Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Preview 3—Records Watch at the USATF Masters 5K Championships


Each year we approach the USATF Masters 5K Championship at the Syracuse Festival of Races SFoR)  with the expectation that records will be set. Sometimes they are American Age Division Records, occasionally world bests and, if all else fails, Dave Oja tracks single age records for the SFoR. See his list for

You may find that you have a shot at one of the single age course records even if you are not expecting to break the American Record. But these are anything but soft--you will have to run fast!

US Age Division Records

2016  Last year four American records were set. Kathy Martin broke the Women’s 65-69 record of 20:27 set two years earlier by Sabra Harvey;  Martin ran 19:57 and became the first 65 year old (or older) woman in the world to break 20:00 on a record-eligible course. It was also a World’s Best.  Libby James smashed the American record for women 80-84 by over 5 minutes with a 25:11. Anne Clark’s record of 30:20 had stood for 26 years. James’s record also lowered the World’s Best by over 3 minutes. Brian Pilcher, using the 5K as a tune-up for his Marathon Record attempt the following weekend in Chicago, broke Tom McCormack’s 16:58 from 2014 with a snazzy 16:38. Martin Rees of Wales and Michael Hager of England are the only two athletes ahead of Pilcher on the World’s Best list. Finally Tom Bernhard took down the Men’s 65-69 record with a dazzling 17:31, the first 5K under 18:00 by an American man in this age group; only the legendary late Ed Whitlock, of Toronto, has run faster at this age.

 Men 45-49  Kevin Castille The listed American Record is 14:45, set by Dennis Simonaitis in 2010 at the Carlsbad 5000. Castille won this race last year in 14:46, so he needs to find another second to get the record. But Castile is running faster this year; in 2016 he was coming off a period from November 2015 through the early part of 2016 when he had significant injuries. This year he has already taken down Bill Rodgers’s 15K American record, with a 46:10 at the Utica Boilermaker. He has also run faster than the 10K American record but not yet on a record eligible course. Likely
Kevin Castille crosses the finish line in 14:46 to win the Masters Overall title at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championships

Men 55-59  Nat Larson? [Not registered yet, but anticipated.] The listed American record is 16:07, which is shared by Vic Heckler, set in Park Ridge IL in 1997 and Brian Pilcher, set in Los Angeles CA in May 2013. Larson just broke the current record at the USATF-NE 5K Championship at the CVS Downtown 5K in Providence RI on September 17th. He ran 15:54. According to Dave Oja, Race Director at the Syracuse Festival of Races, “Numerous direct comparisons of the performances that athletes (men and women, open and masters) have at Downtown Providence and then at the Festival two weeks later show they are reliably faster at the Festival.  On a comparable weather day, I predict that Nat would run 8 to 10 seconds faster on the SFoR course.” Likely

Nat Larson (L) pushing the pace as one of the Open Runners Tries to Create a Gap at the USATF-NE 5K Road Championship at the CVS Downtown 5K [photo courtesy of usatf-ne FB post at:https://www.facebook.com/pg/usatfNE/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10155166028923208]

Apropos of which, the forecast currently calls for a possibility of light showers on Friday but no rain on either Saturday or Sunday. Forecasted Race Time temperatures for Sundayare around 50 degrees, with sunny skies and 2-3 mph winds—sounds almost perfect!

Men 60-64  Brian Pilcher. Pilcher sustained a stress fracture earlier this year and lost several months of training. He resumed recently but has not had enough time to regain the fitness needed for a shot at the record. Unlikely [Hot off the presses! Pilcher will, unfortunately, be unable to race on Saturday due to a hamstring issue which has cropped up in his training.]

