Friday, May 6, 2022

Fast Times at Dedham-Four Course Records Fall--2022 USATF Masters 10 Km Championships Recap

 May 3, 2022 Once again, Masters athletes have turned up big for a Masters National Championship. With 295 registered for the 2022 edition of the USATF Masters 10 Km Championships hosted by the James Joyce Ramble, the numbers continue to climb. This is their 8th time as host and at least since 2017, each year's total has exceeded the last. The fastest Masters distance runners in the country toed the starting line at Dedham MA on Sunday, April 24, to race over the rolling hills of this quiet, historic suburb outside of Boston. Welcomed to the Endicott Estate on East Street for last minute packet pickup and pre-race warmups and camaraderie, there was a buzz in the air. The weather was favorable with partly sunny skies, upper 40's and moderate winds. The Masters runners responded with fast times!

OVERALL Gun Time This was the third Masters National Championship in 5 weeks and the 4th in 8 weeks. Talk about a packed schedule! After the Half Marathon at Syracuse and/or the Ten Miler at Sacramento, runners would have to reconnect with the fast twitch muscles they engaged in Atlanta for the 5 km. For many runners, the ten km is the only one of the four core distances, 5 Km, 10 Km, Half Marathon and Marathon where the faster and the more enduring athletes can meet on somewhat equal ground. It is also where the fastest of New England try to defend the home roads against interlopers from various parts of the country that want to make off with a medal haul.

MEN The 5 Km title went to a speed merchant, Bryan Lindsay Indiana Elite, who had finished 2nd at the NCAA 1500 in his senior year at Brigham Young University. The Half Marathon went to Jesse Davis Indiana Elite, who had finished 5th place for Team USA at the 2015 50 Kilometer World Championships. At the Ten Mile, it was Riley Cooper unattached, another first year Masters athlete who had some good wins, especially in Utah, as an Open athlete, who took the crown. The only one of those three entered was Davis, making him the favorite. To win through to the Gold Medal, though, Davis would have to first outrun his teammate, John Poray. Nicked up at the 5 Km Poray had still managed to run 16:35; a few weeks later in Carmel IN, he ran 15:52, age grade equivalent to a 32:09. Five kilometer equivalents are often a bit too generous for a 10 K race time. But Poray clocked 1:12:04 at the challenging Half Marathon championships in Syracuse, equivalent to a 33:01. And, to be sure, Davis beat him both at Atlanta and in Syracuse. Still, if Poray were on an upward track, those times suggest he needs to be factored into the race. Four runners from local teams had other ideas. Chris Garvin HFC Striders had taken the Overall prize at the 5 Km Masters Cross Country Championships last October, coming in 18 seconds ahead of Poray. But Poray had the edge at Tallahassee by ten seconds, With no recent results to go on, it might be that Garvin is not quite at the top of his game. Jason Holroyd Boston Athletic Association [BAA] was not as swift on the turf as Garvin was but he ran a nifty 1:11:35 this March to finish 2nd 40-49 at the New Bedford Half Marathon. That is age grade equivalent to a 32:44. Ben Jarrett Whirlaway Racing ran a minute behind Holroyd at New Bedford but was only 4 seconds behind Holroyd at a Super Sunday 4 Miler, in 20:59, another stop on the NE Association Grand Prix.Jarrett's 20:59 converts to a 32:51 10 K prediction. Dan Smith BAA had a strong credential credential from his 25:15 effort at the prominent Manchester Road Race last November where he finished 2nd to Eric Blake in 25:15, equating to a 33:11 10 Km. It is worth remembering though, that Davis finished a close 2nd to Lindsay at Atlanta and the 1:07:38 he ran at the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon last November suggests he could break 32 minutes in a 10 K if he had to. When the gun sounded, Davis sprinted confidently to the front and  had a small gap before his teammate, Poray bridged the gap. 

NOTE: All photos courtesy of Michael Scott.

From Right: Jesse Davis and John Poray lead out the field, with TJ Unger, Ben Jarrett, Mike Cole, Mark Andrews and Paulo Amaral in pursuit

 

The BAA runners and Jarrett were in a pack just behind, as Garvin worked his way up through the field. As he did at Tallahassee and Syracuse, Davis drove the train and the others hung on as long as they could. By the time Davis turned onto East Street and headed up toward the finish, no one was in sight. The closest runner was Poray, who was over 200 meters behind, heading down from the town square. Poray was not clear, however, as Jarrett and Smith were still with him, hoping for a breakdown by him if not Davis. Davis had no trouble over the final 0.8 mile, claiming the win in 32:08. 

