Saturday, March 19, 2016

Update on My Fitness and Races from August 2015 through February 28 2016- Back to Silver and Bronze

March 18 2015. Here is an update on my general fitness and a few races. Warning, this is a bit long.

First a brief synopsis of August 2014 to August 2015. I injured my hamstring in August of 2014 and spent all of the rest of that year and most of 2015 rehabbing it, trying to push too soon, and re-injuring or aggravating the injury. By last summer I was finally making steady progress, with much hard work and much thanks to Brad Austin of ATI Physical Therapy, but from a much depleted fitness level. I ran a few local races to gauge fitness and to hang out with some local racing buddies. In early August I ran in the Personal Best 5.0 Mile Run in Indy and hit 40:58 or 8:11 per mile. Not bad for a gimpy 69 year old but a year earlier I had run 32:24 or 6:28 per mile.So plenty of recovery still to come!

In late August I drove up to Flint Michigan to run in the USATF 1 Mile Run Championships for pretty much the same reasons. To my chagrin I was not even able to break 7:00 for 1 Mile. I have to add that to my list of redemption races. Oddly enough, that performance did, nonetheless, earn me my first USTAF Individual Grand Prix points since February. Those 80 points would later prove to be critical in getting on the 2015 Individual Grand Prix M70 podium. [posted photos from the event but did not sell them. You can direct your browser to the following link to see a pic of me finishing a very painful event, and it shows in my expression. [Luckily things got better soon after and I no longer felt broken! :)]

More local races and then in early October off to Syracuse for Dave Oja’s 5K extravaganza, the Syracuse Festival of Races. That is probably the most popular stop on the USATF Masters Grand Prix race circuit, due to the job that Dave and his crew do and how welcome and valued they make the Masters Runners feel. That means runners show up and the depth of the races is never in doubt. Despite the continued progress; I could now run the 5K in 21:45, close to the 7 minute per mile pace I could muster for the single mile in Flint. Nonetheless I could not break the top 10 in the M65 group, finishing 11th. There is terrific depth in that division, not to mention the talent at the top.

Again, here is a photo from Bob Brock's terrific collection of 2016 FoR race shots on his flickr website--I was much more relaxed, and therefore faster, this time approaching the finish line.

Between that and my next National Championship race in Tulsa Oklahoma, I celebrated my 70th birthday. Every Masters Runner knows that every 5th birthday brings you into a new 5-year age group where you are now the youngest runner with, in most cases, the freshest legs. As a result, even though I was still working back into shape, I was able to be the M70 ‘Silversmith’ at the end of the season, finishing second to Przemek Nowicki’s Gold in both the 15K at Tulsa and the 12K at Alexandria. The hilly course at Tulsa is very tough now although in 2017 it will probably return to its old flat and fast race course when their river redevelopment project is expected to be complete. My slow time there is more an indicator of the toughness of the course than my fitness. 

It was a terrific battle with Nowicki with 3 lead changes during the race and an all-out sprint to the finish which Nowicki won by 4 seconds! Nowicki tends to stick to the shorter distances so that victory on a tough 15K course was a real testament to his grittiness and will to win. 

I was not able to find any good photos of my race in Tulsa but here are 3 photos that capture some of the atmosphere of a Halloween day race, plus me warming up with others before the race, and then the start of the Masters Championship race.

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These three photos above are courtesy of Float Media Productions:
At the 12K championship in Alexandria VA a couple of weeks later, a flatter, faster and shorter course, Nowicki won more easily, passing me about 2 miles into the race and never looking back. It is good he didn’t because I was gaining on him [ :) ] but not fast enough as he won by 8 seconds. My time at that race was 52:49, an average of 7:05 per mile, a nice improvement from the end of August to end of October. And that was my last race in 2015; I learned after the final race of the year that I had, in fact been able to finish 3rd in the M70 Grand Prix, a nice present at the end of a gimpy year.

Over the winter I kept up my fitness by running 30 or more miles almost every week but did not get back up to the 40-50 miles per week I had done a couple of years earlier. That is because I was alternating easy and hard days and continuing to take one day per week off entirely. I was still worried about re-aggravating the hamstring injury. I should mention that I also kept up my stretching. I stretch before the run, after the run and sometimes in the evening too.

I had originally intended to run a Half Marathon in Florida in the early part of the year. But Naples came up too soon and Gasparilla was too close to the USATF 8K Championship in Brea that I wanted to run. I settled instead on a half marathon in Tallahassee Florida to be run on February 7th. But, as I got closer to the decision, I realized that I had not logged enough miles to run a really good half marathon so why go all that way? Tallahassee might be a great race but it lacks the name recognition of Gasparilla. So I started to ask myself, “Why not go to Bend Oregon for the USATF Cross Country Championships?” 