Men 65-69  Tom Bernhard. Bernhard had a meniscus issue that required surgery in December. Between the recovery from surgery and a subsequent trip to Japan, Bernhard’s training early in 2017 suffered. As a result, although still able to win his Age Division races by a pretty wide margin, he has not yet regained his 2016 fitness, and should have difficulty threatening his own record. Unlikely
Tom Bernhard approaches the finish line and a new American Men's 65-69 5K Record at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K Championships Hosted by the Syracuse Festival of Races

Men 95-99  Roy EnglertThe  listed American record is 48:55 set in Stillwell OK in May, 1995 by Marion McAnelly. In November 2016, Robert McAdam, ran 48:20 at Highlands Ranch Colorado. That record is listed as pending meaning that the record is not yet certified. It is rare for a record to go unratified for a year and then eventually be moved from the ‘pending’ category. Englert ran 43:34 in the 5K associated with the Senior Games in Birmingham AL in June, when he was 94. That suggests he has a pretty good cushion to work with even if McAdam's time is certified as the record. But records are never a sure thing; they are always earned! Likely
Roy Englert posing with his many medals and in his USATF National Championship T-shirt for a NY Times article when he was 91 [Photo: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/24/sports/24macur.html]

Women 65-69 Kathy Martin? Sabra Harvey.  [Martin is not yet entered but Harvey is.] As mentioned above, Martin is the current record holder at 19:57. But Harvey had lowered the record to 20:27 two years earlier. Since then Harvey has emerged as the only woman to beat Martin on the track at 800 and 1500 meters, setting World Records in the process. Martin has since regained the 1500 meter mark with a 5:25.65 at the North American/Central American, and Caribbean Games in Toronto this August. Harvey is the current American 10K record holder for the Age Division at 42:37, set in 2014 at the USATF 10K Championship at the James Joyce Ramble. Earlier this year she bettered that record by running 42:05 at this year’s edition of the 10K Championship. But that is overshadowed by Martin’s  41:57 run in New York at the beginning of April; that record is currently listed as ‘pending.’ Martin also lowered the records for 15K, 20K, and 25K in March of this year, pending ratification. It would be quite a race between two terrific champions and record-busters should both Martin and Harvey be in Syracuse on Race Day. Possible
Kathy Martin setting the Women's 65-69 American Record at the 2016 USATF 5K Championships Hosted by the Syracuse Festival of Races [Photo by Bob Brock, rhbrockj11@me.com] 
'Game Face' On!-Sabra Harvey Before the 2017 USATF Road Mile Championship at the HAP Crim Michigan Mile

Women 70-74 Jan Holmquist. Holmquist set the record of 22:16 here in 2014 and then came back the next year and lowered that by two seconds. Last year she had to withdraw due to injury. She is largely recovered, but her fitness is returning apace. At Dedham in late April, her winning 10K time was a minute faster than her time in 2016 but 2.5 minutes slower than in 2015. At the Beach to Beacon 10K in early August, she still ran a minute slower than she had in 2015. She will probably not be sharp enough by the beginning of October to challenge her own record. But with a seasoned competitor like Holmquist, you should never count her out. Unlikely
Jan Holmquist flying across the finish as she set the new Women's 70-74 American 5K Record at the 2015 USATF 5K Championships Hosted by the Syracuse Festival of Races [Photo by Bob Brock, rhbrockj11@me.com]

Women 80-84 Libby James. James will not be able to race in Syracuse this year. Not in the cards this year.

Women 85-89  Anny Stockman. Stockman aged up to the 85-89 division this year and looks ready to challenge for the record. The current record listed is 43:00 by Ruth Rothfarb at the 1989 edition of the Freihofer’s 5K for Women; there is a pending record of 41:26 by Margaret Lutz from May 2014 in Pittsburgh PA. Even if that should achieve ratification at this late date, Stockmann is likely to beat both times. Last year, at the age of 84, she ran 38:13. Stockman ran 40:50 at Freihofer’s this year, just before her 85th birthday. Although nothing is ever certain, Stockman seems like a pretty safe bet for the Record. Likely

Anny Stockman (R) sharing a good laugh with her running pal, Edna Hyer, after finishing the 2015 USATF Masters 5K Championship at the Syracuse Festival of Races

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