Jesse Davis claims the win in 32:08, a new Masters Course Record

 

That time is faster than it looks at first glance. There are rolling hills to overcome. Davis broke Eric Blake's  Masters course record of 32:17, which had been set three years ago. Before that, the record of 32:37 had been shared by David Angell 2017 and Mike Galoob 2014. Poray had enough left in the tank to pull away up East Street, nailing 2nd in 33:05, seven seconds and a good 30 meters ahead of Jarrett. 

John Poray kept Ben Jarrett at bay to claim 2nd overall

 

Smith was another 5 seconds back, just off the podium. 

Ben Jarrett claims the Overall Bronze Medal

 

Garvin was  60 meters further back in 5th, with Holroyd sixth in 33:37. His elders statesman teammate, Mark Carroll claimed 7th, a second later, with Richard Fakcone another second back in 8th. It was another win for Davis, his 3rd  National Championship in 4 tries in this 2022 Masters National Grand Prix season.

Jesse Davis 32:08     John Poray 33:05     Ben Jarrett 33:12 

WOMEN The winners of the Women's Masters National Championships this season have been just as varied. Jessica Hruska Crown Running took the honors in Atlanta, with Jennifer Bigham taking the win at Syracuse. Maggie Shearer took her first Masters Championship after several podium appearances at the Ten Mile Championships in Sacramento. Hruska, it should be mentioned, not only won in Atlanta, she finished third at Syracuse, illustrating her range. She was the only one of the three entered in the 10 Km Championships. She was certainly one of the favorites. She would have to contend with challenges from Kelly Couch Impala Racing, Brett Ely Craft Concept Racing , Jennifer Mortimer Millenium Running, and Jessica Smith Impala Racing. The last three Championships from 2017-2019 have all been won in the low 37 minute range. Couch ran 37:16 in the 10K at the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon in March. Ely's recent efforts have been a bit off that standard. Her recent 19:13 at the CVS Downtown 5K in Providence and her 1:23:39 at the New Bedford Half Marathon both convert to low 38's. That is not far off the standard and she did come in ahead of Couch at the Masters 5 Km XC Championships in Boston in October. Mortimer just ran a 38:18 at the Nashua Soup Kitchen 5K the first weekend in April. Moreover she clocked 17:37 in a local Turkey Trot race last fall. That converts to a 35:57 10K. That is perhaps too generous without knowing the course, but it suggests Mortimer getting under 38 n the Ramble course would not be surprising. If Cross Country is a guide, the sternest test should come from Smith who finished 2nd to her old Middlebury teammate, Kasie Enman, ahead of her Impala teammate, Couch, and Ely at the 5 Km XC in Boston. To top it off, Athlinks reports that Smith ran a blistering fast 10K at the same KP HM as Couch, nailing the Masters win in 35:11! Wowzer! A nice innovation this year was that the course marshals directed Men to move to the left two-thirds of the road, leaving Women to have the right one-third all to themselves. With about a two-third male/one-third female representation that should work out well. The gun sounded and Hruska led the Women's side out, with Mortimer, Ely, Smith, Couch, and Abby Dean Greater Philadelphia Track Club, who finished 4th at the 5 Km in Atlanta, in close pursuit. 

 

From Right: Jessica Hruska #126 with Jennifer Mortimer on her left leads out the Women's field, with Kelly Couch sunglasses and Abby Dean #168 in close pursuit

Spoiler alert! Smith did not break 36 minutes! But she almost did! Like Davis in the Men's race, by the time she headed into the final uphill finishing stretch, she had over 200 meters on her closest pursuer, Mortimer. Mortimer, although not fully free and clear of the others, had a good 40 meters on Hruska and Couch. Smith clocked 36:01 for a dominant win. It was not a Masters course record but was the fastest winning time recorded since Melody Fairchild blasted her way to a 35:15 win in 2015! 

Jessica Smith wins the Overall Title by Over a Minute in 36:01

 

Mortimer took the Silver Medal in 37:05, 

Jennifer Mortimer takes 2nd Overall

 

with Hruska happily finishing on a National Championship Overall podium yet again. 