The last Cross Country race I had run was the 5 km National Championship in Carmel Indiana. It had been successful in that, although rehabbing the hamstring injury I was able to run at about 90% efficiency and that was enough to help my team to victory in the M60 class. BUT I re-tore the hamstring with about 150 meters to go, trying to keep myself from falling, perhaps from a caught spike. I had heard the course in Bend was tough but I thought it was maybe time to ‘get back on the horse that threw me.’ So, on January 27th I registered for the USATF XC Championship race in Bend Oregon for February 6th.

Unfortunately I had failed to factor altitude enough into my calculations. I figured a golf course called River Bend would be on the banks of the DesChutes River and so only about 3500 feet above sea level. Turns out the course overlooks the river from the slope of a cinder cone at, I was told, about 4200 feet above sea level. Plus each of 4 loops has a couple of hundred feet of elevation change in each loop as runners run up, across, down and then back up, across and further up the side of the cinder cone. When I finally viewed the course I allowed negative thoughts to creep in and I started to worry more about re-injuring myself than I should have. I had originally planned on wearing spikes and had only brought spikes and trainers. When a couple of other runners said they had decided to wear racing flats instead of spikes that was all it took to convince me to run in my trainers despite them being a bit heavier than flats. I was worried about tripping and falling or nearly falling as I had 15 months earlier.

By the time the race started I had all of the excuses I needed to run a timid race and that is exactly what I did. I also failed to identify my main competitors although I had heard that Gary Patton, the excellent miler and 5K to 10K runner was in the field. To make a long story short, I gave away over a minute in the first of four 2K loops and continued to give away a half minute per loop after that.  And until I spotted a local M70 runner, Paul Caisse, up slope from me on the last loop, had not realized there was anyone between Patton and me. I took 36 seconds out of Caisse’s 48 second lead on the last loop but it was not enough as he took 2nd by 12 seconds. I had committed most of the sins runners hope to avoid—running without confidence, underestimating the opposition, not learning enough about the course in advance, being complacent during the race, running to stay safe rather than just racing, and probably several others. On the other hand although I was no longer the Silversmith, I did at least get a bronze medal--and 90 points in the 2016 Grand Prix race.

Four weekends later it was time to head west again for the USATF 8K Championships at Brea California. I was determined to run better this time and I did. I knew I would have to run better if I was to finish higher than third in this national championship. Gary Patton was entered and I had just lost to him by 2 and a half minutes. In addition, Len Goldman, who won the M70 race at the National Club Cross Country Championships in December, was entered. Ordinarily I would be very worried about Jan Frisby too. But he made no bones about being out of shape and overweight. He was just being a good soldier for his team. And, of course, there might be others I was not aware of.

As there were no splits provided, my race coverage is impressionistic. At the starting area I had identified Len Goldman but had not seen Gary Patton. I decided to try to keep Goldman and his white cap in sight for the first part of the race and then see what developed. That was easy enough for the first 500 meters or so but once we turned the corner, went down a steep, short hill and up another, I found he had put 40 meters or so between us. And that was the story of my race with Goldman; he was a train pulling away from me. At a mile he had over 50 meters and he steadily pulled away from there. On the other hand, I had not seen Patton ahead of me and knew I was running much faster than I had at Brea. Perhaps, even if Goldman did not tire, I would at least have a real shot at 2nd. There is a pretty steep, long hill a little over halfway into the course. I thought perhaps I would start to gain on Goldman but no luck and even after it leveled out and then turned downhill, I had no better luck. But still no sight of Patton. 

With a little over a mile to go I felt someone on my shoulder and wondered if it was Patton. As it turned out it was Jerry Learned, an M65 runner I have battled a number of times. Our most recent meeting was my disastrous outing at Bend where he and I essentially ran separate races, with him finishing a couple of minutes ahead of me. The last meeting before that was the National 12 K Championship the previous November in Alexandria Virginia. In that race I caught Learned with a little over a mile to go and he fought me off and came in just a few seconds ahead of me. I was determined to pay him in kind if possible and as it turned out, I was able to pull away from him after a quarter mile or so. 

As I turned into the Brea Mall where the finish line would loom, I suddenly became aware of a runner pulling up onto my shoulder. I said to myself, “Let that not be Gary!” But, of course, it was. As we made the turn and could see the finish line a few hundred meters ahead of us, I accelerated to see if there was any chance that he had no kick left. No such luck. The miler in him had sized up the situation; he found his higher gear and pulled away from me to beat me by a few yards. The official (chip) time difference was 6 seconds. It felt closer than that at the finish line but Gary may have started a second or 2 behind me. So third place again in a national championship. But I was much, much happier with my effort and my performance. And by the end, I was only 29 seconds behind Goldman so we must have taken a little out of his lead over the last half mile or so. My 34:10 was 2 seconds slower than last year but many runners mentioned that they had run anywhere from a half to a full minute faster in 2015. It was a great day for racing except for a blanket of fog at the start. That humidity must have been what slowed runners down. Still a fine win for Goldman and a dandy sprint by Patton to take 2nd.  And I had my best race in months. So far this winter I am the Bronze King, despite running better than last fall when I was the Silversmith.
My next race was the Gate River Run, not a USATF Masters Championship but an iconic race in its 39th year. It is the setting for the USATF Open 15K Championship. But this report is already long so I will batch that race with other upcoming races in my next report. Next up at the national level is the USATF Masters 10K Championship at the James Joyce Ramble in Dedham Massachusetts on April 24th. But I will try to run at least one other race before then. There is a local 8K as part of the Carmel Marathon Weekend that would be fine. Those three races at least will be covered in my next report on my fitness and racing.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

