Saturday, April 2, 2022

USATF Masters National Grand Prix Circuit Heads to Sacramento for 10 Mile Championships-Preview

March 29 2022. The Sactown 10, the offshoot of SRA's highly successful California International Marathon, or CIM, has been around for a decade or so, and always attracts a strong crowd of Pacific Association PA athletes. Lots of fast times have been recorded here. The course has few hills and therefore is fast. Sactown typically has good weather and it should be great this time around too. The 5-day ahead forecast had it as low 50's at the start, mostly sunny skies, moderate winds and little chance of precipitation. And that is holding. For most runners, temps will top out at the low 60's. A lot of those fast PA athletes are entered and they will be joined by fleet runners from other parts of the West and nationally.

OVERALL

MEN Chief contenders for the Overall 10 Mile Championships include: Peter Bromka, Riley Cook, Roosevelt Cook, Peter Gilmore, Sergio Reyes, Gregory Mitchell, Todd Rose, Jacques Sallberg, Orrin Schumacher, and Jason Troxler. And even though they are very long shots for the podium, I expect Mark Callon, Jaime Heilpern, and Ivan Lieben, superb runners from the 50-54 division, to be in the lead pack from the start.

Reyes was the 2010 American National Champion in the Marathon and ran for Team USA in the 2002 World Half Marathon Championships and the 2011 World Marathon Championships. In his first year as a Masters athlete, and still with Open Elite goals, Reyes must be considered the favorite. At the USATF National Cross Country Championships in San Diego, Reyes had no trouble in the Masters race  once he decided to throw in a surge. Reyes pulled well away from the field for an impressive victory. On the road, his recent credentials include a 50:47 in the John Frank Memorial Ten Miler (‘Frank 10’ hereafter) and a 1:11:00 in the Naples Half Marathon. Riley Cook ran 1:07:09 to finish 3rd in the Open Division at the Half Marathon in Austin this February and clocked 2:20:23 at the Boston Marathon in 2019. Gilmore, who finished 2nd in the Masters 10K race on the turf at Tallahassee, may also be able to challenge Reyes. He ran 1:08:09 at the Clarksburg Half Marathon in March, which was accidentally run on a slightly short course. But no one thought it would be as much as a 2-minute difference. To that we add a 1:11:01 at the Urban Cow HM in 2019. 

Peter Gilmore kicked away from Eric Blake to take 2nd Masters Overall at the 2021 USATF Club Cross Championships in Tallahassee Photo courtesy of Michael Scott

 

Roosevelt Cook was not able to stay with Gilmore at Club Cross nor with Reyes in San Diego, but his strength may be greater on the roads. He clocked 1:10:20 at the Surf City HM in early February and 1:09:53 at RnR Las Vegas in late February, remarkably consistent and quite fast! From the 45-49 division we have Mitchell, Rose, Sallberg, and Schumacher, with solid credentials on the turf, Sallberg most of all. No slouch on the roads, Mitchell won the 2018 National Masters Half Marathon Overall Championships hosted by the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run. More recently, Mitchell ran 1:10:56 at the North Olympic Discovery Half Marathon. Rose clocked 56:56 at the Frank 10 and Schumacher turned in a 51:45 at the Shamrock (15K) Run in Portland, age-grade equivalent (hereafter just ‘equivalent’) to a 55:44 10 Miler. Sallberg has no recent results I can find at distances over 10K but in addition to his Cross Country prowess, we can add a 4th place Overall showing at the 5 Km National Masters Championships in 15:57 over a hilly Atlanta course. Troxler ran a fast 1:12:04 at RnR Arizona in January, following that in February with a 2:31:03 at the typically fast, downhill, Mesa Marathon. Bromka was a solid top 10 overall at Club Cross in Tallahassee and clocked 2:29:36 at Boston last October.