Jessica Hruska strides to the finish and an Overall Bronze Medal

 

Five seconds later, Couch crossed the line in 4th, followed by Ely, 5th in 37:28 and Dean sixth a half minute later.

Jessica Smith 36:01     Jennifer Mortimer 37:05     Jessica Hruska 37:15

AGE DIVISION Gun Time

WOMEN 40-44 Smith, Mortimer and Hruska went 1-2-3 overall and in this division! Couch an Ely claimed the 4th and 5th positions.

Jessica Smith 36:01     Jennifer Mortimer 37:05     Jessica Hruska 37:15

45-49  Rebeccah Wassner's unattached recent 2nd place division finish at the Masters Half Marathon Championships in Syracuse signaled that she was the runner to watch. Her 1:25:46 on a tough course was equivalent to a 39:40 10K, or better ona flatter course. Many would call the HM course at Syracuse hilly, the one at Dedham is characterized by some rolling hills. Likely contenders included Brooke Bray who ran a 42:19 at the Oakland Running Festival; Laure Van den Broeck Raffensperger, who clocked a 3:27:23 at the Vermont Marathon in March, but may be faster over shorter distances as her 2019 43:47 10K suggests; and Kathy Wiegand who finished 7th in Atlanta with a 20:32. Wassner built on her Atlanta experience and went home with a division win in 39:11, with a cushion of over two minutes. 

Rebeccah Wassner took the win in the 45-49 Division crop by author

 

Van den Broeck Raffensperger showed a big improvement to take 2nd in 41:41. Next came Bray, who had a good outing with a 43:14 over rolling hills, and a national podium finish! Wiegand clocked a 44:10 but finished just off the podium.

Rebeccah Wassner 39:11     Laure Van den Broeck Raffensperger 41:41     Brooke Bray 43:14

50-54 Abby Dean Greater Philadelphia who was pressing the Overall leaders for much of the way sped to a big lead in the division. She crossed the finish line well over a minute ahead.  

Abby Dean  takes 6th Overall and wins the 50-54 Division

 

Cassandra Henkiel's unattached last national championship appearance was at the 2019 Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta; she finished 5th in the division in 19:04. In 2017 Henkiel finished 4th overall at the 10K National Championships and 1st in 45-49. Alexandra Marzulla Shore AC ran a 1:35:31 Half Marathon at Syracuse, equivalent to a 44:04, but her 51:45 at the 12 K last September converts to a 42:43. Henkiel crushed it with a 39:20 leading to her best division finish at a National Championship in years. Marzulla ran a strong 42:58 to claim third with 3 minutes to spare. Estelle McCormack Greater Lowell finished 4th.

55-59 Suzanne La Burt finished 2nd to Lisa Veneziano's record-breaking performance at the 12 Km Championships last year and 2nd to her at the Half Marathon Championships this March. With Veneziano out of this championship La Burt would have a good shot at a National Championship. But there is always plenty of ability in the 55-59 division. Michelle Allen unattached, Trish Bourne Greater Lowell, Jody Dushay Tracksmith Boston Hares, Mimi Fallon HFC Striders and Kris Huff Atlanta Track Club would all be in the mix for the podium. Allen, a superb track runner,is on the comeback trail.She finished 11th in the division at Club Cross but her fitness had increased substantially since last December. Bourne ran 44:17 at the Lone Gull 10 K last September. Dushay finished 4th in 50-54 at the 5 Km Masters XC in Boston before aging up. She ran a 26:59 4-miler in mid-February, equivalent to a 42:36 10K. Fallon is always a tough competitor; she was a minute and a half behind La Burt in New Jersey at the 12K. But that was La Burt's home territory;  this 10 K Championship was on Fallon's. Huff finished 3rd in 55-59 at the 5K at Atlanta in 21:19 and ran 43:58 at Peachtree last year. Despite the best efforts of the hometown runners, La Burt was able to win a handsome victory, with over 300 meters of cushion, in 40:06. Dushay claimed 2nd a similar distance ahead of Fallon. 

Jody Dushay takes the Silver Medal in the 55-59 Division

Bourne took 4th in 43:32, pulling away from Allen who edged Huff by two seconds with her 43:37.

