First across the Finish Line. Although there is no recognized 'Overall Winner' people are often interested in which runner crosses the finish line first, usually someone from the 40-44 or 45-49 groups, or occasionally a 50-54 runner pulls it off. [The only Overall Winner' that is recognized is the Age-Grading Champion-See below.]
A pack of three formed early in the race, defending champion, Chris Kimbrough (Team Red Lizard), Sonja Friend-Uhl (Atlanta Track Club), and Janet McDevitt (Club Northwest). Last year at Club Cross the same group finished in 1-2-3 order. When they first passed the viewing stands, it was Friend-Uhl and Grace Padilla (Southern Cal Road Runners) in front with McDevitt and Kimbrough a stride or two back. After getting onto the trails again, Friend-Uhl surged with McDevitt and Kimbrough close and with Betsy Russakoff (Impala Racing Team) moving into 4th. Shortly thereafter the 3 leaders opened a gap on Russakoff. On the way to the last major hill on the course McDevitt established a small gap on Friend-Uhl with Kimbrough another few strides back.At that point it was a complete reversal of last year's order. Would it hold? Whether or not, it was a gutsy move by McDevitt. By the time they hit the gravel track for the last time, Friend-Uhl had closed so she was right behind McDevitt; last year's champion, Kimbrough, was now 20 meters back. Friend-Uhl then made a decisive move and with superior speed was able to kick away from McDevitt, coming across the line in 21:59, 7 seconds ahead of McDevitt, with Kimbrough another 8 seconds back.
Friend-Uhl, McDevitt, Kimbrough.
|Sonja Friend-Uhl breaking the tape at the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country Championships in San Francisco CA [photo: Michael Scott/Facebook]
Overall Age-Grading Winner. A cash prize was awarded to Kathryn (Kathy) Martin, 64, who ran 24:48 to age-grade 95.64%. Sabra Harvey, 66, age-graded at 92.63%, and Marisa Sutera Strange (Athena Track Club) had a 90.55%.
|Kathy Martin, striding home with the Age-Grading Championship in her sight at the 2015 USATF Masters Club Cross Championships in San Francisco [photo: Michael Scott/Facebook]
Age Group Winners.
40-44 The first and 2nd places went to Friend-Uhl in 21:59, and McDevitt in 22:06. (See above.) After moving into 4th overall, Russakoff held tough against all comers, including the fast closing Jennifer St Jean, to nail 3rd in the age division, 22:21 to St. Jean's 22:25. Holly Ortlund ran most of the way neck and neck with St. Jean but couldn't quite match her closing kick, finishing in 22:28.
Friend-Uhl, McDevitt, Russakoff.
|Janet McDevitt, powering her way to a 2nd place finish and leading her team to victory in the Women's 50+ Team Competition at the 2015 USATF Masters Club Cross Championships in San Francisco [photo: Michael Scott/Facebook]
45-49 First place went to Chris Kimbrough who was 3rd overall in 22:14 (See above.) Gwen Lapham was 40 meters back of Kimbrough at the midpoint and , despite her best efforts, could not really close the gap, finishing 2nd in 22:28. Tania Fischer and Jenny Newton were only a second apart at the mid-race split and Fischer still had only a few second lead at the top of the last hill. But Fischer's speed did not fail her as she surged away from Newton once they hit the gravel track, claiming the 3rd spot in 23:13 to Newton's 23:28.
Kimbrough, Lapham, Fischer.
|Chris Kimbrough winning the Women's 45-49 title and finishing 3rd overall at the 2015 USATF Masters Club Cross Championships in San Francisco [photo: Michael Scott/Facebook]
50-54 Marisa Sutera Strange added another USATF title to her 2015 collection, never headed and winning comfortably in 22:37, 8th runner across the line and 3rd best age-grading score.
