Monday, March 26, 2018

Fierce Competition at the USATF Masters 8K Road Championship

03/24/2018. VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA – Hosted by the Shamrock Marathon’s Towne Bank 8K, the Championship Race went off at 7:45 AM on St. Patrick’s Day.  Sunny skies and freezing temperatures, but little wind, greeted the USATF Masters 8K Championship athletes, perfect for some great competition!

Age Division Championships.

Heather Webster was focused on trying to win the Overall race and crossed the 2 mile mat in 12:33 with an 18 second lead on her closest 40-44 rival, Jessica Riggs.  Riggs, in turn, had at least half a minute over the rest of the field. Those two came in 1-2. Jeanette Boyd, Murphee Hayes, and Tammie Robie were locked in a battle for the final podium spot. Robie’s chip did not register at the 2 mile mat but Hayes crossed in 13:38, just 2 seconds ahead of Boyd. Boyd eventually got past Hayes and held a 6 second margin at the finish line, taking 4th in 34:41. Robie claimed the 3rd spot in 34:23.
Heather Webster 31:24     Jessica Riggs 32:41     Tammie Robie 34:23

David Angell and Giovanni Pipia crossed the 2 mile mark together in 10:14, with Mark Tompkins 2 seconds back and Sam Teigen another 8 seconds back, with over half a minute on the rest of the field. Angell held strong against Pipia, claiming the division win by 7 seconds. Pipia, in turn, had 19 seconds on Teigen who powered past Tompkins to claim the final division podium position with almost half a minute to spare.
David Angell 25:39     Giovanni Pipia 25:46     Sam Teigen 26:05

45-49 Michelle Brangan left little to chance in this group, starting out smartly and crossing the 2 mile mat in 12:45 with almost a minute lead on Melissa Senall. Christine Hill was closer to Senall, only 16 seconds back. All of those gaps grew as they raced up the Boardwalk and onto Atlantic Avenue. By the time they hit the finish line Brangan had first place with almost two minutes to spare and Senall had a comfortable 50 seconds on Hill.
Michelle Brangan 32:30     Melissa Senall 34:26     Christine Hill 35:16

Philippe Rolly was contesting the overall race and it left him in good shape for the division win. His 2 mile split of 10:15 gave him a ten second lead over Jonathan Frieder. Frieder, who has been running especially strong on the roads over the last year, had 11 seconds on Musa Gwanzura. Gwanzura, not currently a US Citizen, was running a strong race despite not being eligible for any awards. The desire to take place in a competitive race must have attracted him. That left Volker Burkowski, Brent Fields, and Keith Schumann in the hunt for 3rd place. Schumann crossed the 2 mile mat in 10:58 with a 15 second lead on Burkowski and Fields. But Burkowski and Fields had left more in the tank and were able to pass Schumann on the Boardwalk. Fields eventually pulled away from Burkowski and established a healthy gap which grew to over a half minute by the time he reached the finish line. Brad Slavens, who went down in a huge pileup just after the gun went off, lost some skin off his nose and bumped an elbow and a knee but finished 8th nonetheless.
Philippe Rolly 25:57     Jonathan Frieder26:09     Brent Fields 27:36

The top two runners in this division, Marisa Sutera Strange and Michelle Simonaitis, finished 1-2 overall so naturally they took 1-2 in the division as well. Although there were many strong runners in the division, Suzanne La Burt was the only one able to stay within two minutes of Simonaitis; that was good enough for the Bronze medal. Laura DeLea was 28 seconds behind La Burt at the 2 mile mark and only lost another 8 seconds the rest of the way. But her 34 second lead over Karyl Sargent at the 2 mile mark evaporated most of the way as Sargent came across the line in 5th only 5 seconds back.
Marisa Sutera Strange 30:40     Michelle Simonaitis 31:20     Suzanne La Burt 32:44

The Greater Springfield Harriers train was chugging in this division as Kent Lemme passed the 2 mile mark in 1st place at 10:38; his teammate, Mark Hixson was 12 seconds back in 2nd. It was over a half minute back to the foursome trying to keep pace. Dale Flanders was closest at 11:32. He had 9 seconds on Gregory Dawson, with Mario Zuniga and Thomas Schumann hot on his heels. Lemme, Hixson, and Flanders were all able to stretch the gap back to the closest follower, netting them 1st, 2nd, and 3rd respectively. In the battle for 4th place honors, Schumann was able to leave Zuniga behind and catch Dawson. Schumann had just enough to beat Dawson to the finish line with 2 seconds to spare!
Kent Lemme 26:43     Mark Hixson 27:08     Dale Flanders 28:51

