50's, and then again in 2015 for M70. Glass, as it turned out, had no problems, running a strong race from the start to the finish, clocking a fine 56:16 to take the Gold, 46 seconds ahead of Garcia.
Aguirre had no answer for Garcia today, but ran well nonetheless, finishing third in a national championship more than 4 minutes ahead of the 4th place finisher, Edward Leydon.