Sunday, February 12, 2017

2017 National Cross Country Champions Crowned on a Slippery Course in Bend Oregon-Part 2-Age Division and Team Championships

February 12 2017. Cross Country bragging rights were on the line at the 2017 edition of the USATF Cross Country Masters Championships at the River's Edge Golf Course in Bend Oregon. The course was designed to be quite challenging by Max King; it has a significant elevation change and frequent slope changes from up to down and across the slope. All had their own challenges. Add to that the fact that Bend had significant snowfall in the week before. Even though the Race Director and his helpers did a fantastic job of snow clearance, the weather conspired against him by warming up the day before the race so that snow melt onto the course led to several very slippery patches that slowed down the wary runners and were a constant threat to those trying to push the pace. There was more than one runner who displayed the 'red badge of courage' on their lower limbs when crossing the finish line. The Women ran three 2K loops for 6K in all; the Men ran 4 loops for an 8K.

40-44 Melody Fairchild dominated this division as she did the overall race but the rest of the podium was contested by Sarah Raitter, and the Boise Betty teammates, Allison Nuxoll and Sarah Barber. Among those three, Raitter went out fastest, ending the first loop 12 seconds behind Fairchild but 8 ahead of Nuxoll with Barber 3 seconds further back. 
Sarah Raitter headed for the 40-44 Silver Medal at the 2017 USATF XC Championships in Bend OR [Photo by Michael Scott]

Barber pushed the pace in the 2nd loop to try to close with Raitter but she could only take 2 seconds off her lead. And that proved costly in the end as Raitter pulled away on the final loop to win by 21 seconds., and Barber's teammate, Nuxoll, had a little more in the tank for the last loop
Allison Nuxoll, 40-44 Bronze Medalist at the 2017 USATF XC Championships in Bend OR  [Photo by Michael Scott]

eventually closing and then passing her teammate to claim the bronze medal by 8 seconds.  

Fairchild 24:02     Raitter 25:20     Nuxoll 25:41
Sallberg, Howell and Gardiner took 1-2-3 in this division as well as overallAfter establishing a modest 7 second lead on the first loop, Sallberg soared away from everyone, adding nearly half a minute to his lead every loop as he ultimately won by 90 seconds. Gardiner and Howell had a stirring battle for 2nd as they matched surge for surge with never more than a second or two separating them. In the final loop, Howell made a surge that Gardiner could not match and pulled away for an 8 second win.  
John Howell leading John Gardiner at the 2017 USATF XC Championships in Bend OR  [Photo by Michael Scott]

David Angell who hung tough with Gardiner and Howell over the first three loops ended up in 4th, 11 seconds back from Gardiner. 

Sallberg  26:29     Howell  27:59     Gardiner  28:07

45-49 Grace Padilla, who was second overall, won this division by over a minute.  and Angela Lindbo, though not as dominant, led Sonya Wilkerson by 7 seconds at the end of loop1, by 18 seconds at the end of 2 loops and pulled further ahead on the final loop, to take 2nd by 30 seconds.  
Angela Lindbo on her way to the 45-49 Silver Medal at the 2017 USATF XC Championships in Bend OR  [Photo by Michael Scott]

Cindy Abrami and Sonya Wilkerson, who battled for 2nd and 3rd overall last year, renewed their rivalry. It looked like Wilkerson might reverse their order of finish last year as she led Abrami by 4 seconds at the end of 1 and by 6 seconds at the end of 2 loops. But those two laps took a toll. Abrami turned it up a notch on the final loop while Wilkerson struggled. 
Sonya Wilkerson heading for the 45-49 Bronze Medal at the 2017 USATF XC Championships in Bend OR  [Photo by Michael Scott]

As a result Abrami was able to close and then pass Wilkerson, growing the margin to 14 seconds by the finish line, and claiming the bronze medal. Wilkerson had to be satisfied with 4th place. 

