Friday, October 30, 2015

Preview of USATF 15K Masters Championships at the Federal Credit Union Tulsa Run

October 30 2015. The 38th running of the Federal Credit Union Tulsa Run on Saturday October 1st at 8:50AM is the setting for the 2015 National 15K Masters Championships. The runners are competing for $17,500 in prize money, second only to the Marathon Championship on the Masters Grand Prix circuit!

Last year it was unseasonably hot, the year before pleasant. The race forecast suggests a chance of showers but with moderate temperatures (mid-50's) and light winds, plus more than a chance of hills! So that's all good as the showers, if they arrive, are not expected to drop much rain, but the hills will definitely be there as a challenge for all runners.

There are many top performers and several intriguing races within the race.

Overall Masters Champions.

Men. The remarkable masters runner, Kevin Castille (Lafayette LA) is entered. He has been a dominant force in masters running for the past three years since he turned 40. He has top wins at races from 5K to the half marathon; race directors at many prestigious road races seek him out. Earlier this year he was the 1st place Masters runner at the Crescent City Classic 10K in 29:56 and at the AJC Peachtree Classic 10K in 30:37. Those are smoking times! And he has lasting power as well. He is the 2014 USATF Masters Half Marathon champion (in  a time of 1:07:55) and finished 2nd to Meb Keflezighi in the 2015 contest in San Diego in 1:04:45. If Castille is on his game, no one else can stay with him. Other strong runners who will try include John Gardiner (Rancho Santa Margarita CA) and Jason Butler (Oklahoma City OK) and Christian Cushing-Murray (Santa Ana CA). Gardiner finished in 1:10:04 at the 2015 Half Marathon Championship, and regularly winds up on the podium at the USATF Championship races he enters. He should be 2nd across the line here. Butler and Cushing-Murray should have quite a race for the bronze medal. Butler ran 1:13:12 at the Chevron Houston Half Marathon in January and Cushing-Murray ran 1:13:51 at the 2015 USATF Half Marathon Championship. The San Diego race course is slightly downhill overall while Houston is not; that favors Butler, and Butler has younger legs. But Butler also ran a Marathon 4 weeks ago so may have heavier legs. Picks: 1-Castille; 2-Gardiner, 3-Butler.

Women. This title should go easily to the strong Masters runner from West Florida, Terri Rejimbal, runner up to Melody Fairchild last year. Following that she had to play second fiddle to Jen Rhines in both the 2015 Gasparilla Half Marathon in March and the USATF Masters Half Marathon Championship in May. This time she should not have to run in anyone's shadow. Rejimbal typically breaks an hour and 25 minutes in her half marathons, often by a few minutes. No one else in the field has run under 1:30. There are four runners who should contend for the remaining spots on the overall podium. Laura Stuart (Encenita CA) ran a 1:01:08 15K two years ago and this year has run sub-20 5K's and sub-40 10K's. Kathleen Cushing-Murray (Santa Ana CA) ran 1:30:24 at the 2015 Masters Half Marathon Championships; Deborah Torneden (Andover KS) ran 1:30:35 at the Rock the Parkway Half Marathon in Kansas City in April, and Elena Shemyakin (Geneva IL) won the March Madness Half Marathon in Cary IL in 1:30:27. Only 11 seconds between those three times-how close can you get?! As noted above, the San Diego course is a bit downhill overall so that maybe took a few seconds off of Cushing-Murray's time. The other two are both 'out and backs'. But the KC Half is billed as flat and fast! The March Madness Half is billed as 'the most challenging in Northern Illinois.'  Stuart seems a bit uncertain as a pick but clearly a threat; I will restrict my picks to those with a recent half marathon. Basing my picks on the difficulty of the courses they ran for their almost equal half marathon times this year, I have: 1-Rejimbal, 2-Shemyakin, 3-Torneden.

Age Grade Champions.

Women. Even though Sabra Harvey (Houston TX), 66, may still be in the last stages of recovering her fitness from a layoff due to an ankle fracture, she should still be the favorite. Last year when Harvey was the USATF Runner of the Year, she regularly graded in the vicinity of 100%. At the USATF Masters 1 Mile Championship in Flint MI on the 21st of August, Harvey scored 90.8% in her first race since the injury. Two months along Harvey should be ready to score over 95% and that should be enough. Shemyakin, 56, could challenge for second though; her 1:30:27 Half Marathon at age 55, age graded at 87.2%. Rejimbal, with the 2015 tables, tends to score a little lower than that but it will likely be close. 1-Harvey, 2-Shemyakin, 3-Rejimbal.

Men. It is likely to be closer on the men's side. Castille is typically age-grading at about 95% with the 2015 tables. Tom Bernhard (Castro Valley CA), 64, ran a 17:36 5K at the USATF Championships 4 weeks ago; that age-graded at 93.8%. Doug Goodhue (Milford MI) would ordinarily be one of the top challengers but he appears to still be  a bit nicked up or off his form. It is a sign of Goodhue's quality that when he is off his game he still age grades above 90%. so you can never count him out of age grade competitions. More likely the third challenger will be Nat Larson (Amherst MA), 93.4% at Syracuse. 1-Castille, 2-Bernhard, 3-Larson.