Doreen McCoubrie was in contention for the Overall podium and she cracked the 2 mile mark in 12:33. It was over a minute before her teammate, Mary Swan crossed the mat and another 435 seconds before Karla Havens crossed the mat, a single second ahead of Kerry Monahan Gaughan. Gaughan was able to get past Havens but not by much, as in the end she took 3rd with a margin of only 4 seconds!
Doreen McCoubrie 31:39     Mary Swan 33:49     Kerry Monahan Gaughan 35:53

I heard that Nat Larson had tweaked his hamstring the week before and wondered if that would hamper him; if so, the answer is ‘not much!’ The Age-Grading winner and holder of the American 55-59 record for the 8K since last November, left little to chance. Running with his 50-54 teammate, Mark Hixson, Larson was able to build a 30 second lead over Gary Leaman and Tim Ensign who crossed the 2 mile mat within two seconds of each other. Derrick Staley was only 9 seconds back. Despite his best efforts, Staley could not close on that pair and had to settle for 4th. Leaman was able to pull away and stretch his margin over Ensign to 30 seconds by the end of the race. Larson won it by over a minute and a half.
Nat Larson 26:51     Gary Leaman 28:25     Tim Ensign 28:56

Jill Miller-Robinett  and Cathy Utzschneider went to different Cross Country Championships this past winter. Miller-Robinett got the division win at Club XC in Lexington and Cathy Utzschneider got the Cross Country win in Tallahassee. Who would rule the roads? Thw first 2 miles went to Utzschneider as she crossed the mat in 14:31 with a 13 second lead on Miller-Robinett. Despite her best efforts, Miller-Robinett saw Utzschneider pull gradually away as they raced up the Boardwalk. In the end the margin was over half a minute, with Miller-Robinett comfortably ahead of the third place finisher. Joanna Harper and Betsy Miller went across the 2 mile timing mat in tandem at 15:11. In the end, though, Miller was able to pull away from Harper to enjoy the bronze medal position with a 14 second margin. Cynthia Williams, who also went down in the mass pileup right after the gun went off, managed to finish 5th, running with a fractured elbow. That shows how tough she is!
Cathy Utzschneider 36:13     Jill Miller-Robinett 36:46     Betsy Miller 37:43

The Men’s 60-64 division was loaded and they did not disappoint, as the top 4 all cracked 29:00. Joe Sheeran took the XC crown at Lexington with a huge win. But Roger Sayre who was still in 55-59 at the time had a better age grade in the 10K race. Ken Youngers finished well back from Sheeran but he has been improving each race. The final piece of the puzzle was Hall-of-Famer, Brian Pilcher, who broke the 5KAmerican Record and has pending marks in distances form the Half Marathon to the Marathon in 2016, missed the rest of 2017 after coming within 5 seconds of the American 8K record here. But would he be ready to rock with this crew? As I observed in my preview, when Pilcher has come back from injuries, he has usually needed a race or two before he is back at his peak. Sheeran took it out hardest as he had done at Club XC; ‘take no prisoners’ seems to be Sheeran’s operational mode. Unlike at Club Xc though this time he had company just a few strides back. The digital clock flashed 11:18 when Sheeran flew past and it was only 11:22 when Sayre crossed the mat, with Pilcher and Youngers right on his heels! Up the Boardwalk they pelted with Sayre gradually reeling in and passing Sheeran. Pilcher and Youngers could not make the move with Sayre, concentrating on their own battle for the final podium spot. In the end Sayre took the win with 9 seconds on Sheeran who had 20 seconds on his pursuers. Sayre had to get within 3 seconds of the American Record to secure the win! Pilcher was able to pull away for a 5 second margin over Youngers—Some race!
Roger Sayre 28:12     Joe Sheeran 28:21     Brian Pilcher 28:40

65-69.  Now that Team Red Lizard is contesting the Grand Prix with the Impala Racing, GVH and others, this division is often one of the toughest. Jo Anne Rowland, of the Impalas, is still trying to get back to the fitness she enjoyed in 2016 when she ran 38:13 on a much tougher 8K course in Brea. Until then, the Red Lizard’s 1-2 punch of Suzanne Ray and Jeanette Groesz will be tough to beat. Ray went out fast, crossing the mat in 14:31 with a half minute lead on her teammate, Groesz. Rowland was the better part of a minute back with her teammate, Donna Chan, trying to keep pace 13 seconds back. The gaps all grew bigger as the runners sped up the Boardwalk, with Ray victorious in the end in 36:17. A minute later and Groesz was across the line in 2nd, with Rowland claiming the Bronze medal two minutes later, and Chan 16 seconds back.
Suzanne Ray 36:17     Jeanette Groesz 37:13     Jo Anne Rowland 39:31