Sergio Reyes winning the Overall Masters Championship at the 2022 USATF XC Championships at Mission Bay Photo courtesy of Michael Scott

 

Callon has solid road credentials at distance, including a 1:14:32 at RnR San Jose last October. Two weeks ago, he won the 50-54 division at the Masters Half Marathon Championship on a challenging Syracuse course on a windy day. On a straight-up basis that is equivalent to a 57:10 Ten Miler, but to a 56 and change on a flatter course on a calmer day. Heilpern and Lieben do not really have any recent longer results I can find. Lieben does have a 1:00:20 at the tough Tilden 10 Miler in 20:19 and Heilpern a 41:18 at the Across the Bay 12K. Those both establish that they can run a string ten-miler. The absence of any longer races in 2021 or 2022 makes me suspect these two are primarily focused on the 50+ team competition rather than individual honors.

Reyes, Riley Cook and Gilmore seem the threesome most likely to wind up on the podium. Roosevelt Cook could land on the podium but it would take his best performance in a national championship yet.

Podium pick in alphabetical order:

Riley Cook     Peter Gilmore     Sergio Reyes

WOMEN Alyson Barret, Carre Joyce Heineck, Maggie Shearer, and Amy Alzina appear to be the strongest athletes from the 40-44 and 45-49 divisions. As with the men, there are some athletes from the 50 and above divisions who merit watching. Jennifer Bayliss took the overall Championship at the 2018 Masters 10 Km Championships in Dedham MA, clocking 37:19 and finished 3rd overall later that year at the 5 km national championships in Atlanta. This year she has run a 20:28 5K and a 41:41 10K, suggesting that her current fitness may not allow her to compete for more than age division honors. Fiona Bayly took 3rd place overall at the Half Marathon Championships two weeks ago. Her time of 1:24:05, on a hilly course on a windy day, suggests she could run around 1:03 on a flat, fast ten mile course.Jenny Hitchings has been on a tear the two years before Covid and the year since races were interrupted. She has rewritten the Women's 55-59 record book from the 5 Km to the Marathon. She ran 18:05 to break the 5 Km record in 2018 and ran 2:50:36 at the TCS NYC Marathon in 2019 to break the Marathon Record. She also holds the 10 Km record at 37:27 2018 and the HM Record at 1:21:14 also in 2018. She actually ran faster at the Clarksburg HM last November but the course was found to be short due to an inadvertent misplacing of cones at a turnaround.

Carre Joyce Heineck on her way to a 3rd place Overall Masters Finish at the 2021 USATF Club Cross Championships in Tallahassee Photo courtesy of Michael Scott

 

Alzina ran 1:07:38 at the Chardonnay Ten Mile Run in 2019. Her fitness improved in the interim; she clocked 1:21:41 in the half marathon race at the Ventura Marathon a month and a half ago. That is equivalent to a 1:02:08 10 Miler. Barret ran 1:05:27 at the Frank 10, and clocked 1:26:09 at the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco HM (San Fran HM hereafter). Heineck finished 3rd overall at the Tallahassee Club Cross Masters race in December. Two months before she sped to a 1:20:23 at the RnR San Jose HM, equivalent to a 1:01:10 Ten Miler. Shearer has been a podium regular at National Championships since she moved to the Cal Coast Track Club and races resumed. Her 2nd place finish overall at the 12k Championships in New Jersey heralded a series of top 3 finishes in XC at the 5 km XC in Boston and at Club Cross in Tallahassee and USATF XC in San Diego. She looks to continue her streak with a solid outing in Sacramento. Her 12 km time equates to a 1:00:31 10 Mile Run.

Maggie Shearer finishes off her 2nd place effort at the USATF 12 km Masters National Championships at Highlands NJ Photo courtesy of Jason Timochko

 

It looks very close between Alzina, Bayly, Heineck, Hitchings and Shearer, with actual or equivalent times ranging from 1:01 to 1:03. So how the runners fare on the day will make a difference. Hitchings is, no doubt, looking to lower her American Record below 1:01:15. My guess is she will run by the pace, looking to hit certain splits. That does, potentially, open her up to someone with a stronger kick, feeding off her pace and taking the win at the end. Hitchings would probably not care much if she gets her American Record. Shearer has the fastest equivalent time but it is from a 12K which is quite a bit shorter. She has tended to get locked in battles with the strongest other runner. It will be interesting to see if she takes someone else's pace for this race in order to have a shot at a win. But Alzina, Bayly and Heineck will all be in the mix. It should be quite a race! It is a tough podium pick, but I will go with:

Podium pick in alphabetical order:

Carre Joyce Heineck     Jenny Hitchings     Maggie Shearer

 

AGE DIVISION NATIONAL 10 MILE CHAMPIONSHIPS 

WOMEN

40-44 As Barret, Heineck, and Shearer are all expected to pay a role in the overall Championship race, it seems logical to pick them for the 40-44 Age Division podium as well.  