First Road Event of 2016 Masters Grand Prix in the Books-The USATF 8K at the Brea Classic

March 7 2016. USATF Masters Long Distance Running kicked off the road portion of their Masters Grand Prix with the USATF 8K Championships at Brea CA on Sunday February 28. As usual the late February temperatures were Southern California perfect. It was a nice road trip for those from northern places with snow and ice. The breezes were mild as well, but there was presumably more humidity than normal. An unexpected morning fog blanketed the course before burning off for the citizen’s race at 8 am. Most repeat runners reported after the race that their time this year was a half to a full minute slower than last year’s. No records this year but lots of competitive races!

Note 1: All times given below are chip/net times. No gun times were recorded.
The Goal for the Runners on a Picture Perfect SoCal Morning-2016 USATF 8K Championships at the Brea Classic [FB post by Reno Stirrat]


Men. Last year’s M40 Grand Prix Champion, Gregory Mitchell, came looking for his first 2016 USATF National Championship. Neville Davey had a strong showing at the Club Cross Country Championships in December and was looking for more. Jacques Sallberg who conquered the hills and altitude at the USA Masters Cross Country Championship in early February was trying to make it 2 for 2 in 2016. Christian Cushing-Murray who finished 7th at the USATF Cross Country Championships in Bend earlier in the month came determined to hang with the leaders as long as he could. When the starting horn went off, Davey shot right to the front, leaving no doubt that he meant to make a race of it. It took a while but by the middle of the race the chase pack of Mitchell, Cushing-Murray and Sallberg had caught up to him. Then Mitchell and Davey opened up a gap back to the other two chasers. Finally Mitchell threw in a surge that Davey could not match and created a gap that lasted all the way to the finish line. Sallberg eventually left Cushing-Murray behind to take 3rd. Cushing-Murray was just off the podium in 4th. Mitchell 24:52 Davey 25:11 Sallberg 25:36

Neville Davey (L) and Greg Mitchell (R) Matching Stride for Stride at 1 Mile of 2016 USATF 8K National Championship at Brea Classic [Portland Running Company FB post]
Women. Julie Ertel who finished 5th last year was on her game as she took the women’s crown this year in 29:43. Eight seconds later, Nathalie Higley crossed the line so we know that was a battle. Higley, by coincidence, had finished 5th in the 2014 edition of this race. Nicole Hagobian, new to the Masters ranks, but a 2008 and 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials veteran, took home the bronze in her first USATF Masters Championship race in 30:09, claiming the third podium spot by a mere 2 seconds over Mariam Ngo who stepped up her game since last year when she finished 13th. There must have been a terrific sprint to the finish line! Ertel 29:43 Higley 29:51 Hagobian 30:09.


Edie Stevenson, 66, had the highest age-grading score on the day, 92.7%. Second and third for women went to 58 year old, Suzanne Morris 89.1% and with 88.1%, 67 year old Jo Anne Rowland. Just off the age-grading podium  were Louise Davis, 55, 87.8% and Nathalie Higley, 46, 87.3%.The Overall Age-Grading contests on the men’s side were exceedingly tight again. The podium consisted of 64 year old Tom Bernhard 91.7%, 61 year old Rick Becker 91.6% and 48 year old Christian Cushing-Murray 91.2%. Just off the podium with scores of 90.9% and 90.4% respectively were Carl Combs, 50, and first across the finish line, Greg Mitchell.
[Note: Even though he did not get on the Age-Grading podium it is worth noting that Brian Pilcher, despite being on the comeback trail from a hamstring injury, still managed to turn in close to a world class score, hitting 89.6%--impressive!]