Last year this division went off pretty much as expected with Tom Bernhard, Peter Mullin and Doug Bell going 1-2-3.  With Mullin absent this year, it looked like Bernhard and Bell should be 1-2 with a question mark over 3rd between Bell’s teammate, Chuck Smead, Syracuse’s James Foster, and Atlanta’s Kirk Larson. Larson has been running better than ever recently but Foster has had his number since Syracuse last fall. And Smead is always tough. I saw that Gene Dykes, the great marathoner, was in the field but figured he was just in for a little light speed work, as a tune-up for Boston. Hah! Shows what I know! But he lined up well back, apoarently, as he took 6 seconds to cross the start, reinforcing the idea that he was just in it for fun. Just like last year, Bernhard and Bell did not disappoint. Bernhard went off like a rocket, covering the first two miles in 12:07, with Bell only about 20 seconds back. Still, it looked like Bernhard was back close to the form he showed in late 2016 when he broke the Men’s 65-69 5K American Record. Things were quite a bit tighter the year before. Ten seconds behind Bell came his teammate, Smead, and, what’s this—Dykes—only 5 seconds behind Smead?! Ten seconds later Larson was across the mat with a ten second lead on his recent nemesis, Foster. No one was going to catch Bernhard today as he kicked up the Boardwalk a good bit faster than his 2017 pace. But it did not take long for Dykes to pass Smead and draw a bead on Bell. I am not sure where it took place but by the final margin I guess that Dykes passed Bell before turning back over to Atlantic Avenue. Bernhard zipped across the finish line almost half a minute faster than last year and with a comfortable lead over Dykes. Dykes. in turn, had a comfortable lead over Bell who kept his teammate, Smead, in the rearview mirror with nearly a 20 second gap. Larson outlasted Foster to take 5th but raced to within 3 seconds of Smead. We also welcomed back Terry McCluskey, who has been absent from the Championships for a few years after being one of the top guns 4 years ago. He turns 70 this summer and is gearing up for his new age group. His time, a tad slower than some might have expected, was due, in part, to a good deed I learned about after the race. A fallen runner (see next division) mentioned that Terry had taken time out of his own race to help him to the side of the race course where the thousands of runners coming in the mass participation race, would not trample him. Terry would not want me to mention this, but I will take a chance of getting on his ‘list’.
Tom Bernhard 30:12     Gene Dykes 30:54     Doug Bell 31:46

70-74. Last year Kathleen Jefferson took this division in a little under 46 minutes and Suzanne Gibson took well over an hour to finish. I am not sure what happened last year but Gibson was certainly determined to improve on her showing last year. She clocked 18:40 at the 2 mile mark with almost 30 seconds on Barbara Biasi who was in 2nd. Jefferson came across the mat 40 seconds later and it seemed she would not be enjoying as good a race as she had in 2017. But she did have a comfortable lead over Judith Robertson for the final spot on the podium. Gibson powered all the way to the finish, claiming first in 46:38 and earning redemption for the fiasco of 2017. Biasi came across a minute later in 2nd and then Jefferson claimed third with 6 minutes to spare, happy to be on the podium again!
Suzanne Gibson 46:38     Barbara Biasi 47:36     Kathleen Jefferson 49:28

This division looked like a replay of last fall’s races with Bill Dunn coming down from altitude to challenge Dave Glass and the GVH tandem of Tony Gingello and Jim May. That got knocked into a cocked hat when two runners next to Dunn got tangled, bumped into him hard and he went down along with several others. The others who went down were luckier than Dunn who wound up with a fractured hip. Despite trying, he could not get up to continue; McCluskey and race officials helped him to the side of the course; his race was over. [I learned subsequently about the hip and that Dunn’s impressive bone density, due to so many years of running, meant the doctors did without a hip replacement, otherwise standard for 70 year olds, and put a couple of screws in to hold it together. Still it will be 6-8 weeks of rehab before he can even think about running again—tough luck!] Without Dunn in the field, things unfolded similarly to the end fo last year. Glass got out fastest, hitting the 2 mile mark in 13:34, with Gingello 9 seconds back and his teammate, May another 3 seconds back. Eleven seconds back was relative newcomer, Ray Eck, a newly recruited teammate of Dunn’s on the Boulder Road Runners. Glass’s good start was indicative of better fitness at present as he stretched his lead over Gingello to 24 seconds by the finish line. Gingello was able to keep May 10 seconds back. Eck had May in his sights but could not reel him in as he finished 6 seconds behind in 4th.
Dave Glass 34:38     Tony Gingello 35:02     Jim May 35:18

75-79 Madeline Bost anticipated a challenge from a local runner, Judy Stewart who came in ahead of her in 2017. But it turned out Stewart was an injury DNS and Bost waltzed to her 2nd win of the year, running within 6 seconds of her own 2017 time.
Madeline Bost 1:04:56.