Age Group Champions.

40-44. This title should go to Heather Meehan, a local runner.

45-49. Rejimbal has no close competitors in this group. Stacy Shaw, from
from Nebraska Run Guru Elite, has run a 1:32 half marathon and a 3:22 marathon, and appears a lock for 2nd. Melauna Wescott of the Oklahoma City Running Club should take 3rd. 1-Rejimbal, 2-Shaw, 3-Wescott.

50-54. On the women's side, this is the age group with the most competitors. it seems likely we will see a dandy race between two 1:30 half marathoners and one with a 1:01:08 15K, as alluded to above. Cushing-Murray, Stuart and Torneden are in this age group. 1-Torneden, 2-Cushing-Murray, 3-Stuart.

55-59. Elena Shemyakina is the favorite here. As noted above she has run 1:30 and change for a half marathon and was the first Masters woman in her age group at the London Marathon earlier this year in 3:09:23. Mary Sweeney,(Atlanta GA) in April, finished 3rd in the 50-54 group at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, and , in July, after moving up to the 55-59 group, won the group at the Peachtree 10K Road Race in 41:15. Sweeney will keep the race honest and should get the silver medal as her reward. 1-Shemyakina, 2-Sweeney

60-64. This could be quite a race. Honor Fetherston (Los Gatos CA), one of the identical running triplets, is probably the favorite. She won the USATF Masters Half Marathon Championship in San Diego in 1:32:03, and took 2nd place behind two-time Runner of the Year, Christine Kennedy at both the USATF 8K Championship at Brea in 35:29 and at the Carlsbad 5000 meter run in 21:10. Andriette Wickstrom (Storm Lake IA) won the 55-59 group last year and has since moved up to the 60-64 group. Earlier this year she won her age group at Grandma's Marathon in Duluth MN in 3:27:39, the Quad City Bix 7 Miler in 51:42, and the USATF Masters Marathon Championship at Twin Cities in 3:22:46. She is clearly in excellent condition. One worries that a fast marathon 4 weeks ago might have taken something out of Wickstrom. On the other hand she is used to running marathons; she ran in 5 marathons and 5 half marathons this year. So what's one more marathon before a 15K?! 1-Fetherston, 2-Wickstrom

65-69. The 2014 Runner of the Year, Sabra Harvey, should take this age group with ease even if there were serious competion. As noted above she is coming back from an ankle injury but was able to run pretty well at the USATF 1 Mile Championship. Harvey has broken national age group records at the 5K, 8K, and 10K so a 15K is likely to be just up her alley. This is a challenging course so a record is probably out of the question.

70-74. Local runner, Judy Bomer, of the Tulsa Running Club, is the sole entrant in this group. She has run a quarter marathon this year in 1:02:30 and ran a 2:15:18 Half Marathon at the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati.


40-44. This group should pretty much be a repeat of the overall race with Castille, Gardiner and Butler  finishing in that order. 1-Castille, 2-Gardiner, 3-Butler.

45-49. Regardless of how Christian Cushing-Murray, 'Cush', does in the overall competition he should take first in this age group. He will have challengers however. Brad Slavens (Atlanta GA) has run 3 sub 1:20 half marathons this year, in Miami (1:19:04), Augusta GA (1:19:42) and Montreal (1:17:56). He won the age group in Montreal and appears to be peaking at the right time for this race. And we shouldn't ignore Cushing-Murray's teammate, Rob Arsenault, either. A force at shorter distances,he showed his long distance chops at the USATF Half marathon Championship in San Diego where he ran a 1:20:07. 1-Cushing-Murray, 2-Slavens, 3-Arsenault

50-54. This will be a tightly contested race, but with a clear favorite. Nat Larson has burst onto the National Masters scene this year with a vengeance, taking 3rd in the age group at the USATF 10K Masters Championships in 35:16 and winning the age group in the USATF 5K Masters Championship at Syracuse in 16:10. He will be trying to make it two in a row for USATF Masters Road Championships. Larson also just joined the Greater Springfield Harriers to run alongside Francis Burdett (Worcester MA). Burdett is no stranger to National Championships; he won the USATF Cross Country Championship (8K) and the USATF 8K Road Championship at Brea CA earlier this year. These two Bay State runners will be going up against two strong Masters runners from the Midwest. Ruben Henderson (Grand Rapids) took 3rd in his age group at the CRIM Festival of Races 10 Miler in 1:00:57. He followed that up with 4th place in the age group at the USATF Masters 5K Championship in Syracuse with a 16:54. Craig Gunby (Palatine IL)

Gunby has had a strong year from the 10 mile run to the Marathon. Will his legs be a little heavy from the Chicago Marathon three weeks before the Tulsa Run? One would think so but time will tell. He ran 2:49:21 there. He also ran a 10 Miler earlier in the year, finishing in 1:00:49 at the Fleet Feet 10 Miler at Soldiers Field in Chicago. Larson should win it. Burdett finished within 40 seconds of larson at the USATF Masters 5 km Cross Country race on the 18th of October, while Henderson finished 44 seconds behind Larson at the 5K road race at Syracuse. So it should be very tight between those two. Gunby might just be off the podium. 1-Larson, 2-Burdett, 3- Henderson

