Friday, April 27, 2018

Preview 3: Age Division Races at the 2018 USATF Masters 10K Championships

April 25 2018. We have 276 online entries for the 10K. This will be the largest field in historical memory for the 10K event! Let’s look at how the Age Division races are shaping up; not only is the field large but it is of high quality. There are so many competitive races it is good I can just go chronologically by age division.

40-44 Ginger Reiner is the defending Overall Champion and for this Age Division in 37:09. She also took the title at the USATF 5Km Masters Cross Country Championship. She is a strong favorite.
Ginger Reiner  (left) heading for the finish line and the Overall win at the 2017 USATF Masters 10K Championships 

Heather Webster and Jennifer St. Jean will contest the final two podium spots. St. Jean, who excels on the track and at Road Miles, ran 38:17 here two years ago and Webster ran 18:34 last year. St. Jean ran an 18:36 on a fast 5K course recently while Webster ran 18:30 at Freihofer’s last year. St. Jean has the speed that allowed her to run 5:03 at the Fifth Avenue Mile. Webster should definitely try to build a lead and hope she doesn’t hear St. Jean's footsteps late in the race.

Ginger Reiner     Heather Webster     Jennifer St. Jean

David Angell is the defending Overall Champion in 32:37 and the winner of the 8K Masters Championship 6 weeks ago in 25:39, the most recent road race  championship contested. The 8K time is age grade equivalent to a 32:08, so Angell is in fine form. But he will be pressed, no doubt.
David Angel leading Derrick Jones out away from the pack in the first mile of the 2017 USATF Masters 10K Championship
 David Bedoya of the B.A.A., finished 22 seconds behind Angell at the Club Cross Country Championships and will try to stick closer on Sunday. He, too, is fit, as evidenced by a 50:49 at the Boston Tune-Up 15K and a 1:12:30 at the New Bedford Half Marathon. Bedoya’s teammate, Ryan McCalmon also has a legitimate shot at the win; he finished 2nd to Angell last year in 32:55. His 16:29 in the Irish Road Rover 5K last month was 18 seconds faster than his effort on the same course last year; that suggests his fitness may be even slightly better than last year. Of course the conditions for an early March 5K in Maine may be more critical than fitness. Four other strong runners will vie for the podium and one or more may break through those top 3. Neither Shawn Powers, Michael Quintal, Patrick Rich nor Sam Teigen can be counted out. Quintal and Powers ran 53:56 and 54:17 respectively in the Tune-Up 15K in late March  while Rich turned in a 1:14:23 in the Hamptons Half Marathon in early March. Teigen finished 27 seconds behind Angell in the 8K Championships 6 weeks ago and ran 57:07 in the Bronx 10 Miler last year.

David Angell     Ryan McCalmon     David Bedoya    

45-49 None of last year’s podium return this year. Jennifer Bayliss who won the Age Division and Masters Overall title at the USATF Cross Country Championships, is the favorite. Her 1:03:01 age division win at the Sactown 10 Miler also argues in favor of that status.
Jennifer Bayliss captures the Overall Masters title at the 2018 USATF Cross Country Championships [Photo Credit: Mike Scott]

But she will be pressed by the BAA’s Karolyn Bowley who ran 1:24:12 at the New Bedford Half Marathon and 1:04:30 at the Blessing of the Fleet 10 Mile Run. There appears to be a gap between those two and the rest of the field. But it should be a ferocious battle for the final podium spot. Sharon O’Grady ran a 1:08:09 in the Tune-Up 15K and a 1:40:52 in the New Bedford race. That gives her a slight edge, but only slight, over three others who will contest the podium.  Vanesa Diana, Sally Drake, and Melissa Senall have all run half marathons in the 1:42-1:43 range and 5K’s in the 21-22 range.

Jennifer Bayliss     Karolyn Bowley     Sharon O’Grady

Philippe Rolly is the favorite among a number of worthy contenders for the 45-49 crown. Rolly took the division at the 8K Masters Championships at Virginia Beach in 25:57 and he is the reigning Chicago Marathon Overall Masters Champ with a 2:34:29. And his 33:49 at the Club Cross Country Championships was the fastest of those entered in this age division who competed there.
Philippe Rolly strides down the Boardwalk heading for 2nd place overall in the USATF Masters 8K Championship [Posted on]

Jonathan Frieder, Derrick Jones, and Greg Putnam are probably the biggest threats. Frieder was a minute back from Rolly at Club XC but Frieder seems to always run better on the roads. He was only 13 seconds back from Rolly in Virginia Beach. Jones ran fearlessly here last year in challenging Angell with surges into the lead. He faded a bit at the end but still ran 33:04, the fastest time of these three. Since then his Championship races have been more prudent but also not as fast. But his 50:20 at the Gate River Run last month shows he is fit and ready to race. Putnam should definitely be in the hunt. He finished behind Jones but ahead of Frieder last year here in Dedham and came in just 3 seconds ahead of Frieder at Club XC. On the other hand, Frieder came in ahead of Putnam in the 5K Championship at Syracuse and at the CVS 5K in Providence.