The anticipated battle between relative newcomer, Robert Hendrick and the legendary Doug Goodhue, winner of 9 consecutive Runner of the Year Awards in his 60’s and 70’s, will have to wait until Dedham. Goodhue is still rehabbing and is making progress but is not up to his usual fitness. Hendrick took his 2nd 75-79 division win of the year in as many tries. Goodhue, although still in rehab, ran for the team and also came in 2nd in the age group. Tony Fiory held all others at bay to take 3rd two minutes behind Goodhue, the ‘Silver Bullet.’ Ed Bligh finished another minute or so back in 4th.
Robert Hendrick 36:00     Doug Goodhue 38:23     Tony Fiory 42:48

80-84. In his first year in the 80 and over division, the well-known local runner, Tom Markley, had no trouble winning in 43:57, a fine time. Alan Rider was happy to finish in second, a considerable ways back.
Tom Markley 43:57     Alan Rider 1:25:28

What a terrific set of individual races, and then there were the team contests.

Team Championships
40 and up
Last year the Atlanta Track Club took the title in a close duel with the Willow street AC. Willow Street was led by Jake Stookey’s 26:31, however, and he had fitness issues toward the end of 2017 that made such a time this year doubtful.  Atlanta brought the same team as last year with one exception, Giovanni Pipia replacing Kristian Blaich. As Pipia and Blaich finished within 5 seconds of each other at Club XC that seemed like a pretty even swap. Two new teams were in the hunt. Garden State TC-New Balance had finished well behind Atlanta at Club XC but Atlanta had both Blaich and Pipia running; here it would just be Pipia. And Jonathan Frieder seems to do better on the roads than on the XC course; that could also make a difference. The real wild card was the brand new Roanoke Valley Elite team that David Angell pulled together for this race. With Angell up front, their total time could well be in the mix. As it turned out, Garden State was missing one of their key runners, Elliott Frieder, Jonathan’s twin. But that did not impede them much. Sam Teigen and J Frieder ran tight through the first 2 miles in 10:24 and 10:25. No other team had their first two runners come through in under 22. That gave them a big lead and a huge margin for their third runner, Gary Leaman, from the 50-54 division. The first runner for Roanoke, Atlanta and the Colonial Road Runners, Mark Tompkins, crossed the 2 mile mat within two seconds. The next runner was Colonial’s Keith Schumann, 15 seconds ahead of Atlanta’s Brent Fields who had 8 seconds on Garden state’s 3rd runner and 18 seconds on Roanoke’s 2nd runner, Paul Lenkowski. At that point things looked good for Colonial and not so good for Roanoke. But remember that the team score is the sum total of times for the first 3 runners on each team. Roanoke’s other runner, James Holbrook, was only 2 seconds behind Lenkowski. It was 27 seconds back to Atlanta’s Brad Slavens, who went down in the pileup and got up running with a bloody nose and less skin. And 35 seconds back to Colonial’s Jason Miller. That gave Garden State a lead of a minute on the field. But the other 3 were close. Roanoke had 4 seconds on Colonial and 9 seconds on Atlanta—every second would count! By the end Garden State had stretched their lead to almost a minute and a half. Roanoke came next as Angell gave them the great #1 score and Holbrook actually passed Lenkowski but both were still within 12 seconds of one another, with Lenkowski finishing well ahead of the 3rd runner on the other teams.  Atlanta was only 5 seconds back in 3rd-wow that is close! Atlanta was able to outpace Colonial by over a minute as each of their 3 runners outraced his counterpart.
Garden State TC New Balance 1:20:39     Roanoke Valley Elite 1:23:03     Atlanta TC 1:23:08
Garden State TC Celebrating the 40+ Team Win After the Race at the 2018 USATF National Masters 8K Championships [L to R: Gary Leaman, Christopher Rinaldi, Sam Teigen, Joseph hegge, Jonathan Frieder] (FB post)

The Genesee Valley Harriers, the Colonial Road Runners, and the Shore AC contested this division. But in truth the teams were largely in non-competing groups. The 3 GVH athletes, Heather Webster, Melissa Senall, and Murphee Hayes, came in ahead of all of the Shore AC runners and all but one of the Colonial runners. 
[FB post-GVH]

Each of the Colonial runners, Jessica Riggs, Susan Hagel, and Jeanette Primich, came in well ahead of their Shore aC counterparts. In order to field a 40+ team, Shore AC asked Susan Stirrat to drop down from her 60-64 division and for Leslie Nowicki to drop down from her 50 to 54 division to join Christine Hill. They were good sports and helped Shore AC to gather the Grand Prix points and a podium finish! GVH took the title by over ten minutes and Colonial bested Shore by almost 7 minutes.
GVH1:40:37     Colonial RR 1:53:42     Shore AC 2:00:40