Podium pick in alphabetical order: 

Alyson Barret     Carre Joyce Heineck      Maggie Shearer

45-49 Alzina, who is picked to factor into the overall championship is probably the favorite for this division. After Alzina, Christy Peterson, who has relocated from Philadelphia to Orange County in Southern California, and joined the Cal Coast team, probably has a slight edge over several of the other competitors. That is based primarily on the 1:05:45 she ran in last October's special edition of the Blue Cross Broad Street Run in Philadelphia. Peterson has, of course, had much success over a longer period. She ran 5 minutes faster at Broad street in 2019. In 2018 she finished 2nd in 40-44 at the 5 Km Championships in Atlanta and in 2017 at the same championships when they were held in Syracuse. She won the 2016 15 K 40-44 Championship in Tulsa. 

Jodi Buyyounouski finishes her winning 45-49 effort at the 2019 USATF Masters 15 Km Championships in Tulsa OK Photo courtesy of the Tulsa Sports Commission

 

Broad Street is a fast course but her 1:05:45 is nearly three minutes faster than any of the equivalents that others enjoy. Alzina and Peterson seem likely for the podium. The last spot on the podium should be taken by Jodi Buyyounouski, Dena Evans, Elizabeth Goya, or Euleen Josiah-Tanner. Buyyounouski and Josiah-Tanner met at the 12K in New Jersey last September. Buyyounouski had the edge 50:05 to 50:14. Those are equivalent to 1:08:05 and 1:08:15 respectively. That makes for a close call. Three months later, Josiah-Tanner displayed talent on the turf by taking first in the division at Club Cross in Tallahassee. Whether that pays off with a longer distance on the roads is a question. Evans's 1:31:13 at the San Fran HM in February propels her into the conversation. But Goya bested Evans with a 1:27:50. That time is equivalent to a 1:06:48. That equivalency, like all such is a bit speculative but perhaps less so than an equivalency off of a 12K. I will go with Goya for the pick.

Podium pick in alphabetical order: 

Amy Alzina     Elizabeth Goya     Christy Peterson

50-54 Not surprisingly, this division is packed with talent. Fiona Bayly, Elizabeth Guerrini, and Ingrid Walters are the favorites for the podium. Bayly's credentials are discussed in the context of her being in contention for the overall podium. Guerrini's February double of a 1:25:44 at the Surf City Half Marathon and a 1:23:40 half marathon at the Ventura Marathon had me thinking Guerrini might be able to run with Bayly. But apparently the Ventura race advertises itself as being gently downhill. That suggests that the 1:25:44 may be a better indicator of general HM ability. Walters has had an impressive past year as she has rebuilt toward peak fitness after an interruption for breast cancer. A podium regular at national championships, she won the USATF XC Championships for 50-54 in San Diego and finished 2nd in Club Cross at Tallahassee. 

Fiona Bayly charging up the steep hill on her way to her first of three consecutive Master National 15 km Championships at Tulsa Photo courtesy of the Tulsa World

 