|Marisa Sutera Strange drives to the finish line in taking her 4th National Masters LDR title this year at the 2015 USATF Masters Club Cross Championships in San Francisco [photo: Michael Scott/Facebook]
It was a real battle for 2nd though. Lisa Miller had a ten second lead on Noelle Greene at the midpoint. But then Greene started chipping away, eventually catching and passing Miller to take 2nd by a single second in 23:36--What a race! Strange, Greene, Miller
55-59 This one was closer than one might have thought. But Hall of Famer, Carmen Ayala-Troncoso, built a ten second lead by the mid race split and left no doubt as she pulled away from two Boulder runners to enjoy a victory in 24:04. Laura Bruess ran a solid race to claim 2nd in 24:18, followed by Delcia Litt in 24:30.
|Masters Hall of Fame Runner, Carmen Ayala-Troncoso sprints to the finish line to finish f'irst in the Women's 55-59 division at the 2015 USATF Masters Club Cross Championships in San Francisco [photo: Michael Scott/Facebook]
60-64 Kathy Martin took the 60-64 age group title to add to her age-grading title. She had a 27 second lead at the mid-race split and built it to a full minute by the finish, winning in 24:48. Mo Bartley had no problems as she rolled to a 25:47 and 2nd place. It was a lot closer for 3rd place. In fact, Maria Briones had a 7 second lead over Jill Miller-Robinett at the midpoint split. That did not phase Miller-Robinett as she chipped away, eventually pulling even and then pulling away to establish her own 7 second lead by hitting the finishing tape in 27:43.
|Mo Bartley (1294), racing to a second place finish in the Women's 60-64 Division and leading her team to victory in the Women's 60+ Team Competition at the 2015 USATF Masters Club Cross Championships in San Francisco [photo: Michael Scott/Facebook]
65-69 Sabra Harvey, who had the 2nd best age graded score in the race, enjoyed a big victory, winning in 26:18; Jo Anne Rowland took 2nd in 29:08, with Carolyn Smith-Hannah in 3rd another minute back.
|Sabra Harvey, No. 1464, speeds to the finish line to win the Women's 65-69 Division and achieve the Second best Age-Grade score at the 2015 USATF Masters Club Cross Championships in San Francisco [photo: Michael Scott/Facebook]
70-74 it looked like Manya Hult would run away with this one as she enjoyed a 49 second lead at the mid-race split. But Laury Fisher, who was in 2nd, kept plugging away and eventually narrowed the gap to 15 seconds. She could get no closer though and Hult enjoyed a comfortable win in 35:30 to Fisher's 35:45. Edda Stickle took 3rd in 36:32.
|Manya Hult captures first place int he Women's 70-74 Division at the 2015 USATF Masters Club Cross Championships in San Francisco [photo: Michael Scott/Facebook]
75-79 Eve Pell had this one all the way, over 2 minutes ahead at the mid-race split and the winner in 37:33. Katherine Singer took 2nd in 41:05, with Kathy Kusner third in 45:03. Madeline Bost was just off the podium in 46:04, that's how strong the field was!
|Eve Pell zips to a first place finish in the Women's 75-79 Division at the 2015 USATF Masters Club Cross Championships in San Francisco [photo: Michael Scott/Facebook]
80+ Lynne Hurrell and Jeannie Kayser-Jones did themselves proud in the oldest age group.
|Lynne Hurrell claims her title in the Women's 80-84 Division at the 2015 USATF Masters Club Cross Championships in San Francisco [photo: Michael Scott/Facebook]
Hurrell built up a ten second lead by mid-race but no one was letting up. In the end both came across well under 40 minutes with Hurrell taking the crown in 38:11 and Kayser-Jones second in 39:38.
|Jeannie Kayser-Jones, 2nd place finisher in the Women's 80-84 division at the 2015 USATF Masters Club Cross Championships in San Francisco [photo: Michael Scott/Facebook]
Without further ado, let's get to the main event at Club Cross, the Team Competition. Like all USATF competitions for Masters Women, the team race is decided by adding up the finishing places of the first three women across the line for each team, with the lowest score winning.
