Sunday, June 17, 2018

Top Masters Athletes Overcome the Challenges of the 2018 Boston Marathon

June 17 2018. The 2018 edition of the Boston Marathon, held on Patriot’s Day, Monday, April 16th, had the most daunting set of conditions the race has thrown at its competitors in some time, maybe ever. Sometimes, as in 2017, it has been too hot. That was not the problem this time. The temperature hovered just above freezing when the Elite Women started at 9:30 AM, and the mercury still only indicated 42 degrees when Des Linden finished the winner, just after noontime. The runners battled consistent 25 mph headwinds with gusts into the lower 30’s and rain.  The conditions were the same for the Elite Men. Like the Women, the race fell to a surprise winner, Yuki Kawauchi, as the top elite runners fell by the wayside or dropped back. 
Marathoners Braving the Elements at the 2018 Boston Marathon Photo

Some of the older Masters Runners, who started in later waves, saw the temperatures rise almost to 45 and the headwinds dip somewhat below 20 mph for the last dozen miles or so but, of course, they were subjected to the conditions for a longer period of time. Apparently a remarkable 95% of the runners overall were able to overcome the odds and finish despite risk of hypothermia. Everyone who finished the race performed remarkably well and will have the story to tell for years to come. My focus will be on the top US Masters finishers, although I acknowledge top finishers from other countries.  As is my custom, I report age-grades also, but the conditions made for slow times and those slow times mean low age-grade scores.  Be careful in comparing to other races and/or to Boston in other years. I start with the Overall Masters contest and then consider the Age Division contests.

[Disclaimer: Whether discussing the overall results or age division contests, the coverage may suggest a race where all of the runners are aware of other competitors at all times. Under trying conditions, runners in later waves may wind up passing those in earlier waves. Even if competitors start in the same wave, they may never spot the other competitors at the start. In some cases, competitors may be keenly aware of one another but in marathons, even more than at shorter races, the main competition is often inside one's head.]
Overall Masters. Ordinarily one would just pencil in the name Abdi Abdirahman, before the start and feel confident of one’s pick. But on a day when many elite runners were falling by the wayside, there was some doubt for a while. But Abdi never faltered, and had another remarkable ‘top 15’ finish overall, and a comfortable victory margin in the Masters Overall competition and the 40-44 Age Division. Nonetheless, it was probably the first time in a while that another Masters contender actually took time out of Abdi’s lead over the 2nd half of the Marathon. 
Abdi Abdirahman (L) dueling with Dathan Ritzenhein (R) Photo Credit:

The other chief contenders were: Charlie Brenneman from Rocklin CA, near Sacramento; Shaun Frandsen, from Kirkland WA, near Seattle; Jorge Maravilla, from Mill Valley CA, north of San Francisco; and Matthew Wolpert from Ogden UT. John Sharp from Glasgow, Scotland, finished 5th in 2:36:08, with Bryan Rusche of Toronto, Canada in 6th at 2:37:32. New to the Masters ranks, Brenneman had a 2:28:35 in California’s Two Cities marathon and a 2:32:47 in the 2016 edition of Grandma’s Marathon. Frandsen took the Masters win at the California International Marathon last December in 2:28:47 and a 2:31:50 2nd place Masters finish at the Eugene Marathon. Maravilla is also new to the Masters ranks; in 2017 he ran an impressive 2:24: 27 at Boston and was the overall winner of the San Francisco Marathon in 2:28:23. With a 2:50:21 Marine Corps Marathon time and a 2:42:37 at the CIM, Wolpert would ordinarily not have been considered a threat for a top 5 Masters finish. But this was no ordinary day.
Jorge Maravilla winning the 2017 San Francisco Marathon Photo Credit: San Francisco Chronicle