Philippe Rolly     Jonathan Frieder     Derrick Jones


Despite this being her last year in this division, Marisa Sutera Strange is a strong favorite to take the Age Division title. She is the defending Division Champion, with a 37:55, and also won her division at the 8K Masters Championship.
Marisa Sutera Strange on her way to another Age Division win at the 2017 Masters 5 Kilometer Cross Country Championships

Mimi Fallon and Michelle Simonaitis will fight it out for 2nd and 3rd. Fallon ran 39:10 here last year and Simonaitis’s 31:20 in the 8K last month is age grade equivalent to a 39:41 10K. If any of those three fail to bring their ‘A’ game, Emily Bryans could factor into the podium race. She ran 39:23 here 3 years ago and 19:45 last year at Freihofer’s 5K.

Marisa Sutera Strange     Mimi Fallon     Michelle Simonaitis

Kristian Blaich is the defending Champion, with a 32:58. He beat Kent Lemme by a half minute last year. And many still remember the terrific duel between the two of them for the Overall Masters win in 2015, that Blaich won. But Lemme has been running better than ever the last few months and will be tough to beat. He had over a half minute on Blaich at the Club Cross Country Championships.
Kent Lemme builds his lead at the end of the first loop on his way to a podium finish against a 'killer' field at the 2017 USATF National Club Cross Country Championships

Lemme’s teammate, Mark Hixson will have a good shot at the third spot; he only finished 25 seconds back from Lemme at the 8K Championships, and 16 seconds back from Blaich at Club XC. Others who could factor in include Gregory Picklesimer who ran 34:15 here last year and had a 54:39 at the Tune-Up 15K.

Kent Lemme     Kristian Blaich     Mark Hixson

55-59 It appears that Athena teammates, Lorraine Jasper and Mary Swan, along with Willow Street’s Beth Stalker are the fleetest runners among the current entrants. Jasper ran 42:37 here last year (and 40:54 the year before); Swan’s 33:49 at the 8K is age grade equivalent to a 42:55.
Lorraine Jasper races her way onto the 55-59 podium at the 2017 USATF Club Cross Country Championships [Photo by Mike Scott, cropped by author]

Stalker ran 1:04:36 at the Stockade-a-thon 15K last year which is age grade equivalent to a 42:23 10K. Colleen Brackett, who ran 1:09:12 at the Stockade-a-thon could land on the podium if any of those three falter.
Lorraine Jasper     Beth Stalker     Mary Swan

The 50-54 and 55-59 Runner of the Year in 2017, Nat Larson has owned this division since he entered it last fall and this race should prove that nothing has changed. He ran 33:30 here last year at the age of 54 and just won the Division at the 8K in a time of 26:51 which is age-grade equivalent to a 33:45.
Nat Larson charges to an Age Division win at the 2017 USATF Masters 15K Championship in 52:20 [Photo courtesy of Tulsa Sports Commission]

Derrick Staley ran 35:49 here last year, the second fastest of the returning competitors. But he will need to worry about the challenge from Mark Reeder whose 2017 time here of 37:02 is not indicative of his speed when fit. The year before he ran 34:55 and his Tune-Up 15k time of 55:12 suggests he can run a 10K around 36:00.  John Sullivan, of the HFC Striders, and James Zoldy could also factor into the podium race. Sullivan ran 36:52 here last year and Zoldy’s M55 win at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in 1:01:43 is age-grading equivalent to a 37:36.

Nat Larson     Derrick Staley     Mark Reeder    

60-64 The favorite looks to be Patrice Combs, based on her 20:39 5K at Syracuse last fall and her 1:34:26 at the 2017 Publix Atlanta Half Marathon. Both suggest she should be able to crack 44 minutes in a 10K and no one else in the field looks likely to do that. Claire McManus’s 37:28 in the Doyle’s Necklace 5 Miler suggests a 10K time of 47:19 which is in line with other 10K’s she has run. Joanna Harper, Margaret Taylor, and Cynthia Williams could also factor in. Harper did not run here last year but her 37:57 at the 8K Championships suggest a 38:17 might be possible for a 10K. Last year Taylor ran 48:00 and Williams 48:24. In the fall, however, their order was reversed as Williams edged Taylor at the 5K road in Syracuse, the 5km XC in Boston and at Club XC in Lexington KY. That trend continued into this year as Williams clocked a 38:36 8K in Virginia Beach, despite getting caught up in the tangle just after the horn sounded. She showed she is one tough athlete. She had her arm in a sling after the medical staff treated her at the end of the race.
The Atlanta Track Club [L to R-Cindy Lucking, Cynthia Williams, Kathleen Allen, Margaret Taylor] with their hard but well-earned Team Award

If she is fully recovered, she should be competitive in Dedham.

