Friday, April 28, 2017

2017 USATF Masters 10K Championship-In Depth Preview

April 28 2017. DEDHAM MA. As usual, the New England weather forecast changes day to day. But all of the recent forecasts have been favorable for this coming Sunday’s USATF Masters 10K Championship, held under the auspices of the James Joyce Ramble. Low 50’s with partly cloudy skies, and moderate winds 7-8 mph provide a great environment for fast running. But as always, stay tuned, the actual temperatures could be a bit warmer and some light rain showers probably cannot be ruled out 72 hours ahead of time. Race Director, Martin Hanley, has assembled a field that is deep and very high quality. Over 240 speedy Masters runners will be seeking to run their fastest over the rolling course that winds its way around the quaint streets of Dedham. As always, they will be enlightened as they stride past actors reciting from the works of James Joyce. With on-site registration on Saturday afternoon at the Endicott Estate, a few more top Masters Runners may join the field.

RECORDS. Two current 10K American Age Division record holders, Houston’s Sabra Harvey, 67, and native Bay Stater, Jan Holmquist, 72, are entered. Both set their records, 42:37 and 45:19 respectively, on this very course two years ago. Earlier this spring, Boulder’s Edie Stevenson ran a half minute faster than the current American 10 Mile record for Women 65-69 with a 1:13:23 at the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler. Tom Bernhard, from San Francisco, the favorite in the Men’s 65-69 division, broke the American 5K record at Syracuse last year with a time of 17:31. None of these will come easily. Stevenson is stronger at the longer distances and Bernhard is coming off December knee surgery that stopped his training for a few weeks. He has been regaining fitness every week but he may not quite be all the way back. Holmquist is coming off an injury year and is probably not yet at full fitness. Certainly her times at races are still a half minute or so off where she was when she set the 10K record here a couple of years ago. Harvey should have the best shot. The times she has been able to post this spring are roughly comparable to what she was running two years ago.

AGE GRADING. In addition to the potential record setters above, others in the hunt for top Age-Graded performance include Doug Bell, Nat Larson, Mark Reeder and William Dixon. Larson, who finished 2nd last year, rarely finishes off the Age-Grading podium and Bell, Dixon, and Reeder are always threats. Reeder's recent time at Doyle's 5 Miler suggests he may be a bit off peak fitness, and this year he does not have to worry about trying to beat Brian Pilcher who is out injured. Bell's time at Virginia Beach was a bit off his best due to some back issues. If those are under control now he should be a major factor. Among the women, Marisa Sutera Strange is almost always on the podium. (Susan) Lynn Cooke , Laura Bruess, , and Mary Swan, who finished 4th, 5th and 6th in age-grading at the 8K in Virginia Beach may also factor into the race for the age-grading  podium.

Men: Larson     Bernhard     Bell 

Women:  Harvey     Stevenson     Strange

Nat Larson, heading for the Finish Line and Second Place in the Age-Grading contest in the 2016 USATF 10K Masters Championships at the james Joyce Ramble in Dedham Massachusetts

OVERALL. As far as who should be first across the finish line, watch the battle between the top talent from around the country and local luminaries. Of those currently entered, the favorites to win the Men’s race overall include David Angell, from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, fresh off a victory at the USATF 8K Championship in Virginia Beach in 25:24. He also won the Masters title at the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K in a smoking 31:08. To say he is at the top of his game is an understatement! Atlanta’s Kristian Blaich and New York’s Jake Stookey who took 3rd and 4th in that race are entered as well. Blaich won this race in 2015 in 33:22, but was injured last year. Presumably with every month of injury-free training and racing his fitness improves. He may be able to push Angell more at Dedham than at Virginia Beach. New York’s Mark Andrews and the BAA’s Peter Hammer battled all the way to the finish last year with Andrews eking out a 2 second victory. Neither is entered this year but Greg Putnam, who finished 3rd last year in 33:08, and Aaron Totten-Lancaster, who finished 5th will give Angell plenty to think about. Others who could factor in the race for the podium include: Dave DeChellis, who finished 2nd to Blaich in 2015, Derrick Jones, who took the M45 gold at the Gate River Run in 50:18, and Ryan McCalmon, who clocked a fine 33:27 at Club XC last December to finish 12th but only 7 seconds out of 5th.