On the roads, she finished 3rd in the division at the 5 K Championships in Atlanta in February. Walters ran two half marathons in 2021, in March and July, one slightly under and the other slightly over 1:30. Those are probably underestimates of her current ability over 10 miles. But they would have to substantially underestimate her ability for her to keep pace with Guerrini and Bayly. I give them an edge at this distance. Walters did come in ahead of Bayly at the 5 km based on gun time but they were essentially even on chip time. Also Bayly thrives at the longer distances. Bayly will have to be on top of her game to best both Guerrini and Walters no doubt. Those three appear ahead of the rest. Walters knows how to make the podium and her half marathon times are likely to have improved quite a bit from last spring and summer. Other strong runners who could break onto the podium include Lan Clayton, who ran 1:30:11 at the Davis Stampede HM in February; Melinda DiNapoli who ran a 1:29:52 half marathon at the Santa Cruz Marathon in early March; Amy Halseth, who ran 1:29:31 at the San Diego Half Marathon last July; Megan Kosser, who ran 1:27:02 at the somewhat shortened Clarksburg Half Marathon last November; and Wendy Terris, who clocked 1:31:54 att he Vancouver Lake Half Marathon. Should any of the first three run into problems there are plenty of runners who could easily move up.

Podium pick in alphabetical order:

Fiona Bayly     Elizabeth Guerrini     Ingrid Walters 

55-59 There is probably no stronger favorite for an age division win in these championships than Jenny Hitchings. Hitchings, mentioned as a contender for the overall win, holds multiple American Records in this division, including a 1:01:15 in the 10 Mile Run and a 1:21:14 in the Half Marathon. Midori Sperandeo is a talented runner in her own right, with a 2:52:42 at the CIM in 2019 and, last October, a 1:26:34 at the Urban Cow HM. Between August and November of last year, Dana Blum ran half marathons in 1:34:41 at the Urban Cow; 1:34:07 at the short Clarksburg; and 1:33:51 at Santa Rosa. Will that consistency carry the day or will Tania Fischer be the runner on the podium at the end of the day. No doubt Fischer knows how to win at shorter distances and on the turf as well as the roads.She has not run a lot of races at distances above 10 km. What should we make of a 1:32:25 Virtual HM in November of 2020? Since it is done at the runner's discretion, over a course of their choosing, it is likely a slight overestimate of half marathon ability. On the other hand, it is run without any competition or other runners on the course. That is harder, so it may overbalance the other effect. The time is not out of keeping for a runner of Fischer's stature. When at the top of her game in 2017, Kathleen Cushing-Murray finished 2nd in 50-54 at the 2017 15K national championship in Tulsa with a 1:01:26. Her recent efforts suggest her current fitness is well off that standard. I will go for Blum and let Fischer prove me wrong. Blum's times are more recent, and in competition rather than virtual, and the consistency is impressive.

Podium pick in alphabetical order:

Dana Blum     Jenny Hitchings     Midori Sperandeo

60-64 Stella Gibbs has the strongest credentials in this division. She finished 2nd in 60-64 at the 12 km Championships in New Jersey last September. Her 52:07 is equivalent to a 1:11:05 ten-mile effort. She ran 1:33:02 on the short Clarksburg HM course. Kathi Sleavin is the only runner who approaches Gibbs in terms of recent races. Sleavin ran a 1:33:53 half marathon at the Victoria Marathon in 2019. Her best recent HM though, is 1:37:17 at the Lake Sammamish HM this March. Lanore Bergenske seems a likely pick for the final podium spot. She ran a 3:44:09 marathon at Boston in October and clocked 3:34:31 at the CIM. Should any of those three have an off day, Margit Falk or Debra Cramer might find a way onto the podium.

Podium pick in alphabetical order:

Lanore Bergenske     Stella Gibbs     Kathi Sleavin  

65-69 Merry Dearmon-Moore Merry Dearmon for her latest Athlinks results, Honor Fetherston and Suzanne Ray should battle for the division win. Dearmon-Moore ran 3:27:54 at the Sprouts-Mesa Marathon this February, equivalent to a 1:14:49 10-miler. She also clocked a 1:41:15 half marathon at the Tucson Marathon last December. Those suggest she has a small edge over Ray and Fetherston.  Ray has been a regular on the Masters National Grand Prix circuit, rarely failing to make the podium. Her most recent effort was her 65-69 win on the hilly national championship course at Syracuse in 1:49:21. 