Next to Abdi, Maravilla ran the most aggressive race, hitting the 10K mark in 33:18 and the half way mark in 1:11:29. That was 5 minutes off Abdi’s pace but two minutes ahead of his closest pursuer, Frandsen, who covered the first 10K in 34:14 and clocked 1:13:36 at the halfway mark. Brenneman ran 1:16:55 for the first half and enjoyed a 25 second lead over Wolpert. Maravilla continued to build the gap back to Frandsen through 30K when his lead stood at 2:21. From there on, Frandsen slowly clawed his way back; at 35K the gap was under 2 minutes and by the 40K mark was about a minute. But was there enough race course left? Perhaps not on an ordinary day, but this was no ordinary day. Frandsen found he could still clock close to 4 minutes per kilometer while Maravilla could no longer stay under 4:30 kilometer pace. He had battled the elements and defeated them but could not quite hold off the determined Frandsen who took 2nd to Abdi in 2:34:56, a mere 6 seconds ahead of Maravilla. Frandsen added this 2nd place finish to his Masters win at the California International Marathon last December. Brenneman was 45 seconds back in 4th, with Wolpert 5thAmerican in 2:37:43.

Abdi Abdirahman 41 Tucson AZ 2:28:18  85.84% Age Grade   Shaun Frandsen 40 Kirkland WA 2:34:56 81.60%    Jorge Maravilla 40 Mill Valley CA 2:35:02 81.55


In the Women’s race international Masters runners took 1st and 3rd through 5th places. Krista Duchene from Brantford Canada, took 3rd overall and won the Masters race in 2:44:20. She was followed by Jessica Draskau Petersson from Gentofte Denmark in 3rd at 2:57:29; Sarah Dudgeon, of Wallingford UK, 4th in 3:00:28; and Angela Switt, Toronto Canada, 5th in 3:00:47.

Like Abdi in the Men’s race, most would expect Dot McMahan to dominate the Women’s race and, like Abdi, she did not disappoint, racing to a 2:48:57, good for 12th overall and first American Masters athlete by nearly 10 minutes. Other American contenders for a top finish included: Anne Cushman, from Rancho Cordova California, near Sacramento; Brenda Hodge, of York, Pennsylvania, south of Harrisburg; Nancy Jurgens, of Apex North Carolina, near Raleigh; Shannon Siragusa, from Simsbury Connecticut, northwest of Hartford; and Dara Steele-Belkin from Atlanta Georgia.
Dot McMahan won the Masters Title at the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon Photo Credit: NY Road Runners

Last year Cushman took 2nd Masters at the Santa Rosa Marathon in 3:05:54, and then was 9th Masters at the CIM in 2:58:53. Whether due to the warm weather in Boston in 2017 or for some other reason, Hodge only managed a 3:13:27. Later in the year she clocked 3:00:16 at Grandma’s and cracked 3 hours at the TCS NYC Marathon in November with a 2:59:23. New to the Masters ranks, Jurgens ran 3:07:47 in the 2016 Richmond Marathon at age 38 and then last year, at age 39, ran 2:59:49 at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort Marathon. Siragusa finished 21st in her first try at Boston as a Masters athlete in 3:09:35, but her time skyrocketed in the warm conditions of 2017 when she ran 3:46:53. A solid 3:05:20 effort for 2nd masters in the Eversource Hartford Marathon suggested that, in the absence of a hot race, she should be competitive. In her first race as a Masters athlete at Boston in 2015, Steele-Belkin finished 15th with a 2:59:44 effort. The next year she got to battle 20+ mph headwinds although the temps, unlike 2018, were moderate, in the 50’s and there was no rain. Still, her time ballooned to 3:18:58. But that experience may have helped prepare her, if anything can, for the near gale conditions of 2018. Despite the warm conditions in 2017, Steele-Belkin improved to 3:10:24. In November of 2016 she clocked a 3:00:49 at the Richmond Marathon, showing she still had the possibility of cracking three hours in a Marathon.

The race was really tight over the first 10K, with Hodge leading at 41:23, followed by Cushman at 42:13, with Jurgens 9 seconds back. Siragusa and Steele-Belkin were another 12 and 14 seconds back. Jurgens, Siragusa and Steele-Belkin all pushed past Cushman in the next 10K, but Hodge continued to pull away, enjoying a lead of over a minute on the rest of the field. By the halfway mark it was Jurgens leading the chasers at 1:29:16 with Siragusa only 9 seconds back, and Steele-Belkin another 28 seconds back, but now 15 seconds ahead of Cushman. Hodge continued to build her lead as she was two minutes ahead of Jurgens at the 35K mark. Jurgens pushed the gap with Siragusa up to 31 seconds by the 35K mark but just as with the Men’s race, Siragusa found a well of strength to draw on, as she closed with Jurgens and established a gap of 31 seconds by the end of the race. Hodge finished 2nd American in 2:58:50, with Siragusa 3rd American in 3:01:31. Jurgens finished a half minute back as 4th American with Steele-Belkin two minutes further back, and Cushman next in 3:04:44.