Angell       Putnam       Blaich

New York’s Marisa Sutera Strange returns to defend the Women’s Overall 2016 title, which she took with a 36:47, edging her friend, Sonja Friend-Uhl  by 1 second.  Friend-Uhl ran a 17:34 5K this past weekend in Florida so her fitness is good but she is not entered in the race. Her teammate, Holly Ortlund is though, and she has the potential to push Strange all the way. Last fall at Syracuse, she surprised a few by running a fine 18:02, only 7 seconds back from Strange. She duplicated that time a couple of months ago so she appears to be fit. GVH’s Heather Webster will also push the pace. She finished 2 seconds behind Ortlund in Syracuse. At a 5 Mile race in March she clocked a 31:17 which suggests that her fitness at that time was a bit off. A month and a half later, she has no doubt busted some of that rust off and is ready to roll. Cassandra Henkiel, the 2015 8K Masters Champion in 29:17, from Texas, will also make things interesting.

Strange      Ortlund     Webster

Holly Ortlund, all smiles after a terrific race at the 2016 USATF 5K Masters Championship at the Syracuse Festival of Races.


Women 40-44. Holly Ortlund and Heather Webster should lead the way in this division.  Last fall at Syracuse she was about 20 seconds off of Ortlund's pace but she ran a fine race at the Gate River Run (15K) this year, where Renee Tolan outlasted her for the last podium position in the 40-44 year old division. Another who could factor into the race is Diana Bowser who finished 6th last year in 38:16. Tammie Robie, who finished 8 seconds back from Bowser last year bested her by a minute last month in the New Bedford Half Marathon.Athena's Christy Peterson is entered but has opted to run in the Penn Relays instead; otherwise she would be a factor in the race.

Ortlund      Webster     Robie

Men 40-44. David Angell is the favorites for 1st and then David DeChellis, Ryan McCalmon and Aaron Totten-Lancaster, the defending division champion, should fight it out for the remaining spots on the podium. See 'Overall' above. 

Angell       Totten-Lancaster       DeChellis

Women 45-49.  Cassandra Henkiel must be pretty fit or would not be coming all the way from Texas. She is favored to win the division. Whirlaway's Christin Doneski ran !:05:22 in the Amherst 10 miler and cracked 1:25 at the New Bedford Half Marathon; that makes her the pick for 2nd. Mary Pardi ran her half marathons last fall in the 1:27 to 1:28 range and looks good to bring a bronze medal home to Maine with her. If any of those have an off day, GVH's Melissa Senall could factor in, although her focus will be mostly on the team prizes.

Henkiel     Doneski     Pardi

Men 45-49. Greg Putnam should be in the lead pack overall, hoping to lead the Central Mass Strider team to glory. He is a slight favorite to capture the Age Division gold along the way. There is plenty of speed in this division though. Derrick Jones bested Putnam at Club XC last December. He is also coming off an Age Division first at the Gate River Run (15K) in 50:18, a pretty snappy time with the Hart Bridge thrown in. Atlanta's Brent Fields only ran 36:17 here last year but his 27:44 in the 8K at Virginia Beach suggests he is at a higher level of fitness this year and will factor in the race. Jonathan Frieder, even without the moral support (or brotherly competition?) of Elliott, should be in the mix. He ran a tough Club XC race last December in 35:05, only 9 seconds back from Putnam and had the better of Fields in the 5K at Syracuse. Coming off of a 55:03 10 Miler last month, he is fit and will be right there with the others.

Putnam       Jones       Fields

Brent Fields finishing off a fine race at the 2017 USATF 8K Masters Championship at the Towne Bank 8K in Virginia Beach

Women 50-54.  Marisa Sutera Strange should run away with this division again. Favored for 2nd and 3rd are Mimi Fallon and Mary Zengo who ran 39:01 and 39:23 here last year. Zengo has the faster 10 Miler this year, albeit at the fast Cherry Blossom race, and Fallon has a slightly faster Half Marathon. It should be quite a duel. I'll go with Fallon who has the edge from last year's 10K Championship. Lori Kingsley will be pushing those two. She ran 40:46 last year and already has run a  10K  this spring in 40:50.