Padilla  24:52     Lindbo  26:11     Abrami  26:41

Matthew Farley took it out hard on the first loop but Liam Collins stayed right with him, trailing by only two seconds as they headed out for the 2nd loop.Craig Godwin and Steven Frisone were 6 and 11 seconds back respectively
Matthew Farley [#364] at the 2017 USATF XC Championships in Bend OR  [Photo by Michael Scott]

On the second loop Farley pulled away from Collins, who was caught and passed by Steven Frisone. Craig Godwin, also passed by Frisone, moved up to within 3 seconds of Collins. 
John Gardiner [#382], Liam Collins [#432] and Torrey Lindbo [#428] at the 2017 USATF XC Championships in Bend OR [Photo posted on Team Red Lizard's Facebook page]

Farley and Frisone added to their respective leads and try as he might, Godwin could not get past Collins. 
Orin Schumacher leading Steven Frisone at the 2017 USATF XC Championships in Bend OR  [Photo by Michael Scott]

Farley took the division gold medal, with Frisone 16 seconds back in second. A half minute later Collins was over the line for bronze, with an 8 second margin over Godwin.

Farley  29:02     Frisone  29:18     Collins  29:50 
50-54 Tania Fischer, Susan Hay, and Marisa Sutera Strange took 1-2-3 in this division just as they went 3-4-5 overall. Fischer and Hay had a terific race with Fischer getting out to a 7 second second lead and then Hay gradually chipping away at that lead, taking a few seconds out of it each loop. But try as she might, Fischer's resolve was too strong as she held on for the two second victory. Strange started out at a more measured pace, feeling her way around the tricky parts of the course, but flew on the second to close all of the gap to Hay and pass her, almost closing on Fischer. But then the 3rd loop had the better of Strange and she had to settle for 3rd place. Kirsten Leetch finished 4th and in 5th it was Kathleen Cushing-Murray, who finished between Fischer and Strange at Club XC, but was one of those who tangled with the course and carried the evidence through the race.
Kathleen Cushing-Murray, trying to close the gap on the leaders at the 2017 USATF XC Championship in Bend OR [Photo by Michael Scott]

Fischer  24:55     Hay  24:57     Strange 25:13
Carl Combs was looking to repeat his dominant win of 2016 on this course. Rob Arsenault is a tenacious runner on the roads and the turf and was probably the only runner likely to give him a battle. The firs three loops played out just like the year before. The first loop saw Combs take a 7 second lead on David Engstrom, with 16 seconds on Arsenault. The second loop saw Arsenault pass Engstrom but lose another 7 seconds to Combs. Heading into the final loop, Combs had 34 seconds on Arsenault and it looked like he could stroll in with the victory. But Combs succumbed to the sick bug that had bothered him before the race on the last loop and that put an end to Combs's repeat chances. Combs  struggled, and Arsenault threw in his best loop of the day to claim the victory by half a minute.  
Rob Arsenault at the 2017 USATF XC Championships in Bend OR  [Photo posted on Facebook by Leilani Rios]

David Engstrom never threatened Combs, finishing a minute back in 3rd, but with 45 seconds on Rob's brother, Dan Arsenault, who finished in 4th..

R. Arsenault  30:23     Combs  30:56     Engstrom  31:55

55-59 Gail Hall took it out hard, building a 14 second lead over Betsy Miller who, in turn had 5 seconds on Kelly Kruell. Hall accelerated her pace in the 2nd loop as the other two strugled with Kruell passing Miller. 
Jennifer Anderson (right) leading Gail Hall (left) at the 2017 USATF XC Championships in Bend OR  [Photo by Michael Scott]

Hall took the gold in 28:28 by over a minute and a half, with Kruell 2nd  and Miller 52 seconds further back in third.

Hall  28:28     Kruell  30:16     Miller  31:08 
Joe Sheeran, runner up in this division at the 2015 Club XC Championships, gave Pete Magill, winner of the division in the 2016 Club XC Championships quite a battle for the win. Sheeran was a stride back from Magill at the end of the first loop. But Magill wrestled with the course on the 2nd loop and the course won a fall. Sheeran was now up by 23 seconds as he was able to maintain a rock-steady pace. But Magill was not done, taking 7 seconds out of the lead on the third loop when Sheeran's pace flagged slightly. Magill was able to turn it up a notch on the last loop, even though Sheeran again held tough and made him earn every second. In the end Magill had the victory by 5 seconds. 
Pete Magill [foreground] at the 2017 USATF XC Championships in Bend OR  [Photo posted on Facebook by Leilani Rios]

So the Course could brag that it got a fall up on Magill, but in the end Magill's wrestling match with the course was decided in his favor. Nate Anderson and Steven Kollars contended for bronze. But Anderson went out 16 seconds faster ont he first loop. In the end that was decisive. Kollars took a second out of the lead on the 2nd loop but then Anderson added 6 to it on the 3rd loop before Kollars took the 6 seconds back on the final loop. So Anderson got the bronze medal by 15 seconds.