50 and up
The Athena TC dominated this race, despite the strong teams entered. With Marisa Sutera Strange and Doreen McCoubrie taking 1-2 across all teams, and their teammate, Mary Swan finishing within 2 minutes of McCoubrie, they enjoyed a nearly 6 minute margin of victory over a strong Clifton RR club. 
The Athena Track Club 50+ Team Celebrating their Win at the Awards ceremony at the 2018 USATF National Masters 8K Championships [L to R: Julie Pangburn, Marisa Sutera Strange, Doreen McCoubrie, Mary Swan] (FB post)

The Clifton team in turn had more than 7 minutes on their closest rival as Suzanne la Burt, Laura DeLea, and Kerry Monahan Gaughan each finished well ahead of their counterpart on the other teams. 
Laura DeLea heading for the finish line to help her Clifton Road Runner team to the Silver Medals in the 50+ Team Competition at the 2018 USATF National Masters 8K Championships (Photo Credit-The Virginia Pilot)
It was much tighter for 3rd, however, as GVH and Impala were more closely matched. GVH’s Tracey Vannatta had only 17 seconds on Impala’s Gina Edwards at the 2 mile mark. GVH’s Kathy Hayden who ran 32 and change here last year was nursing an injury and taking it relatively easy. When both GVH’s other runner, Colleen Magnussen, and Hayden came across ahead of both the #2 and #3 runners  of the Impalas, things were looking good. Hayden actually felt better during the race and after trailing her teammate, Magnussen,  by 19 seconds at the 2 mile mark, picked up the pace and finished comfortably ahead at the end. And GVH enjoyed a podium finish with 1:05 to spare.
Athena TC 1:36:08     Clifton RR 1:41:57     GVH 1:49:27

The Greater Springfield Harriers blew this one wide open as their threesome of Kent Lemme, Nat Larson, and Mark Hixson all finished over two minutes ahead of the rest of the field. It was much closer between GVH and Colonial for 2nd and 3rd. GVH’s Dale Flanders got out strong, maybe in part because his usual running buddy, Mike Nier, had to skip the race for a family function. Flanders crossed the 2 mile mat with a 9 second margin on his Colonial rival, Gregory Dawson. GVH’s Tim Riccardi sped across the mat 28 seconds later with a 16 second lead on Colonial’s #2, Kevin White. But Colonial’s #3, Paul Pelletier, made it tighter as he was only 5 seconds behind his teammate. John Van Kerkhove came across 17 seconds later for GVH. Van Kerkhove won the 55-59 title here last year in 29 and change but has struggled with injuries since last summer. Flanders was able to stretch his lead over Dawson to over half a minute by the finish but both White and Pelletier were able to catch Riccardi despite his efforts. That sewed up the 2nd spot for Colonial, with GVH holding down 3rd. GSH is running very impressively right now; they only brought their top 3 but that was plenty!
Greater Springfield Harriers 1:20:42     Colonial Road Runners 1:31:40     GVH 1:33:21

60 and up
A tough division, it would be the Atlanta TC, the Boulder Road Runners, and the Cal Coast TC duking it out for the podium positions. Shore AC, with their strong trio of Reno Stirrat, Kevin Dollard, and Scott Linnell, gave all they had but could not get within 4 minutes fo the top squads. They were able to put 4 minutes between themselves and the rest of the field but finishing 4th is not even close to bringing the same satisfaction as a podium spot. Roger Sayre got Boulder off to a great start when he flashed across the timing mat in 11:20 but had only 3 seconds on Atlanta’s Ken Youngers. Forty-two seconds later Cal Coast’s Steve Brumwell came across followed 11 and 12 seconds later by the Atlanta #2 and 3 at that point, Phil Richey and Mike Anderson. But Cal Coast’s #2 and 3, John Holcomb and Brian Nelson trailed them by only a second or two. It was 8 seconds more before Doug Bell, Boulder’s #2 came across and another 11 seconds back to Chuck Smead, their #3 runner at that point. At the 2 mile mark Atlanta had 29 seconds on Boulder because Youngers was sticking close to Sayre and Richey and Anderson were running a tight 2-3. Cal Coast having a tight trio with only 14 seconds between #1 and #3 enabled them to stay within 17 seconds of Boulder despite the 40 second margin that Sayre was able to give Boulder. By the end Sayre was able to give Boulder a 30 second lead over Youngers but that was not enough as both Anderson, now #2 and Richey #3 were able to claw back over a minute each on Boulder’s #2 and 3. 
Mike Anderson warming up before the 2018 USATF National Masters 8K Championships where he helped his Atlanta TC team win the 60+ trophy for 1st place (FB post)

