Monday, October 23, 2017

USATF 5km Masters Cross Country Championship--Recap No. 2--Age Divisions

October 20 2018. As noted before, Sunday, October 15th found well over 300 of the fastest Masters Cross Country runners in the country gathered to race over Franklin Park's 5 km Cross Country course in Boston, Massachusetts. The previous post highlighted the individual competition in the overall race along two dimensions, first across the finish line, and relative performance by age/Age Grade score. Today we move inside the race to the races within races, the individual age division contests where competition  and camaraderie are mixed up into a fabulous melange. We are pulling for our friends to overcome injuries and years to run really well but each of us hopes to run just a little faster than they do. As noted earlier, it was a great day for a cross country race, with moderate temperatures, no precipitation, and pretty good footing. It was a little windier and muggier than some would have liked.

Women 40-44.  The recap for this division is a reprise of the Overall contest as the top 3 runners overall came from this division: Ginger Reiner, Renee Tolan, and Janet McDevitt. The lead pack of those 3 held together into the forested section when Reiner began to pull away for good.
Ginger Reiner starts to pull away from McDevitt in the forest and builds her lead the rest of the way to the finish at the 2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston [Photo posted by USATF-New England, on their usatf-ne facebook page]

By the finish line, Reiner had a victory margin of 18n seconds. McDevitt had opened a gap on Tolan in the wooded portion that covered mile 2 to about 2.5 miles.
 Ginger Reiner is the first runner across the line overall in the Women's 40-59 Race and finishes first in the Women's 40-44 Division at the 2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston

But Tolan surged once they came out into the open fields again, caught McDevitt at the horseshoe bend and then kicked past her to take second with a 4 second margin. Kathy Wiegand ran a strong race, and needed to, as she found herself running alone for much of the race, back from the lead group but ahead of the main chase group, consisting of Alice Kassens, Wakenda Tyler, and Trish Butler. By the time they were into the forested section, Kassens had left Tyler and Butler behind and was closing in on Wiegand. Wiegand hung tough however and eked out a 2 second victory as Kassens almost caught her at the finish. Tyler finished 14 seconds back in 6th.

Men 40-44. This is a replay of the overall recap with the exception of the trio of 50+ runners who made a run for the overall championship. David Angell took it out hard from the start but Aaron Price soon caught up with him and shadowed him through the early and middle portions of the race. Ryan Carrara and Ethan Nedeau were part of the main chase pack, with Carrara generally toward the front. Once they hit the forested section, Price started dictating the pace, as Angell was trying desperately to hold on, paying the price for his aggressive first two kilometers.
Aaron Price starting to pull away from David Angell in the wooded portion of the course at the 2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston

By the time they got to the open field again it was all over and the only questions were how big a gap there would be between Price and Angell, and whether any of the chase pack could finish fast enough to close on Angell. In the end Price had a 14 second victory over Angell.
Aaron Price is the first runner across the line overall in the Men's 40-59 Race and finishes first in the Men's 40-44 Division at the 2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston

No one caught Angell and in fact within the division, no one was close. Carrara also paid the price for his leading the chase pack when Nedeau made his move as they came out of the wooded section and was able to close on Carrara, pass him, and enjoy a 4 second gap at the finish line. Alan Black also closed strongly, but missed catching Carrara by 4 seconds, as he took 5th place.

Aaron Price 16:15          David Angell 16:29          Ethan Nedeau 16:54

Women 45-49. Kara Parker was expected to contest for the overall win so that made her the favorite for this group which had no other such contenders. Kristin White got the nod for 2nd favorite based on her 4th place finish at the 5K Masters Championships in Syracuse in 19:49. It appeared that Dana Parrot had performed well at the Greater Boston Cross Country Championships. Ruthie Ireland and Heather Welch were touted as those most likely to make a run if any of the first three ran into any difficulty. Parker was part of the 5-runner lead pack for the overall race over most of the course.
Kara Parker (#4272) running with the lead pack of Ginger Reiner (#4111), Renee Tolan (#4007), and Janet McDevitt midway at the 2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston

That gave her a substantial lead over the second place runner by the time she entered the wooded portion and she took the win with over a minute to spare. White was among the leaders of a 2nd chase pack in the overall race and had a substantial lead over Parrot who took a more conservative approach and found herself back in a third chase group. Despite her best efforts, Parrot was never able to gain any on White who finished a minute ahead in second. But Parrot's steady approach gave her third place in the division with a half minute to spare. Her teammate, Dawn Roberts, came in 4th, with Susannah Landreth in 5th and Ireland 6th.