Magill  30:27     Sheeran  30:32     Anderson  34:27 
60-64 Jill Miller-Robinett had a 3 minute margin on Joanna Harper at the Club Cross Country Championships in December. But the course and the tricky footing made this a different sort of contest. Harper and Lynelle Paulick went out in 10:09 with a ten second margin on Miller-Robinett and 25 on Suzanne Ray
Joanna Harper (#476) at the 2017 USATF XC Championships in Bend OR  [Photo by Michael Scott]

Paulick fell back from Harper on the 2nd loop, 26 seconds behind as they headed out for the final loop. Miller-Robinett had closed to within 7 seconds of Paulick and Ray had pulled to within 3 seconds of Miller-Robinett. Harper built her lead on the final loop, finishing with a 47 second margin of victory. Miller-Robinett tried to keep Ray at bay but had no answer when Ray finally passed to claim the silver medal by two seconds. Paulick, who struggled on the last loop came in 4th, a minute back.

Harper  31:02     Ray  31:49     Miller-Robinett  31:51 
Gary Radford  had a great fall season and it looked like he had had a good winter of training as he finished off the first loop in 8:12 with a 4 second bulge on Greg Wilson, and 7 on Sheldon Subith. Wilson and Subith fell back in the 2nd loop as Radford enjoyed a 26 second lead at the end of two loops. Subith now had a 2 second margin on Wilson. Radford maintained his 26 second lead through the end of the 3rd loop, but Wilson fell another 8 seconds back from Subith. On the final loop Subith took 15 seconds out of Radford's lead but there was too much distance to make up and Radford claimed gold with a 12 second gap back to Subith. In the menatime, Subith had pulled further ahead fo Wilson ending up with a 29 second margin. Mark Rybinski used a strong finish to catch and pass Kevin Clinefelter for 4th place.

Radford  34:27     Subith  34:39     Wilson  35:08 
65-69 Jeanette Groesz had not run a road race in three years until she ran a 7:12 mile last summer. It hardly looked like she was ready to challenge runners like Jo Anne Rowland and Sharlet Gilbert but she was. Groesz had a 20 second lead on Gilbert by the end of the first loop, with Rowland another 20 seconds back from Gilbert. Groesz widened the lead the rest of the way, taking the Gold medal by over a minute. Rowland, who passed Gilbert in the 2nd loop, came in next with Gilbert 50 seconds back in 3rd.

Groesz  32:01     Rowland  33:11     Gilbert  34:01
Ignacio Jimenez was in a class by himself in this race, winning the division Gold by almost 4 minutes. Jerry Learned showed what a tough Cross Country runner he is, fighting off John Hirschberger who took the honors between the two of them at Club Cross Country 8 weeks ago. Hirschberger took an early 3 second lead over Learned. But the Atlanta Track Club veteran reversed that margin by the end of the 2nd loop, added to it somewhat in the third, and then blew their race open in the final loop, taking  the silver medal by 17 seconds over Hirschberger
John  Barry at the 2017 USATF XC Championships in Bend OR  [Photo by Michael Scott]

John Barry finished 56 seconds back in 4th.

Jimenez  34:34     Learned  38:30     Hirschberger 38:47

70-74 Dianne Anderson took this division unopposed in 43:43.
Local runner, Paul Caisse, who finished 2nd last year,  established a 3 second gap over Gene French in the first loop. French, in turn, had a 45 second gap on Charlie Patterson. stretched it to 5 seconds on the 2nd, and to 6 seconds by the end of the 3rd loop. French closed very slightly on the last loop but Caisse took gold by 5 seconds over French. Patterson hung tough over the last 3 loops, taking third 42 seconds back from French.