Dot McMahan 41 Oakland Township MI 2:48:57 83.19% Age Grade   Brenda Hodge 46 York PA 2:58:50 82.10%  Shannon Siragusa 43 Simsbury CT 3:01:31 78.54%  

Age Division Results

40-44. The Overall Race description above gives the details of how the race unfolded. The age division and the overall podium for the Men was the same; for Women it differed in that Hodge took the 45-49 crown, allowing Nancy Jurgens 40 Apex NC to take 3rd in the 40-44 division with a 3:02:02 76.70%.

45-49. The top contenders were all American, John Barry, Brett Bernacchi, Chris Hartshorn, Mark Hunkele, and Chris Knorzer. Barry’s Athlinks profile is private; all I could find was a 56:53, finishing 3rd in the division in the American Tobacco Trail 10 Miler (2:38:39 age grade equivalent). He had apparently not raced at aboston in the 12014-2017 period either. Bernacchi ran a half dozen half marathons in 2017, with the fastest being 1:15:51 at the BMO Harris Bank Mesa-Phoenix HM. In 2016 he ran 2:40:04 at the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon in Canada. Hartshorn has run the Boston Marathon several times since turning 40. His fastest time was 2:27:58 in 2013. In 2016 when runners encountered a double-digit headwind, his time rose to 2:37:46. Hunkele ran 2:52:58 at the 2015 edition of the Boston Marathon, a day with light rain and double digit headwinds. He ran 2:50:51 later that year at the Chicago Marathon. Knorzer ran 2:35:50 at the 2016 California International Marathon and 2:42:46 at the 2017 Big Sur International Marathon. Knorzer threw caution to the wind and went out quite fast, hitting the 10K in 35:42. He had over a minute on Hartshorn, who had over a half minute on Barry. Bernacchi was taking a more cautious approach with a 38:42 10K,while Hunkele apparently came across in 40:08. After the 15K split, Hunkele’s splits are either missing or obviously wrong (e.g. 30K 3:09:03). He is listed as having a valid finishing time of 2:47:11, good for 5th place. Knorzer was still going strong at the halfway point, clocking 1:17:39; Hartshorn was now 1:15 back. Barry came across the mat in 1:19:28 with Barry almost two minutes back. Knorzer finally started to feel the effects fo the weather and the early pace. By the 30K mark, Hartshorn and Barry had passed him and opened up a lead of nearly a minute, 1:53:29 for Hartshorn to 1:53:38 to 1:54:21. Bernacchi was able to passed Knorzer before the 35K mark and that’s the way things remained until the end. Hartshorn took the 45-49 win, with Barry over a minute back in 2nd and Bernacchi two more minutes back in 3rd. Knorzer was just off the podium in 2:45:16, a terrific time considering the conditions and his early pace. He was followed 2 minutes later by Hunkele and in another minute Moore.

Chris Hartshorn 46 Boston MA 2:39:46 82.99  John Barry 49 Cary NC 2:41:00 84.48  Brett Bernacchi 45 Phoenix AZ 2:43:28.


In the Women’s contest, Joanna Bourke Martignoni, an Austrian national, took the win in 2:53:19, and Chunhua Liu, a Chinese national living in the Greater Boston area, finished 4th in 3:10:47.