Kara Parker 19:14          Kristin White 20:19          Dana Parrot 21:23

Men 45-49. Based on performances at national road championships this year, I had Jonathan Frieder, Greg Putnam, and Derrick Jones 1-2-3 with Jonathan's brother, Elliott, and Brent Fields having a chance for the podium if any of the top 3 faltered. When the gun sounded, Jones went off with Angel and Price, sharing the lead for the first 400 meters or so, but he dropped back soon after that and Jonathan Frieder closed the gap, and passed Jones, with quite an early gap back to Putnam and E. Frieder, with  Fields not far back from them.
Jonathan Frieder [#4340]  contending for a top 5 finish overall, just ahead of the Ethan Nedeau/Peter Hammer chase pack-mid-race at the 2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston

Putnam was able to move up during the course of the race. J. Frieder paid a price for his early aggressiveness in attaching the course. By the middle of the forested section Putnam had J. Frieder in his sights but Frieder was focused on trying to catch Ryan Carrara, in a similar position. He did not quite catch Carrara. but in the process, kept Putnam at bay. The gap at the finish line from Frieder to Putnam was 6 seconds. Fields also gradually closed the gap on Jones but could not catch him. Jones took 3rd with 5 seconds to spare. Joe Shairs was 9 seconds back, followed by E. Frieder who, after his conservative approach in the middle had a strong surge through the wooded portion and out onto the open field, charging to take 6th by a single second from Conrad Orloff.

Jonathan Frieder 17:01          Greg Putnam 17:07          Derrick Jones 17:16 

Women 50-54. I had the division going to Marisa Sutera Strange with a solid winning margin, and Mimi Fallon and Karyl Sargent fighting it out for 2nd and 3rd. I gave Fallon the edge based on a strong showing at the 10K Masters Championships in Dedham at the end of April. It appeared that Michelle Allen might have a chance at the podium if any of the top favorites had an off day. Ordinarily Kathleen Hayden would have been in that category as well but she has been struggling this year. Strange took it out hard, staying with the leaders through the middle of the race and only losing contact in the forested section.
Marisa Sutera Strange, fighting hard to maintain contact with the overall leaders while building a large lead in the Women's 50-54 division contest at the 2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston

Fallon also went out relatively hard, staying with Strange for the first part of the race, giving ground as the race went on, but building a sizable lead over Sargent, with Jennifer Hegarty, followed by Allen, with Julie Pangburn a few strides back.  Strange took the division by nearly a minute and a half as Fallon paid the price for her more aggressive approach to the race. Sargent passed her in the last wooded portion of the course and pulled away for a 13 second margin at the finish line.  Despite finishing just off the podium, Pangburn and Hegarty had a fine battle down to the wire with Hegarty nailing 4th by a single second over Pangburn. Allen came in 6th a dozen seconds back.

Marisa Sutera Strange 19:24          Karyl Sargent 20:51          Mimi Fallon 21:04

Men 50-54. I had Peter Hammer, Andy Gardiner, and Kent Lemme contesting for the podium and allowed that Mike Nier  and Charles Novak might work their way onto the podium if anyone faltered. What i had not realized is that Andy Gardiner, although close to citizenship is currently a Green Card holder and is therefore not eligible for prizes or awards at USATF national championships. That left one step on the podium open but I was wrong about who would step up. As the description of the Overall Results made clear, Hammer, Gardiner and Lemme formed the main chase pack behind the overall leaders, along with Ryan Carrara and Ethan Nedeau and it was not until late in the race that they sorted themselves out with Hammer finishing 3 seconds ahead of Lemme and Lemme 4 ahead of Gardiner. Michael Dolan also ran tight with that chase pack until well into the wooded section when he fell back slightly.

Peter Hammer (#4058), Kent Lemme (#4221), and Michael Dolan (mostly obscured with head just visible behind Lemme)  formed part of the main overall chase group; Andy Gardiner is about 10 years ahead out of picture but all award-eligible 50-54 runners were behind at this stage--at the 2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston

Novak did a good job of keeping Dolan in sight for much of the race, but Dolan pulled away and eventually established nearly a half minute gap back to Novak, who claimed 4th.