Start of the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships hosted by the Atlanta Track Club Photo courtesy of Michael Scott

 

Fetherston ran at a couple of championships a few years back. Her most recent efforts show that she is still a strong runner. She ran a very close time to Ray's Syracuse time with a 1:49:12 half marathon at Livermore. Ray had the more difficult conditions to cope with; her time is probably a bit more impressive. Fetherston, on the other hand, had a much faster HM last spring at the OC Marathon, a 1:44:58. But Ray can point to a 1:44:36 at the RnR Las Vegas HM in February. 

Honor Fetherston heading to a 60-64 win at the 2016 USATF Masters 8 Km Championships in Brea CA Photo posted on Facebook

 

They should enjoy a very competitive outing. But it will take a heck of an effort for them to keep pace with Dearmon-Moore. Suzette Smith would most likely move up onto the podium should any of those three have an off day.

Podium pick in alphabetical order:

Merry Dearmon-Moore     Honor Fetherston     Suzanne Ray  

70-74 The field in this division is also highly competitive. Sabra Harvey who dominated her division in the late teens, returns to a national championship. Known especially for her strong track work including several American Records, Harvey also won numerous national championships at the One Mile, 5 km and 10 km. Harvey was also dangerous on the XC turf and at intermediate distances. In 2017, she ran a sparkling 1:07:24 to take the 15K 65-69 Championship at Tulsa. That same year she ran 1:11:34 at the Space City 10 Miler. As she has no post-Covid results, it is difficult to gauge her current fitness. Jeanette Groesz has demonstrated her current fitness with 70-74 wins on the turf at San Diego and Tallahassee this past Winter. She has no recent longer distance results on the road that I can find, but she did run a 1:43:17 half marathon at the Bend Marathon in April 2020. 

Jeanette Groesz leading the W70 contingent around the Cross Country course at Tallahassee to take the 2021 70-74 National Championship Photo courtesy of Michael Scott

 

That was equivalent at the time to an 1:18:06 HM. Further back she was on the podium for the 15 K national championships in Tulsa twice and at Dexter-Ann Arbor in 2018, finished 2nd in her division. Jo Anne Rowland won her 70-74 division at the 12km Championships in New Jersey last September. Her 1:03:51 was equivalent to a 1:27:19 10 Miler. 

Jo Anne Rowland claims her 70-74 Win at the 2021 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships in Highlands NJ Photo courtesy of Jason Timochko

 

She ran faster, 1:25:48, this March when she competed at the Frank 10. Groesz has beaten Rowland on the turf this winter; it will be interesting to see if Rowland can stay closer or reverse the outcome on the roads with a longer distance. Sharon Gerl, Groesz's teammate, may be able to break onto the podium. Primarily a triathlete, she is used to extended efforts, although not usually all running. She has done well on the turf this winter, finishing 2nd to Groesz at Club Cross. I am guessing that Harvey is showing up reasonably fit, even by her high standards. If I am wrong, Gerl may find her way onto the podium.

Podium pick in alphabetical order:

Jeanette Groesz     Sabra Harvey     Jo Anne Rowland

75-79 Shirley Shean ran 2:42:13 at the Wind Country HM in December but improved her credentials considerably with a 1:50:10 at the Frank 10 this March. Barbara Rinker ran a faster Hlaf Marathon with her 2:41:51 at the Shamrockin HM in March. That doe snot match up with Shean's 10 Mile effort though, so Shean is a slight favorite. No doubt it could go either way.

Podium pick in alphabetical order:

Barbara Rinker     Shirley Shean

80-84 JoAnn Hall takes this division by default as she is the only entrant. But she would be the favorite regardless of which competitors show up. She holds 80-84 American Records at the 12 Km 1:14:26 and the Half Marathon 2:07:00, not to mention the 75-79 30 km mark 3:14:10 which she set winning her division at the Jed Smith Ultra. She will have a shot at the 80-84 10 Mile record of Hedy Marque, 1:31:24, which has stood for 24 years! She will need a very good day, though. Her 2:07:00 is equivalent to a 1:35:51 ten mile run.

JoAnn Hall 

MEN

40-44 This division is well covered by the overall discussion. The podium pick from there works here as well. Peter Bromka and Roosevelt Cook are in the mix here, as they are there.