The other main contenders were all US citizens: Ellen Basile, Lisa Bentley, Brenda Hodge, and Suzanne Rinehart.  Basile clocked 3:07:52 in the 2016 BOA Chicago Marathon but had otherwise kept her focus on Half Marathons and below. She ran 1:26:05 in the AirBNB Brooklyn HM and 1:05:40 in the New Balance Bronx 10 Miler. A 1:26:53 in the UA NYC HM left her prepped for Boston.  In 2017 Bentley ran a 1:23:04 Half Marathon in Orlando, and a 3:02:23 in Boston. Hodge, in 2017, ran 3:13:27 in the Boston heat, but followed that with a 3:00:16 at Grandma’s and a 2:59:23 at the TCS NYC Marathon in November. Primarily a triathlete, Rinehart has gradually become more comfortable on the roads. In 2015 she ran 1:37 and 1:43 in two Half Marathons; in 2016 she tried Boston and ran 3:38:31. Apparently heat was more to her liking than headwinds as she ran again in 2017, clocking 3:28:54. When the race started, Hodge had the more aggressive approach, covering the first 10K in 41:23, with 49 seconds on Bentley, another minute or so on Basile, and 3 minutes to Rinehart. There were no major changes by the half way mark, with Hodge crossing the mat in 1:27:48, a minute and a half in front of Bentley, with Basile now only half a minute back from Bentley. 
Lisa Bentley at Boston in 2014 won her age division Photo Credit:

Rinehart was now over 3 minutes behind Basile. Hodge kept her pace going, just forging a bigger and bigger lead over her American rivals.  Basile, meanwhile, kept chipping away at Bentley’s lead, cutting it to 11 seconds by the 30K and then passed with force in the next 5K. At 35K, Basile had a minute and a half margin, which she pushed to over 3 minutes by the finish. Rinehart closed well, taking over two minutes out of Bentley’s lead from 30K to Boylston Street, but ran out of race course.

Brenda Hodge 46 York PA 2:58:50 82.1  Ellen Basile 45 New York NY 3:06:47 77.81 Lisa Bentley 49 Clermont FL 3:09:59 80.03


Daniel Descharnais of Quebec, Canada and Alberto Manzanares Elias of Spain finished 4th and 5th in the race in 2:51:56 and 2:51:57.

The top Americans in contention included 2 of the BAA’s finest Masters Runners, Andrew Gardiner and Peter Hammer, along with Douglas Baldwin of St. Paul MN and John Hill of Pleasant Hill CA. Baldwin has run 2:56:30 in the 2016 edition of the Boston Marathon and 2:48:32 last year. In the fall of those years he ran 2:48:59 and 2:43:26 in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon so his times improved consistently from 2016 to 2017. Hill has two prior Boston Marathon times in the last few years. He ran 2:52:45 in the 2014 edition and 2:47:06 in the 2016 edition. In December he has run the California International Marathon, which tends to be faster than Boston. His times have included: 2:41:44, 2:45:44, and 2:44:45 the last three years. Although not a regular, Hammer does run the Boston Marathon every few years. His last two were a 2:45:46 in 2012 and 2:37:20 in 2015. This may be Gardiner’s first Marathon; I have not found other Marathon results for him. Hammer tuned up with a 1:14:44 in the new Bedford HM in March and Gardiner tuned up with a 51:39 in the Boston Tune-Up 15K.  

Hill and Gardiner threw caution to the wind, covering the first 10K in 36:00 and 36:17 respectively. Baldwin was about a minute behind Hill, with Hammer taking a more measured approach to things, over two minutes back from Baldwin. Hill crossed the halfway mat in 1:17:22; Gardiner was now a full minute back, with Baldwin another minute back and Hammer now well over 3 minutes behind Baldwin. Gardiner whittled away at Hill’s lead ever so slightly between there and the 35K mark, reducing the margin to under a minute. Baldwin still had 3 minutes on Hammer. By 40K, Gardiner was within 38 seconds of Hill but his only hope of catching Hill would depend on Hill falling way off his pace and that did not happen. Hill kept it together all the way to Boylston Street, keeping Gardiner 15 seconds back at the end. Hammer, by the 40K mark, was only a minute and a half back and now Baldwin was suffering, as so many of the Open Elite athletes ahead of him had. It took Baldwin almost 12 minutes to cover the last two kilometers; it must have been very painful in every respect. Hammer had no such difficulties though covering the last two kilometers in 9 minutes and claiming the 3rd American spot.