Suzanne La Burt 40:06     Jody Dushay 41:28     Mimi Fallon 42:26

60-64 Three of the fastest 60-64 year olds in the country were set to battle over Dedham's rolling hills. Doreen McCoubrie Greater Philadelphia and Lorraine Jasper Greater Philadelphia came in ahead of Stella Gibbs Impala Racing at the 12 Km last September, when the former two were still in 55-59. At the 5 Km in Atlanta it was Jasper, by a step, McCoubrie and then Gibbs a half minute behind. Since that match-up McCoubrie took top division honors at the Half Marathon Championships with Jasper 2nd, and Gibbs not entered. Gibbs took top honors at the Ten Mile Championships, with McCoubrie and Jasper not entered. On paper it looked like McCoubrie and Jasper would fight it out for the win with Gibbs third. But that's why we run races! There are many imponderables! How would it shake out this time? Apparently the course at Dedham agreed with Gibbs; she took the win in a close contest, coming in 4 seconds ahead of Jasper, with McCoubrie a few more seconds back in 3rd. 

From Left: Stella Gibbs with a handsome lead over Lorraine Jasper crop by author

 

Knowing Jasper's closing speed on the track, I can only guess that Gibbs took her chances and went out hard in the early and/or middle part of the race, built a gap and then held on for the win.  

Stella Gibbs 42:28     Lorraine Jasper 42:32      Doreen McCoubrie 42:39

65-69 Claire McManus Greater Boston Track Club appeared to have the fastest recent 10K effort, a 49:42 from last August. With only a slow (33 minutes plus) 5K time from a St Patricks Day race, which might have been run as a 'fun run' it is hard to predict her fitness in April. Alda Cossi Liberty Athletic Club won this division at the Masters 5 Km XC Championships in October and finished 3rd in Atlanta with a 24:55. That last time equates to a 51:04, but the Atlanta course was hilly, sometimes known as 'Atlanta Flat' and there is often a speed difference between a February road race and an April road race when one is training in New England. In short, it looked like a good match-up. Susan Stirrat Shore AC ran a 52:54 at the Cherry Blossom 10K on April 3rd, and Anne Shreffler Liberty AC clocked 1:54:49 at the New Bedford HM in March, which equates to a 52:29.  Sharon Moore Genesee Valley Harriers , one of the top performers int his division over the years, came in as a bit of a wild card. She had appeared at Club Cross in Tallahassee, in good enough fitness to take the division win. That should have been a good sign but I found no more races in the first few months this year. That could mean either an injury or a training interruption. Moore, a strong team player, might just be showing up to score team points. The St. Pat's day race for McManus was not a good predictor, but the August 10K was! In fact, she ran a bit faster at 48:46! 

Claire McManus on her way to a 65-69 Division Win

 

Cossi was able to run faster than Atlanta would have predicted, but not fast enough to catch McManus. Cossi was 2nd in 49:38. Stirrat ran faster than she did at the Cherry Blossom 10K, 52:15, but it was still not fast enough to defeat Shreffler. That half marathon fitness showed up as Shreffler ran a fine 51:37 to take third. 

Claire McManus 48:46     Alda Cossi 49:38      Anne Shreffler 51:37

70-74 Karen Durante Whirlaway won the 65-69 division at the 2019 Masters 10 Km Championships in 47:18. In more recent action, she won her division at the Falmouth Road Race last summer in 57:46, which equates to a 50:05. A 23:11 5K in November shows that Durante carried that fitness into the autumn. Barbara Sauer Greater Buffalo Track Club has done well at National Championships this year, taking 2nd at Atlanta in 28:14 (28:08 chip time) and 3rd in Syracuse with a 2:08:16. But those times show that an effort much below 58 might be a stretch. Mary Sharkey Central Mass Striders ran several 5K's in the fall. A typical effort was 24:45, which equates to a 51:09. In mid-February she ran a 34:27 4-Miler, equating to a 54:44. Jessica Wheeler unattached ran two of the tune-ups for the Boston Marathon, clocking 53:31 at the 10K on January 8th and a 1:23:56 15K on January 22nd. The latter effort equates to a 54:20 but, given the possibility of different road and weather conditions, indicates roughly the same fitness. Durante was not quite able to match the time suggested by her Falmouth triumph last summer, but she still broke 51 minutes; her 50:52 was fast enough to give her a winning cushion of almost two minutes. 

Karen Durante powers to the win in 70-74

 

Sharkey and Wheeler dueled over the roads, with Wheeler having the best of it. She claimed the Silver Medal and thirteen seconds later Sharkey took third in 53:01. Sauer ran a fine race, breaking 58 minutes by almost a full minute. Her 57:02 was good for 4th.