Patrice Combs     Claire McManus     Cynthia Williams

With Brian Pilcher out with ‘his usual issues’, presumably hamstring related, and John Barbour still in recovery mode, with a 41:04 in the Doyle’s Necklace 5 Miler, the favorite’s role falls definitively to Ken Youngers, who has been steadily improving since coming back from back surgery in late 2016. Youngers ran 28:45 in the 8K Championship, the only runner entered here (save Pilcher) who cracked 30:00. That time suggest he should be able to run a 36:11 or so 10K. It should be a battle royal for the rest fo the podium positions. Youngers’ teammate, Mike Anderson, may have the inside track for the second spot. His 30:47 8K time translates to a 38:44 10K time.
Ken Youngers captures his 60-64 podium spot after a challenging race at the 2017 USATF Club Cross Country Championships

But Reno Stirrat was only 14 seconds back from Anderson at Virginia Beach and ran 39:02 here at Dedham last year. Timothy Riccardi who ran 39:20 here last year and Norm Larson, whose 59:53 in the Tune-Up 15K equates to a 39:11 10K, will also contend. Charlie Muse whose 18:15 at the BAA 5K earlier this month is equivalent to a 37:34, will be in the hunt as well. But he did take 2nd in his age group in 3:09:05 at the Boston Marathon. Considering the conditions, it is likely that Muse’s legs will be heavy. Youngers seems a safe prediction for the win. After that I would go with Muse were it not for his Boston Marathon ordeal. Even though the BAA 5K is a fast course, so is Virginia Beach. I will give Anderson the edge for second, and pick Muse for 3rd; it will be up to Stirrat, Larson, Riccardi or someone else to prove me wrong.

Ken Youngers     Mike Anderson     Charlie Muse    

65-69 It is not unusual for Red Lizard teammates, Suzanne Ray and Jeanette Groesz to place 1-2 in this age division but Whirlaway’s Karen Durante will try to separate them or beat them both if possible. Ray is the favorite based on her 1:08:59 on the tough 15K Championship course in Tulsa. That is the equivalent of a 45:13 10K. Plus her 36:17 8K at Virginia Beach last month suggests a 46:13. Either of those times should be fast enough to win.
Jeanette Groesz (far left) and Suzanne Ray (2nd from right) celebrate their team win at the USATF 8K Masters Championship with their Red Lizard teammates, Joanna Harper and Betsy Miller [Posted on Facebook]
Groesz was slower in both of those races, suggesting a time around 47:30 or so is likely. Durante registered a 1:12:07 at the Tune-Up 15K, an out and back over rolling hills. That is probably not quite as tough as the 2017 Tulsa course but it sounds reasonably challenging. So I favor Durante to split the two Red Lizard teammates and take 2nd.

Suzanne Ray     Karen Durante     Jeanette Groesz

Tom Bernhard should again have no trouble winning this division. The only runner who was able to stay within a minute of him at the 8K Championships was Gene Dykes who has since aged up to 70-74.
Tom Bernhard heading for the finish line and an Age Division victory at the 2017 USATF Masters 10K Championships 

Doug Bell finished 3rd at Virginia Beach and should move up to 2nd in Dedham. He will have to stay ahead of his teammate, Chuck Smead, who was only 18 seconds behind him in the 8K. And  Atlanta’s Kirk Larson keeps knocking on the door; he was only 3 seconds behind Smead in the 8K and closing strong no doubt! I hope to see Peter Mullin return to action in our Masters Grand Prix soon. He ran 39:37 here last year but had an up and down record the rest of the year. He has recently gotten his 5K times in local Texas races down to the low 19’s so perhaps we will see him rejoin the fray later this year.

Tom Bernhard     Doug Bell     Chuck Smead

70-74 Jan Holmquist, the current American 70-74 record holder from her race here in 2015 is also the defending Champion, winning here last year in 47:57. Things are not going quite as well for Holmquist this year. She ran 41:04 in the Doyle’s Necklace 5 Miler which is roughly equivalent to a 52 minute 10K. That is still an age grade of over 90% and suggests she will have no trouble taking the age division win.
Jan Holmquist strides across the finish line with another Age Division win at Dedham in the 2017n USATF 10K Masters Championship

Elizabeth Gonnerman and Diane McLaughlin will battle for 2nd and 3rd.  Gonnerman ran 27:03 in New Hampshire’s Shamrock Shuffle 5K last month and McLaughlin ran 57:54 in the Lone Gull 10K last September. Those two performances are quite comparable in age-grading terms. I will give the edge to Gonnerman on the grounds that her time is more recent, and therefore a better indicator of current fitness.

Jan Holmquist     Elizabeth Gonnerman     Diane McGlaughlin    

Last year Tony Gingello zoomed past Paul Carlin (your author) in the last 300 meters to deprive me of the honor of defending my 2016 championship. If we could repeat our performances this year we might well not even make the podium. The two main contenders are Bill Dixon and Gene Dykes, both newly minted 70-74 contenders. Dixon actually turned 70 last year but had some kind of injury, as his times in the fall were not up to his usual standard. Jan Frisby, the current 70-74 American Record holder at 40:15 had expected his record to fall to Dixon at Lone Gull last September. When he learned it had not, he said, ‘Well that’s surprising, but that record is living on borrowed time.’ And now it is finally spring in New England and Dixon is running well again. He ran 41:00 at the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day 10K in mid-March and I was told by a responsible source that he recently ran a 19:30 5K. If that was on a typical New England road race course, that is, rolling hills, like Dedham, it suggests he should be ready to crack 40:30. Whether he can run just a bit faster and get the record or not may depend on whether he is challenged or not, and how the day goes.
 Bill Dixon strides to 65-69 victory at the 2015 5km Masters Cross Country Championships in Saratoga Springs [photo:]