John Hill 50 Pleasant Hill CA 2:44:29 83.41  Andrew Gardiner 52 Dover MA 2:44:44 84.75  Peter Hammer 51 Needham MA 2:50:50 81.01


The top 4 contenders were all US citizens including: Corina Canitz, Lina Garcia, Kim Ionta, and Christine Morgenroth. In 2015 Canitz ran 2:56:50 at the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon and in 2017, 2:49:26 in the KP Napa Valley Marathon; in 2016 she ran 2:51:33 at Boston. Garcia ran 3:11:11 in the 2015 TCS NYC Marathon and 3:07:26 in the 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Ionta ran the very warm 2017 Boston Marathon in 3:28:29; three weeks later she ran 3:24:02 in the Providence Marathon. Last October she ran the Lowell HM in 1:28:49 suggesting room for improvement with her Marathon times. Morgenroth ran 3:19:54 at Boston and in the fall 3:14:11 at the TCS NYC Marathon.  She tuned up for Boston with a 1:31:30 at the United Airlines NYC Half.

Canitz was the aggressor, hitting the 10K mark in 41:59, with a 2 minute lead on Garcia and nearly 5 minutes on Ionta. Morgenroth’s chip did not register at 5K nor 10K but judging by 15K and 20K splits was, most likely between Garcia and Ionta, probably closer to Garcia. Canitz showd no sign of giving into the weather, crossing the halfway point in 1:31:56 with a minute and a half lead on Garcia. Morgenroth was now well over 3 minutes back from Garcia and Ionta had cut her gap up to Morgenroth from over a minute at 15K to just 36 seconds. Canitz’s pace slowed considerably over the next 9 kilometers with the result that Garcia had closed to within a half-minute by the 30K clock. Ionta, in that same space had passed Morgenroth and now enjoyed a lead of 16 seconds. Canitz’s struggles continued over the next ten kilometers which took her over 48 minutes but now Garcia was struggling even more, and the gap grew to well over a minute again. 
Corina Canitz on her way to a 2:51:33 at the 2016 Boston Marathon Photo Credit:

Ionta pulled steadily away from Morgenroth and now, at 40K enjoyed a two-minute lead. And that is the way they finished, all conquering the elements to finish 1-2-3-4: Canitz, Garcia, Ionta, and Morgenroth, two minutes behind Ionta.

Corina Canitz 51 Brookfield WI 3:13:35 80.53 Lina Garcia 50 San Juan Puerto Rico 3:16:17 78.43 Kim Ionta 54 Marshfield MA 3:17:16 82.16


Graham Merfield, resident of Atlanta but GBR citizen, finished 4th in 2:57:11 and Slovenia’s Bostjan Svab and Australia’s Peter Rushen finished 5h and 6th in 2:57:26 and 2:58:58.

The top four American Masters Runners who contested the race were: Tony Bleull, Jeff Duyn, Doug Fernandez, and Scott Sneddon. Bleul has two recent outings at Boston. In 2015 he ran 2:58:22 I the tough 50-54 division where he was not in the top 50, and last year in the warm conditions, his time ballooned to 3:10:10. .Last October he ran considerably faster inth e Grand Rapids Marathon, 2:52:27. Duyn has run Boston twice previously, clocking 2:50:05 in 2015 and 2:51:11 in last year’s heat, capturing 2nd and 4th respectively in his age division. A regular on the age division podium at Boston since 2014, Fernandez clocked 2:34:43 to finish 2nd in the 50-54 division in 2014; 2:47:37 when he finished 9th on a rainy and blustery day in 2015; 2:50:55 for a 4th place age division place in 2016; and a win last year in 2:44:52. Fernandez runs several marathons in most years. This was apparently Sneddon’s first go at Boston, at least in the last few years. He ran 2:44:35 at the 2016 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. Fernandez took  off with the horn, like the true Champion he is, clocking 38:11 for the first 10K, leaving Bleull a minute back, followed a half minute later by Duyn, and it was another half minute back to Sneddon. 
Scott Sneddon running comfortably at the 2015 Montana Marathon Photo Credit:

Fernandez, no stranger to Boston’s challenges, backed off a bit in the next 11K and hit the halfway mark in a more moderate 1:24:01. Bleuell had closed considerably, crossing the mat only 18 seconds back. Sneddon and Duyn were just over a minute back from Fernandez so things were tight! The early pace may have drained Fernandex as it did many of the elite Open runners, and he found both Sneddon and Duyn passing him in the next 9K. Duyn crossed the 30K timing mat in 2:02:11, followed only 5 seconds later by Sneddon. Fernandez was now over half a minute back from those two, but had built his lead over Bleuell to almost 40 seconds. Duyn pulled away from Sneddon and Sneddon continued to put space between him and Fernandez. Duyn took the win by 1:18 and Sneddon claimed 2nd with almost 2 and a half minutes on Fernandez.
Doug Fernandez winning the 2014 Harrisburg Marathon Photo: Daniwel Zampogna/Penn

 Fernandez hung tough all the way to the finish to claim his 2nd consecutive podium finish under two very different Boston challenges. Bleuell clocked 2:59:19, a terrific effort on a tough day; breaking 3 hours in 2018, at age 55, will be a worthy story for years to come.

Jeff Duyn 58 Garrett Park MD 2:53:17 85.08 Scott Sneddon 55 Billings MT 2:54:35 82.18 Doug Fernandez 57 Richmond VA 2:57:01 82.52


Teresa Novik of Canada and France’s Claudine Noiraud finished 3rd and 4th in 3:23:29 and 3:24:00 respectively.

The top American challengers for the podium included: Terri Cassel, Sue George, Heather Knight Pech, and Doreen McCoubrie. Cassel ran 3:27:37 in 2014 but had an unhappy race in the warm conditions last year, finishing in 4:10:49. She came to Boston hoping to enjoy a better outing in 2018. As prep, she captured her age division at the Aramco Half in Houston in January and the Cowtown Half in Ft. Worth TX in 1:28:38 and 1:29:46. Cassel was ready to roll. George runs Boston on occasion. In 2016 she ran the New Bedford Half as prep in 1:36:55 and Boston in 3:48:11. She ran the TCS NYC Marathon in 3:50:59 later that year. She took some time off from Marathons and was ready to try again this spring. She won her age group at the Fitbit Miami Half in 1: 35:06 in late January, and then took age division titles at a 30K and a 20 Miler in early and late March in 2:18:03 and 2:29:50. The 30K time is age-grade equivalent to a 3:19 Marathon. Last year Peck and McCoubrie went 1-2 in 3:10:30 and 3:13:56 in the heat; how would they fare in rainy and blustery conditions? McCoubrie ran 3:16:54 in 2016 also; she did not appear to run a prep race any further than an 8K. Cassel and McCoubrie are teammates on the Athena Track Club that actively participates in and typically wins the 50 and up division in USATF’s Masters Grand Prix circuit.
Heather Knight Pech in celebratory mood after her successful 2017 Boston Marathon Photo: Stowe Reporter at

Pech took off like she intended to win again; she clocked 44:01 for the first 10K and had the better part of two minutes on McCoubrie and her running partner through the first 6.2, Cassel. 
Doreen McCoubrie captured the 2017 55-59 National Half Marathon Championship in Orange County, California Photo: Paksit Photos-Courtesy of OC Marathon

George was a minute behind them. That set the pattern for the race as each slowed over the course of the race but relative pace remained the same. Gaps grew larger through the race except that Cassel struggled a bit more toward the end than George did, so Cassel’s lead shrunk from over 3 minutes at the 30K mark to just under 1 minute at the finish. In the end it was Pech with the repeat win in 3:10:15, 15 seconds faster than last year. McCoubrie again took 2nd, 7 minutes back this year, and Cassel 3rd American another 7 minutes further back. George crossed the line 55 seconds later.