55-59. 2014 Runner of the Year, Brian Pilcher, is a scratch due to a hamstring injury. In his absence the clear favorite is Dave Bussard (Elkhart IN). A top runner in northern Indiana for years, Bussard joined the Lansing Michigan team of Players Elite/New Balance this year and has immediately risen to the top ranks at national championships. He is going for his 3 rd consecutive win on the circuit and there  is no reason to bet against him obtaining it. He took 1st place in this age group in the USATF 1 Mile Championship in Flint Michigan in 4:57 and at the USATF 5K Championship in Syracuse in 16:55. Antonio Arreola (San Jose CA) will help to keep the race honest. He has run a 1:20 half marathon, a 1:04:52 10 miler and 17:39 at the USATF 5K Masters Championship. Gary Radford, one of the stalwart runners of the Genesee Valley Harriers should take the bronze medal.  1-Bussard, 2-Arreola, 3-Radford.

60-64. The favorite is Tom Bernhard. He has recently become a dominant runner in this age group. He took the age group title at the USATF Masters Championship races--in the 1 Mile Run at the CRIM in 5:21 and the 5K title at the Syracuse Festival of Races in 17:36. But there is plenty of other talent in the race that will be only a few steps back should Bernhard falter. It should be said that Bernhard seems to prefer the shorter races so 15K is a bit of a stretch for him. With his current fitness, however, Bernhard should be up to it. Especially as his main rivals seem to have similar preferred distances. Other contenders include John Victoria of the Boulder Road Runners, who finished 2nd to Bernhard at the 5K Championships, and perennial stalwart, Mark Rybinski, of the Genesee Valley Harriers, who finished 4th at Syracuse. 1-Bernhard, 2-Victoria, 3-Rybinski.

65-69. The strong favorite will be the 2014 Age Group (65-69) Runner of the Year, Lloyd Hansen who recently took the silver medal at the 5K Championships in Syracuse in 18:59.He is the defending champ in this age group with a 2014 time of 1:01:03. Jerry Learned, (Gainesville GA) the dependable runner for the Atlanta Track Club should be able to take 2nd although perhaps not without a fight. Learned has run 20:55 at the Syracuse 5K and earlier int he year ran a 43:48 at the USATF 10K Championships. He will have to worry about Gregory Owings, who does not run much at the national races, but did run 1:08:08 at the Tulsa Run 15K in 2013. If he can run close to that itme this year, he could push learned for 2nd place. 1-Hansen, 2-Learned, 3-Owings.

70-74. Doug Goodhue, if healthy enough to run, is clearly the favorite. Nine times age-group Runner of the Year, Goodhue has always been able to overcome all of the nicks and knocks that the elite older runner sustains from races and training. He was out for the early part of this year but came back and took firsts at the USATF 1 Mile and 5K Championships in August and early October. I was told that Goodhue aggravated an old stress fracture at Syracuse. But the man himself told me it was no big deal and he just kept off it a bit while maintaining fitness and would be at it full blast soon. So most likely he is the man to beat, as usual. Przemyslaw Nowicki, has the credentials otherwise. He finished 2nd to Goodhue at the 5K Championships in Syracuse, but about a minute back. He also took the silver medal at the USATF 5KM Cross Country Championships 2 weeks ago. Nowicki is a battler. The wild card is probably Paul Carlin, yours truly, (Indianapolis IN) who just moved up to this group in the last 2 weeks. As he has also been rehabbing a hamstring injury off and on for over a year, it is hard to tell exactly how fit he is. Two weeks ago he ran a 44:34 10K so he is clearly continuing to regain the form he had in 2013 and 2014 when his times were closer to Goodhue's. 1-Goodhue, 2-Nowicki, 3-Carlin.

Late breaking story as of 9:55 pm CDT--Goodhue will not run tomorrow. He is focusing on the 12K Championship in Alexandria VA in 2 weeks instead. Based on that, it looks like Monte Piliawsky of the Ann Arbor Track Club should be in for the bronze. Despite, like so many others, coming back from an injury, Piliawsky managed to get 6th in this age group at the 5K Championships in Syracuse, and ran a faster time than one of the other contenders, J.L. Seymore of the Shore AC. Revised: 1-Nowicki, 2-Carlin, 3-Piliawsky

75-79.   Fay Bradley (Independence KS) is the defending champion from last year. He won in 1:31:14. Perhaps if the weather cooperates, he can break 1:30 this year. But Bradley has a serious challenger in the race this year, Roland Cormier of New Jersey’s Shore Athletic Club. Cormier appears to be a bit faster at the shorter distance sbut it has been a while since he has run a race this long. Cormier took 2nd in this age group at both the 5K and 10K USATF Masters Championships in 23:59 and 45:49. 1-Cormier, 2-Bradley.