If Gene Dykes can continue his phenomenal streak of running performances, it will not matter whether Dixon can crack 40:15 or not because Dykes is likely to crack 40 and maybe 39 minutes! On March 17, Dykes, then 69, ran 30:54 (gun)/30:48 (net) at the USATF 8K Championships in Virginia Beach. The gun time is age-grade equivalent to a 38:59 10K. But that’s not all—Dykes went, three weeks later, to Rotterdam for the Marathon, becoming the first American 70 years or older to crack the 3 hour barrier and claimed an American record of 2:57:43. But his exploits were not done! He came back to the States and 8 days later ran the Boston Marathon. You know that it was the worst weather conditions in decades (at least) with howling winds and pouring rain. He did not break 3 hours there but he did run 3:16:20, winning the age division by almost a half hour! Can Dykes really come back after two such marathons in the space of less than 2 weeks and mount a credible effort at Dedham. It does not seem possible. If he can contend for the win in Dedham we will have to say that Dykes is at a whole different level. than we mere mortals. Last October Dykes ran a 238 mile ultra marathon in Moab Utah and then in January and February ran a 50 mile and then a 100 mile trail run. Perhaps we should all be trying some ultras?! Dave Glass ran this race while recovering from an injury last year so his 2017 time is not indicative. But in the fall, he ran the table from the 5K through the 5 km XC and into the 15K, taking first place in each one of them. He took up where he left off at Virginia Beach this year, taking first in 34:38. There is no reason to think that anyone whose name does not begin with a ‘D’ will beat him. But that may mean he is running for third. Ray Eck, Tony Gingello, and Jim May, who finished pretty close together about a half minute back from Glass will try to deny him that podium spot. I have to go with Dixon for the win, but I will pay Dykes the compliment of picking him for 2nd even though it seems almost impossible to run a fast 10K within three weeks of a double Marathon effort, one of them record-setting and the other an incredible ordeal.

Bill Dixon     Gene Dykes     Dave Glass

75-79 Kathleen Scotti took this division title unopposed last year in 1:25:33 and she is poised to do so again.

Doug Goodhue, the ‘Silver Bullet’, dominated his age division from his mid-60’s through his early 70’s winning Age Division Runner of the Year honors for eight consecutive years, almost unheard of. He then took a couple of years from the RoY Award off, due to injuries. But then last year even though he was still battling injuries, he took 75-79 Runner of the Year. He is still on the comeback trail, so it appears that Robert Hendrick, who took the age division win in Virginia Beach, will be able to win the 10K on Sunday. His 36-minute 8K suggests he should be ready to run close to 45 minutes which should be fast enough for the win.
Robert Hendrick races to victory in the 75-79 division at the 2017 USATF Cross Country Championships [Photo courtesy f Mike Scott]

Goodhue Has been running to help the team out even though he is not back to his usual form. He ran 38:23 at the 8K. Even if his fitness has improved since then, it would be a stretch for him to get very much under 48 in a 10K. His time will come later in the year when his rehab is further along. David Pember and George Tooker should have quite a duel for the final podium spot. Tooker has 5K times from the mid 25 minute range to the low 26 minute range. Pember has a 25:36 5K and his 42:17 in the Doyle’s Necklace 5 Miler suggests he can be right there with Tooker in a 10K contest in 52 minutes or so. In fact, he ran 52:27 (gun time)/52:23 (net time) here last year when in the 70-74 division.

Robert Hendrick     Doug Goodhue     David Pember

80-84 No one is signed up for the Women’s portion of this age division championship.

This looks like another knock down battle between the two long-time rivals, Harry Carter of the BAA and Bill Riley of the New England 65Plus Runners Club. Last year Riley took the honors, 53:04 to 53:14. Will Carter get his revenge this year? Time will tell.
Harry Carter from an interview by Valley Breeze, his local newspaper [

In the meantime, I have to pick Riley for the win as he is the defending champ. Carter has a 26:37 at the BAA 5K to his credit but Riley has been running his 5k’s that fast too. In fact he ran several 5K’s last year in the 25 minute range. Joe Cordero seems likely to take 3rd based on his 42:50 4 Miler. That suggests a sub-1:08 10K. Wade Stockman could well push him for the final podium spot if he has a good day. His 33:42 5k time suggests Stockman could come in under 1:10 for a 10K.

Bill Riley     Harry Carter     Joe Cordero

85-89 Anny Stockman is unopposed, so she will win the division unless  a very fleet runner makes a last-minute onsite entry. The main question is whether she will get the American Record or not. See my earlier blog for the story on that.