Podium pick in alphabetical order:

Riley Cook     Peter Gilmore     Sergio Reyes

Start of the 2019 USATF Masters 15 Km Championships in Tulsa OK Photo courtesy of Tulsa Sports Commission


 

45-49  Gregory Mitchell, Todd Rose, Jacques Sallberg, Orrin Schumacher, and Jason Troxler, from this division, all earned a mention in the Overall commentary. Mitchell has won national Masters Championships at this distance before. 

Gregory Mitchell wins the 2018 USATF Masters Overall Half Marathon Championship at the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run Photo courtesy of the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run

 

Troxler has two fast times for his Strava feed already this year. Of the three guys I think of mainly in terms or Cross Country and shorter enterprises, Schumacher has the best equivalent time from a race over 10 Km. Those three make my podium pick. I will leave it to two excellent athletes, Rose and Sallberg, to prove me wrong.

Podium pick in alphabetical order:

Gregory Mitchell     Orrin Schumacher     Jason Troxler

50-54  By picking Mark Callon, Jaime Heilpern, and Ivan Lieben, from this division to be early contenders, if unlikely at the finish, I made my work for this division easier. That is my podium pick, with Callon likely leading the way at this distance. 

Mark Callon on his way to a 1:15:43 and a 50-54 Win at the 2022 USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships

 

Who could prove me wrong? David Mastro  cooked a 57:01 at the Frank 10 and will look to be in the mix with those three. If I have found the right Jesus Muniz, listed for the Philadelphia Track Club, he ran 2:49:12 at Grandmas last year and 1:17:13 at Clarksburg last fall. Christian Cushing-Murray is another. He finished 2nd in 50-54 at the 15K National Championships in Tulsa in 2017 in 52:50, but has not run many, if any, long races since then that I can find.

Podium pick in alphabetical order:

Mark Callon     Jaime Heilpern     Ivan Lieben

55-59  After his 1:16:30 at the challenging half marathon championship at Syracuse, Nat Larson comes looking for a win. To keep his streak going, he needs Grand Prix points as he transitions to a new age division over this year. Cliff Lentz and Thomas Tayeri will do their best to defend the home roads of Northern Cal. Known especially for his work on the turf, where he has been honored as USATF Masters Harrier of the Year three times, Larson also has national championships at distances from the mile to the half marathon. 

Nat Larson leads a pack up James street on his way to a 55-59 victory in 1:16:30 at the 2022 USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships 

 

Lentz ran 2:41:15 at CIM last December and, in the next two months, ran a 1:17:27 at the San Fran HM, and a 59:31 on the hilly Frank 10. Tayeri ran both London and New York last year, recording a 2:43:16 overseas and a 2:46:06 in the Big Apple. Those three make up the podium prediction. If any of those three are not there at the end, Jerry Flanagan, Dale Flanders, and Mark Murray would likely battle it out for the final podium spot. Flanagan ran 1:23:17 at the San Fran Half, Flanders executed a fine 1:22:18 at Syracuse, and Murray ran 2:49:17 at CIM in December.

Podium pick in alphabetical order:

Nat Larson     Cliff Lentz     Thomas Tayeri

60-64 The SRA Elite's Iain Mickle will try to beat back a couple of challengers from the Rockies. He has the credentials to do so. A top runner for many years, Mickle continues to sparkle.  He ran 1:18:58 at Clarksburg, 2:553:42 at CIM in December and uncorked a 59:53 at the Frank 10. Tim DeGrado, has made his name recently on the turf and at the 5 Km Championships in Atlanta. He took 2nd behind Dan King, and just ahead of his teammate, Roger Sayre, in Tallahassee and finished 3rd in Atlanta.