Peter Hammer 16:44          Kent Lemme 16:47          Michael Dolan 17: 04

Women 55-59. I made Trish Butler the favorite for her new division to help celebrate her 55th birthday the day before the race. Butler should get stronger as she continues her recovery from an injury that kept her away from competition for  the first half of the year. Based on performances at National Championships I figured Lorraine Jasper would be a likely 2nd place finisher, with Susan 'Lynn' Cooke perhaps closing out the podium. I then had Margaret Sloan and Amanda King as outsiders with a chance to break onto the division podium. But Charlotte Rizzo of the Westchester Track Club had her sights on a podium finish and Connecticut's Linda Begley looked to contend as well. Butler went out with the leaders but eventually let them go as she settled in with Alice Kassens and Wakenda Tyler to form a 2nd chase pack behind Atlanta's Kathy Wiegand.
Trish Butler (middle) between Alice Kassens (L) and Wakenda Tyler (R) in the chase pack behind the overall leqaders; Butler won the Women's 55-59 division by almost a minute at the 2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston.

Rizzo maintained contact with Butler as long as she could and then maintained visual connection through the middle of the race. Once they got into the woods, the gap lengthened and Butler eventually took first in the division with almost a minute to spare. Jasper had kept mor ein reserve, trailing Rizzo through the first two miles but then had a strong finishing kick that brought her almost all the wya up to Rizzo. In the end Rizzo had a two second margin over Jasper.
Women's 50-54 Chase Pack, Linda Begley (#4325), Amanda King (#4248) and Susan 'Lynn' Cooke (#4261), with Cooke's teammate, Shelly Allen, to her left; all 3 runners toughed it out and the final order at the finish was as pictured--at the 2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston.

With her strong surge to the finish, Jasper put a half minute gap on the divisional chase pack of Begley, King, Cooke, and Sloan, who finished in that order.

Trish Butler 20:23          Charlotte Rizzo  21:17          Lorraine Jasper 21:19

Men 55-59. I had Nat Larson, who recently broke the American record for the Road 5K as the strong favorite. I thought Gary Leaman who was not too far back at the 5K in Syracuse and John Sullivan, who came in ahead of Mark Reeder would be the chief threats for the other podium positions. Unfortunately I was unaware of two strong Maine runners from the Dirigo ('I Lead') Running Club, Pete Bottomley and  Todd Coffin. Larson went out with the chase pack just behind the overall leaders and was never headed by any age division rivals.
Nat Larson (#4220) chasing Etan Nedeau and leading Alan Black and Kent Lemme up the first rise on his way to a commanding victory in the Men's 55-59 division at the 2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston. [Photo posted by USATF-New England, on their usatf-ne facebook page]

Larson is red hot these days; he won the division by 51 seconds. Coffin was able to stick with his teammate, Bottomley through the early stages but by the time they were mid-course, Bottomley had opend up  a gap which Coffin, despite hiw best efforts, could not close down. Bottomley took 2nd place by 18 seconds. But Coffin kept Sullivan at bay with his final margin over Bottomley equaling the gap Bottomley had on him. Reeder is still not back to the fitness he had a couple of years ago when he and Brian Pilcher contested this age group at the 10K Championship on the roads of Dedham MA. Still he was only 9 seconds behing Sullivan; Leaman came in 3 seconds later.

Nat Larson 16:56          Pete Bottomley  17:47          Todd Coffin 18:05

Women 60-64. I thought the Impala leaders, Mo Bartley and Jill Miller-Robinett, would take 1-2 if Atlanta's Mary Richards did not break them up. But I was not familiar with New York's Suzanne Myette who had a different idea about the outcome. Had I looked back to the National Club Cross Country results from 2014 in Bethlehem PA, I would have seen that she finished a few seconds ahead of Nora Cary; that would have tipped me off to her competitiveness for the podium. In any case, Bartley mnoved off smartly at the gun but Myette found her and stayed with her throughout the early and middle portions of the race.
Mo Bartley (R) enjoys a step on her Women's 60-64 rival, Suzanne Myette. Bartley eventually pulled away for the Division victory at the 2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston.