Anny Stockman [#485] on her way to a new American Record for the 85-89 division at the 2017 USATF 5K Championships in Syracuse NY [Photo by Bob Brock]

Anny Stockman

No one is signed up for the Men’s portion of this age division championship.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Preview 2--2017 USATF Masters 10K Championships--Age Grading and Overall Competitions

April 23 2018. The weather forecast is still favorable, upper 50’s, partly cloudy and single digit winds were the forecast as of Monday morning, April 23. Looks like a super day for a race over the rolling hills of Dedham. This is an early preview that will get updated. Current registration is about 175 but we anticipate at least another 50 entrants, and likely more, by the time packet pickup ends Saturday at 5 pm. Let’s begin with a look at the top overall favorites for age grading and then consider the race to be first over the finish line.

Age Grading. The Age Grade score addresses the question of how athletes are performing relative to their age. For each single year age, a statistically constructed ‘best possible performance’ is generated from data on the World’s Best marks for every age and several set distances. The Age grade score for a given performance represents how fast in percentage terms the time in question is relative to that ‘best possible performance.’ So if the ‘best possible performance’ is 20:00 for a given age and gender and the individual actually runs 24:00, an inverse percentage is calculated as 20/24 * 100 or 83.33%. The closer an athlete is to their ‘best possible performance’, the closer the score is to 100. An athlete can exceed the ‘best possible performance’ by running 19:48, for example; that would merit a 101.01%. Once more than just a few of those occur, the standards are reviewed and adjusted statistically if necessary. The last such adjustment was in 2015. Recent history tends to be a good guide for predicting who is likely to excel in Age-Grading. Two relevant benchmarks are the most recent road championship, the 8K, and last year’s age-grading on this same course and distance.

Four of the top 7 age-grade women from Virginia Beach are entered here as of April 23 at 5 pm. Marisa Sutera Strange heads the list at 92.57%, followed by Jeanette Groesz (91.82%), Suzanne Ray (90.21), and Michelle Simonaitis (87.41). Top age graders from last year’s 10K Championship who are returning include Jan Holmquist (96.59), Sutera Strange (93.73), and Mimi Fallon (88.56). Even if Holmquist is not at the very top of her game, she should take the Age-Grading contest, with Sutera Strange favored for 2nd and Groesz to claim the last podium spot. Update: Karen Durante could well make her way onto the podium. Her recent efforts at the Tune-Up 15K and the Half Marathon would age grade at 90.85 and 91.90 respectively for a 67 year old, her current age.
Jeanette Groesz finishing the 2017 USATF Masters 15K Championship at the Tulsa Run where she had a top 5 Age Grading finish under tough conditions [Photo courtesy of Tulsa Sports Commission] 

Easy for me to say; they’ve got to do the racing!

Jan Holmquist     Marisa Sutera Strange     Jeanette Groesz

Six of the top 8 age-grade men from Virginia Beach are already entered: Nat Larson, at 92.90%, heads the list, followed by Brian Pilcher (91.74) [Update-Scratched due to injury issues.], Gene Dykes (91.72), Ken Youngers (91.48), Tom Bernhard (91.19), and Kent Lemme (90.31). Top returners from last year’s 10K Championship include many of the same athletes: Nat Larson (92.80%), Derrick Staley (89.84), Bernhard (89.80), and Lemme (89.59). It should be a tight battle between Larson and Pilcher as Pilcher should be on an upward trend. Still, the Champ’s the Champ until he’s beaten. I will pick Larson, who has been scorching the roads for the past year, for 1st and go with Pilcher for 2nd. It should be quite a battle for 3rd. In principle Dykes should get it; he should improve with distance being the only Marathon record holder in the subgroup vying for the 3rd podium spot. But he should also have heavy legs from Rotterdam and Boston so that argues for Youngers or Bernhard who are both still coming back from late 2016/early 2017 surgeries. And Lemme keeps running better and better too. Despite the utmost respect for all of these runners, I have to pick someone! I will go with Youngers to stay ahead of Bernhard and Lemme to move ahead of Dykes, just because Dykes had a tough 2 weeks in mid-April. If Dykes can make the age-grading podium at the end of a month in which he crushed the American 70-74 Marathon mark and won his age division in Boston in some of the worst weather ever, we will have to conclude he has found an unanticipated niche at the very top of the Masters Road Racing game. 4/28/18 update. Pilcher will not be able to run after all; he will be missed. But Kristian Blaich and Bill Dixon are now in the field. Both will need to be factored in. Blaich has graced the Age-Grading podium on occasion at these championships and Dixon, if he can make a run at the 70-74 record, could be in the hunt as well. Blaich had some good age grades last year, including a 91% on this course last year. But he has not competed in a Championship yet this year; in fact I can find no recent results for him. I will go with Bernhard after Larson and Youngers but either Blaich or Lemme could prove me wrong. I have underestimated both at one time or another in the past.
Nat Larson heading to his 2nd place finish in the Age-Grading Competition at the 2017 USATF Masters 15K Championship, hosted by the Tulsa Run [Photo courtesy of Tulsa Sports Commission] 

Nat Larson     Brian Pilcher     Ken Youngers      Tom Bernhard

Overall Race. The horn sounds! The runners take off! Who will be the first Masters Athletes to cross the finish line!?