Louise Davis headed for 4th Overall Age-Grading and the W55 Crown at the 2016 USATF 8K National Championship  [FB posting by Leon Laub]

M40. As Mitchell, Davie, and Sallberg are all in this age group, the contest here was the same as for the overall crown. The only exception is that instead of Cushing-Murray being just off the podium, it was his teammate, John Gardiner who just missed, running 26:17. It was a pretty good outcome for someone not quite recovered from a hamstring issue. By the next time we see him on the USATF stage, in San Diego perhaps, he should be fully recovered. Mitchell 24:52 Davey 25:11 Sallberg 25:36

W40. Ertel, Hagobian, and Ngo make up the podium for the group. Grace Padilla who captured the overall women’s crown at the USA Cross Country Championships, came up just short, finishing off the W40 podium by 6 seconds. Ertel 29:43 Hagobian 30:09 Ngo 30:11
Grace Padilla [R], Nicole Hagobian [Black kit], Mariam Ngo [Cal Coast] fighting for the Overall victory and the W40 crown at the 2016 USATF 8K Championship [FB post by Leon Laub]

M45. Christian Cushing-Murray who finished 4th overall and nabbed the bronze age-grading medal, claimed his second podium finish this year. Second at the USATF Cross Country Championships in Bend Oregon, ‘Cush ‘took the M45 gold here. Andrew Duncan stayed close for a while but eventually Cushing-Murray pulled away to win by nearly 20 seconds. 
Christian Cushing-Murray 1 mile into 2016 USATF 8K Championship. Keeping in Contact with Leaders.[FB post by Leon Laub]
Cushing-Murray’s teammate, Jerome Vermeulen, claimed 3rd. C. Cushing-Murray 25:50 Duncan 26:09 Vermeulen 26:38
Top M45 and M50 Runners at 1 Mile Mark -- L to R Francis Burdett (white singlet), Jerome Vermeulen (black socks), James Koneazny (yellow), Jeff Ambos (orange shoes), Gustav Quinones (173), Frederick Herr (99)and Rob Arsenault [FB post by Leon Laub]

W45. Higley who took second overall, won the W45 division, with Cindy Abrami, who took the W45 gold at Bend Oregon, finishing second.  Tania Fischer who finished 3rd overall last year was slowed by something this year but was still able to claim 3rd. Higley 29:41 Abrami 31:11 Fischer 31:27

M50. Carl Combs made it 2 for 2 this year as he added the M50 gold medal for the 8K Road Championship to his 8K Cross Country championship earned at Bend Oregon. He notched a top ten finish overall as well as the M50 win. Robert Verhees made it interesting for a while but Combs had a gap of 16 seconds by the end. And it was only another 11 seconds back to Cal Coast’s Rob Arsenault who finished 3rd. Despite Combs’s fast time, it was a close finish for the top 3. Combs 26:20  Verhees 26:36  Arsenault 26:47
Rob Arsenault Trying to Pull Away from A Snail's Pace Chaser With About 400 meters to go [FB post by Leon Laub]
W50. Laura Stuart and Kathleen Cushing-Murray had quite a duel but eventually Stuart pulled away, crossing the finish line 19 seconds ahead of Cushing-Murray to take gold to her silver. Cushing-Murray really pushed, bucking the trend by running 17 seconds faster this year. Kelle Taylor claimed the final podium spot 27 seconds back from Cushing-Murray, with Sue Davis hot on her heels, only 4 seconds back!  Stuart 31:52  K. Cushing-Murray 32:11  Taylor 32:38

M55. Ray Knerr last tried this race in 2014, finishing 8th in M50. He moved up to M55 at Club Cross and took 6th. But today he put it all together and took the gold medal in this division, winning by eighteen seconds over Bill ‘Hugh’ Enicks who was dropping down in distance to work on his speed. Last year’s champion, Brian Pilcher, on the road back after blowing out a hamstring at the World Track Championships in Lyon, France finished 3rd, easing across the finish line in the same time. Even when in recovery mode, Pilcher cannot stay off the M55 podium. No doubt he will be moving up during the year. Knerr 28:32 Enicks 28:50   Pilcher 28:50

W55. Louise Davis who finished 2nd in W50 last year moved up to W55 and took gold, forty-four seconds ahead of last year’s W55 winner, Suzanne Morris. Lynelle Paulick, bouncing back from whatever kept her off the podium in 4th at the Cross Country Championships in Bend Oregon, moved up a spot in Brea, besting Oregon’s Kelly Kruell by 5 seconds to claim the bronze medal. L. Davis 32:44   Morris 33:28  Paulick 35:56

M60. Rick Becker took the gold medal at Bend with a 2 minute margin but no one expected that here. Cross Country and Road Races are different disciplines that work to the advantage of different runners’ strengths. Also Tom Bernhard was not at Bend. Bernhard chased Becker for all he was worth but Becker gradually pulled away to claim his second 2016 win by 46 seconds. Finishing within a minute is an accomplishment the way Becker is running these days. Expect lots more gold in Bernhard’s future, however, as he moves up to M65 later this year. And, as in so many other age groups, there was an awesome race to claim the third spot on the podium. The depth in the fields these days is impressive. In this case it was local hero and Brea Race Director, Dale Campbell, versus the Jersey Boy, Reno Stirrat. Stirrat had the edge at Club Cross in December but today was Campbell’s day as only 4 seconds separated these friendly rivals at the finish line. After the race Stirrat credited Campbell with running a “great race, very technical.” They will renew their rivalry later this year, certainly at Club Cross if not before.  Becker 28: 42 Bernhard 29:28  Campbell 29:58