Boulder’s George Braun was one of the big surprises as he moved from being Boulder’s #4 to their #2 by the end, just passing his teammate, Bell. As every second counts in the team competition, I bet Bell was delighted to see Braun come up on him at the finish line. Cal Coast’s order changed too as in the end it was Nelson, Holcomb and Brumwell in that order and only ten seconds apart, just ahead of Atlanta’s Anderson. That wasn’t enough to catch Atlanta and it was not quite enough to catch Boulder who enjoyed the 2nd place finish and their 17 second margin over Cal Coast.
The Atlanta Track Club 60+ Team Celebrating their Win at the Awards ceremony at the 2018 USATF National Masters 8K Championships [L to R: Kirk Larson, Ken Youngers, Mike Anderson, Phil Richey, Jerry Learned] (FB post)

I am not mentioning the important #4 and higher runners on teams as they are not counted directly in the score. But I have to mention Cal Coast’s Keith Witthauer. A sub-31 8K runner in recent years, he was diagnosed with cancer last year and is competing for his team now, while undergoing chemo treatments. That is one of so many inspiring stories we hear about in Masters running!
Atlanta TC 1:30:46     Boulder RR 1:31:42     Cal Coast TC 1:31:59

Team Red Lizard dominated the division as Suzanne Ray, Jeanette Groesz and Betsy Miller all came in ahead of everyone else except the Impala Racing Team’s #1, Jill Miller-Robinett. They stretched the 2 minute lead they had at the 2 mile mark to nearly 5 minutes by the end of the race for a comfortable first place finish. 
The Team Red Lizard 60+ Team Celebrating their Win at the Awards ceremony at the 2018 USATF National Masters 8K Championships [L to R: Jeanette Groesz, Joanne Harper, Suzanne Ray, Betsy Miller] (FB post)

The Impala team was pressed by Atlanta and GVH but each of the Impala runners, Miller-Robinett, Jo Anne Rowland and Donna Chan, were able to come across the finish line ahead of their counterpart on the other two teams. The Impalas had a minute on Atlanta at the 2 mile mark and grew that to over two minutes by the finish. Only 25 seconds separated Atlanta and GVH at the 2 mile mark but Atlanta’s #1, 2 and 3, Cynthia Williams, Cindy Lucking, and Margaret Taylor were able to best their rivals on GVH, Sharon Moore, Cheryl Guth, and Cindy Ingalls, and secure 3rd place with 2 minutes to spare.
Team Red Lizard  1:51:13     Impala Racing Team 1:56:04     Atlanta TC 1:58:21

70 and up
The Colonial Road Runners entered the only team in this division, consisting of scoring runners Suzanne Gibson, Barbara Biasi, and Kathleen Jefferson.  They enjoyed their 1st place finish, the plaque and gold team medals
Colonial Road Runners 2:23:42

When Bill Dunn, of the Boulder Road Runners went down in the pile-up and could not continue, that ended any hope Boulder had of pushing GVH for the team win. With Tony Gingello and Jim May finishing in 2nd and 3rd behind Atlanta’s Dave Glass, only ten seconds apart, that laid a strong base for GVH. And their compadre, Keith Yeates, was only a minute back. GVH got the team win with over 4 minutes to spare. 

The Victorious GVH 70+ Team at the Awards Ceremony for the 2018 USATF National Masters 8K Championships [L to R:Jim Glinsky, Jim May, Tony Gingello, Keith Yeates, Liam Finnigan] (FB post)

Ray Eck moved up to #1 for Boulder when Dunn went down injured, and finished within 6 seconds of May but Yeates was able to come in ahead of #’s 2 and 3 for Boulder, Elliott Henry and Richard Kutzner. It is a shame Dunn was not able to compete due to the accidental injury; he would have had to win the division and break 34 minutes for Boulder to have won, a tall, but not impossible order. Unfortunately we will never know how the race would have come out. Even without Dunn, Boulder was strong enough to deny Ann Arbor the 2nd place finish by 3 and a half minutes. Only two weeks out of Physical Therapy and dry needling, I had lost too much conditioning since November to run close to Glass and Gingello, as I had at the 10K and 5K last year. My teammate and current #2 Ann Arbor runner, Doug Goodhue, is also coming out of rehab. David Cohen, who prefers his races to be of marathon length, had his usual strong performance and actually achieved an 8K PR. That gave Ann Arbor TC the 3rd place finish over Atlanta TC with 6 minutes to spare.
GVH 1:46:39     Boulder RR 1:50:57     Ann Arbor TC 1:54:37

GVH celebrates their successful 8K National Masters Championship races!--Where else? At the Beach! [FB post]

Next up on the Masters Grand Prix circuit is the USATF Masters 10K Championship at Dedham MA on April 29th. This is likely to be the largest field of any of our road races this year and the competition is amazing. The Masters Championship competitors start off 2-3 minutes ahead of the rest of the field. The course has rolling hills but many fast times have been run there in recent years. Do not miss it!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Fast Times at the 2018 USATF Masters 8K Road Championship

03/21/2018. VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA – Hosted by the Shamrock Marathon’s Towne Bank 8K, the Championship Race went off at 7:45 AM on St. Patrick’s Day. The mornings before race day had temperatures in the lower 40’s but winds at 10-14 mph mostly although one day had 20+ mph winds. As it turned out, sunny skies and freezing temperatures, but little wind, greeted the USATF Masters 8K Championship competitors, fine conditions for fast running.