Missing to Injury--Some of the particular guys we will be missing include Jan Frisby, who finished 2nd to Goodhue last year in the 70-74 group, out with an achilles problem and Brian Pilcher who is out with a hamstring. Tom McCormack, who dominated the shorter distance races last year would probably find this race longer than he likes. But if he ran it no one would bet against him winning it! He has been out since April with a variety of injuries. Two-time runner of the Year, Christine Kennedy  would have run the ChicagoMarathon a few weeks ago, not this race but a collapsed apartment balcony set that dream back a bit. There are probably many others who could be named who might otherwise be in this field. I hope that Frisby, Kennedy, McCormack, Pilcher and any others who are out injured are soon back racing on the roads with us again.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Recap of USATF 5KM XC Championships at Saratoga Classic on October 18 2015

October 25 2015. It was a great day of cross country racing on the 18th of October at Saratoga Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs NY. It was a mix of clouds and sunshine with the occasional hint of a snow flake or two in the air. Many runners opted for gloves and hats and a number wore more than the customary racer's singlet, but the footing was good so no worries! The individual races are covered first followed by age-grading, followed by teams.

Following the description of the Overall best times, the age groups follow, then age-grading (top 5 by gender plus all who earned Elite Performance Medals), then teams and, finally my mythical age-grade team champions.

Overall Race. Although a list of overall finishers was compiled based on time, there were no awards on tap. The top 2 women and top 2 men, based on age graded performances each received handsome, locally crafted Director's Chairs with the USATF logo. Apart from that, the awards were all based on either age-grading, age groups or teams. So the runner with the fastest time got bragging rights. This is just as well as on the Men's side, the overall winner, by time, did not compete in the same race as the 2nd place finisher, a comparatively rare event.
Locally Crafted Director's Chairs Awarded to Top 2 Age Graded Performances Among Women and Men [photo:]

Women. All of the women ran in a single race. The favorites ahead of time appeared to be Marisa Sutera Strange (Pleasant Valley NY) who won national championships earlier this year at Syracuse (5K road) and Dedham (10K road). Based on looking at the early October results from Syracuse, I predicted that Renee Tolan (Clifton Park NY) and Jennifer St. Jean (Darien CT) would be strong competitors for the win. All of that was accurate but I had overlooked the running prowess of an entrant from the west coast, Janet McDevitt (Bainbridge Island WA). McDevitt is a powerhouse on the west coast but does occasionally come east for XC runs. She finished 3rd overall in last year's Club Cross Country Championships at Bethlehem PA.
Janet McDevitt, building her lead in the USATF 5KM XC Championships at the Saratoga Classic [photo:]
Another overlooked runner was Sascha Scott (Syracuse NY). She ran Syracuse as an Open runner; in the interim she joined the Masters ranks. She enjoyed a great welcome to Masters competition--a terrific race and a medal to take home!

McDevitt made certain the trip from coast to coast was worth it as she took it out strongly and eventually built enough of a gap to hold off the fast-closing Tolan by 3 seconds. McDevitt took first in 17:44.
Renee Tolan cracking across the Saratoga race course in hot pursuit at the USATF 5KM XC Championship at the Saratoga Classic [photo:]
At Syracuse, Sutera Stange had been able to hold off Tolan but not today as Tolan nailed 2nd place. A few seconds back from Tolan, Sutera Strange and Scott were locked in a terrific battle to be the third runner across the line. In the end, Sutera Strange prevailed by a single second. Two seconds later St. Jean crossed the line in 5th.
Marisa Sutera Strange crossing the line 3rd overall with Scott right behind at the USATF 5KM XC Championship at the Saratoga Classic [photo:]
Men. I had predicted this would be largely a repeat of the 5K road championships at Syracuse 2 weeks prior. I picked Chad Newton (Pisgah Forest NC), Philippe Rolly (McLean VA), and Nat Larson (Amherst MA) in that order. I was unaware of Greg Putnam (Stoneham MA) who would make things interesting. Although I knew how strong a runner Larson was out of the 50+ group, I did not know about Mike McManus (West Linn OR) but now I do!

The overall race was in two parts. In what was expected to be the main event, the 40+ group, it rapidly evolved into a battle primarily between three runners, Newton, Rolly, and Putnam. In the end Newton had too much left for the other two as he pulled away to win.
Chad Newton, breaking the tape for the M40 race at the USATF 5KM XC Championship at the Saratoga Classic, Rolly right behind while Greg Putnam (visible) is in 3rd [photo:]
 Although Rolly was given the same time, Newton was the clear winner. Putnam was 1 second back in 3rd place.
Philippe Rolly, crossing the finish line right behind Newton in the M40 race at the USATF 5KM XC Championship at the Saratoga Classic [photo:]

But that was not the full story. In the 50+ race, run separately, McManus ran away from everyone to beat his closest rival by almost a half minute, and Newton by 9 seconds to claim the bragging rights that go with the fastest time of the day!
Mike McManus, Running Free and Clear in the M50 Race at the USATF 5KM XC Championships at the Saratoga Classic [photo:]

Age Groups.
Start of the Women's Race at the USATF 5KM XC Championships at the Saratoga Classic [photo:]

40-44.  This result can be read off the account above of the overall contest. It was: McDevitt 17:44; Tolan 17:47; Scott 17:55.