Karen Durante 50:52     Jessica Wheeler 52:48      Mary Sharkey 53:01

85-89 Edna Hyer Checkers AC collected her 2nd National Championships this season with a time of 1:25:23 (gun)/1:25:12 (chip). She took the 85-89 crown at Atlanta with a 41:23 (gun)/41:12 (chip). By the age grading tables, this 10K was the better effort>

Edna Hyer 1:25:23

MEN 40-44 Davis, Poray and Jarrett went 1-2-3 overall and in this division! Smith and Garvin claimed 4th and 5th.

Jesse Davis 32:08     John Poray 33:05     Ben Jarrett 33:12

45-49 The top four in this division included three from the BAA and one from the Indiana Elite. They were focused intently on the team outcome. Jason Holroyd BAA finished 7th overall and took top honors in this division. 

 

From Left: Jason Holroyd, with BAA teammate, Mark Carroll, outlasts Garden State's Richard Falcone for 6th, 7th, and 8th overall. Holroyd claimed the win in 45-49 with Carroll claiming the 50-54 victory ahead of Falcone

He was able to pull away from Mike Cole Indiana Elite over the last mile to take the win in 33:37. Cole finished 19 seconds later, keeping the hammer down, not only to make sure no one passed him but because with scoring by time, not position, every second counts! Twenty-one seconds passed before Aaron Price BAA  claimed third in 34:17. A minute later, Harry Stants BAA 4th in 35:22.

Jason Holroyd 33:37     Mike Cole 33:56     Aaron Price 34:17

50-54 The headliner in this division was Mark Carroll BAA, top runner for Providence College as an undergraduate, a champion international athlete for Ireland and currently High Performance Coach for the BAA. Had he been entered on the BAA''s 40+ team he would have been their third scoring runner. As is, he took top honors in the 50-54 division, always one of the most competitive. Running with the BAA in the lead pack for most of the race, he must have noticed a fellow in black and yellow. Richard Falcone Garden State. Falcone was giving no quarter and it was not until the last few meters before the finish line that Carroll definitely had the division win. His 33:38 edged Falcone by a single second! Gregory Putnam has engaged with Mark Callon in some spirited duels for national championships over the past 6 months. Putnam took honors at the Masters 5 km XC Championships in Boston, but Callon had the edge at the Half Marathon, where Putnam took 2nd in 1:15:51. Callon was not entered here, but his West Valley teammate, Ivan Lieben was. Putnam ran stride for stride with Lieben and Steve Bell Atlanta Track Club until he broke clear on the final stretch of East Street, taking third in 34:09 with a ten-second cushion. Bell finished 4th with Lieben 5th in 34:25.

Mark Carroll 33:38     Richard Falcone 33:39     Gregory Putnam 34:09

55-59 Nat Larson Greater Springfield Harriers has been gradually returning to the top of his form after surgery during the pandemic lull in championships. Last September he finished 2nd to Brian Crowley Freedom-Garmin Runners, at the 12 Km Championships, trailing him by about a minute. Larson missed the 5 Km Championships because of a family celebration, but made his presence felt in Syracuse. He raced to a 1:16:30 half marathon to take the top spot in the 55-59 division. In his last few months before aging up to 60-64, he also took top honors in age grading with a 92.24%, his first age grading win since the Championships resumed. In Sacramento he had an equally impressive race, clocking 57:11 to take first place in 55-59. Although he did not win the age grading, his percentage was higher than at Syracuse, a sign that he continued to improve. Crowley did not enter either of those championships; Dedham would give Larson a rematch with Crowley. Crowley has not been idle; he ran a 35:30 10K in January and a 58:36 in the Garden State 10-Mile Run.  Scott Grandfield Central Mass Striders has the best credentials in the rest of the field. He ran 37:02 at the Lone Gull 10K last September, and then 17:58 at Atlanta to take 5th in the 5 Km 55-59 championship. He ran two fine half marathons this March, a 1:22:46 Hampton HM, and then a 1:21:19 at New Bedford. The latter is consistent with a low 37's 10K. Fred Weir Atlanta TC was just 2 seconds behind Grandfield in Atlanta, suggesting he should contend as well. Mike Nier who would ordinarily be in contention was working around a hamstring issue. Larson demonstrated that he was all the way back, taking the win in 34:22 with a cushion of over a half minute. The only reason the 59 year old Larson did not break the 55-59 course record is that in 2018, when he was 55, Larson came within a minute of winning the Overall contest in 33:24.