Heather Knight Pech 56 Darien CT 3:10:15 87.48 Doreen McCoubrie 56 West Chester PA 3:17:26 84.3 Terri Cassel 56 Tulsa OK 3:25:00 81.19


The primary contenders, all US citizens included Charlie Muse, Kevin O’Brien, Roger Sayre, Doug Steedman, and Michael Young. Muse ran the 2016 TCS NYC Marathon in 2:59:10 and followed that with a 7th divisional finish in 3:09:14 at Boston the next spring in the heat. He tuned up for Boston this year by running 1:25:22 at the UA NYC Half, his fastest half marathon in the last few years. O’Brien finished 16th in the division last year in Boston with a 3:04:52. That improved considerably over his 2016 run where he clocked in at 3:20:36, and his 2015 race in 3:19: 21. The warmth must have agreed with him. Sayre is one of America’s top Masters runners at distances up through a Half Marathon. In 2014 he tried a Trail Marathon in Alaska, taking the age division win in 3:15:51. Subsequently he ran a lot of half marathons and near-half marathons on the roads and trails. In 2017 he ran 2:58:10, at age 59, at the Colorado Marathon. [Like many Rocky Mountain races, it is probably slower due to high altitude but faster due to a steady elevation drop of over 1000 feet. This one, because the gradient is gradual, is probably faster than an out and back nearer to sea level.] Like Sayre, Steedman has focused more on the shorter distance races. But he ran the California International Marathon in 2013 in 3:01:34 and in 2016 in 3:04:44, and in 3:02:41 in 2017, and the Edinburgh Marathon (Scotland) in 2015 in 3:16:32. The CIM is definitely a fast race, given its elevation loss from 366’ above sea level to 26’ above. Young has run lots of other Marathons but has been a regular every year at Boston at least since 2010 when he finished 345th in the 50-54 division in 3:24:03. In 2013 he ran 3:00:43 to finish 25th in the 55-59 division. The next year he ran 5 seconds faster and finished one place higher, no doubt vowing to come back better prepared next year. In 2015 he ran 2:54:25 and finished 7th. But Boston knocks you around a bit. The next year he was back just above 3 hours and the same the year after although, having graduated to 60-64, took 2nd in the division; it was also very warm so times were slower. What would 2018 hold for Young?

Young went out the fastest at 41:14 for the 1st 10K, with Steedman a half minute back, and Sayre tracking him another 30 seconds back. O’Brien was a minute back from Sayre and Muse 40 seconds back from O’Brien. Little changed from there to the halfway mark except that the gaps got a little bigger. Young hit it in 1:27:33 with a 6 and a half minute spread back across the other chasers to Muse in5th at 1:34:06. At the 35K mat, Young had a 2 minute lead on Steedman who had nearly three minutes on Sayre. Muse was now less than 4 minutes back from Sayre and 3 minutes ahead of O’Brien. Young ad Muse could still cover the 5K from 35K to 40K in about 22 minutes but the conditions had eroded the speed of the others. Muse took almost 5 minutes out of Steedman’s lead in that 5K span and pulled within 2 minutes of Sayre. Young and Muse were both able to clock 9:45 for the final 2 kilometers in taking 1-2 in 2:59:53 and 3:09:05. Like so many of the Open Elite runners, Steedman and Sayre were spent, but they were tough and finished, even though those last 2 kilometers were probably the slowest kilometers they had run in a race in a long time. 
Doug Steedman competing at the 2015 USATF National Club Cross Country Championships in San Francisco Photo: Mike Scott

Steedman’s pace fell off more than Sayre’s did , but Steedman took 3rd with 46 seconds to spare. Sayre was 4th in 3:12:41, three minutes ahead of O’Brien.

Michael Young 61 Orchard MI 2:59:53 84.32 Charlie Muse 61 Boston MA 3:09:05 80.22 Doug Steedman 62 San Francisco CA 3:11:55 79.8


Canadians Elizabeth Waywell and Lucie Rochon took 1st and 3rd in this division in 3:20:18 and 3:30:19.

