Thursday, October 30, 2014

Recap of USATF 15K Masters National Championships at The Tulsa Run on October 25, 2014

October 30 2014. The latest national masters championship was hosted by The Tulsa Federal Credit Union 15K Run on Saturday, October 25 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This 15K Masters national road championship was the 6th stop on the USATF  Masters 2014 road circuit, comprised of the Half Marathon (Melbourne, FL), 8K (Brea, CA), 10K (Dedham, MA), 1 Mile (Flint, MI), 5K (Syracuse, NY), 15K (Tulsa, OK), and 12K (Alexandria, VA). A new course layout for The Tulsa Run was presented to the competitors this year due to construction of A Gathering Place for Tulsa along the river bank area where the route had previously gone. It is now a more urban route and, according to Heath Aucoin, Race Director, slightly hillier than the old course, and therefore more scenic. Unless the review of the course after the race reveals unanticipated problems, it is likely to be the course going forward. 

In my conversations with runners, no one seemed very concerned about hills on the course but they did note that on this day the heat was a challenge.The day was unseasonably warm with a high of 88 compared to an average high of 70 degrees. Of course at the start of the race [8:50 AM] it was not hot, but clear skies and mid to upper 60's at the start with the temperature rising into the 70's is challenging for a 15K (9.3 miles) race. Whether due to the new course or the unexpected weather challenge on the day, times were a bit slower than last year. But some rip roaring performances were turned in and there were some tight age group races on the men's side.

Here's a photo of the start:
And the Masters runners are off! Mitchell (far right) and Fairchild (middle/right) stride out toward the front but Pilcher, Hansen, Rejimbal and Weiner are off to a speedy start too. [photo:Chris Barnes at]
Overall Races. The race for the overall masters championship and first place prize money of $500 is the main event. Melody Fairchild, a decorated and record setting high school runner, and an All-American at the University of Oregon, has been regularly setting the pace since joining the masters ranks last year. She is the 2014 national 10K champion and the defending 2013 15K champion. 
Melody Fairchild, intent on her finishing kick! [photo:Chris Barnes at]

The Women's Overall Masters race was won by the renowned Masters runner, Melody Fairchild of Boulder, Colorado. 

Melody Fairchild repeats as USATF 15K Masters Champion on October 25, 2014 [photo:Defining Moments (Oklahoma City, OK): David Prentice and Michael Mayberry]

Successfully defending her title at Tulsa by a wide margin, Fairchild won in a time of 54:53 [per mile pace =5:53]. Second place was captured by Terri Rejimbal of Tampa, FL. Winner of the masters competition in the famous Gasparilla Half Marathon [Tampa, FL] and the equally renowned Fifth Third River Bank Run [Grand Rapids, MI], Rejimbal finished in a time of 61:45 [per mile pace=6:37]. 
Terri Rejimbal claims the silver medal in the 2014 USATF 15K Masters Championships in Tulsa, OK [photo:Defining Moments (Oklahoma City, OK): David Prentice and Michael Mayberry]

Deborah Torneden of Andover, KS. took the third place trophy with a time of 66:28.
Deborah Torneden, takes the overall bronze medal with a gritty performance. [photo:Chris Barnes at]
 It had originally looked like there would be an epic battle on the Men's side for Overall Champion as Kevin Castille and Greg Mitchell were both entered. Castille and Mitchell had locked horns at the national master's half marathon championship in Melbourne, FL in February with honors going to Castille by 27 seconds. Since that time, Castille had collected championships at the Gate River Run, Grandma's Half Marathon, the Peachtree Road Race, the Utica Boilermaker, and Joan Benoit Samuelson's Beach to Beacon 10K. Mitchell, in the meantime, had won the national 8K Cross Country Championship and scored national road wins at the 8K masters championship in Brea, CA and in the 5K masters championship in Syracuse, NY. 
Greg Mitchell, sprinting for the finish line! [photo:Chris Barnes at]

Unfortunately it was not to be as Castille  had to cancel out of the race due to the flu. So there was little contest for first but the race for second and third was very tight. 

Without a close rival, Mitchell shot off at the starting gun and never looked back, winning the overall masters race by nearly 4 minutes in a time of 48:30 [per mile pace=5:12]. 
Greg Mitchell takes the gold in the 2014 USATF 15K National Championship Race at Tulsa, OK [photo:Defining Moments (Oklahoma City, OK): David Prentice and Michael Mayberry]

Second place went to Robert Weiner of Evergreen, Colorado in a time of 52:17 [per mile pace=5:36]. 
Rob Weiner, taking the silver medal with determination! [photo:Chris Barnes at]]

The former Pitt All American, 

a dominating force in Colorado road running and a top masters marathoner, outlasted another stellar runner, Francis Burdett of Hilliards, PA, running for the Greater Springfield Harriers out of Massachusetts. Burdett blazed to a 52:31 [per mile pace = 5:38] falling just 14 seconds short of Weiner at the tape.
Talk about a gritty performance; Francis Burdett captures the bronze medal overall. [photo:Chris Barnes at]]

Age Group Races.