Strange     Fallon     Zengo

Men 50-54. With Kristian Blaich, Nat Larson, Kent Lemme and Gregory Picklesimer all in this division, some very strong runners will be kept off the podium. All of those four will likely be in the lead pack overall at least for the first half of the race. At the 8K Championships in Virginia Beach in March, it was Blaich, Lemme, and Larson in that order in 26:19, 26:36, and 27:04, with no reason to expect an order change here. Although that course was as flat as it gets and this has rolling hills; maybe that favors Larson? He outran Lemme here last year. With 5K times typically in the mid 16's and a 56:48 in the Amherst 10 Miler, Picklesimer will not be far off the pace. No off days allowed in this race. (And you can bet Nat Larson is counting the days now until he puts this gang behind him by turning 55 in mid-June!)

Blaich     Lemme     Larson

Women 55-59. Laura Bruess, Susan 'Lynn' Cooke, and Lorraine Jasper should find themselves at the head of this division. Bruess had the edge over Cooke at the 8K Championship in Virginia Beach and Cooke had the edge over Jasper at Club XC in December. On the other hand, Jasper knows the course and ran well here last year, hitting 40:54 which would have been fast enough to win the division. But Cooke has run faster 5K's this spring, cracking the 20 minute barrier a couple of weeks ago. Amanda King and Lynn Malloy are both capable of breaking 43 minutes and will be ready to pounce if any fo gthe front runners falters.

Bruess     Cooke     Jasper

Susan 'Lynn' Cooke, finishing strong at the 2017 USATF Masters 8K Championships as she turns in her first World Class Performance, topping the 90% Age-Grade mark.

Men 55-59. Mark Reeder, Age Division Champion the last two years, would ordinarily be favored to add a 3rd title this year. He ran 34:56 here last year. There may be some hope for his rivals though, as his time at the Doyle's 5 miler a couple of weeks ago was 30:03, so he may not be at peak fitness. Derrick Staley, John Sullivan, John Van Kerkhove, and James Zoldy are all poised to pounce if Reeder is giving them an opening. Staley ran 35:45 here in 2015 and ran 17:42 in the 5K Championships at Syracuse last year. Sullivan ran a 17:29 and a 17:45 5K last December and a 1:19:35 at the NYC HM this spring. Van Kerkhove finished 12 seconds behind Staley at Syracuse but won the division in the 8K Championships at Virginia Beach in 29:06 so he is at the top of his game. Maybe he is getting back to the kind of fitness he displayed on this course in 2014 when he ran 36:32. Zoldy does not race often but he did run a 1:18:51 at the Masters HM Championships in San Diego last year on a fast course. It looks like another dogfight with the best runner on the day coming out on top.Despite the Doyle's time, it's hard to go against such a strong runner.

Reeder     Staley     Van Kerkhove

Women 60-64. None of the top 4 from last year are back; the division is wide open. Alda Cossi finished 5th last year in 47:25 and emerges as the favorite. After Cossi it appear the 3 Atlanta Track Club teammates, Cynthia Lucking, Margaret Taylor, and Cynthia Williams, along with Shore AC's Susan Stirrat will sort out 2nd through 5th. Last year Williams ran only 23 seconds off of Cossi's pace to finish in 47:48. Taylor did not run the 10K championship last year but she did run the 5K at Syracuse and the 8K at Virginia Beach this March. Williams had the edge by 11 seconds at Syracuse and Taylor had the edge by 17 seconds at Virginia Beach. Although it is pretty much a toss-up, I will give the edge to Taylor for the more recent racing edge. Stirrat and Lucking ran 49:04 and 49:07 last year so they will be pushing the others to do their best. Lucking edged Stirrat at Virginia Beach by over a minute so she has a slightly better chance to break onto the podium.