40+: Twenty-three teams from coast-to-coast lined up to contest the event. Two of the top 3 teams from last year's event were there, looking for a repeat or an improvement. Last year Team Rogue came up from Texas to take it all. But in the interim, their lead runner, Chris Kimbrough, moved from Texas to Oregon and was on a new team. In fact, Team Rogue did not contest this year's event. But that gave hope to a number of clubs. Bull City Track Club out of North Carolina and the Atlanta Track Club had quite a battle for 2nd last year and they hoped that would be repeated as a battle for 1st! And two California teams, the Jane's and Impala Racing teams figured to have something to say as well. And one never bets against the Genesee Valley Harriers making a race for the podium. Finally there were two unknowns. Kimbrough was on a new team, Team Red Lizard. Would they be a top contender? And what about Club Northwest? Last year they looked like a sure thing for the podium and maybe the win after their first two runners finished 3rd and 4th. But then their 3rd runner was not up to the competition, at least not on that day. All they need is one more pretty strong runner and maybe having the race on the West Coast makes it easier to find that runner who will commit to the race.
In the early going things looked good for Atlanta, Club Northwest, Team Red Lizard and Impala as they all had runners in the lead pack. Closer observation might have revealed that Atlanta and Club Northwest had two runners each, however, who were up close to the front of the pack. By the mid-race split, things were starting to look clearer in the race for team supremacy. Atlanta had Friend-Uuhl in the top 3 and Holly Ortlund in the next group. Club Northwest was in a similar position with mcDevitt in the top 3 and Gwen Lapham in the second group but with a few seconds on Ortlund. It looked like this would not be the day for Team Red Lizard; Kimbrough was up there but it was a long way back to a 2nd runner. Sonya Wilkerson and Jennifer Seibel were back in 30th and 32nd.
|Sonja Friend-Uhl sets the pace as she leads her Atlanta Track Club Team to 2nd place at the 2015 USATF Masters Club Cross Championships in San Francisco [photo: Michael Scott/Facebook]
Club Northwest had a slight edge on Atlanta as their 3rd runner, Holly McIlvaine was 10th overall and had a gap of 8 seconds on Atlanta's 3rd runner, Irma Dennard. But there was a lot of race left to run. How were the other clubs doing? Bull City was not quite as strong as last year with their top two runners just out of the top twenty; they had a lot of ground to make up. Impala, on the other hand, was looking better. Their top runner, Russakoff was in the top 4 and they had three runners within a few seconds of each other in the 15-20 spots, Liz Gottlied, Elizabeth Goya, and Sasha Blum. Not only that, their 5th declared runner, Nancy Thomas was only a few seconds back in 23rd. With such a tight pack, they could do some real damage if they could move up over the 2nd half of the race. Genesee Valley was not out of it yet, with their lead runner, Heather Webster just out of the top ten and Melissa Senall a bit further back. But both would need to move up a bit over the 2nd half and hope at least one of their 3rd or 4th runners, Wakenda Tyler, and Erika Duthiers, in 38th and 39th place could surge.
|Janet McDevitt (orange) and Chris Kimbrough (red) trying to close the gap to Friend-Uhl at the 2015 USATF Masters Club Cross Championships in San Francisco [photo: Michael Scott/Facebook]
In the end, McIlvaine proved to be the real deal, giving McDevitt and Lapham a third runner in the top ten and the coveted victory! Club Northwest had 2nd, 6th and 7th for 15 points. Ortlund stayed close to the front as well, nailing a 5th place to go with Friend-Uhl's first. Dennard could not close the gap to McIlvaine but delivered the goods by finishing 13th and closing the door on Impala's 2nd and 3rd runners. Atlanta had 19 points and a solid 2nd place finish. Russakoff took 4th and the Impala runners had moved up, with Goya in 14th and Gottlieb a few seconds back in 17th. That gave Impala third place with 35 points. Team Red Lizard took 4th with 50 points and Genesee came in 5th with 56. It will be interesting to see if Team Red Lizard holds together and uses this as motivation to come back next year with a realistic shot at the podium. Club Northwest (15), Atlanta Track Club (19), Impala Racing (35).