W60. Honor Fetherston finished 2nd last year to Christine Kennedy’s record-setting performance. This year Fetherston had a dandy win, taking first with room to spare. Madson Buchbinder followed her across the line 45 seconds later in 2nd. Again there was a terrific duel for third and 4th with Sandy Robbins-Synder pulling away from Elizabeth Sponagle to claim the bronze medal by 11 seconds. Fetherston 35:54 Buchbinder 36:39 Robbins-Synder 38:20.
Honor Fetherston Heading for the W60 Victory at the 2016 USATF 8K Championship at the Brea Classic [FB post-H. Fetherston]

M65. Hall of Famer, Doug Bell wasted no time in enjoying his status as new kid on the block in the M65 division, taking the gold medal in a hard-fought contest. Besides, he knows he will need the Grand Prix points when Bernhard joins the group later this year and Lloyd Hansen starts his season. Bell’s old rival, Ignacio Jimenez, tried to throw a Santa Barbara surge into the last mile to close the gap but in the end finished 25 seconds back. That was only 2 seconds slower than his time in 2015 so we know he was moving! Peter Mullin eased across the line in 3rd to make his first national road racing podium in the M65 division.  Bell 30:37 Jimenez 31:02 Mullin 32:30
And They're Off-L to R [Dale Campbell(41), Doug Bell (orange), Rob Arsenault (13), Steven Frisone (80) and Thomas Schumann (180) [FB post Leon Laub]

W65. Edie Stevenson, who smashed the W65 5K record last October in Syracuse, and the age grading winner today, demolished this division, winning the gold medal going away. Jo Anne Rowland, defending champion and no slouch herself, captured the silver medal, running 44 seconds faster than her winning time in 2015. Kathleen Doswell came all the way from Virginia, after retiring from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, to capture the bronze medal in 41:30. Stevenson 35:39  Rowland 38:13  Doswell 41:30
Kathleen Doswell 1 Mile Into 2016 USATF 8K Championship at the Brea Classic [FB post-K.Doswell]

M70. This was another tightly packed race at the top with the podium positions separated by less than 30 seconds. Len Goldman established himself as the man to beat with his sterling victory in M70 at the Club Cross Country championships in December. And he proved worthy of the mantle as he pulled steadily away from his chasers and maintained a half minute gap to win in 33:41. At the USA Cross Country Championships, Gary Patton had run away from Paul Carlin (yours truly) who was not close in that race. In this race Carlin went out more aggressively and Patton had to track his rival down. Spotting an M70 up ahead as he came through the underpass marking about 500 meters to go, Patton knew his great closing speed might give him just enough. Pulling even when the finish line was in sight, Patton found the extra gear he has used so well in so many track contests over the years, and sped away from Carlin to claim the silver medal by 6 seconds. Goldman 33:41  Patton 34:04 Carlin 34:10

W70. Norma Thomas defended her 2015 crown in fine fashion by winning handily. Irene Terronez took the silver medal and Jean Gardner the bronze. Thomas 45:14 Terronez 51:03 Gardner 53:10
Norma Thomas Headed for W70 Gold at the 2016 USATF 8K Championship at the Brea Classic [FB post by Leon Laub]
M75. In 2015 Hans Schmid took bronze in the M70 division, despite being within a few days of his 75th birthday. He moved up a division this year and captured gold. Larry Brooks was 7th in M70 last year and jumped 5 places as he took silver in his new age group. Patrick Wickens who did not compete here last year did, nonetheless enjoy competing in the M75 group at Brea for the first time, taking the bronze medal. Schmid 35:53 Brooks 37:08 Wickens 39:00

W75. Last year Pat Herr won this race but had only one competitor to defeat. This year it was good to see five rivals toe the line in this division. Herr was up to the challenge, however, taking the gold medal with over a minute to spare. Veronica Noguer claimed silver and Donna Gookin bronze. It is not easy to keep 2014 and 2015 W75 Grand Prix winner, Madeline Bost off the podium but this California trio was up to the task as Bost came in 4th. Bost must have been pleased, though, to see so many competitors in her division. She will be even more gratified if a few of these athletes compete in at least 3 USATF Championship events so that she has some competition for the 2016 Grand Prix. Herr 57:45  Noguer 58:52  Gookin 1:01:57

M80. It is a similar story in this group. Last year Bob Rice competed solo; this year he had six challengers. Unfortunately he was a little off his game and finished 3rd. Had he been able to match his 2015 time, he would have had silver. But 3rd best in the country is nothing to sneeze at. Bill Dodson, the M80 Champion from Club Cross did not run Brea last year but definitely brought his ‘A’ game this year.  He took the gold with a dandy win, crossing the line with no competitors in sight. Richard Williams claimed silver, besting Rice by a minute and change. Dodson 43:06 Williams 49:13  Rice 50:37
M80 Podium--Bill Dodson 1st (L), Richard Williams 2nd (C), Bob Rice 3rd (R) [FB post B. Dodson]
M85. Like last year this was a solo event for 87 year old Gunnar Linde who claims the distinction of being the oldest gold medal winner of the day. Perhaps he will face more competitors next year as the other 2014 solo winners experienced in 2015. Linde 52:12.