45-49. Predicted contenders included Emily Bryans (Schenectady NY), Audra Naujokas-Knapp (Rochester NY) and based on distance to travel, Cecilia Regan, of the Greater Philadelphia TC. But, as it turned out, Regan did not make the trip after all. Fiona Bayly (NY NY) did make the trip. With two low 18's road 5K's and a 5:12 in the Fifth Avenue Mile, she was a force to be reckoned with. In the end it was Bayly by a ton even though Bryans ran a terrific race.
Fiona Bayly leading the way in the Women's 45-49 division at the USATF 5KM XC Championships at the Saratoga Classic [photo:]
Bryans took 2nd by over a half minute. Jennifer Harvey (New York NY) took 3rd with Naujokas-Knapp in 4th. Bayly 18:24; Bryans 18:40; Harvey 19:12.

W50. Sutera Strange was the odds on favorite and, as the overall story above makes clear, she had a dominant win in this group. But the other contenders were battling it out behind her. I had thought the two next favorites were Lorraine Jasper (Birchrunville PA) and Karyl  Sargent (Lafayette NY). But two other runners, Marilyn Caulfield (Sayville NY)  and Judy Stobbe (New York NY), had a thing or two to say about the outcome. Caulfield came in 2 minutes behind Strange to nail down the 2nd place medal,

Marilyn Caulfield heading for 2nd place in the W50 division at the 2015 USATF 5 KM XC Championships at the Saratoga Classic [photo:]
Stobbe broke away from Jasper and Sargent who came in together 7 seconds behind her, to take 3rd place. Sutera Strange 17:54; Caulfield 19:55; Stobbe 20:07.

W55. Based on a quick scan of entrants I guessed that Genesee Valley Harrier teammates Colleen Magnussen (Geneseo NY) and Marie White would take 1st and 3rd with Nancy Simmons (Belvedere CA) breaking them up in 2nd. Simmons was stronger than that and there were two other Mid-Atlantic runners who figured in the outcome. White did not run; Magnussen ran well but was outdistanced on this day. Simmons came in 1st in 19:44 to take the gold by a full minute ahead of Beth Stalker (Burnt Hills NY).  
Nancy Simmons running away with the W55 title at the 2015 USATF 5 KM XC Championships at the Saratoga Classic

Cheryl Bellaire (Wayne PA) was another minute or so back in 3rd place. Simmons 19:44; Stalker 20:44; Bellaire 22:07.

W60. Kathy Martin (Northport NY) was the clear favorite. After her I anticipated that Genesee Valley Harrier teammates, Sharon Moore (Rochester NY) and Coreen Steinbach (Pompey NY) would fight it out for 2nd and 3rd. Martin took care of things up top, breaking 20 minutes to win by over a minute. But Mo Bartley (Auburn CA) had not come all the way from California to let the Easterners have it all their way. She took the silver 40 seconds ahead of Nora Cary (Morristown NJ).
Mo Bartley headed for a 2nd place W60 finish at the 2015 USATF 5km XC Championships at the Saratoga Classic [photo:]

Moore finished 4th and Steinbach a few places back on this day. Martin 19:57; Bartley 21:00; Cary 21:40.

W65. I thought JoAnna Rowlands (Concord CA) and Carolyn Smith-Hanna (Pittsford NY) would go 1-2 and I was not disappointed. I missed 3rd place though. Rowlands took the gold in 23:55 with Smith-Hanna 47 seconds back.

JoAnna Rowlands (#813) heading for the win in the W65 division, with Margaret Mckeown, at the 2015 USATF 5km XC Championships at the Saratoga Classic [photo:]
Local runner, Margaret Henders (Saratoga Springs NY), ran a fine race to capture 3rd a half minute back. Rowlands 23:55; Smith-Hanna 24:42; Henders 5:19.

W70. No one in this category.

 W75. I thought Madeline Bost (Randolph NJ) would make it two in a row--1st at Syracuse and then here at Saratoga but Marge Rajczewski (Ballston Lake NY) had other ideas. Rajcewski ran a strong race to claim gold in 30:39. A few minutes later Bost claimed the silver. Rajczewski 30:39; Bost 35:51.

W80. Mary Harada (West Newbury MA) came all the way across from north of Boston to claim the gold medal in this category and also claim the title of the oldest finisher on the women's side at 80 years of age. Harada 37:34.

Start of the Men's 40+ Race at the 2015 USATF 5km XC Championships at the Saratoga Classic [photo:]

M40. Although he could not get the overall win, Philippe Rolly (McLean VA) dominated this class, winning by 20 seconds. Steve Bell (Kennesaw GA) outlasted James O'Connor (Troy NY)
Steve Bell, taking the M40 silver medal at the 2015 USATF 5km XC Championships at the Saratoga Classic [photo:]

to take 2nd place by 4 seconds. Rolly 16:01; Bell 16:22; O'Connor 16:26.

M45. This race was loaded with talent. Chad Newton and Greg Putnam ran 1-2 at the top, finishing a second apart. But Matt Chaston (New York NY) and Tim Van Orden (Bennington VT) were having an equally fierce battle a dozen seconds back.
Matt Chaston capturing the M45 bronze medal at the 2015 USATF 5km XC Championships at the Saratoga Classic [photo:]

In the end Chaston was able to pull away to take the bronze medal with a 3 second margin! Newton 16:01; Putnam 16:02; Chaston 16:15.