Marisa Sutera Strange finished 3rd last year in 37:55, after winning the 2016 race in 36:49. Mimi Fallon also had a top 10 finish in 2017 in 39:10. Sutera Strange won the 8K in Virginia Beach in 30:40, with Michelle Simonaitis in 2nd place at 31:20. None of the other top 10 from Virginia Beach are entered. Jennifer Bayliss, who finished a minute ahead of Sutera Strange in taking the USATF Cross Country Masters title in early February, is entered. Since then she also finished 3rd Masters runner in the Sactown 10 Miler in 1:03:01. Jennifer St. Jean ran 38:17 here in 2015 but recently ran an 18:36 5K, suggesting she may be fitter this year. On the other hand, that race advertises itself as a ‘PR factory’ with a certified and net downhill course. A frequent competitor on the track, St. Jean ran a 5:26 in the Brooklyn [Road] Mile last year. That compares favorably with Renee Tolan’s 5:24 that took the USATF Road Mile title in Flint. Sutera Strange was a little off her best in Tallahassee and came back strong in Virginia Beach so based on current entries, I will go with Sutera Strange to win,
Marisa Sutera Strange heading to victory at the 2016 edition of the USATF Masters 10K Championships, hosted by the James Joyce Ramble

Bayliss to take 2nd and St. Jean to edge Simonaitis for 3rd. But none of it will be easy! [Update: Ginger Reiner, last year's Champion and also the overall victor at the 5km Masters XC Championship in Boston, is a late entry. I cannot ignore the reigning Champion. Her 1:25:46 recently in the New Bedford Half Marathon shows that current fitness is not in question. I will put Reiner ahead of Strange but she will have to earn the win.

Ginger Reiner      Marisa Sutera Strange     Jennifer Bayliss     Jennifer St. Jean

Jennifer Bayliss striding to victory at the 2018 USATF Cross Country Masters Championship at Tallahassee. [Photo by Mike Scott]

David Angell is the defending Masters 10K Champion and also took the 8K title in Virginia Beach. That makes him a strong favorite. Who will challenge? The strongest challenge last year came from Derrick Jones who threw in a couple of surges to try to break Angell. But Angell withstood each surge and, in the end, Jones was spent, despite clocking a 33:04, and several runners passed him in the final 400 meters. Since then Jones has competed in several Championship races using more standard strategies and has finished well, but not in the top ten. By the end of the 10K race last year, Greg Putnam was only 8 seconds back from Jones and the trio of Larson, Lemme, and Jonathan Frieder were only another 20 seconds back. And Frieder has had the edge over Putnam in their recent meetings on the roads. Frieder came in 14 seconds ahead of Putnam at the 5K Masters Championships, with Larson and Lemme not too far behind them. Frieder did not fare as well on  the Cross Country turf in Lexington and Tallahassee but came back strong at Virginia Beach to take 5th overall, with a half minute on Lemme and Larson; Putnam did not run Virginia Beach. Two others who ran Virginia Beach certainly need to be considered. Philippe Rolly finished 3rd, 18 seconds behind Angell and 12 seconds ahead of Frieder. As the reigning Bank of America Chicago Marathon Masters Champion, we would have to assume he improves with distance. The other contender, Sam Teigen, Frieder’s teammate, finished in 4th, four seconds ahead of Frieder. And Teigen has some long distance credibility as well with a 1:15:18 finish in the 2017 NYC Half Marathon. It seems fair, barring any further entries (I will update as necessary), to pick Angell and Rolly to go 1-2. Will Giovanni Pippia who finished 2nd in Virginia Beach, be a late entry for the Atlanta Track Club? If so, he will likely contend here as well.  Frieder, Jones, Putnam and Teigen will surely have a battle for honors. Teigen took the most recent honors so I will go for him to take 3rd. [Update: Pippia never did enter but two of the BAA;s finest, David Bedoya and Ryan McCalmon and Kristian Blaich have entered. McCalmon finished second here last year but Blaich was only 3 seconds back. Bedoya got the better of Blaich at Club XC this year in Lexington but it is never a sure thing that Cross Country dominance will carry over to the roads. But Bedoya has cometed recently on the roads. His 1:12:30 in the New Bedford Half Marathon is age grade equivalent to 33:33 for a 10K, about a half minute slower than Blaich was last year on this course. His 50:29 on the Tune-Up 15K is equivalent to  10K time a little faster.

David Angell     Ryan McCalmon      Kristian Blaich     Philippe Rolly     Sam Teigen

David Angell kicking away from everyone except Derrick Jones in the early going at the 2017 USATF Masters 10K Championship

Those are my picks based on entries through Monday morning April 23. I expect a healthy number of added entries, possibly as many as 50-75 in these last two days of online registration and Saturday for on site registration. If someone enters who upsets the apple cart of predictions, I will try to post an update. 4/25/18. As expected there have been a number of entries that need to be factored in, including Kristian Blaich, who had a terrific duel with Kent Lemme for the win in 2015, and two of the B.A.A.'s finest, Ryan McCalmon who was on the podium here last year and the always dangerous David Bedoya.