Eventually Bartley's strength showed as she gradually pulled away in the wooded section and won the race by 19 seconds. Miller-Robinett was not able to stay with them for long but did build up a lead on all others. By the middle of  the race, Miller-Robinett appeared to be experiencing some pain, and  Claire McManus of the Greater Boston Track Club was able to close much of the gap. Miller-Robinett gritted her teeth however and managed to hold onto a 9 second margin to hold onto 3rd place. Richards was 17 seconds behind McManus in 5th.

Mo Bartley 22:49          Suzanne Myette 23:08          Jill Miller-Robinett 24:02

Men 60-64. I picked John Barbour, the splendid Cross Country Runner for Greater Lowell, to add this to his collection of trophies, as I poicked him to win the Men's 60+ race overall. After that it appeared likely that Youngers and Ryan would repeat their finish at Syracuse where Youngers prevailed by 16 seconds. I also gave Reno Stirrat a chance of upsetting someone's apple cart. Youngers and Ryan were able to stay with Barbour for the early part of the race, with Stirrat and Bob Reynolds forming a chase pack ready to pounce if any of the leaders faltered. Barbour was too strong for the other two and soon left the lead pack and gradually widened his lead in the middle of the race.

Men's 60-64 lead pack, with John Barbour, Tom Ryan, and Ken Youngers (L to R), heading for 1st, 3rd, and 2nd respectively at the 2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston.
John Barbour 18:30          Ken Youngers 19:17          Tom Ryan 19:42

Women 65-69. This division looked like a pretty safe win for the Impala's  Jo Anne Rowland until many time Cross Country Runner of the Year, Kathy Martin, signed up on site. Martin, as has been true so often in the past, had no trouble winning the race and had a final margin of well over 4 minutes.
Kathy Martin strides toward victory at the 2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston.

Rowland ran her usual fine race but had no chance against Martin. Rowland did forge a two and a half minute margin over the third place finisher, GVH's Jeanne Herrick.

Kathy Martin 21:23          Jo Anne Rowland 26:08          Jeanne Herrick 28:39

Men 65-69. This has been an easy division to predict in most championships this year--Tom Bernhard, Peter Mullin, and Doug Bell, in that order, often followed closely by Kirk Larson and Jerry Learned. But the big 3 were steering clear of this XC race. Bernhard and Mullin have their sites on Tulsa and the 15K as the race to finish off their Grand Prix drive for first and second respectively. Bell wants to help his Boulder Road Runners team to the Club Grand Prix victory and figures he can do that best at Lexington KY in the Club XC contest.So this looked like a race where Larson and Learned should do well. But the favorite for the win was Bob McCusker. McCusker rarely runs in USATF events but he happened to be entered in the Syracuse Festival of Races even though he did not enter the Championship. His 19:23 there made it clear he is a serious runner. I tabbed James Wilson as an outside threat, based on a 1:36 Half Marathon. Either that was an off day or he is much better at shorter distances. McCusker, Larson and Learned did not disappoint. The surprise was that Wilson was able to come between McCusker and Larson. McCusker got out in front and eventually opened up a gap to Wilson and Larson, with Learned not far back.
Bob McCusker ahead of the chase pack oin the Men's 65-69 division, on his way to victory at the 2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston.

Larson was able to stay close to Wilson for much of the race but was never able to close and pass. In the end it was McCusker by a half minute over Wilson, who had a mere 7 seconds over Larson. Learned was 50 seconds back but had a healthy 13 second gap over Hank Schiffman, the 5th place finisher.

Bob McCusker 20:33          James Wilsoni 21:03          Kirk Larson 21:10

Women 70-74. The favorite, Jan Holmquist, did not run after all.  Dianne Anderson ran her usual strong race and took first by a minute and a half over Judith Tripp, as she collected her third age division national championship this year..
Dianne Anderson, with a comfortable lead and no need for sunglasses after all, en route to a Gold Medal in the Women's 70-74 Division at the 2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston.

Knowing that Tripp was coming, no doubt helped Anderson keep to a good pace.