Start of M50+ Race at the 2015 USATF 5km XC Championships at the Saratoga Classic [photo:]

M50. As implied from above, Mike McManus (West Linn OR) ran away from a very talented group of runners to take the group medal by nearly a half minute. There was a spirited battle for the other two spots on the podium. A mere 6 seconds separated 2nd from 4th. Mark Hixson (Simsbury CT) pulled away to take 2nd in 16:19.
Mark Hixson (#701) and Mike Nier (#774) battling for the silver medal at the 2015 USATF 5km XC Championships at the Saratoga Classic [photo:]
A few steps back Nat Larson (Amherst MA) was able to carve out 2 minutes of separation to take the bronze medal away from Mike Nier (Rochester NY) who ran a terrific race but finished just off the podium. McManus 15:52; Hixson 16:19; Larson 16:23.

M55. One of my picks, Charles Shields (Abington PA), was definitely in the mix of this tightly contested division. John Noonan (Ballston Spa NY) gave it his all but came up 5 seconds short.
Charles Shields (#831) opening a gap over John Noonan (in background) on his way to M55 victory at the 2015 USATF 5km XC Championships at the Saratoga Classic [photo:]
 Twenty-five seconds back Thomas Dalton (Schenectady NY) pulled away from Erik Wight (Amherst MA) to claim the bronze medal by 6 seconds! Shields 18:06; Noonan 18:11; Dalton 18:36.

M60. This was another race loaded with talent. Luckily I was still able to predict two of the three medalists. I knew that Reno Stirrat (Rockaway NJ) who had a terrific summer of racing, had been disappointed with his performance at Syracuse. I figured that was all the incentive needed for Stirrat to run an exceptional race and we were not disappointed. Stirrat pulled away and by the end had a 13 second gap over the 2nd place finisher.
Reno Stirrat establishing a big lead on the way to M60 Gold at
the 2015 USATF 5km XC Championships at the Saratoga Classic [photo from Facebook--]
 But which runner would claim silver? It was quite a struggle involving Steven Caladonna (Yorktown Height NY), Mark Rybinski (Manlius NY), and Brian Cummins (Cortland NY). Only 7 seconds separated the three of them at the finish line! Caladonna held a 5 second lead over Rybinski when he crossed the line to nail second place. Rybinski edged Cummins by 2 seconds for the bronze medal. Stirrat 18:14; Caladonna 18:27; Rybinski 18:32.

M65. Bill Dixon (Brattleboro VT) the M65 gold medalist from Syracuse and a perennial contender for age group Runner of the Year was expected to claim the victory in this group. Dixon did not disappoint, taking the crown by a half minute in 18:40.
Bill Dixon claiming the M65 Gold Medal at the 2015 USATF 5km XC Championships at the Saratoga Classic- [photo:]

Bob Giambalvo (Delhi NY) ran a strong race to take the silver medal handily over Frank Rucki (Chicopee MA). Seven seconds back from Rucki was Doc Rappole (Bemus NY) still working on regaining the fitness he displayed in the first half of 2015 when he took gold at the USA Masters XC Championship in Boulder CO. Dixon 18:40; Giambalvo 19:10; Rucki 20:05.

M70. I thought Przemyslaw Nowicki (Homdel NJ) would be on the podium but he was the only medalist with whom I was familiar. Now I know about John Carlson (Copake NY) who was able to establish a gap over Nowicki and hold it to the finish where he took gold by 25 seconds.
John Carlson capturing the M70 Gold Medal at the 2015 USATF 5km XC Championships at the Saratoga Classic- [photo:]

Nowicki, in the meantime, had all he could handle with Thomas Jennings (Fort Washington PA). In the end it was Nowicki and Jennings in that order, separated by only one second!
Despite a terrific effort by Thomas Jennings (#706) Przemyslaw Nowicki holds his form, sprints to the finish and takes the M70 Silver Medal at  the 2015 USATF 5km XC Championships at the Saratoga Classic- [photo:]
.Carlson 21:30; Nowicki  21:55; Jennings 21:56.

M75. I figured this would be a battle between John Elliott (Columbia MD), Ron Mastin (Woodstock GA), and Roland Cormier (Jackson NJ). That was correct but the order was a bit off. On this day at this XC course, Mastin was able to handle everything Elliott could throw at him. In the end it was Mastin by over a minute with Cormier another 11 seconds back claiming the bronze medal. Mastin 23:05; Elliott 24:12; Cormier 24:23.

M80. Jon Desenberg (Ann Arbor MI) took this group by many, many minutes but the silver medalist, Walter McConnell (Bolton Landing NY) enjoyed the distinction of being the oldest finisher of the day on the men's side at 84.
Jon Desenberg gave it his all to take the M80 Gold Medal at the 2015 USATF 5km XC Championships at the Saratoga Classic- [photo:]

Desenberg 33:27; McConnell 42:36.

Age Graded Performances
[Note: The percentile indicates how close to the world's best the performance is for an athlete by gender and age. 100% indicates equivalent to a statistical world's best.]


