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!
Don't miss the excitement! You can still sign up online for the Championship at:

Next post will be the Preview of Overall, Age-Grading and Age Division contests.

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