Dianne Anderson 30:29          Judith Tripp 32:03

Men 70-74. Dave Glass and Tony Gingello renewed their rivalry. At the 10K in Dedham, Glass was coming out of rehab and Gingello won the race. At Syracuse, Glass had the edge, winning by 6 seconds over Gingello. I thought that Gen French would be the one pushing the pace from behind as he had finished 3rd at the 8K and the Half Marathon. I figured Peter Davis, who finished a half minute back from Gingello, in 4th at Syracuse, should figure in as well.  Glass reported that his plan was to go out fast and strong and, as a result, for a few seconds, was among the leaders of the 60+ race. By the time they got past the soccer field and onto the path he was well back of the faster 60+ runners but ahead of all of the 70+ runners by a fair margin.
Dave Glass, in with the M60+ runners on his way to an M70-74 victory at the  2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston

Tony Gingello [#4145}, trying to close on Glass, the leader, with Gene French (background, blue kit) trying to keep pace with Gingello at the 2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston

By the time they crested Bear Cage Hill and were headed back down, Gingello started to gain on Glass and apparently 'had him in his sights." But Glass started running more freely once he entered the wooded portion and Gingello was unable to close on him. At the finish line, Glass had a 45 second lead on Gingello, and his second consecutive national championship. Those two were away from a 4-runner pack. A half minute after Gingello crossed the finish line, four athletes finished within 5 seconds of one another--Now that's competition. French had tried to stay with Gingello over the first half of the race; as a result he had a good lead but had expended a lot of energy. Nonetheless he toughed it out and held it together as the others chased him down. French took the bronze medal, finishing just 1 second ahead of Bill Reilly, who finished 2 seconds ahead of Davis and 4 seconds ahead of Thomas Jennings. Not only that, but Rick Bayko was also within striking distance, 6 seconds back from Jennings.

Dave Glass 21:53          Tony Gingello 22:38          Gene French 23:12

Women 75-79. Unlike the 5K in Syracuse where she had a number of competitors to defeat before getting her gold medal, Madeline Bost just had to worry about running the course and finishing.
Madeline Bost, headed for victory in the Women's 80-84 Division at the 2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston.

Unopposed, she strided up Bear Cage Hill and through the forest without much worry, and to the finish line, capturing her second consecutive Age Division gold medal and her third podium finish this year.

Madeline Bost 40:06

Men 75-79. The 3rd and 4th place finishers at the 5K road race Championship in Syracuse were Charlie Patterson and George Tooker, who finished only 3 seconds apart. It did not appear that the pair who ran the CVS Downtown 5K would be able to run with those two but they also were pretty close on the roads with Michael Pelletier edging Robert Sullivan by 10 seconds.Patterson was able to stay tight on Tooker for much of the race but in the end Tooker was able to gradually pull away and take the win by a solid 17 second margin.
George Tooker (#4267), the eventual Men's 75-79 Division winner, with a step on Charlie Patterson (#4029) in the middle of the race at the 2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston.

Patterson had no trouble keeping Pelletier at bay, finishing almost a minute ahead. It was not Sullivan's day as he wound up over a minute back from Pelletier this time.

George Tooker 27:12          Charlie Patterson 27:29          Michael Pelletier 28:26

Women 80-84. Mary Harada was the sole entrant; she apparently scared away the competition. At age 82, she was the oldest finisher of the day in the women's race, winning in the almost un-achievable time of 44:44. Not only the oldest winner but the only racer to score the same digit in each place!

Mary Harrada 44:44

Men 80-84. There were twice as many men entered in this age group and somewhat to my surprise, Jim Askew had no trouble garnering another Age Division Gold Medal. Inocencio Cantu ran 26:08 at the BAA 5K on Marathon Weekend in April which compares favorably to Askew's winning time at the 5K Masters Championship in Syracuse of 28:00 (chip). But I did not know anything about Cantu's current fitness; there were no recent race results for him. Whether because of Cantu's fitness having suffered in the intervening months or because Askew is relatively better on the turf or just the luck of the day.
Jim Askew [hat] on his way to victory in the Men's 80-84 Division at the 2017 USATF Masters 5km Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston.

Askew won the race handily, taking first by 2 minutes, a solid victory to say the least and Askew's third age division crown in a row, in Flint for the 1 Mile, in Syracuse for the 5K, and in Boston for the 5 km XC!

Jim Askew 29:05          Inocencio Cantu 31:05

Hats off to all of the competitors at the 5km Masters Cross Country Championships! Most of the fields were deep and the competition spirited.

Thanks to Michael Scott for making his excellent photos available to us all via his Facebook page, and to the USATF-New England staff for posting photos on their Facebook page. Mike's photos have his watermark on them; all other photos are posted by usatf-ne.

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