Tim DeGrado left battling Rick Lee right to the finish line as DeGrado takes 3rd at the 2022 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta
 

Apart from that his races have been mostly ultras and trails. He did run the Longmont Marathon, clocking a 3:02 at altitude in December. That should mean he can crack 3 hours at sea level. That might be enough to stay with Mickle and the next runner and have a chance over the last mile or so. His teammate, Paul Hughes should enjoy a great race  He ran a 2:54:28 at the London Marathon, and a 2:50:01 at the Utah Valley Marathon in Provo. That race has a significant drop over the first half of the course, so we know Hughes's quads can take that kind of punishment, The London time is probably the better guide to his likely performance on Sunday. He also has a 1:26:34 at the Thirsty HM at altitude. If any of those three are not on their 'A game', it will likely come down to a battle between two runners. Another Boulder runner, Adam Feerst who ran 1:26:32 at Syracuse, could find himself in the podium mix. Raymond Rodriguez who clocked a 1:26:47 half marathon at the Rotary Mission Ten and a 1:03:29 at the Frank 10, should mix it up with him for the final spot. 

Podium pick in alphabetical order:

Tim DeGrado     Adam Feerst     Iain Mickle

65-69 This division should belong to Jacob Nur who will be trying for another 65-69 American record. Last year he ran 35:42 to take the 10 Km record, and followed that with a 1:18:29 at Clarksburg, which would have lowered Brian Pilcher's HM record by a minute had the course been run as certified. 

Jacob Nur wins the 65-69 title at the 2022 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

 

As it turned out to be laid out incorrectly that is a record he still needs. He already has the 10 Mile Record from his 59:11 at the Frank 10 on March 5th. That is his target for Sunday. No one else in this division is likely to crack an hour. Terry Baucom, one of Nur's SRA Elite teammates, should come next. His PA winter trifecta of 1:25:28 at Clarksburg, 3:08:27 at CIM, and 1:04:10 at the Frank Ten, give him the best credentials of anyone in this division who is not aiming to break an American Record on Sunday. After those two, Martin Lascelles has some 2019 credentials in the form of a 1:27:48 at the Slacker HM at altitude and a 1:08:17 at a ten miler in Britain. More recent credentials can be offered by Doug Steedman who ran 1:29:43 at the San Fran Half and 1:08:26 at the Frank 10 in early March.

Podium pick in alphabetical order:

Terry Baucom      Jacob Nur      Doug Steedman

70-74 Now that Gene Dykes has recovered most of his fitness, taking the division crown in this race should be like a walk in the park. He clocked 1:32:37 at Syracuse and is on an upward trajectory. He should be well under 1:10 on Sunday. 

Gene Dykes on a chilly day in Syracuse heading to a 70-74 win at the 2022 USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships

 

No one else in this division is ready to run that fast but there should be a thrilling battle for the other two podium spots between John Hirschberger, Jerry Learned and Mike Wien. Like Dykes, Hirschberger has been on an upward trend as he returns to the top end of this division. He finished 5th at San Diego in January, a couple of minutes behind Learned but ran a very nice 1:14:10 at the Frank 10. Learned's most recent long efforts include the 12K championships last September when he ran 55:33 to take 2nd in the division and 1:41:06 at Syracuse where he again made the podium with a 1:41:06. Neither of those are quite equivalent to Hirschberger's actual 1:14:10, although they are not far off. If Wien can find the magic he enjoyed at Boston last October when he won the division at 3:29:34, that suggests he could run around 1:15 and change in a ten-miler. That puts him right in the picture. It is worth mentioning however that Learned is a tough competitor. He came in three minutes ahead of Wien at Syracuse and two minutes ahead of Hirschberger in San Diego.There are two wild cards. Doug Bell and Ignacio 'Nash' Jimenez are two terrific cross country runners who excel at the shorter distances. Neither has a recent result at an intermediate distance like this over 10 k. Jimenez ran 1:31:12 in the Ventura Half Marathon in 2017. Bell is most likely running for his team and has no podium in his sights.

Podium pick in alphabetical order:

Gene Dykes     John Hirschberger     Jerry Learned

75-79 Dave Glass owns this division right now at distances over 10 km. He won the 12 km last September and he won the Half Marathon last weekend in Syracuse. 