This recap will focus primarily on the men's age group races because most of the women's races were uncontested. Apparently some of the women's teams that had been expecting to come and compete ran into some problems that prevented them from competing. The top 3 in each age group win medals and the overall winner in each group also wins a cash prize of $200.

M40.  A few minutes after Greg Mitchell cruised home with the overall and age group victory, local runner, Jason Butler, from Oklahoma City, nailed down second place in a time of 52:53 [per mile pace=5:40] 
Jason Butler, Oklahoma City, OK, finishes strong to capture 2nd place in the Men's 40-44 age division and 4th overall [photo:Defining Moments (Oklahoma City, OK): David Prentice and Michael Mayberry]

over the Atlanta Track Club runner from Covington, Georgia, Brent Fields, in 54:03 [per mile pace=5:48].
Brent Fields, Atlanta TC, storming to the tape at the end of a grueling run. [photo:Chris Barnes at]

M45. This was the closest race of the day with fewer than 2 seconds per mile separating the top two runners, Weiner and Burdett who finished 2nd and 3rd overall. After those two came James Jackson, of Denton, TX.
Texan runner, James Jackson, blazes to a top five Masters finish overall and a bronze medal in his division.  [photo:Chris Barnes at]

M50. William Moore, of Dallas, Texas, owned the M50 division with a time of 54:46 (pace=5:52), coming in 3 minutes ahead of his closest rival. Jeff Haertl of Atlanta, GA took 2nd in 57:51 (pace = 6:12) 
Jeff Haertel, silver medalist in the M50 division. [photo:Chris Barnes at]
and Joseph Mora of Fayetteville, NY took 3rd in 59:21.

M55. Another tight race was expected in the M55 division and, although not quite as close as anticipated,  the runners did not disappoint. This division had 3 of the top 4 age graded performances (see below). In the end, Joe Sheeran was able to defend the honor of the Pacific Northwest in 54:38, the best age-adjusted run of the day.  
Joe Sheeran, sprinting all the way through the tape to claim first place in his division AND the Age-Graded gold medal.[photo:Chris Barnes at]

Brian Pilcher, from Ross, California, showed that his comeback continues to be a work in progress, but he is still one of the best runners in the country even when not at the top of his game.
Brian Pilcher, 2014 Masters Runner of the Year, coming back from injury, finishing strong, shows he's still one of the toughest runners out there![photo:Chris Barnes at]

Pilcher took 2nd over a very tough age division field, finishing with the 2nd best age-adjusted performance of the day in 55:43. Last year, at the top of his game, he took top honors in that category. Rounding out the medals in this division was Ken Youngers, one of the stalwarts of the Atlanta Track Club, in 56:16.9.
Ken Youngers, finishing strong and smooth. [photo:Chris Barnes at]

M60. Joseph Reda, of DeForest, Wisconsin, took the top prize in this division, finishing in 59:24 (pace = 6:22 per mile) to bring the title home to the Badger State. 
Joseph Reda, finishing with bounce in his stride, to take the coveted M60 crown! [photo:Chris Barnes at]

He held off the very talented Masters runner from Huntington Beach, California, Dale Campbell, who came in at 61:07 (pace=6:33/mile). Campbell was stepping up in distance and showed that he can be a factor at the longer races. 
Dale Campbell, finishing off a sterling 2nd place effort in the M60 division! [photo:Chris Barnes at]

Devin Croft, from the neighboring state of Colorado, was not far behind in a time of 63:49 (pace = 6:50/mile).
Devin Croft, bronze medal winner in the hard-fought M60 division. [photo:Chris Barnes at]

M65. Lloyd Hansen took this title handsomely. Despite the lack of opposition, he ran a blazing 61:03 (pace=6:33/mile) coming in ahead of many a younger runner. 

Lloyd Hansen speeds to the tape for a gold medal in the M65 division, with time to spare. [photo:Chris Barnes at]

M70. The remarkable masters runner, the Silver Bullet from Milford, MI. and Masters Runner of the Year in his age division in 2013 for the 7th consecutive year, Doug Goodhue, claimed another national championship. 
Doug Goodhue speeds to the finish as he defends his M70 crown. [photo:Chris Barnes at]

His time was 65:59 [per mile pace = 7:04], over two minutes ahead of the second place finisher. Jan Frisby of Grand Junction, Colorado, had hoped to make this an even closer race but, in the end, was satisfied with 68:14 [per mile pace = 7:19]. He is on the comeback trail from a foot injury and is enjoying competing again but has not quite regained his former fitness. If Frisby's fitness continues to come back, the rivalry of Goodhue vs. Frisby will be a great one to watch in 2015. Charles Mabry, of Springfield, Missouri, took 3rd in 75:43. 