Cossi     Taylor     Williams

Men 60-64. With Rick Becker staying home in Selah Washington, the highest returning finisher from last year is John Barbour who claimed 2nd in 38:04, 14 seconds ahead of Reno Stirrat. Barbour added to his credentials with a terrific battle at Club XC for the second year in a row this past December, losing first to Brian Pilcher as he did the year before to Becker. in the final kick into the finish Second at Club XC is a high honor. Dan Spale who finished third in that race was the only other runner to stay within a minute of the leaders. Spale's teammate, Kyle Hubbart, could not make the Club XC race but finished only 11 seconds behind Spale at the 15K Championships in Tulsa and 17 seconds back from Spale at the 5K Championhips in Syracuse. At the 8K Championship in Virginia Beach it was Spale followed by Hubbart, then Gary Radford, followed by Stirrat, with half a minute separating the first two and about 15 seconds between the latter two. Until someone shows they can beat him, Barbour is the favorite. And Spale and even Hubbart appears to have an edge over Radford and Stirrat. But those two won't give an inch; it should be fun to watch!

Barbour     Spale     Hubbart
John Barbour capturing 2nd place overall and the top age-grading score in the 2016 USATF M60+ 8K XC Championship in Tallahassee Florida.

Women 65-69. As the discussion of Age-Grading suggests, this one has two top runners, Sabra Harvey and Edie Stevenson. Harvey ran 42:37 in 2014 to establish a new American record for the division, and it appears her fitness is comparable this year. Stevenson took the honors last year in 45:07 and will provide plenty of competition if Harvey has an off day. Stevenson lowered the American record at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler earlier this spring. She is running very well but the 10K is closer to Harvey's ideal distance than Stevenson's. Jan Holmquist's running mate with Whirlaway, Karen Durante, is the favorite for third. Her 37:14 in the recent Doyle's 5 Miler suggests she has the current fitness to run in the 46 to 47 minute range and that should be enough. GVH's Cindy Ingalls, will make sure the pace is honest but will be hard pressed to make the podium as her current fitness appears to be just a little off of Durante's level.

Harvey    Stevenson    Durante

Men 65-69.  Doug Winn is staying home in Portland Oregon this year so that leaves the Boulder Road Runner's Doug Bell as the top returning athlete. He took 2nd in 38:55, followed by Peter Mullin in 39:41 and Bill Dixon in 39:45. As the Records section makes clear, though, there is a new guy in town. Tom Bernhard aged up into the group ast year and promptly lowered the American 5K record at Syracuse last year to 17:31! He had knee surgery in December which was successful but set back his training. Nonetheless he was able to come in ahead of Bell and Mullin, winning the age division championship in 30:38. It looks like Bernhard, Mullin and Bell will be the favorites as Dixon's time in the recent  Holyoke 10K is about a minute slower than his time last year. But Dixon is a very competitive runner so he may well surprise me! Bernhard should win and Mullin has had the better of Bell now at their last two encounters at the 5K championships in Syracuse and the 8K championships at Virginia Beach. Apparently a lot will depend on whether Bell's back stiffens up or not. 

Bernhard      Mullin      Bell 

Women 70-74.  American record holder Jan Holmquist, of Whirlaway Racing, may not be able to match her 45:19 record set in 2015 but she should improve on her performance of last year. Everyone has an off day or two and last year was hers; she still won the division, of course, but in 48:50. Her times in races this spring are better than last and she should be closer to 46 than 48 this year. Linda Zavalick of the Tri-Valley Front Runners will not have a time anywhere near that but she will take home the Silver medal nonetheless. That is, unless a new entrant for the division shows up on Saturday.

Holmquist      Zavalick
Jan Holmquist wins her age Division again at the 2016 USATF 10K Masters Championship [accompanied by usatf-ne stalwart, Stephen Peckikonis]