|Betsy Russakoff (blue singlet), passing Grace Padilla (pink compression socks) to move into 4th for her Impala Racing Team at the 2015 USATF Masters Club Cross Championships in San Francisco [photo: Michael Scott/Facebook]
50+:Nineteen teams from Southern California to Massachusetts vied for this title. The top teams from last year's contest in Bethlehem PA were: Athena Track Club (PA), Club Northwest (Alyssa Tower, Kelly Kruell, Karen Steen), Garmin Runners (NJ), Willow Street AC (NY), and Genesee Valley Harriers (Kathleen Hayden, Robin Lorenzo, Carol Bischoff) (NY). The switch in venue from east Coast to West Coast makes a difference; Garmin and Willow Street did not make the trip. And, of course, more West Coast and Mountain West clubs show up to contest the issue. Athena was back but lacking their strong number 2 runner, Doreen McCoubrie. That leaves Club Northwest looking for a 2nd age division team victory and Genesee with podium ambitions. But Athletics Boulder (Noelle Green, Laura Bruess, Delcia Litt), who took the crown at the USATF Cross Country meet in Boulder in February, sent the same team to 'Frisco. And the home team, the Impala racing team (Eileen Brennan-Erler, Lisbet Sunshine, Diana Fitzpatrick), and Southern California's Jane's Elite (Polly St Geme, Shannon Teslow, Kelle Taylor)would have something to say about the outcome.
|Lisbet Sunshine (1321) helps her team to a 2nd place finish in the Women's 50+ Team Competition at the 2015 USATF Masters Club Cross Championships in San Francisco [photo: Michael Scott/Facebook]
At the mid-race split, Impala was looking good with Brennan-Erler leading the way, after Sutera Strange, and Sunshine and Fitzpatrick in the top 15. Atheltics Boulder looked even stronger at that point with Green right behind Brennan-Erler and Bruess 5th; their 3rd runner, Litt, was 13 seconds back of Bruess and ahead of the first Jane's runner, St. Geme. Club Northwest's Tower was in 8th but Steen and Kruell were 150 meters back. The Jane's St. Geme was in the top 15 and Taylor and Teslow ahead of the 2nd and 3rd runners for Club Northwest. Genesee had Hayden tucked in between Greene and Bruess, and Lorenzo within a half minute but it was another minute before Bischoff came through.
|Eileen Brennan-Erler Leading a Chase Pack and Contributing to Impala's 2nd Place Finish in the Women's 50+ team Competition at the 2015 USATF Masters Club Cross Championships in San Francisco [photo: Michael Scott/Facebook]
Sutera Strange took first place for Athena but they were not a factor in the team race. Green led the way for Athletics Boulder with the 2nd place finish. Third went to Brennan-Elder of Impala but Bruess was just 5 seconds back in 4th, with Genesee's Hayden 5th with the same time. Litt ended the team race a dozen seconds later by coming in 7th, giving the victory to Athletics Boulder with 13 points. It took a while for the rest of the podium to be determined. Tower came in 11th for Club Northwest but right behind her was Impala's Sunshine in 12th. That gave Impala 15 points with two runners in. Which would be the 2nd club to get two runners in? The first Jane's runner, St. Geme, finished in 13th but their 2nd runner, Teslow was just 13 seconds back in 16th. If they could get their third runner, Taylor, in well before Impala's third runner, Fitzpatrick, they could claim 2nd. But it was not to be. Fitzpatrick sped across the line in 19th place to seal it for Impala--2nd place with 34 points. Ten seconds later Taylor closed the door on the rest of the teams. Her 20th place gave the Jane's Elite racing team 49 points and third place. The next 5 clubs were incredibly close to each other. Fourth through 8th were: Club Northwest 66 points, Genesee Valley Harriers 67 points, Golden Valley Harriers 69 points, Atlanta Track Club 69 points, and Lake Merritt Joggers and Striders 69 points. Amazingly close! Athletics Boulder (13), Impala (34), Jane's Elite (49)
60+: Last year it was the Genesee Valley Harriers (Sharon Moore, Belinda O'Brien, Cindy Ingalls, Carolyn Smith-Hanna), the Atlanta Track Club (Margaret Meek Taylor, Cynthia Lucking, Elizabeth Unislawski) and the Impala Racing team (Mo Bartley, Jill Miller-Robinett, Ruth Rainero, Jo Anne Rowland) in 1-2-3 order, and they were all back. But the Lake Merritt Joggers and Striders of Oakland (Maria Briones, Carmen Briones, Sharlet Gilbert) and the San Diego Track Club (Marcelle Teran, Marian Schmidt, Deborah Shea) would try to throw a monkey wrench into their plans.