Kathryn Martin  64  19:57  97.69%
Marisa Sutera Strange 52  17:54  94.36%
Nancy Simmons  56  19:44  89.58%
Mo Bartley  60  21:00  88.27%
Fiona Bayly  48  18:24  87.89%


Mike McManus  50 15:52  92.98%
Nat Larson  53  16:03  92.15%
William Dixon  68  18:40  91.61%
Mark Hixson  50  16:19  90.41%
Mike Nier  50  16:25  89.86%

Age-Graded Elite Performance Medals

In addition to the ten runners listed above, the following individuals ran fast enough to earn an Elite National Performance Medal:


Emily Bryans 86.64%; Janet McDevitt 86.60%; Marilyn Caulfield 85.76%; Nora Cary 85.56%; Lorraine Jasper 85.38%; Renee Tolan 85.31%; Beth Stalker 85.25%; Jo Anne Rowland 84.74%; Sascha Scott 84.67%; Jennifer St Jean 84.51%; Sharon Moore 84.09%; Belinda O'Brien 83.78%; Coreen Steinbach 83.58%; Karyl Sargent 83.47%; Jill Miller-Robinet 83.40%; Jennifer Harvey  83.37%; Cathrine Wolden Lev 83.29%; Heather Webster 83.07%; Judy Stobbe  82.14%; Carol Bischoff  80.76%; Mary Swan 80.04%.

 Mark Zamek 89.70; Chad Newton 89.38; Matt Chaston 88.75; Greg Putnam 88.64; Tim Van Orden 88.48; Reno Stirrat 88.30; Bob Giambalvo 87.64; Jonathan Weatherly  87.59; Philippe Rolly 87.44; Peter Mullin 86.98; Armando Oliveira 86.84; Steven Calidonna 86.55; Francis Burdett 86.44; Steve Bell 86.20; Mark Rybinski 86.16; Dave Dunham 86.09; Brian Cummins 86.00; Charles Shields 85.40; Kevin Forde 85.35; Joe Shairs 85.17; Stephen Chantry 85.08; John Noonan 85.01; Brad Kelley 84.87; David Bischoff 84.66; Larry Rechtin  84.53; Ron Lombardi 84.14; James O'Connor 84.01; Joseph Regan 84.00; Peter McNeill 83.97; Thomas Dalton 83.78; Francis Sarno 83.77; Matthew Guild 83.75; Alejandro Heuck 83.74; Joshua Perks 83.67; Frank Rucki 83.64; Ken Wempe 83.53; Mark Williams 83.52; Theodor Schnaufer 83.44; Alan Bernier 83.42; Carl Johnston 83.35; David Greenberg 83.27; Doc Rappole 83.16; Michael Strickland 82.95; Dale Flanders 82.80; Erik Wight 82.66; Brad Slavens 82.59; Volker Burkowski 82.50; Brent Fields 82.31; Devin Croft 82.27; Daniel Dern  81.94; James Pawlicki 81.77; Ben Nephew 81.76; Paul Vandegrift 81.73; John Crawford 81.73; Gary Moore 81.70; John Carlson 81.24; Ron Mastin 81.21; Bill Beyerbach 81.19; Frank Gioia 81.11; Martin Fitzgerald 81.05; Jeff Conston 81.03; John Griego 81.02 ; Jim May 80.92; Mark Chiusano 80.92; David Padula 80.91; Gary Radford 80.90; Jack Arnold 80.90; Ryan Mitchell 80.89; Paul Bazanchuk 80.71; Przemyslaw Nowicki 80.66; Michael Gross 80.65; Don Morrison 80.65; Thomas Jennings 80.60; Harold Nolan 80.48; John Elliott 80.31; Frederick Kitzrow 80.26; Patrick Gaughan 80.24; Geoffrey Towell 80.08.

Team Prizes:
[Note: In the USATF 5 KM XC Championships Team Scores are the sum of the top 5 places for each M40+ and M50+ team and the sum of the top 3 places for all other categories of team competition. Low score wins and/or finishes higher.]

W40+: The Syracuse Track Club had the first finisher across the line in Sascha Scott but her two teammates were far back in this talented pack. The Westchester Track Club had the same problem as Jennifer St. Jean's teammates were not up close to her 2nd place finish. The Genesee Valley Harriers did better. Heather Webster  finished 3rd across the line in team competition and her teammates (Wakenda Tyler and Melissa Senall) were only a minute back. But in that one minute, Urban Athletics NYC packed in their 3 runners (Fiona Bayly, Catherine Wolden Levine, Jennifer Harvey) in 4th, 5th and 7th to take the gold. GVH got the silver and the Syracuse Track Club (Scott, Sargent, Wheeler) nailed the bronze.  Urban Athletics NYC [16]; Genesee Valley Harriers [20]; Syracuse Track Club [31].