Nat Larson powers his way to a 34:22, winning the 55-59 Division

 

Crowley improved on his January 10K, but could not keep pace  with a rejuvenated Larson. Crowley finished more than a minute ahead of Grandfield in second place. Grandfield was not pressed for third place. Alejandro Heuck, coming off a successful Indoor Track season, was able to take 4th in 37:32, with Weir just 5 seconds back in 5th.

Nat Larson 34:22     Brian Crowley 35:03     Scott Grandfield 36:21

60-64 This division featured another match-up between Tim DeGrado Boulder Road Runners, Rick Lee Shore AC, and Joe Mora Genesee Valley Harriers. In the 12K championships in New Jersey last September, Lee won the division in 44:13. Mora was a minute and a half back, edged for 2nd by Roger Sayre. Two months later, DeGrado shone at Club Cross in Tallahassee, coming in a half minute ahead of Lee, with Mora another 17 seconds further back. At the 5 Km Championships in Atlanta, it was a different story. Mora was able to hang with both DeGrado and Lee and pull away over the final 400 meters. He captured the win in 18:02 (gun) with a 3 second edge over DeGrado and Lee, who fought each other, stride for stride,  all the way to the finish line. Mora passed on the longer distance championships, but Lee, without DeGrado contesting, took the half marathon win in Syracuse with a 1:19:40 and DeGrado took the win in Sacramento in 59:47, without Lee competing. The 10 Km is probably long enough that Mora becomes a long shot to win. On the other hand, DeGrado finished 2nd in his division at the Zion 100 Mile trail race in 31:27:15 two weeks before these championships and Lee won the 60-64 division at the Boston Marathon on April 18th in 2:47:58, just six days before. Would those recent efforts be equalizers or would they be fully recovered? Both are masters of recovery, like Gene Dykes. Both DeGrado and Lee seem to do those long runs whenever they fit. In late March/early April, Lee was running in a 150-mile trek across the desert sands of Morocco. 

As soon as the gun sounded, it was clear that DeGrado had fully recovered from his 100-Miler on April 9th. Lee said he took off like a shot and was never headed. He cruised to the win in 35:59, breaking Tom McCormack's 60-64 course record in the process; Lee was second in 36:41. 

Tim DeGrado winning the 60-64 Division wire to wire and breaking the 60-64 Course Record crop by author

 

Thirteen seconds behind Lee was Paul McGovern Whirlaway Racing. Five seconds later, Mora crossed the line in 4th. It was a fine run by McGovern, who came in comparatively unheralded. He had an 18:42 5K in November, and then ran 1:21:24 at the New Bedford Half Marathon. That effort suggested a low 37 minute 10K was not out of reach. McGovern lived up to that, and then some, clocking 36:54! Robert McCormack HFC Striders, who had finished 2nd at the Masters 5 Km Championships in Boston in October, took 5th, followed a half minute later by track specialist, David Westenberg Greater Lowell, who is developing an appreciation for road racing.

Tim DeGrado 35:59     Rick Lee 36:41     Paul McGovern 36:54

65-69 Ken Youngers Atlanta TC won the 12 Km 65-69 Championship last September in New Jersey, setting a new American Record at 45:05 in the process. That record was later taken down by Brian Pilcher. Unfortunately Youngers suffered a setback in prepping for a Half Marathon record attempt at Jacksonville later in the fall. But by February Youngers had largely recovered, running well enough there to finish 2nd in 18:20 to another 65-69 record setter, Jacob Nur. That effort was equivalent to a 37:40, although the equivalencies from 5 Km to 10 Km are often a little generous. But any prediction under 40 minutes puts Youngers at the head of the field, on paper. Kevin Dollard Shore AC and teammate, Reno Stirrat Shore AC appeared to be the strongest challengers. Dollard took 3rd in 19:54 at Atlanta, equivalent to a 40:49 while Stirrat, in recovery mode, was about 30 seconds behind.  Both ran the Half Marathon at Syracuse with Dollard taking 2nd in 1:32:43, and Stirrat just 23 seconds behind in 3rd. That suggested that Stirrat's fitness was improving. But neither time suggested either was likely to break 40 minutes. John Blaser  Kansas City Smoke and Scott Lucking Atlanta had the credentials to challenge for the podium as well. Blaser finished just two seconds behind Stirrat at Atlanta. He did not race in Syracuse, but he had run the Quad City Half Marathon last September in a comparable 1:33:16. Lucking was 4 seconds behind Stirrat at Atlanta. 