Caisse  44:45     French  44:50     Patterson  45:32

75-79 Andrew Sherwood took the gold medal in this division with nearly 20 minutes to spare. Al Swan claimed the silver medal.

Al Swan at the 2017 USATF XC Championships in Bend OR  [Photo by Michael Scott]

Sherwood  54:48     Swan  1:14:08

Congratulations to all who took on this tough course and wound up national champions, hats off to those who wound up on the podium, and to all of those who competed!

In contrast to last year, the Women’s teams showed up in this event and enjoyed some spirited competition. And as usual, for both Men’s and Women’s teams, it was primarily a battle royal between the  teams from California and those from the Pacific Northwest, with a few Eastern teams mixed in here and there.

W40+ Two regional powerhouses from the area, Team Red Lizard from Portland and the Boise Betties from Idaho aimed to defend the Northwest against the efforts of the California team, rabbit racing. Also competing was the Oiselle Running Club. Despite the national affiliation that name suggests, it is apparently a chapter of the Oiselle brand that is based in Seattle. The Boise Betties had the top two finishers but then the Red Lizards’ took the next two spots and 5th to earn the title 13 points to Boise’s 15. The rabbit racing team took the bronze with 25 points. Congratulations to Team Red Lizard: Angele Lindbo, Jennifer Seibel, Sonya Wilkerson and Janna Heinonen.

W50+ One eastern team, the 2015 Masters Grand Prix Champions, the Athena Track Club, challenged Southern Cal’s the Jane’s Elite, Portland’s Team Red Lizard and  Seattle’s Club Northwest in the 50 and up division. The first 3 runners finishing were from Jane’s, Lizard and Athena in that order. But then the Jane’s took the next two spots and the race for gold was over as Jane’s was in with 10 points. When the 2nd and 3rd runners from the Red Lizards finished ahead of the next two from Athena, the race for team silver was also done as the Lizards had 16 points to Athena’s 26. Congratulations to the Jane’s Elite: Tania Fischer, Kirsten Leetch, Kathleen Cushing-Murray and Kelle Taylor.
Victorious Janes Elite [l to r: Kathleen Cushing-Murray, Kirsten Leetch, Tania Fischer] and Grace Padilla at the 2017 USATF XC Championships in Bend OR [Photo posted on Facebook by Leilani Rios]
W60+ The Impala Racing team from the San Francisco Bay area went home with the 60 and up trophy last year but Team Red Lizard put forth competitive teams in each division to limit the California dominance. And they were successful here too, taking the top two spots and fourth as well, winning 7 to 14. Congratulations to Team Red Lizard: Joanna Harper, Suzanne Ray, and Jeanette Groesz.
In terms of regions, that made it two for Oregon [Pacific Northwest] and one for Southern Cal. 

How about the Men’s teams?
M40+ Two Oregon teams, the defending Champion  Bowerman Track Club and, who else, Team Red Lizard sought to protect the home turf against So Cal’s Cal Coast Track Club, Sacramento’s River City Rebels and Santa Barbara’s rabbit racing.Bowerman and Cal Coast split the top two spots but when the Bowerman team claimed 3rd, 4th and 5th, it was all but over. When they took 7th also they had the win with 20 points. Cal Coast was comfortably in 2nd with 51 and the Red Lizards closed off the podium with 83 points, two ahead of the River City Rebels. Congratulations to John Howell, Greg Mitchell, Matthew Farley, Orrin Schumacher, Joshua Gordon, Ahrlin Bauman, Oscar Baumann, and David Ross.
Bowerman TC M40+ and M50+ at the 2017 USATF XC Championships in Bend OR [Posted on Greg Mitchell's Facebook page]