The next posting will be the Age Division races though!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

USATF 10K Masters Championship--Records Watch—Will Age Division American Records fall at Dedham?

April 22 2018. The USATF 10K Masters Championship hosted by the James Joyce Ramble is only a week away. Let the Record Watch begin! No one would call the road course in Dedham flat and fast. Yet a number of 10K records have been set here. That is due partly to the highly competitive fields that are attracted and part to Race Know-how. For a record to be ratified, the Race has to file paperwork verifying that all ‘i’’s were dotted and ‘t’s crossed. Many Athletes have lowered American Records only to find that their times could never be validated. The officials at the 10K Championship have made sure that all necessary paperwork is filed if a record is lowered.

The weather looks to be cooperative with the Racetime forecast for upper 50's, and mostly sunny; if the wind stays down in the single digits, it will be close to perfect. So which Age Division Records are at risk of falling on Race Day, the 29th of April?

Women 85-89 There is no current validated American Record for this age group. There is a pending mark of 1:35:59 run on December 2016 by Mary Grosse at the Savannah Bridge Run. That course is clearly record eligible; it is an out and back that finishes within a few blocks of the start, so it meets separation and elevation requirements. It is also USATF certified for the period November 2015 to November 2025. But the record is listed as pending, not ratified; that probably means the paperwork has not been filed. It is possible that it could yet be filed, but it is rare for records to be ratified after more than a year has passed. Anny Stockman set the 5K American Record for the Age Group at Syracuse last October with a 39:41. That one is ratified! Her 5K time suggests she should have a good shot at beating Grosse’s time. She will try for an American Record on the 29th. If she beats the 1:35:59 time then she will get the record, no doubt. If not, her time will be listed as a pending record until Grosse’s time is either validated or validation is abandoned as hopeless. There is apparently no rule on how long USATF can wait for validation. Perhaps there should be a ‘sunset rule’ or statute of limitations on how long to wait for validation? Regardless, let’s all cheer for Anny Stockman as she tries to bring another road race distance into her basket of records.
Anny Stockman, stylish in black, heads toward the finish line and an American 5K Record at the USATF 5K Championship hosted by the Syracuse Festival of Races [Photo by Amir Findling--]

Women 70-74 Although Jan Holmquist, the current record-holder, is in the field as usual, she does not appear to have the same fitness she had when she set the American Record of 45:22 three years ago on this course. There is little doubt that she will win the division, but a record is a stretch too far this year. On the other hand, Holmquist should have a shot at the ‘World’s Best’ single age record for 73-year-old women currently held by England’s Louise Gilchrist at 48:07. []

Jan Holmquist taking her usual Age Division Championship at the 2017 USATF 10K Championship, hosted by the James Joyce Ramble 

Women 65-69 Last year Sabra Harvey bettered the posted American Record on this course with a 42:04 only to find that Kathryn Martin had run a 41:57 10K three weeks earlier. Martin is very savvy about records and typically plans where she will race to be sure the course is certified, record eligible and that the race is very likely to file the necessary paperwork. That is what happened last year; Martin’s time was validated and is the current American Record. Harvey could have taken a shot at it this year but, with the World Masters Athletics Championships coming up in Malaga, Spain in September, Harvey is focusing on the track, where she is the defending age division World Champion in the 800 and 1500 meters. What about Martin? Three weeks ago, she ran the Aspire 10K again and finished almost as strong as last year, recording a 42:22. This is not a race that Martin runs very often, although she did run here in 2014. We will have to wait and see.

Men 55-59 The 5K and 8K American records were broken by Nat Larson last year. He ran 15:54 in the CVS Pharmacy/Downtown 5K in Providence in September and then set the 8K record of 26:19 at the Rothman Institute 8K, one of the Philly Marathon Weekend events. Does he have a shot at the 10K record in Dedham? Never say never with Larson, but it looks like it will take a terrific day for him to do it. The current record is Jim O’Neill’s 32:27, set in the 1993 edition of the Blade Run in Toledo OH. Larson ran 33:30 here in Dedham last year, and 33:51 the year before. Of course, he did run the Virginia Beach 8K 13 seconds faster this year than last. But asking him to beat those times by more than a minute would be asking a lot!

Nat Larson leading his Greater Springfield teammate, Kent Lemme to the finish line at the 2017 USATF 10K Championship, hosted by the James Joyce Ramble 

Men 60-64 [Update 4/24/18-Pilcher will not run the 10K Championships due to "...the usual issues."]As far as Road Racing goes, 2017 was not a good year for Brian Pilcher as he had an injury-shutdown that kept him off the roads from mid-March through the rest of the year. But 2016 was prime! Not only was Pilcher aiming at the Marathon record for the 60-64 division, he ran the 5K as a ‘shake-out’ the week before the Chicago Marathon. Some shake-out! He broke the 5K record, running 16:38. The next week he bettered the Half Marathon [1:16:54], 25K [1:31:41]and 30K [1:50:53] records on the way to an exact match of the Marathon record [2:42:44]. Unfortunately, all those times are listed as pending, as the paperwork has not been submitted to USATF. As far as the 10K record goes in Dedham, it may just be too early on Pilcher’s comeback trail.  The same Jim O’Neill who holds the 55-59 record Larson is shooting for, holds the 60-64 record of 34:27. Is that within Pilcher’s reach? He ran 28:40 in the 8K Championship in mid-March, 26 seconds slower than in 2017. Pilcher also took on Carlsbad this year, running 17:34. Pilcher ran 35:00 at Dedham in 2016, shortly after running 17:04 at Carlsbad. Pilcher will be the favorite to take the division, but probably not with a record time. No one should ever bet against Pilcher but it is definitely a long shot for this coming weekend.