Youngers was as good on the day as he looked on paper. He blazed a 37:48, breaking Tom Bernhard's 65-69 course record by almost half a minute. 

Ken Youngers takes the 65-69 Title with a smoking fast 37:48, breaking the 65-69 Course Record in the Process

 

Dollard lived up to his billing, nailing second in 41:07, six seconds ahead of his teammate, Stirrat, who continued his march back to podium contender. Fifty seconds later, Blaser took 4th, fifteen seconds ahead of Lucking.

Ken Youngers  37:48     Kevin Dollard 41:07     Reno Stirrat 41:13

70-74 Gene Dykes had recently been, like Larson, continuing his recovery back to dominance in the division, at least at longer distances. He took the division title at the Half Marathon Championships with 2 and a half minutes to spare, and followed that with the Ten Mile title and a 4 and a half minute cushion. He chose to compete in a Marathon in the town where he grew up, Canton OH, instead of competing for the ten km title. It would have been a good test for Dykes. Richard Larsen Greater Springfield Harriers took the 5 km title in Atlanta with a 19:34 (gun) effort, finishing about a minute ahead of Dykes. Now, two months later, Dykes would clearly be closer. It did not appear there would be anyone to challenge Larsen if he ran as he did in Atlanta. That effort was age grade equivalent to a 39:54. The 5 Km equivalents are often too generous when mapping up to a 10 Km and that is probably doubly true for someone who focuses on shorter events, as Larsen does. The main challenges would likely come from teammates, Kirk Larson Atlanta TC and Jerry Learned. Larson was returning to action after rehabbing some issues that cropped up in Tallahassee. His last national championship before that was the 5 Km Masters XC Championships in Boston where he captured the division crown in 22:32, just ahead of Doug Bell. Bell competed in the ten miler in Sacramento, so chose to skip Dedham this year. Allan Bates Green Mountain Athletic Associaiton, Gordon McFarland Cambridge Sports Union, Walter Mann Greater Lowell Road Runners, and Glenn Stewart Greater Lowell were all New England runners who would try to upset the Atlanta apple cart. Bates ran a 1:46:54 at the New Bedford HM, equivalent to a 48:27. McFarland was a minute behind Bates in New Bedford but ran a 4-miler in February in 30:34, suggesting a low 48-minute 10K would be within his reach. Mann finished 8th in the 2019 edition of this championship in 45:27. But with no recent results, it was hard to know what Mann's current fitness is. Stewart was a half minute and change behind McFarland in the 4-Miler.

 

Ricjard Larsen, clicking on all cylinders, claims the 70-74 win in 40:33

In the end, it worked as it looked on paper. It was L-cubed at the top of the podium--Larsen, Larson and Learned. Larsen stormed to the win, clocking 40:33. He had over three minutes to play with. 

Larson did a nice job in his return to competition, snagging the Silver Medal with a 44:02. Learned continued his fine season, earning yet another podium finish with his 44:34. Two and a half minutes later, Bates led McFarland, Mann and Stewart across the line in that order, all within 18 seconds of one another.