M50+ The 50 and up division was strictly Cal Coast TC against the Bowerman TC. Cal Coast got the first two spots but Bowerman had the next two so it was still anyone’s game. Cal Coast nabbed the 5th position but then a Bowerman runner nipped a Cal Coast runner for sixth so they had a chance still. But when Cal Coast had the next runner in too, they were in the gold medal position with 23 points to Bowerman’s 33. Congratulations to Rob Arsenault, Pete Magill, Dan Arsenault, Thomas Schumann, Bob Brisco, and Mike Filippow.
Victorious Cal Coast M50+ Team [l to r: Mike Fillipow, Thomas Schumann, Rob Arsenault, Dan Arsenault, Bob Brisco, Pete Magill] at the 2017 USATF XC Championships in Bend OR  [Photo posted on Facebook by Leilani Rios]

M60+ It was East vs. Southern California. The Genesee Valley Harriers made the trip from upstate New York to challenge the Cal Coast TC and the San Diego Track Club. The defending champion Cal Coast team could never get untracked, finishing third with 24 points but the other two teams were in a ‘dog fight.’ Cal Coast got 1st but then San Diego took 2nd and 3rd. When GVH’s 2nd runner came in 4th the 2 teams were tied. But that only lasted 4 seconds as GVH’s 3rd runner crossed the line that close to their 2nd runner. GVH won with 10 to San Diego’s 11. Congratulations to Gary Radford, Mark Rybinski, Kevin Clinefelter, Bill Beyerbach and Tim McMullen.
M70+ The Atlanta Track Club  made the trip from Georgia but no one showed up to defend the home turf. 1-2-3 adds up to 6 points and the win. Congratulations to Charlie Patterson, Sam Benedict, Curtis Walker, William Shaffer, and Andrew Sherwood.
The Men’s victories were split up with one each for the Pacific Northwest, Southern California, the Northeast and the Southeast. So overall, the Pac NW got 3 wins, So Cal 2, the NE and SE 1 each. The home turf was well defended.
That kicks off the 2017 Masters Grand Prix. From Oregon the tour turns next to Virginia and the 8K Championship at Virginia Beach on March 18th and then the 10K Championship in Dedham Massachusetts on April 30th. The Half Marathon Championship on May 7th in Orange County will finish off the spring season.

Check out the full schedule at:

Thursday, February 9, 2017

2017 National Cross Country Champions Crowned on a Slippery Course in Bend Oregon-Part 1-Overall and Age Grading Contests

On Saturday, February 64h, the 2017 USATF Cross Country Championships were conducted for the second consecutive year at the Rivers Edge Golf Course in Bend, Oregon. Early in the week the forecast called for snow on Thursday, ice pellets on Friday, and rain on race day. Luckily the weather was not as bad as feared. The efforts to clear the snow away from the Cross Country course were successful, a tribute to the incredible work put forth by Meet Director Kevney Dugan of "Visit Bend" and Community Volunteers. 
Picture of the Course at Bend the day *before* the race--Terrific job to get it ready for a day of racing--Lots of Hours and Effort! [Photo by John Gardiner posted on Facebook]

The Women’s race went off at 10 AM under clear skies and 43 degrees, but with 13 mph winds gusting to 22-24 mph, a wind chill of 34 degrees. When the Men started their race at 10:45, it was slightly colder and windier with a light rain. The main problem was not the cold but that there were a few very muddy, slippery spots on the course, due to snow melt. At one level, one can say that a wind chill and a muddy course just make things more interesting. But if the course is very slippery and runners are coursing across and up and down hills with many elevation changes, it can cause a little havoc. Apparently a number of runners lost their footing and fell from time to time. Certainly everyone who competed earned plenty of ‘street cred’ or maybe that should be 'Turf Cred' as a XC Warrior!

The Women’s race pitted last year’s winner, Grace Padilla, against the 2015 runner-up when this race was in Boulder Colorado, Melody Fairchild. Fairchild has been gradually returning to competition after time off for the birth and nurturing of baby Dakota. She finished 3rd at the 15K in Tulsa last October and was looking to kick things up a notch on the trails. Last year Padilla, who enjoys being a front-runner, took off at the gun, built a big lead and was never headed. On Saturday, Padilla again led from the start but Fairchild kept up close. Tania Fischer, who had had hit a bad patch over the last year or so, had apparently put that behind her, as she was just off the pace. Marisa Sutera Strange, who was expected to contend, found herself 25 seconds off the pace after the first lap. Three-quarters of the way around the first loop the runners face a fairly sharp, short descent. Padilla struggled with her footing there, wobbled a bit but kept her feet under her. As Fairchild put it after the race, " legs went up, and my butt went down! I slid  - as if on a slip 'n' slide - down the hill, trailing Grace. I popped up as if sliding safely into 2nd base and kept running! Fun and the thrill took my breath away and I had to calm myself in order to regain my breathing rhythm and get the focus to close the gap Grace put on me." 
Grace Padilla (left) leading Melody Fairchild (right) after the spill on the1st loop [photo posted by Stephanie Ross on Facebook]