W50+: The Athena Track Club took this competition easily; Marisa Sutera Strange and Lorraine Jasper came in 1-2 for Athena and though they had to wait a bit for their 3rd runner, Cheryl Bellaire finished ahead of the #3 runners for all other teams. There was a doozy of a race for 2nd though between the GVH and the Willow Street AC. After the first 2 runners were in for each team (Bischoff and Lindbloom for GVH; Stalker and Buck for Willow Street), GVH led 9 to 11. ut Willow street had a slightly tighter pack as their 3rd runner finished 46 seconds back from Buck while GVH's 3rd runner finished over a minute back. The result was a tie and the tie was broken by Rule 7.9.B which apparently says that the team whose 3rd runner finishes better is awarded the better team finish. Athena Track Club [14]; Willow Street AC [23]; Genesee Valley Harriers [23].

W60+: The Impala Racing team from California and the GVH team from New York had a real battle as the top runners for each team finished close to the top runners for the other team. But, as it happened, in each case the Impala team came out on top taking 1st, 3rd and 5th (Mo Bartley, Jill Miller-Robinette, Jo Anne Rowland) to GVH's 2nd, 4th, and 6th (Sharon Moore, Belinda O'Brien, Cindy Ingalls). The local Saratoga Stryders team (Henderson, McNamara, Clark) took the bronze medal. Impala Racing Team [9]; GVH [12]; Saratoga Stryders [29].


M40+: It was a tight contest after the first two runners between the Central Mass Striders and the Atlanta Track Club. ATC's Chad Newton and Steve Bell came in 1st and 4th, sandwiching CMS's Greg Putnam and Tim Van Orden in 2nd and 3rd so it was 5-5. But then CMS's depth took over as they brought in Joshua Perks, Alan Bernier and Ben Nephew in 5th, 6th and 8th before aTC's 3rd runner could come in. Although not up to the CMS challenge, ATC's 3rd through 5th runners (Brent Fields, Ken Wempe and Brad Slavens) had more than enough speed to match up with the 3rd place team, CPTC (Central Park Track Club) New Balance (Oliveira, Kelley, Greenberg, Lau, Millone). CMS 24; ATC 43; CPTC NB 75.
M50+: This was a dominant win for the GVH team (Mike Nier, Carl Johnston, Theodor Schnaufer, Dale Flanders, David Bischoff) who took 1st and then 3rd through 6th for 19 points. For the first 4 runners it looked like the Greater Philadelphia Track Club  (Kevin Forde, Larry Rechtin, Charles Shields, Jim Rinker, Carl Stocking) would have an equally dominant 2nd place finish as they were ahead 29 to 71 once the Adirondack Athletic Club's (John Noonan, Thomas Dalton, Kevin Creagan, Christopher Buckley, John Sestito) 5th runner finished. But now GPTC needed their 5th runner to finish higher than 42nd. Stocking ran a gutsy race and got Greater Philadelphia the place they needed. GVH 19; GPTC 58; AAC 71.

M60+: GVH (Mark Rybinski, Bill Beyerbach, Frank Gioia, Doc Rappole, Jim May) and the Shore AC (Reno Stirrat, Mark Chiusano, Patrick Gaughan, Harold Nolan) were fighting it out once again. Stirrat got the win so that started Shore AC off well but then GVH got 2nd and 4th to balance Shore AC's 1st and 5th. It came down to the 3rd runner and Gioia had a little more in the tank than Gaughan as he took 6th to Gaughan's 9th. The Greater Springfield Harriers (Rucki, O'Neill, Hernandez, Clark, Childs) beat out the Syracuse Track Club for the bronze medal by 12 points. GVH 12;  Shore AC 15; Greater Springfield 33.

M70+: The Shore AC (Przemyslaw Nowicki, JL  Seymore, Roland Cormier) was in another knock down, drag out, battle here, this time with the Atlanta Track Club (Ron Mastin, Morris Williams, Charlie Patterson, Andrew Sherwood). Nowicki got the first that Shore was hoping for but Mastin took 2nd. When Seymore took 3rd, things were looking good for Shore but then ATC's Williams and Patterson took 4th and 5th. That gave ATC a completed team score of 11. Shore needed their 3rd runner, Cormier to come in next in 6th place or ATC would get the win by Rule 7.9.B [see above W50+ teams]. Luckily they did not have long to wait as Cormier was only ten seconds back of Patterson. The Clifton Road Runners Club team (Fiory, Ash, Lalumia, Swan) beat out the local team, the Adirondack Athletics Club, for 3rd by 5 points in another close contest.Shore AC 10; ATC 11; Clifton 26.

Mythical Age-Grade Team Championship

[To get score, sum up the top n places in Age-Grade scoring (n=3 for women's teams; n=5 for men's teams)--low score wins and/or finishes higher.]


1. Athena Track Club (Sutera Strange, Jasper, Steinbach) 2+10+18 = 30
2. Impala Racing Team (Bartley, Rowland, Miller-Robinette) 4+13+20 = 37
3. Urban Athletics NYC (Bayly, Harvey, Wolden-Levine) 5+21+22 = 48


1. Genesee Valley Harriers (Nier, Rybinski, Bischoff, Schnauferr, Johnston) 5+20+29+43+45 = 142.
2. Central Mass Striders (Putnam, Van Orden, Perks, Bernier, Nephew) 9+10+39+44+57 = 159
3. Atlanta Track Club (Newton, Bell, Wempe, Strickland, Slavens) 7+19+41+48+51 = 166