American Records. Colorado’s Libby James, 81, a Hall of Famer, took full advantage. She shattered the American 80-84 Record, lowering Anne Clarke’s 1991 mark of 52:00 to 42:34. James will add this to her collection which already includes the 5K and 15K. Unless someone else has run faster than her time in the last 7 months, James also took down the World’s Best. As of August 5 2017, the World’s Best was listed as 43:49, set by Betty Jean McHugh of Canada in 2008. 
Libby James taking down the 5K 80-84 American Record  in 2016 in Syracuse [Photo credit: Bob Brock, cropped by author]

Her Boulder Road Runners club mate, Roger Sayre, 60, almost got it done as well, coming within 3 seconds of Norm Green’s 1993 Record of 28:07. If the World Best tables are still accurate, only two Brits, a Canadian and Jack Nelson, from Illinois, with a 28:00 in 2000 have run faster times. Pretty fancy stepping!
Roger Sayre in one of his last races as in the 55-59  division at 2017 Club XC Championships in Lexington KY, outrunning everyone over the age of 56 in the 10K race.

Age-Grading. Age-Grade scoring is the best way to compare performance for age across all Masters competitors, with 100 being the top end and higer scores being relatively faster.  The Masters LDR Committee refers to scores above 90% as World Class, and those above 80% but below 90% as ‘National Class. But USATF also recognizes performances between 85.00% and 89.99% as being worthy of a Silver Elite Performance medal rather than the Bronze medal available to those scoring between 80.00 and 84.99%. In that context I am starting to refer to the higher of the two levels as ‘International Class’, hoping that the term will catch on.  

James, not surprisingly, scored the top age grade of the morning with 99.04%. That is a higher age grade than she achieved when she took down the 5K and 15K American Records in 2016. Others who walked away with Age-Grading prize money included Athena Track Club teammates in 2nd and 3rd, Marisa Sutera Strange, 54, 92.57% and Doreen McCoubrie, 56, 91.87%. 
Marisa Sutera Strange claiming Age-Grade Silver Medal at the 2018 USATF Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee FL [Photo Credit: Mike Scott]

This is a repeat for them; they finished 2nd and 3rd to a different runner from Colorado last year, Edie Stevenson.  Team Red Lizard teammates, Jeanette Groesz, 68, 91.82%, and Suzanne Ray, 65, 90.21%, rounded out the list of runners getting an Age-Grading payday.
Libby James     Marisa Sutera Strange     Doreen McCoubrie

The top scorer on the Men’s side was Nat Larson, 55, from the Greater Springfield Harriers, with 92.90%. Last year he was 2nd Age-Grade in the 8K and won the 10K age-grading championship. 
Nat Larson [white singlet-left] running in a pack with teammates and a Cal Coast challenger on his way to the Age-Grade Bronze Medal at the 2018 USATF Cross Country Championships [Photo Credit: Mike Scott]

It was quite a feat to beat out Roger Sayre, 60, for the age-grading title. Sayre’s near record performance age-graded at 92.45%. His rivals for 60-64 dominance, Club Northwest’s Joe Sheeran, 60, and Hall of Famer Brian Pilcher, 61, from Northern California, just out of hamstring rehab, were next at 91.96% and 91.74%. Pilcher took the title here last year and Sheeran took the title among the 60+ crowd at Club XC in Lexington last December. Philadelphia Track Club’s Gene Dykes, 69, known more for his Marathons than his 5k to 10K performances, surprised many by walking off with a top-5 age grade prize at such a short distance (for him)!  Dykes wound up at 91.72%.
Nat Larson     Roger Sayre     Joe Sheeran

It took a World Class performance or better to make the top 5 cut in Age-Grading this year; International Class would not get it done!--Wow!

Overall Competition. In the race to be first Masters Athlete across the line, it looked like a replay of the battle last year between Roanoke Valley’s David Angell and Philippe Rolly, of the Capital Area Runners; they took 1-2 last year. Angell went on to win the USATF Masters Grand Prix for 40-44 year olds and Rolly had a good fall season, winning the Masters Championship at the Chicago Marathon. 