|Sharon Moore (1297) stepping lively through the Golden Gate park course, helping her team to a 3rd place finish in the Women's 60+ Team race at the 2015 USATF Masters Club Cross Championships in San Francisco [photo: Michael Scott/Facebook]
Impala had the top two team runners at mid-race, with Bartley and Miller-Robinett. But it was 45 seconds back to their next two, Rowland and Rainero in 11th and 13th a few seconds apart. Lake Merritt was countering with the Briones sisters in 3rd and 4th, and their third runner, Gilbert, was in 9th. Genesee was struggling a bit with Moore in 5th, O'Brien in 8th, and Ingalls in 13th. Atlanta was trying to keep pace but having a difficult day; Taylor and Lucking were in 12th and 13th but it was another two minutes before their third runner, Unislawski, passed by. San Diego's challenge was looking a little bit better with Teran in 9th place, followed by Schmitt in 19th place. Shea was in 24th.
It was tight all the way between Impala, with their front-runners, and Lake Merritt, with their tighter pack. Over the second half of the race, Rainero and Rowland were able to work together with Rainero finishing 10th and Rowland in 12th with the same time. With Bartley and Miller-Robinett up front, that gave Impala 13 points and the win. Lake Merritt had a solid team effort as Maria and Carmen Briones finished 3rd and 4th with Gilbert taking 8th to nail down 2nd place with 15 points. In the end Genesee was able to claim the final spot on the podium with Moore and O'Brien in 6th and 7th; Ingalls came home in 11th to seal their podium finish at 24 points. Just off the podium was the San Diego Track Club with 40 points and the Atlanta Track Club with 51.Impala (13), Lake Merritt (15), Genesee Valley (24)
70+: Three West Coast clubs contested this division, Northern Cal vs. So Cal--Tamalpa Runners from the Bay Area (Edda Stickle, Eve Pell, Katherine Singer), San Diego Track Club (Manya Hult, Kathy Loper, Patricia Bentz), and Cal Coast Track Club (Kathy Kusner, Renate Dolin, Vickie Walker). At midpoint it was almost all Tamalpa as Stickle, Pell, and Singer came through 2-3-4. Hult led them all for San Diego but Loper and Bentz were separated from her by the Tamalpa trio. The pattern of the first half was repeated in the second as Impala took the crown with Hult taking first for San Diego but Stickle, Pell and Singer going 2-3-4 for 9 points and the win. San Diego got 2nd with Loper 5th and Bentz 7th, giving San Diego 13 points. Cal Coast took 3rd with 23 points. Tamalpa (9), San Diego (13), Cal Coast (23).
So the hometown team, the Impala Racing team took a 3rd, a 2nd and a first on the day, the outstanding overall team performance.
And a tip of the hat to the team with the tightest pack (in terms of time): 50+ Empire Running Club of Sonoma County--23 seconds between 1st runner and 3rd runner; 50+ Lake Merritt Joggers and Striders --28 seconds between the top 3 runners; and two 40+ clubs, Club Northwest and Tamalpa Runners both had only 33 seconds between their first and 3rd runners.
Finally the Mythical Age-Grading team Championship goes to:
1. Athetics Boulder --Delcia Litt, 57 [6th], Laura Bruess, 55 [8th], Noelle Green, 51, 12th.
2. Impala Racing --Mo Bartley, 60 [7th], Eileen Brennan-Erler, 54 [9th], Diana Fitzpatrick, 57 [16th]
3. Atlanta Track Club  --Sonja Friend-Uhl, 44 [13th], Mary Sweeney 55 [14th], Holly Ortlund, 42 [30th].
Congratulations to all for an Outstanding Club Cross Country Championship Event!