Friday, September 22, 2017

2017 USATF 5K Masters Championship--Preview 2--Age Divisions -60-64 through 95-99

September 22 2017. It is 9 days now to Race Day, this will be my first posted preview of the Age Divisions from 60-64 through 95-99.  As of 11 pm on Thursday, September 21st, we had exactly 100 entrants in these Age Divisions along with 133 between the ages of 40 and 59 for 233 total entrants. The previews may be updated depending on information received and/or who else enters between now and Race Day


60-64 Men Last year Brian Pilcher not only dominated the division, he smashed the American Record by running 16:38 (net). The very next weekend he broke the Half Marathon, 25K and 30K records on the way to tying the Marathon record for Men 60-64. By January he was experiencing some pain in his foot that interrupted his training. He nonetheless ran in the Masters 8K Championship and came within 7 seconds of the record. Shortly thereafter the problem was diagnosed as a stress fracture; Pilcher took the next few months off before resuming training. His fitness is coming along slowly; he will not be in condition to threaten the record this year but is attending to pay his respects to Dave Oja and the Syracuse FoR in their last year of hosting the championships. Nonetheless Pilcher reckons he might be able to run something like a 17:20. If so, he is still a favorite for the podium and maybe to take the title again. 

Brian Pilcher pounding out the rhythm on his way to a 16:38 Men's 60-64 American Record at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championship at the Syracuse Festival of Races [Photo by Gavin Liddell]

 Last year Pilcher was the only one in the division to break 18 minutes. Tom Ryan finished 2nd in 18:14 and he returns, as well as Kyle Hubbart who finished 3rd, just a few seconds behind Ryan. Ryan ran 18:17 in a small, local 5K in September; in July he had a 19:08. Hubbart seems to be running about as fast as he did in 2016 and has a knack for winding up on the podium. He has finished 3rd in the division in the 8K, 10K, and 1 Mile, the 3 races he has entered. Who else might contend? Can anyone else break 18:00? The three most likely are Charlie Andrews who ran 17:31 last year when he was still in the 55-59 division, Ken Youngers, and Tom Dever. Andrews has not run a fast 5K recently but he did run a 38:50 10K in June, roughly equivalent to a high 18 minute 5K. Youngers ran 17:35 here in 2015, and then missed 2016. He has been through surgery and recovery and seems ready to push the pace again. He finished 2nd to Dever in the Masters Road Mile Championship. It is worth mentioning that the 17:35 in 2015 was 46 seconds slower than his time here in 2014. If he has recovered his 2014 fitness, a 16:49 for a 57 year old is age-grade equivalent to a 17:14 for a 60 year old. The Macon Labor Day 5K is a fast race, no doubt, but Youngers just clocked a 17:08 there. That suggests he might well be able to get under 17:30 on the Syracuse course. Dever has an 18:25 and an 18:48 to his credit but he is likely still improving after losing some time to surgery and rehab. He might be able to break 18:00 but it would be surprising if he broke it by much. He had a 17:48 and a 17:57 in the fall of 2015. Still, he was ahead of Youngers at Flint by 5 seconds; that suggests he should still be ahead in Syracuse. It will be fascinating to see.

Brian Pilcher          Thomas Dever         Ken Youngers       

Women   There is no overwhelming favorite entered at this point. The strongest candidates for a gold medal appear to be Nora Cary and Patrice Combs. Cary finished 2nd to Nancy Stewart in the division last year in 20:30. Combs finished 5th in the 55-59 division in 20:36. 

Patrice Combs [2nd from R] and Margaret Taylor [2nd from L] with Ken Youngers [L] and Jeff Haertl [R] at the 2017 Macon Labor Day Race [Photo posted on FB by M. Taylor]

Earlier this summer, Cary appeared to run about half a minute slower than last year. But that difference can be illusory as conditions vary from year to year. Others who can contend include teammates, Mo Bartley and Jill Miller-Robinett of the Impala Racing team.  Miller-Robinett finished 3rd last year in 21:53; Bartley, who did not compete last year, has generally been about 30 seconds faster than Miller-Robinett in races of 8K to 10K Cynthia Williams and Margaret Taylor were 4h and 5th last year in 22:48 and 23:01 but Taylor has had the edge over her teammate this year at the 8K and 10K Championships. Taylor just ran a 22:24 at the Macon Labor Day 5k. But they will need their best race of the year to break onto the podium.