David Angell [#14] on his way to victory at the 2017 USATF Masters 10K Championships hosted by the James Joyce Ramble in Dedham MA

Angell certainly was the favorite both as defending champion and because he had beaten Rolly and all other potential contenders at the Club XC Championships in Lexington KY in December.  Cross Country races are good indicators of likely performance on the roads, but not perfect. Some running styles and abilities seem to be enhanced by the Cross Country environment and others the reverse. In any case by the 2 Mile Mark, the front part of the race had split in two. Angell, Rolly, and two other contenders, Giovanni Pipia of the Atlanta Track Club, and Mark Tompkins of the Colonial Road Runners were bunched at the front, crossing the two mile mark in 10:13 (net). Garden State’s Jonathan Frieder and Sam Teigen were within striking distance about ten seconds back, with Musa Gwanzura and Greater Springfield’s Mark Lemme another ten seconds back. The gaps between those groups grew as they headed northwest on the Boardwalk along the ocean. Tompkins fell back first and then it was Angel, Pipia and Rolly flying up along the track between the hotels and the ocean! Pipia was the surprise; he had finished over a minute behind Rolly in Lexington. Perhaps that had been an off day and he was looking for redemption? With the sunrise casting visible shadows, Angell, in the lead, was able to see that as they approached the 3 mile mark, Rolly was starting to struggle with the pace, as a gap started to develop. Then it was just the two of them. Just before the turn off of the Boardwalk over to Atlantic Avenue, the shadows showed a small gap between Angell and Pipia. Turning it on up Atlantic and back onto the boardwalk, Angell kept the turnover high and came home a winner for the 2nd year in a row in 25:39 (gun).  Pipia had no trouble holding off Rolly and came 2nd in 24:46. 
Giovanni Pippia [#1416]   at the 2017 Club Cross Country Championships in Lexington KY
 Rolly was 11 seconds back in 3rd
Philippe Rolly heading for a Bronze Medal at the 2018 USATF Masters 8K Championships at Virginia Beach [Photo Credit: posted on FB by p. Rolly]

Teigen was able to narrow the gap up to Rolly slightly but had too much ground to make up, finishing 4th in 26:05, 4 seconds ahead of his teammate, Frieder. Tompkins paid a little price for his early speed, falling back to 6th but held off Lemme, Nat Larson, Gwanzura and Mark Hixson who rounded out the top 10. Angell noted that he was pleased with the win, especially because of training time lost in late January and early February to an accidental non-running spill resulting in a knee injury.
David Angell     Giovanni Pipia     Philippe Rolly

Marisa Sutera Strange was looking to repeat her trip to the podium but she hoped for something better than her third place finish last year. Her main rivals appeared to be her Athena teammate, Doreen McCoubrie, who took 4th last year, GVH’s Heather Webster, who bested Strange at Club XC in 2016, and a relative newcomer to the Championship Masters Grand Prix circuit from Utah, Michelle Simonaitis, who tested the waters at the 2016 Half Marathon championship in San Diego. Simonaitis was a frequent competitor at Masters Championship events from 2006 to 2010; it is good to see her back in action. 
Michelle Simonaitis competing at Carlsbad in 2011 [Photo Credit-Photo Run]

Her recent efforts in the Salt Lake City Original Winter Series suggested she might well be competitive here. Those four, along with Michelle Brangan, Suzanne LaBurt, and Jessica Riggs were tight for the first mile. In the 2nd mile Strange began to gradually pull away, enjoying a seven second margin on Simonaitis when she crossed the 2 mile mat in 12:20. It was 5 seconds back to McCoubrie and Webster who were still running in tandem, with a bigger gap back to Brangan, Riggs and LaBurt, who crossed between 12:42 and 12:50. Strange powered up the Boardwalk, adding second on second to her margin. Webster was locked on Simonaitis and would not let her get away but could not close the gap either. Simonaitis said later that she thought she had gone out a little too fast. But she should be proud of how well she maintained her pace through the remainder of the race. McCoubrie gradually fell back from Webster but enjoyed a growing gap back to Brangan, Riggs, and LaBurt. Strange hit the finish line in 30:40, enjoying a 40 second margin of victory. Despite her best efforts, Webster could not catch Simonaitis who remained strong all the way to her finish in 31:20, with 4 seconds on Webster. 
Heather Webster clocking her Bronze Medal Masters finish at the 2016 Club Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee FL

Fifteen seconds later McCoubrie came across, claiming a 2nd straight 4th place finish. It was the better part of a minute back to Brangan, Riggs, and LaBurt who finished 5th, 6th, and 7th respectively.
Marisa Sutera Strange     Michelle Simonaitis     Heather Webster    

That’s it for now. Next up will be recaps of the Age Division and Team National Championships.
[Note: Shamrock was not able to provide complimentary access to 2018 8K photos.]