The 2nd lap saw Fairchild, a former Team USA member at the World Mountain Running Championships, surge away from the field, up and across and down and over and up and all of a sudden there was a huge gap. 
Melody Fairchild pulling away from the field on the 2nd Loop [Photo by Michael Scott]

Padilla slowed substantially as the rest of the field regained contact, and Fisher surged into 2nd. 
Tania Fischer trying to extend her gap over Padilla, Strange and Hay on the 2nd loop [Photo by Michael Scott]

At the end of the 2nd loop it was Fairchild by over half a minute in 24:02. Fairchild recalled, "I made it hurt striving to gap the field early on, so I just tried to maintain." The Chase Pack of Fischer, Padilla, Strange and Susan Hay were all within 5 seconds of each other. No one was going to catch Fairchild, but the remainder of the podium would come from this pack. Fairchild extended her lead on the last loop, winning by almost a minute. 

Padilla found her kick when she needed it at the end of the final loop where there was a furious finish to determine 2nd through 5th place. Padilla pulled away for the 2nd place finish in 24:52, 3 seconds ahead of Fischer. 
Grace Padilla striding uphill through the snow banks at the 2017 USATF XC Championships [Photo posted on Facebook by Michael Leong]

Hay was in 4th, another 2 seconds back, followed by Strange, who collapsed at the finish.
But by the time of the Awards Ceremonies Strange appeared to be completely recovered. 
Melody Fairchild wins the Masters Women's Overall Championship at the 2017 USATF Cross Country Championships in Bend OR [photo by Michael Scott]

Fairchild noted that this would probably be her first and last race of the year as her family focus would take priority now. But she looks forward to rejoining the Masters Grand Prix in the future. "I am very excited about the Grand Prix!"
Fairchild        Padilla        Fischer        Hay        Strange

The Men’s race was a rematch between 2015 and 2016 Masters Grand Prix winner, Greg Mitchell and two-time defending USATF XC Champion, Jacques Sallberg. Mitchell has done better on the roads, but Sallberg loves Cross Country competition and this course. Mitchell had some injury problems in the middle of 2016 but had appeared to put them behind him when he finished a strong second to Master’s Ace, Kevin Castille, at the Club Cross Country Championships this past December. Others expected to contend included Mitchell’s teammate, John Howell, Cal Coast’s top runner, John Gardiner, who was off his fitness last year at these championships, and David Angell, a newcomer to the circuit who finished 3rd in the fall at the 5K and 15K road races.

Last year Sallberg kicked it into high gear after the second of four loops. This year he did not toy with his competitors; he started to pull away right after the leaders reached the highest point on the course. By the end of the first loop, Sallberg already had a 7 second gap on the main contenders; Gardiner led the 4-man chase pack, with Howell, Angell and Mitchell, which had 18 seconds on the rest of the field. 
Jacques Sallberg building a huge lead in the Masters Men's Contest at the 2017 USATF XC CHampionships in Bend OR [Photo by Michael Scott]

Sallberg, sensing that this would be his day, threw in a big surge after the first loop, opening up a half minute gap by the end of that loop. The chase pack held together but Mitchell, on an off day, was in danger of losing contact, 5 seconds back. Sallberg poured it on over the final 2 loops finishing in 26:29 with a terrific kick, a toss of the ear muffs and a dominant 90 second victory-Wow! Third consecutive USATF Cross Country Championship Overall Win for Sallberg-Impressive!
Jacques Sallberg breaks the tape as he wins the Men's Overall Masters Championship in the 2017 USATF XC Championships at Bend OR [Photo by Michael Scott]
Sallberg indicated after the race that "last month we had more rain than usual in southern California so it's been pretty cold and wet when I do workouts in the mornings. I was mentally prepared for the weather and course conditions to be challenging. When they groomed the course and the sun came out in the morning, I was pretty excited. 
During the race I was thinking about the hard work I put in over the past few months and the athletes I've been coaching and training with. I want to thank them for being a part of my life right now and keeping me enthusiastic about the sport. Shout out to Kayla, Katie, Perry, Ronnie, Johnny, Sydney, Natalie, Monica, Trevor, Eryn, Marissa, and Morgan.