M40+: The much anticipated contest between 2015 Club Grand Prix Champion Atlanta Track Club and Cal Coast did not materialize. Atlanta’s Kristian Blaich caught the flu bug and had to scratch. Jerry Learned from their M60+ team stepped up to be a good solder and joined his teammates. But at age 67, Learned gave away 20 years to most of his competitors. Even if he ran his absolute best it would be tough. Cal Coast’s A team (Cushing-Murray, J. Gardiner, J. Vermeulen, S. Frisone, T. Torres)  won by a wide margin but the contest between A Snail’s Pace and the Cal Coast ‘B’ was incredibly close. One hardly ever resorts to tie breakers in road races because it is total time of the top 3 runners, not just places. In the race between these two clubs, The two A Snail’s Pace runners, Juan Ramirez and Todd Horton crossed the line within 4 seconds of each other. Then came the 3 runners from Cal Coast B, Gray Mahvera 29 seconds back, Fred Herr another 12 seconds back, and 23 seconds back from Herr was Greg Keyes. Then they had to wait to see when the 3rd runner for A Snail’ s Pace would cross the line. If he came in under 29:08, Snail’s Pace was fast enough for 2nd place; if over, Cal Coast B got the silver medal. When Ben Coyle finished at 29:08 on the dime, we had a tie in total time of the top 3 runners. The tie-breaker gave the silver medal to A Snail’s pace because their 1st and 2nd runners defeated the first and second runners of Cal Coast B. It’s a tough way to  lose but you can bet Cal Coast ‘B’ was deservedly proud of a bronze medal effort at a national championship. How often does a ‘B’ team make a national podium? Cal Coast Track Club ‘A’ 1:18:45  A Snail’s Pace 1:22:44 Cal Coast Track Club ‘B’ 1:22:44
Cal Coast 40+ --2016 Champions [Cal Coast FB post]

W40+: This was a race between Northern Cal’s Santa Barbara Running and Racing (C. Abrami, J. Brown, D. Mandarino, L. Paulick) and two Southern Cal teams, Jane’s Elite Racing (T. Fischer, K. Cushing-Murray, K. Taylor, I. Walters) and Cal Coast Track Club (L. Davis, M. Lynch, J. Sweningson, K. May, D. Keyes). Abrami and Brown came in 1-2 only 9 seconds apart to give SB a great start. But then the Jane’s responded with Fischer and Cushing-Murray coming across 3-4 nine seconds and then another 44 seconds back. But when Mandarino came over the line next, that gave the gold to Santa Barbara. Taylor was the next runner in, slamming the door on Cal Coast.   
Santa Barbara Running and Racing W40+ Victors [C. Abrami FB Post]

Jane’s Elite took silver while Cal Coast enjoyed a bronze medal. Santa Barbara Running and Racing 1:34:52 Jane’s Elite Racing 1:36:06  Cal Coast Track Club 1:40:16.
Jane's Elite 2nd W40+ Post Race L to R- Kathleen Cushing-Murray, Tania Fischer, Ingrid Walters, Kelle Taylor [FB post Jane's Elite]

M50+. Cal Coast Track Club owned this division with their ‘A’ (R. Arsenault, J. Ambos, T. Schumann, D. Arsenault, M. Salzman) and ‘B’ (G. Quinonez, A. DiConti, R. Knerr, B. Brisco) teams taking gold and silver. A Snail’s Pace (K. Broady, M. Donaldson, J. Alvarado, J. Vara) put up a battle, with Broady breaking up the Cal Coast Runners. But all 3 of the A team and all 3 of the B team came in ahead of the other 2 Snail’s Pace runners. Cal Coast’s M50+ team finished 4th in the 2015 Club Grand Prix, running only 3 events. Rob Arsenault said to let the other M50+ teams know that this year Cal Coast is committed to running 5 events and they plan on winning them all. Cal Coast A 1:23:30 Cal Coast B 1:24:58  A Snail’s Pace 1:28:13.
Cal Coast TC 50+ Team (L to R-D. Arsenault, T. Schumann, R. Arsenault, M. Salzman, J. Ambos)