Nora Cary          Patrice Combs          Mo Bartley

65-69 Women  This one is easy to pick based on current entrants. Sabra Harvey, current World Record holder of track records for the 800 and 1500 meters, has won every road race she has entered this year. It could get interesting though if Kathy Martin, who has faster times this year at races 10K and up and who set the American 5K record here last year, would enter. Edie Stevenson who ran faster than the listed American 10 Mile record at the Cherry Blossom race this spring, should be the fastest of the rest. She finished second to Martin last year in 21:56. She has been running even stronger this year with a 21:39 at Freihofers in June and a 21:36 in August. 

Edie Stevenson on her way to a 2nd place finish in Women's 65-69 at the 2017 USATF Masters 10K Championship at the James Joyce Ramble

 Coreen Steinbach, Nonie Hudnall and Jo Anne Rowland finished within 27 seconds of one anther last year in 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Steinbach appears to be on pace to match last year’s effort as she ran a 23:57 5K in July. Hudnall’s 5K’s have been a bit slower, in the 24:12 to 25 minute range but, of course, different courses can be more and less challenging. Rowland was out of action for a few months so may not be quite at the fitness level she had last year. Cindy Ingalls might be in the mix; on the comeback trail in the spring, and trying to regain her sub-23 5K fitness, I looked for significant improvement over the summer. But I cannot find any race results for her.

Sabra Harvey          Edie Stevenson          Coreen Steinbach

Men  This division looks to be a repeat of earlier Championships. Tom Bernhard, Peter Mullin, Doug Bell and Kirk Larson have been coming in 1-2-3-4 all year. Will someone upset the apple cart this time? Last year Bernhard broke the American record for men 65-69 with a 17:32 [17:31 net]. He has not reached that level of fitness this year; he was a minute slower at the Morgan Hill 5K this summer compared to 2016. Still, he had not trouble coming in first at the 1 Mile Championship in Flint Michigan about 8 seconds ahead of Mullin. Mullin finished 2nd last year in 18:14 with a 17 second gap on Bell, who had almost a minute on Larson.  

Tom Bernhard headed to victory in Men's 65-69 at the 2017 USATF 10K Masters Championship at the James Joyce Ramble

 Cross Country Ace, Chuck Smead, Bell’s Boulder Road Runners teammate, could make things interesting but his chances for the podium are slim with Bernhard, Mullin and Bell in the race.

Tom Bernhard          Peter Mullin          Doug Bell

70-74 Men  This is my division. Even though I have finished 1st or 2nd in every race entered this year, from 1 Mile up to the Half Marathon, I will be pressed to make the podium. Jim May, who won the 8K, Tony Gingello, who took Gold at the 10K, and Harold Nolan, who won the 1 mile championship last month, are all entered. On top of that, Dave Glass, who finished 2nd in this race last year in 20:16, has recovered from a spring injury and is running about as fast as he did last summer in the run up to Syracuse. He ran the Silk and Satins 5K in 21:04 this July; last year it was 21:29. And that’s only the competition among those already entered. Bill Dixon aged up from 65-69 this year. He does not run this race every year but when he does, he typically enters this race in the last few days before the race. If he would show up, Dixon would be a heavy favorite; he has an 18:50 5K and a 33:30 Five miler to his credit this year. Last year Przemek Nowicki and I finished in 4th and 5th behind May in 21:37 and 21:38. This year Nowicki is on the comeback trail and will be pressed to run under 22. I am essentially fully recovered but my fitness is not where it was a few years back. I hope to break 21 this year but 20:30 may be a bridge too far. May sustained a cross country skiing injury in late March; he ran a game 10K in the Championship at Dedham but had to struggle across the finish line. He has no race results since then so I suspect he will just be running to help his team out.  Nolan is a middle distance specialist but he ran 21:43 at the Asbury Park 5K, a race he ran in 23:21 last year. He may be primed to make a run at a 21:00. Gingello’s 10K’s are a bit off where he was in the spring and his 5K’s are about a minute slower than they need to be to make the podium. But he showed in Dedham what a fierce competitor he is! I’ll make Glass the favorite, Gingello 2nd and me third but it will b e a killer of a race, no doubt. [I can’t pick Bill Dixon unless he enters.] 

Dave Glass claims the Silver Medal in Men's 70-74 at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championship in Syracuse NY

And now Jan Frisby,who has been waiting in the wings for the last year or so, will turn up having lost that extra weight that he says has been slowing him down, and may make us all look slow.
Dave Glass          Tony Gingello          Paul Carlin  

Women  Two athletes are entered in this division, the American record holder, Jan Holmquist and Dianne Anderson. Needless to say, event though she is the defending champion,  Anderson will be happy to compete for her team and enjoy the race. Holmquist is gradually returning to the form she enjoyed in 2015 when she last broke the women’s 70-74 record, but she is still probably the better part of a minute away. She ran the Beach to Beacon 10K this summer about a minute slower than in 2015, but a 48:23 10K is nothing to sneeze at.