M75. Fay Bradley, of Independence, Kansas, took this title unopposed in a time of 91:12 (pace = 9:47/mile). 


W40. Melody Fairchild (Boulder, CO) won the age division by over 20 minutes. 

W45. Terri Rejimbal (Tampa, FL) won this age division.

W50. Deborah Torneden (Andover, KS) won this age division. Torneden took second in the USATF Half Marathon W50 division in 1:28:04 in February. A silver medal in Florida and a gold in Tulsa; her travels have been rewarding.

W55. Andriette Wickstrom (Storm Lake, IA) won this age division in 69:47 (7:29/mile pace). A finisher in the Boston marathon earlier this year in 3:45:56, were it not for the heat, this 15K race would have seemed like a stroll through the park by comparison.
Andriette Wickstrom survives the heat to take fourth overall and win the W55 division. [photo:Chris Barnes at]

W60. Coreen Steinbach (Pompey, NY) won this age group in 72:50 (7:48/mile pace), bringing home her 2nd national age group championship this year. Winner of the USATF 5K road championship 3 weeks ago, Steinbach showed that she can also go the distance.
Coreen Steinbach, sprinting home to take the gold in the W60 division. [photo: Chris Barnes at]

Age-Grading Results. This statistical procedure adjusts runner's times for their age and gender by comparing them to the best possible time in the world for that age and gender. In most cases the world's best time is set on a course that is quite flat and on a reasonably good weather day, neither too hot nor too cold, often with top competition in the race. Age-grading is always a good tool for comparing the quality of times across different age groups within a given race. Age-graded scores are on a 1% to 100% scale, with 100% meaning the athlete's time is equivalent to the best possible time. If a course is hilly or the temperature is hot, then age-graded scores are impacted negatively. Both factors were at work on October 25th. USATF values age-grading highly and puts a fair amount of change into age-grading prize money. The age-grading champs, Fairchild and Sheeran walked away with $1000 checks. And the rest of the top 10 received handsome checks ranging from $100 up to $700.

As noted above, on the men's side the M55 group was dominant once times were adjusted. Three of the top four spots went to Sheeran, Pilcher, and Youngers. The gold and silver medalists, Mitchell and Weiner, tucked in for third and fifth in age-grading, with Hansen, Burdett and Goodhue rounding out the top 8.All were well up into the nationally competitive times with Sheeran's 90.12% classified as 'world class' even given the tough conditions.

Fairchild had a big payday, carrying home the victor's spoils for overall winner, age group winner and top in the age-grading competition at 87.5%. Steinbach took second with a nationally competitive rating of 85.6%.

Teams. Unfortunately no women's teams were able to compete but there was some vigorous competition on the Men;s side with the Atlanta Track Club, the "Beasts from the Southeast", dominating the two younger age categories and the Ann Arbor Track Club, the "Best from the Upper Midwest", dominating the veteran categories.

M40+. The Atlanta Track Club (Brent Fields, Matthew Whitis, Victor Breedveld) took this category with a top-3 time of 2:44:36 or an average of 54:51; that's flying! They took the title by 11 minutes over the local favorites, the OK Runner Elite (Jason Butler, Roger Lemmons, Jason Hatfield).
Roger Lemmons helps the OK Elite team to the Team Silver Medal in the Men's 40+ division at the USATF 15K National Championships [photo:Defining Moments (Oklahoma City, OK): David Prentice and Michael Mayberry]

M50+. The Atlanta Track Club (Ken Youngers, Jeff Haertel, John Kissane) ruled this division as well, finishing with a time of 2:58:19 or an average of  59:26. 
John Kissane finishing with conviction to help the Atlanta Track Club win the gold medal at the 2014 USATF 15K Masters Championships [photo:Defining Moments (Oklahoma City, OK): David Prentice and Michael Mayberry]
They were able to beat a formidable foe in the Genesee Valley Harriers (Joseph Mora, Mark Rybinski, Gene Jensen) who traveled from upstate New York to take second in this division with both Mora and Rybinski breaking 60 minutes.
Mark Rybinski, helping the Genesee Valley harriers to an impressive silver medal showing in the M50+ division.[photo:Chris Barnes at]

M60+. Now we switch to the Ann Arbor Track Club (Lloyd Hansen, John Tarkowski, Eduardo Matsuo) who ran away with this category, winning by nearly ten minutes 
Eduardo Matsuo, helping Ann Arbor Track Club to a gold medal in the M60+ division. [photo:Chris Barnes at]

from a very tough Boulder Road Runners team (Devin Croft, Jan Frisby, Doug Bell). Ann Arbor TC had a top-3 time of 3:11:45 for an average of  63:55 per runner, pretty amazing!

M70+. Doug Goodhue led his group of veteran runners to another fine victory, with Ann Arbor Track Club (Doug Goodhue, John Farah, Philip Kroll) taking home the gold medal in a time of 3:47:19.  

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