The 3-man chase pack of Angell, Gardiner, and Howell hung together until midway through the final loop when Howell surged away, 
John Howell with a few strides on John Gardiner at the 2017 USATF Masters XC Championship in Bend OR [Photo by Michael Scott]

with Gardiner surging away from Angell. 

David Angell trying to maintain contact with John Howell and John Gardiner at the 2017 USATF Masters XC Championships in Bend OR [Photo by Michael Scott]

In the end it was Howell 2nd in 27:59, with Gardiner eight seconds back in 3rd. Angell, another 11 seconds back and then Mitchell followed in that order.
Sallberg        Howell        Gardiner        Angell        Mitchell

The age-grading scores were again comparatively low compared to road racing scores because of the slippery conditions and the general difficulty of this challenging cross country course where the athletes run up and down and across the side of a cinder cone. 

The top of the Age-Grading podium for Women was a surprise and points out the difficulty of going by road times as a predictor for a Cross Country race. Some runners are simply much better (or worse) as Cross Country Runners, especially on a difficult or muddy course. Susan Hay, 53, must be one of those. Make no mistake; Hay is an excellent runner who typically age-grades in the 85-89 range. But she was going up against two runners, Marisa Sutera Strange and Jo Anne Rowland, who consistently age grade above 90 in road races. Hay’s 84.3% shaded Strange's 2nd place score by 0.8% points. 
Susan Hay, striding jauntily toward the Age-Grading Vcitory at the 2017 USATF XC Championships in Bend OR [Photo by Michael Scott]

Tania Fischer, 50, as noted above, appears to be back at the top of her game as she notched a 3rd place finish at 81.4. Like Hay, Strange is 53;  the podium all came from the 50-54 age group. 
Marisa Sutera Strange leading Hay midway through the race; Strange took 2nd in the Age-Grading Competition at the 2017 USATF XC Championships in Bend OR [Photo by Michael Scott]

Age-grading prize money went 5 deep. Jeanette Groesz, 67, with 80.1 and Kirsten Leetch, 51, with 79.1 went home with cash awards also. Rounding out the top ten age-graders were: Melody Fairchild, 43, Jo Anne Rowland, 68, Gail Hall, 57, Katherine MacTavish, 54, and Grace Padilla, 45.
Hay        Strange        Fischer        Groesz        Leetch

Jacques Sallberg, 42, swept the Overall awards. His dominance in the Men's race was so great that he also set the pace across all age groups, age-grading at 86.0%. 

Joe Sheeran, 59, who finished 2nd at age-grading in the 2015 Club Cross Country Championships, matched that by coming in here at 85.6%. Pete Magill, 55, who took 1st in Age Grading at the 2016 Club Cross Country Championships, had to settle for 3rd place in Bend at 83.0. Matthew Farley, 49,
Matthew Farley powering his way to a 4th place finish in the Age-Grading Contest at the 2017 USATF Masters XC Championships in Bend OR [Photo by Michael Scott]
and John Gardiner, 44, took 4th and 5th at 82.8 and 82.3% respectively. 
John Gardiner persevering for a top Age-Grading place at the 2017 Masters XC Championships in Bend OR [Photo by Michael Scott]
Rounding out the top ten age-graders were: John Howell, 43, Mike Blackmore, 55, Ignacio Jimenez, 67, Greg Mitchell, 43, and Rob Arsenault, 51.
Sallberg        Sheeran         Magill        Farley        Gardiner

It was a terrific start to the season. The challenging conditions made for memorable races. Next up on the Masters Grand Prix will be the USATF Masters 8K Championship