Richard Larsen 40:33     Kirk Larson 44:02     Jerry Learned 44:34

75-79 Ron Wells and Gary Patton So Cal TC have shown they can beat Dave Glass Atlanta TC on the Cross Country turf and over 5 Km on the roads. Wells was not entered, but Patton was. No one this season nor last has been able to beat Glass on the roads at longer distances. This would be his chance to show that 10 km is one of the longer distances where he is preeminent. Glass took the win at the 12 Km Championships last September with a fine 56:13, handing Ezequiel Garcia Clifton Road Runners a 45 second defeat. At Syracuse, he was again victorious, running 1:41:49, coming in over ten minutes ahead of Garcia. That was the first time Garcia had not been able to stay close to Glass. Most likely there was an issue that prevented Garcia from training at his full potential; or something may have acted up during the race that prevented him from competing as he would have liked. Garcia did not compete at the 10 Mile Championships in Sacramento but two fine runners, Gary Ostwald and Len Goldman did. Captain Dave had no problem! He raced to a 1:16:38, enjoying a winning cushion of over three minutes. Patton was able to beat Glass over 8 kilometers of turf at Mission Bay and again in Atlanta over 5 kilometers of road. He stayed with the leaders until he got close to the finish and unleashed the kind of kick that only a Masters Hall of Fame Middle Distance athlete can sustain. An 8 Km race is probably close to the high end of Patton's comfort range, though. When he successfully took the Masters National Grand Prix title in 2016, the race he did not win was the 10 Km. Garcia was entered but his 1:25 at the Garden State Ten Miler in late March and his 51:02 in the Cherry Blossom 10K in early April suggest a lingering problem. Jim May Genesee Valley Harriers might be in the mix for the podium. He finished 5th at Club Cross in Tallahassee, but had not competed since. Jan Frisby had been steadily moving closer to full fitness over the past six months and could compete for the podium.

Once the gun sounded, Glass moved to the front of the field and Patton tried moving up to stay with him. That apparently proved impossible. Glass had no problem again, cruising to victory in 44:42. That effort broke the Course Record for 75-79 established at 45:21 by Bill Borla in 2015. No one in the division can touch Glass at 10 Km and above now.

Dave Glass kills the 70-74 Course Record as he wins the Division in 44:42

 

It was close to three minutes before Patton came across in second. His tactics had not gained him  a win but it left everyone else far behind. May had a successful return to competition, capturing third in 48:45. Frisby finished 4th a half minute later. Garcia ran faster than he had at the Cherry Blossom 10K but his effort left him vulnerable. He was able to hold onto 5th, but just barely. I, Paul Carlin Ann Arbor TC, was in 7th place heading up East Street and saw Liam Finnigan Genesee Valley Harriers close to a hundred meters up the road. I was able to close on him over the next half mile except for the last ten meters or so. Finnigan finished strong; he was, no doubt, focused on catching Garcia. In the end it was Garcia 50:05 in 5th, Finnigan in 50:05 in 6th, and me in 50:08 in 7th. (gun times)  

Dave Glass 44:42     Gary Patton 47:23     Jim May 48:45 

80-84 There was a lot of uncertainty in this division. John Elliott Potomac Valley Track Club, who has often been atop the podium at national championships in this division, took a spill before Atlanta and was not able to compete. This would be his first race since that spill so his race fitness was a little uncertain.  In December he won the division at Club Cross in Tallahassee over 8 K in 51:13. Just before he took that spill, he ran 29:58 in a 5K. Roland Cormier Shore AC was another athlete returning to competition. He finished 2nd to Elliott at Club Cross in 53:02 but had not competed since. None of the finishers from the 5 Km were entered in this race. Denny LeBlanc Greater Lowell just aged up. He was 79 last fall when he ran 5K's in 28:17 and 28:26. If he retained that fitness in the intervening months, he could be ready to run a time in the 57-58 minute range. A year ago George Gilder ran a 1:39:59 10-Miler, equivalent to a 59:52 10K. Hal Bennett had finished 2nd in 75-79 at these Championships in 2017 with a 48:25. The following year he ran 42:05 at the Bobby Doyle 5-Miler, equivalent at that time to a 52:33 at that time. But I find no results for him since that time. Despite the uncertainty, the gun sounded and the athletes sorted themselves out. It was a very happy return for Bennett; this time he took the Gold Medal, clocking 54:16, quite in line with a 52:33 four years ago. 

Hal Bennett cruising to an 80-84 win in 54:16!

 

Gilder showed that his endurance over ten miles translated nicely to the 10K. He took 2nd in 58:03. Cormier returned to competition with a 58:57 and third place. Elliott has not quite regained his fitness. His 1:02:44 was good for 4th place. LeBlanc took 5th in 1:06:26.

Hal Bennett 54:16     George Gilder 58:13     Roland Cormier 58:57

85-89 Duane Lougee was, in the end, the only athlete able to compete in this division. Two who had entered had injuries that prevented them from competing. Lougee ran a fine 1:03:53 to take the win. That establishes the Course Record for the 85-89 age division.

Duane Lougee 1:03:53 

 Congratulations to all for fine efforts, wonderful competition and great camaraderie! The 2nd recap, to be posted in a few days, will cover the Age Grading and Team Competitions. 

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