W50+. A Snail’s Pace (S. Davis, D. Okano, M. Broady, Y. Darcy, J. Gardelle) brought a strong team that took the gold by a wide margin. Team Runners High (S. Morris, M. Buchbinder, K. Lander, L. Lyons, R. Bonifacio) made it interesting for a while as Morris slipped in between Snail’s Pace’s 1-2 punch of Davis and Okano. But once Okano and Broady came in before TRH’s Buchbinder, the handwriting was on the wall. Club Ed Running claimed the bronze medal. A Snail’s Pace 1:44:16 Team Runners High 1:48:13  Club Ed Running  2:19:10.
Pre-Race Team Runners High at the 2016 USATF 8K Championship at the Brea Classic [FB post by M. Buchbinder]

M60+. The hometown heroes took this division too as Cal Coast A (D. Campbell, K. Witthauer, J. Holcomb, P. Forrester, S. Lassegard) and B (P. Cook, C. Sanchez, J. Salzman, W. Sumner, J. Combs) strode to a 1-2 finish. They were expecting strong challenges from the 2015 Club Grand Prix Champion Boulder Road Runners (D. Bell, H. Hibbard, J. Frisby) and New Jersey’s Shore AC (R. Stirrat, I. Broady, P. Gaughan). Unfortunately neither challenge materialized. One of Shore AC’s runners, Broady, strained a muscle on an easy training run the morning before the race and could not run. So no score for Shore. BRR had expected to come with John Victoria as their 3rd scoring runner with 71 year old Jan Frisby as back-up depth as he did not have his usual fitness. Unfortunately Victoria’s back acted up in the week before the race and he scratched. Had Frisby been anywhere near his normal self [32:24 last year on this course] Boulder would have made it interesting, at least for silver. But Frisby’s self-assessment of his fitness was accurate and Boulder had to settle for the bronze medal. Cal Coast A 1:28:25  Cal Coast B 1:39:27  Boulder Road Runners 1:41:19.

W60+. This division too was a classic NorCal/ SoCal battle as the Impala Racing Team (J. Rowland, J. Cain, D. Chan, M. Fillmore, D. Anderson) from the Bay area and the local A Snail’s Pace (E. Sponagle, K. Guiney, P. Wusthoff) team went head-to-head. Impala took the early lead with Rowland’s 38:13. But the Snail’s came back with Sponagle  18 seconds later and Guiney 19 seconds after her. A couple of minutes later Impala’s Cain and Chan came in within ten seconds of each other and that sealed the gold medal win for Impala. Impala 1:59:59  A Snail’s Pace 2:03:43.

M70+. The sterling Tamalpa Runners team (L. Goldman, H. Schmid, F. Martin, B. Cowdrey) had this race well in hand from start to finish. But it was a tight battle for 2nd between Club Ed Running (P. Wickens, J. Clarke, M. Tarnay) and Florida Track Club West (J. Callaway, H. Goforth, J. Metts, R. Williams). Unfortunately for FTC West, their top runner, Ron Enos, went down in the first 1/ mile of the race and was unable to continue. But next man up is the motto. Between these 2 teams, Club Ed’s Wickens was in first in 39:00. Thirty-five seconds later FTC’s Callaway came in. A minute and change later his teammate, Goforth crossed the line and things were looking good. But the next two runner in were Club Ed’s Clarke and Tarnay and that was enough to get the silver medal with FTC taking the bronze despite adversity.  Tamalpa Runners 1:48:51 Club Ed Running  2:05:03  Florida Track Club West 2:07:01.

W70+. A Snail’s Pace (N. Thomas, J. Gardner, P. Herr, V. Noguer, D. Strand) took the gold medal in this division unopposed. A Snail’s Pace 2:36:09.

M80+. The San Diego Track Club (W. Osborn, E. Gookin, W. Crum) won the gold medal without opposition. Hat’s off to the oldest team to win a gold medal at this race. San Diego Track Club 2:44:08.


Edie Stevenson
Tom Bernhard, Rick Becker, Christian Cushing-Murray, Carl Combs, Gregory Mitchell, Jeff Ambos, Andrew Duncan


Suzanne Morris, Jo Anne Rowland, Louise Davis, Nathalie Higley, Honor Fetherston, Sue Davis, Julie Ertel, Tania Fischer
Robert Verhees, Brian Pilcher, Rob Arsenault, Jerome Vermeulen, Doug Bell, Kevin Broady, Ignacio Jimenez, Dale Campbell, Eric Stabb, Neville Davey, William Moore, Reno Stirrat, Ray Knerr, William ‘Hugh’ Enicks, Francis Burdett, James Koneazny, Hans Schmid, Jacques Sallberg, Andy DiConti, Todd Horton, Frederick Herr, John Gardiner, Len Goldman, Sheldon Subith, Michael Lebold, Stephen Johnson, Brent Fields, Juan Ramirez, Gustav Quinones