Jan Holmquist          Dianne Anderson

75-79 Women    There are three entrants at the moment, Madeline Bost, Christa Maier, and Fran Rowe, who appear to be pretty well matched.  Two years ago, Bost had the edge, winning in 34:21; Rowe finished 3rd in 36:05. But Bost was not able to compete in 2016 and Rowe took 2nd in 35:54. Furthermore, Rowe ran 37:52 in the Tops Run for Roswell in late August, and that is over a minute faster than she ran the race in 2016. 

Fran Rowe (L) just edges Estelle Hahn (R) for 2nd place in Women's 75-79 at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championship in Syracuse NY

Bost ran 37:40 at a Labor Day 5K but just a month earlier ran 38:40 and 39:46. Maier’s 5K times have been in line with Bost’s slower two times and those are about a minute slower than she ran in 2016.

Fran Rowe          Madeline Bost          Christa Maier

Men    Doug Goodhue, the Silver Bullet from the Ann Arbor Track Club, is back from injury. At the 1 Mile Championship in Flint Michigan, he showed that he has regained much of his speed. He took the Age Division Gold Medal in 6:17. Equally important, he showed the next morning in the Crim 10 Miler, that he also has regained much of his endurance base. He won his age division  there in 1:13:41! Goodhue should crack 21 at Syracuse. No one else in the division can approach those times. George Tooker won the division last year in 25:13, with Tony Fiori second in 26:14. William Ash, Fiory’s Clifton Roadrunners teammate, clocked 25:39 in the 70-74 division. But Fiory beat him handily in the 8K Masters Championship this March
Doug Goodhue heading to the tape to win Men's 70-74 Gold in 20:07 at the 2015 USATF Masters 5K Championship at the Syracuse Festival of Races

Doug Goodhue          George Tooker          Tony Fiori

80-84 Men  Wade Stockman is the defending champion; he won last year in 31:16. It appears that Jim Askew has the edge this year. Fresh off his win at the 1 Mile Road Championship, Askew also has a 28:51 5K to his credit from this June. 

Jim Askew captures the Gold Medal in Men's 80-84 at the 2017 USATF Masters Road Mile Championship

 Stockman is the clear favorite for 2nd place although his 5K time this summer suggests he may be a bit slower than last year. Steven Fuchs and Sam Graceffo appear to be pretty evenly matched. The one who has the better Race Day should get the final podium position. Both have run their 5K’s in the 37 to 38 minute range this year. Fuchs also ran a sub-48 minute four miler in August, which age-grading suggests is roughly equivalent to a 36:03 5K. Based on that, I will give Fuchs the edge for the bronze medal.

Jim Askew          Wade Stockman          Steven Fuchs

Women  Tami Graf and Edna Hyer will renew their friendly rivalry in this division. Graf took 2nd in 35:02 last year, behind record-breaking Libby James. James is ill unfortunately and will not make the race this year. That makes Graf the favorite. Hyer took 4th place in 39:37. Their races this summer suggest they are both in about the same fitness they enjoyed last year.

Tami Graf          Edna Hyer

85-89 Women Anny Stockman who moved up in age divisions after finishing 3rd in 80-84 last year with a 38:13 clocking, is unopposed. 
Anny Stockman running in the Mohawk River Valley [Photo Credit:]

The only suspense at this point is whether she can break the American record for the division.

Anny Stockman

Men  David Rider bested two rivals last year to take the Gold Medal in 35:32. Unless a challenger or two shows up in the next week, he will defend his championship with ease. He ran a 37:06 5K in April; replicating that would be more than sufficient.

David Rider

95-99 Men  This is the first time in my memory of the 5K Masters Championship that we have had an entrant in this division. Roy Englert of the Potomac Valley Association ran a 43:34 in the Senior Games 5K in Birmingham AL this June.   
Roy Englert poses with some of his many medals for a NY Times story when he was 91 [Photo:]

If he can approach that time again, not only will he win the Gold Medal, he will break the American Record.

As always any predictions are offered in a spirit of fun, understanding that fitness on Race Day is variable and cannot be known in advance.  Have a great run everyone!

Next-Preview No. 3 is the Records Watch!

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