Brian Pilcher strides to the finish line at the 2016 USATF 10K Championship, hosted by the James Joyce Ramble 

Men 65-69 Like Pilcher, Tom Bernhard had a great 2016, including an American 5K Record set at Syracuse with a 17:31. Bernhard mentioned that he had done a poor job of pacing in that race and so looked forward to 2017 as a year to lower the record further. Unfortunately, the ‘Running Gods’ did not cooperate. Between off season knee surgery which, though successful, required some time off training, and an early trip to Japan, which likewise delayed training, Bernhard never really got up to speed in 2017. He ran fine times and won 5 national championships but was never a threat to take down any of the records, not even his own 5K.  Clive Davies ran a 37:04 10K in 1983 and that has stood ever since. I can only find one recent time for Bernhard on the Dedham course and that was in 2017 when he ran 38:17. Bernhard did run a 37:18 10K at the Marin Memorial Day [MMD] 10K in 2016. But that is generally considered one of the faster courses and, as noted, that was his prime year, and just before he turned 65.

Tom Bernhard, running on air (maybe that's his secret?!) into the finish line at the 2017 USATF 10K Championship, hosted by the James Joyce Ramble 

Men 70-74 Here’s one to cheer for on the Men’s side. There are two runners, potentially, who can chase the current record of 40:15, set by Jan Frisby just a couple of years ago on the MMD course. Gene Dykes is running better than ever and just turned 70. Two weeks before his 70th birthday he ran a 30:54 8K at Virginia Beach. That is age-grade equivalent to a 39:00 10K for a 69-year-old. A few days after his 70th birthday he cracked three hours at the Rotterdam Marathon, running 2:57:43 to break John Keston’s 3:00:58 set in 1996. And here is where the story gets a little more complicated. Dykes is running right now like Mike Wardian of 7MarathonsOn 7 Continents In 7 days fame. Wardian is known for running some ultras and often running marathons on back to back weekends. Wardian, 43 years old, typically runs them under 2:30. Eight days after running Rotterdam, Dykes ran in those terrible conditions in Boston, 20+ mph headwinds and pouring rain. He did not run as fast, clocking a 3:16:20. Considering those conditions, that was an incredible effort. He won the age group by 28 minutes. Better yet, he did not get hypothermia!

Normally one would assume he would be skipping Dedham due to heavy legs and needing recovery time. But as far as I know, Dykes is planning on driving up from Philly. He said he hates to miss a weekend of racing. Last year he ran the Moab 200 Endurance Run (238 Miles) on October 13, followed that with the End of the Road Marathon 2 weeks later, the Cooper Norcross 10K the following week and ran a 31:13 at the Rothman Institute 8K two weeks further on. He has already run a 50 mile and 100 mile trail run this year. The point is that the ordinary rules do not appear to prevent Dykes from running much more distance and more intensity than most distance runners. I would ordinarily have said he has no chance for the record with two marathons, one very fast and the second, an endurance test, in the last three weeks, but with Dykes it may be possible.
Gene Dykes heads to the finish line at the 2018 Rotterdam Marathon in under 3 hours, achieving the American Record for 70-74 and the single age World's Best for70 year olds, formerly held by the legendary, late Ed Whitlock [Photo Credit:]

Who else? The other threat for the record has not signed up yet and does not run Dedham every year. Bill Dixon ran 40:09 last year in Dedham, a couple of weeks before his 70th birthday. He had run 39:45 the year before but had skipped the race in 2015. In 2014 he ran 38:20. In the last couple of years he has run the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Road Race [10K] 17 and 52 seconds faster than he has run at Dedham. With a 41:00 in Holyoke this year, it suggests a 40:15 at Dedham will be a tough nut for Dixon to crack; his history suggests a time over 41 is more likely.  He has often teamed up with John Barbour running for Greater Lowell. But Barbour has still probably not recovered from the injury that prevented a good run in Lexington KY at Club XC. I do not know if Barbour’s likely absence makes it more or less likely that Dixon will run. It would certainly add to the excitement if he shows up and takes a flyer at the record!

Based on entries up through Saturday April 22, that would seem to be it for Age Division American record possibilities. Anny Stockman seems the most likely to succeed, with Gene Dykes not far behind; the others have their work cut out for them--But will we ever cheer if any of them get a record next Sunday!
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Next post will be the Preview of Overall, Age-Grading and Age Division contests.