Dave Glass driving for the finish and a big 75-79 Win at the 2022 USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships

 

If he is healthy, he is the prohibitive favorite. At Syracuse he beat the 2nd place runner, Ezequiel Garcia, by 11 and a half minutes. That is not a minute a mile faster but it is not far off. And Garcia is no slouch; he has challenged Glass on the turf and at the 12 km, Garcia is not entered in the 10 mile. The main contenders are Gene French, Jan Frisby, Len Goldman, and Gary Ostwald. Yours truly, Paul Carlin, is on the comeback trail and is getting a little closer to being competitive each time out. But this race is probably still too early in the comeback. French missed a bit of time to injury himself over the last few years, but he is running well again. He ran 1:28:02 at the Sierra Point 10 Miler in late January and then cooked a 1:25:17 at the John Frank Memorial 10 Miler. Is that a progression of fitness or is the Sierra Point 10 Miler more of a challenge? Frisby ran 24:30 at the 5 km Masters XC in Boston, finishing 3rd and 24:30 in Atlanta to finish 6th. In between, he ran 44:29 at Club Cross, finishing 6th. He will definitely be in the mix. In past years, Frisby has sometimes improved remarkably from one race to the next. His performance depends in part of how his Achilles holds up, not to mention other possible niggles. He won the Masters Grand Prix for 70-74 a few years back, perhaps in 2015. He is more dangerous at the shorter distances but ran a very strong 1:12:30 at Tulsa in 2019 to take the 75-79 championship.  Goldman has been known primarily in recent years as a very tough Cross Country warrior.At the 5 km Championships at San Diego in 2019, Goldman finished ahead of Carlin, French and Frisby. Admittedly the 10 Mile is a previously unexplored distance for Goldman. Ostwald has proven tough on the turf this year. He finished ahead of Glass in San Diego. But he has few recent efforts at this distance. His most recent half marathon is from 2018 and does not come close to matching Glass. If he can manufacture an effort close to that 1:50:42, he would probably be on the podium. Glass is the only runner in this division who can go out at a pace under 8 minutes a mile and expect to sustain it.. The race is his to lose if he is healthy. Frisby could well break 1:25 if he has been able to have a good 5-week training block since Atlanta. Apparently the Frank 10 is hilly; that suggests French may also be able to break 1:25. Goldman will have to find someone to hang onto for pace and hope to make a move late in the race. My recent efforts of 1:20:04 at the 15K and 1:56:41 at Syracuse, even if one allows for the hilliness and windy conditions, suggest a time much below 1:26 is unlikely.

Podium pick in alphabetical order:

Gene French     Jan Frisby     Dave Glass

80-84 Andrew Sherwood is the only entrant. He ran a 2:52:07 at the Invesco Thanksgiving Day HM in Atlanta last November. So he should have no trouble taking the crown in this ten miler.

Andrew Sherwood

85-89 Richard Williams is in a similar situation in the 85-89 division. In addition to finishing 2nd at the Cross Country Championships in San Diego, Williams ran two half marathons last year, clocking 2:51:42 in North Carolina and 2:57:36 at the Santa Rosa HM in August. He, too, should have no trouble finishing the race and taking the win.

Richard Williams

 

Start of the 2022 USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships Hosted by the Syracuse Half Marathon


AGE GRADING

Casual inspection suggests that on the Women;s side, Fiona Bayly, Jeanette Groesz, JoAnn Hall, Jenny Hitchings, Merry Dearmon-Moore, and, possibly, Sabra Harvey should vie for age grading honors. Hitchings should lead the way.

Podium pick in alphabetical order:

Fiona Bayly     Jenny Hitchings     Merry Dearmon-Moore

On the Men's side, Jacob Nur should lead the way.  Gene Dykes, Nat Larson, and Iain Mickle along with Mark Callon and Gregory Mitchell,  should be in contention. 

Podium pick in alphabetical order:

Gene Dykes     Nat Larson     Jacob Nur  

TEAMS I will be interested to see how the Team competitions come out but ran out of time for a formal analysis. There are some tantalizing match-ups between Bowerman, Cal Coast, SRA Elite and West Valley on the men's side and Cal Coast, Impalas and Red Lizard on the women's side.

Best wishes to all of the competitors for an exciting and fulfilling race!


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