Laura Stuart, Kelle Taylor, Madson Buchbinder, Sandy Robbins-Synder, Kathleeen Cushing-Murray, Lynelle Paulick, Grace Padilla, Cindy Abrami, Rosalva Bonilla, Mariam Ngo, Nicole Hagobian, Norma Thomas, Jennifer Brown, Donna Mills-Honarva, Kathi Guiney, Kelly Kruell, Elizabeth Sponagle, Kathleen Doswell
Gray Mahvera, Gregory Keyes, Ronald Wells, Rich Gust, Heath Hibbard, Keith Witthauer, Tony Torres, Gary Patton, Peter Mullin, Paul Carlin, Jonathan May, John Holcomb, Steven Frisone, Jon Megeff, Larry Brooks, Dale Flanders, Thomas Schumann, Dan Arsenault, Patrick Gaughan, Paul Cook, Brian Schmidt, Mark Shalvarjian, Perry Forester, William Sumner, Ed Avol, Michael Connors, Bill Dodson, Jerry Learned, Gunnar Linde, Mark Donaldson, Scott McEntee

*Age-Grading Results were not available at the time of the Awards Ceremony. Newly designed and produced 2016 Elite Performance Medals will be mailed to the winners.


Overall Team Age-Grading Winners: (Rules—Top 3 runners for each complete scoring team, across age groups, in age-grading tables, score by place not %; all declared runners can displace)

Women: Jane’s Elite (T. Fischer 5, K. Taylor 6, K. Cushing-Murray 8 [I. Walters 21]) 19; A Snail’s Pace (S. Davis 4, N. Thomas 11, K. Guiney 13 [E. Sponagle 14, M. Broady 20] 28; Santa Barbara Running & Racing (L. Paulick 9, C. Abrami 10, J. Brown 12 [D. Mandarino 17] 31

Other teams in contention: Team Runners High 32, Impala 39, Cal Coast 41.

Men: Cal Coast Track Club A (C. Cushing-Murray 2, J. Ambos 3, R. Arsenault 4 [J. Vermeulen 5, D. Campbell 9, J. Gardiner 16, K. Witthauer 26, T. Torres 27, J. Holcomb 29, S. Frisone 30] 9; Cal Coast Track Club B (R. Knerr 11, A. DiConti 13, F. Herr 15 [G. Quinonez 20, G. Mahvera 21, G. Keyes 22, J. May 28] 39; A Snail’s Pace (K. Broady 7, T. Horton 17, J. Ramirez 19) 40

No other teams were within 20 points of the third place team. Had Brian Pilcher been competing as part of a Tamalpa 40+ or 50+ team, along with Schmid and Goldman, they would have been taken 2nd place—but not so.

Updated Standings for Overall Winner Grand Prix

Recall that those who finish in the top 5 overall positions in the race earn points--10-6-4-2-1

After the USATF XC, the standings were:
Men. Jacques Sallberg 10 Greg Mitchell 6 John Howell 4 Oscar Baumann 2 Rusty Snow
Women. Grace Padilla 10 Cindy Abrami 6 Sonya Wilkerson 4 Jennifer Anderson 2 Desa Mandarino 1
After the USATF 8K, the updated standings are:
Men. Greg Mitchell 16 Jacques Sallberg 14 Neville Davey 6 John Howell 4 Oscar Baumann 2 Christian Cushing-Murray 2 Rusty Snow Andrew Duncan 1
Women. Grace Padilla 11 Cindy Abrami 6 Nathalie Higley 6 Sonya Wilkerson 4 Nicole Hagobian 4 Jennifer Anderson 2 Mariam Ngo 2 Desa Mandarino 1
Updated Standings for Age-Grading Grand Prix

Recall that those who finish in the top 5 overall age-grading positions in the race earn points--10-6-4-2-1

After the USATF XC, the standings were:

Men. Rick Becker 10 Carl Combs 6 Jacques Sallberg 4 Eric Williams 2 Rusty Snow 1
Women. Jo Anne Rowland 10 Cindy Abrami 6 Kelly Kruell 4 Grace Padilla 2 Sonya Wilkerson 1
After the USATF 8K, the updated standings are:
Men. Rick Becker 16 Tom Bernhard 10 Carl Combs 8 Jacques Sallberg 4 Christian Cushing-Murray 4 Eric Williams 2 Rusty Snow 1 Greg Mitchell 1
Women. Jo Anne Rowland 14 Edie Stevenson 10 Cindy Abrami 6 Suzanne Morris 6 Kelly Kruell 4 Grace Padilla 2 Louise Davis 2 Sonya Wilkerson 1 Nathalie Higley 1

Note: The Brea Classic Race Committee took the option again this year of using chip time/net time as the determinant of places and awards. There were no cases where chip times and gun times would have resulted in a different finishing order but there may be cases where the gap between two competitors looked bigger or smaller than the official finishing times suggest. In most cases, competitors would have started within a few seconds of each other. Still one might hope that in the future officials at the starting line do more to encourage competitors in each age and gender group to find each other and line up close enough so that chip time and gun time are almost equivalent. I would not be in favor of physical corrals but verbal encouragement to form virtual corrals might be useful.