Men 70-74. With 23 entrants this division is almost as big as the M40-44 and the M50-54 groups. There are 6 who stand out from the rest as potential favorites. These include Marc Bloom, Paul Carlin (yours truly), Jan Frisby, Dave Glass, Richard Kutzner, and Jim May. Glass is the newest to Masters Championship racing and only has one race in so far but it was a good one. He took 2nd in the 5K Championship at Syracuse last October in 20:13, ahead of May, me, and Frisby in that order.  His 5K and 4 mile times in March seem similar to last year's, averaging a tad over 7 minutes per mile. But the race results in April may point to injury. His 5 mile time of 37:01 would be a bit slower than anticipated and what should we make of a 50:21 10K three weeks ago? Is it due to injury or is there a more benign explanation? At the end of March I would have made Glass the favorite. Now I am not so sure. Jim May has had a good last 6 months. He took 3rd at Syracuse behind Glass in 20:53, ahead of Carlin, Kutzner, and Frisby. May also ran well at Club XC and then took 1st last month in the 8K Championship at Virginia Beach in 35:01, thirteen seconds ahead of me, on another one of my comebacks.My 35:14 landed me in 2nd ahead of Bloom, Kutzner and Frisby. Bloom is a longtime member of Shore AC who competes actively in regional Championships and in Club XC. As far as I can tell, Virginia Beach was his first National Championship road race, at least in recent years, and Dedham will be his 2nd. His 36:19 there was good for 4th and he will definitely be in the mix. The same is true for Kutzner who prefers the longer uns. Only thirteen seconds behind Bloom the longer distance may help him here in Dedham. I have been picking Frisby to finish in the top 3 in the past few races and he keeps warning me against it. I know that he was Age Group Runner of the Year several times in his 50's and that in 2015 he was Age Group Runner of the Year for the 70-74 crew. He is a terrific runner when healthy and motivated (with his weight under control, he would add). He set the M70 American record for 10K at a California race in 2015.Because I am unsure of Glass's health, I will pick the top 4 with the understanding that 2-3-4 becomes 1-2-3 if Glass cannot run. I am picking Glass to win if he is healthy; he earned that in Syracuse. Then I pick May over me. I have to beat him before I can be picked ahead. Two factors in my favor--I run races 10K and longer much more frequently than May. I am still in the late recovery phase from my left hamstring issue of the fall. But I am not as far along as I was last year at this time; I am trying to recover moderately so I can keep my racing going after the 10K. Last year I was done a week after Dedham due to the hamstring flare-up. I will go with Bloom for the next spot, either 4th opr 3rd depending on Glass,  but Kutzner could well work his way onto the podium. 

Glass     May    Carlin    Bloom 
Jim May claims the Men's 70-74 Victory in the 2017 USATF 8K Masters Championship.

Women 75-79. Kathleen Scotti, from Connecticut, is the sole entry. She runs her 5K's in the 39 to 42 minute range suggesting a 10K time on the order of 1:20 to 1:30. Finishing the race will give her the gold medal and it will be earned, every stride of the way.


Men 75-79. Ten runners will step to the line. All eyes will be on Doug Goodhue, Age Group Runner of the Year for 9 consecutive years from the 65-69 division through to the 70-74 division. Goodhue has been battling injuries over the last couple of years and has recently gone through rehab and recovery for a lower leg issue. If he were completely healthy he would be trying for a record. As is, he will settle for an individual and, he hopes, an M70+ team victory and keeping healthy so he can focus on breaking records in the fall. The top returning finisher from last year is Atlanta's Andrew Sherwood who took 4th in 59:27. Goodhue should be well under 50 minutes. I doubt he would race if he did not feel confident of that. Will anyone else in this division break 50? Denny LeBlanc ran 50:31 last year when he was in the 70-74 division here.  But LeBlanc's time at the New bedford Half Marathon was 6 minutes slower this year than last so it seems unlikely he will run a faster time this year. Hal Bennett, of the New England 65+ club has run a couple fo 5K's in  24:42 and 24:14; that suggests he could be pretty close to 50 for a 10K. John Noyes from Kennebunk, Maine has run 5K's in 22:55 and 24:00. That should put him a little ahead of Bennett and a threat to break 50.

Goodhue     Noyes     Bennett

Men 80-84. There are three entrants. Lawrence Cole is the only returning athlete from last year when he finished 4th in 1:14:49. Unless someone else registers in this division on Saturday, Cole only has to finish to move up at least one spot onto the podium. Harry Carter finished 2nd in the M75 division last year in 51:48. He ran another 10K this past December in 49:51.That makes him the favorite. The third entrant, William Riley, a teammate of Cole's on the NE 65+ crew, ran five 5K's last summer, with the slowest 25:55 and the fastest 24:48. The fastest of those times is consistent with a 51 minute or so 10K. That may not be fast enough to catch Carter but it will certainly provide some motivation!   

Carter    Riley     Cole 

It should be a tremendous set of races as 17 Age Group Champions will be crowned. There will be lots of celebrating and camaraderie after the finish. 

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