The top American contenders were Becky Backstrom, Cory Benson, Karen Kunz, Maggie Mason, and Katherine Wild. Backstrom had run Boston from time to time, in 2008 when she ran 3:04:50 to win the 50-54 division and had a repeat win two years later in 3:03:50. In 2013 she finished just off the 55-59 podium in 3:06:45. She won the 55-59 division at the Green River Marathon in 2017 in 3:24:15 and prepped for Boston with a Hot Chocolate 15K in 1:07:08 in Seattle in March. Benson ran Boston in 2015, clocking 3:40:12, finishing 35th in the 55-59 division. She had an off year in 2016, running just over 4 hours but redeemed herself the following year with a 7th place division finish in 3:45:39. Kunz ran 3:53:08 at Boston in 2014, finishing 84th in the 55-59 division. A 3:33:35 in 2016 netted her a 4th place in the 60-64 division. 2017 was Kunz’s disaster year where her time ballooned to well over 4 hours. Vowing to redeem herself, she was back in 2018 for another try. Mason ran Boston in 3:29:57 in 2014, finishing 17th in 55-59. In the interim she has run the California International Marathon in times from 3:19 to 3:23 and was now back to try Boston again. In 2011 Wild ran the Portland Marathon in 3:38:27 and in 2015 ran the TCS NYC Marathon in 3:52:33. In May of 2017 she ran the Eugene Marathon in 3:35:55 and she was ready for another Boston run. Backstrom started out at a brisk, but measured pace, crossing the 10K mat in 46:22. She had 3 minutes on Kunz and Mason, only 2 seconds apart. Wild was a minute behind them with Benson another minute back in 51:10. At the halfway mark Backstrom was still clicking off the miles and had opened up a 6-minute gap between her and Kunz, who had nearly a minute lead on Mason. 

Wild was a minute and a half behind Mason but now just had a 7 second lead on Benson. Backstrom continued strong all the way to the finish, clocking 3:22:32 as first American and 2nd overall in the division. Kunz continued to lead Wild but her lead was shrinking, from 3 minutes at the 25K to 1:13 by the 35K mat. Wild, in the meantime, closed on Mason between 30 and 35K and at the 35K mat had a 9 second edge. Despite Wild’s best efforts, Kunz ran strong to the tape crossing as 2nd American with just 14 seconds to spare. Benson closed to within 15 seconds of Mason by the 40K mat but then Mason found her stride and kept the 4th place American finish in 3:39:27 to Benson’s 3:39:53.

Becky Backstrom 60 Sammamish WA 3:22:32 86.87 Karen Kunz 62 Rancho Cordova CA 3:38:04 83.06 Katherine Wild 61 Portland OR 3:38:18 81.78


Roger Turgeon from Quebec, Canada, won the division in 3:16:56.

The top 4 Americans were Martin Keibel, Alan Pemberton, Patrick Rupel, and James Wilson. A true Marathon Man, Keibel has run Boston every year since 2013 and several others each year. In 2013 he finished 7th in the 60-64 division with a 3:07:10. He ran 3:18:30 the next year and then skied to 3:41:56 in the rainy, windy conditions of 2015. After returning to a more normal time of 3:22:33 in 2016, his time climbed again, to 3:43:53, when the conditions turned warm in 2017. How did he cope with 2018 with harsher winds than in 2015? Pemberton ran 3:12:41 in the rain and wind of Boston in 2015. Rupel finished 6th in the 60-64 division at Boston 2013 with a 3:05:29. The next year he won the division in 2:59:08. Could he return 4 years later to take the 65-69 title? Wilson finished 19th in 60-64 in Boston in 2016 in 3:18:40 and came back the next year to run 3:36:58 and finish 91st in the same division with the warm conditions. On e would think Rupel would be the favorite but it was not a day to favor the favorite. Keibel rolled past the 10K mat in 44:21 with Rupel a half minute back and Pemberton a minute and a half back from Rupel. Wilson’s chip did not register but based on 5K and 15K splits, Wilson was between Rupel and Pemberton, probably closer to Rupel. As the only other split where Wilson’s chip did not register was the Halfway mark, I will report the 20K instead. At that point Keibel clocked 1:29:25 and his lead over Rupel was down to 21 seconds; it would shrink to 16 by the halfway mark. Wilson was nearly two minutes behind Rupel and nearly two minutes ahead of Pemberton. After closing up on Keibel by the halfway mark, Rupel ran into some trouble and lost everything he had gained and more by 25K. it was that kind of day. By 30K Keibel’s lead was up to almost a minute. But then it started coming down again as Keibel slowed in the later stages after battling the elements so long. Rupel sped up in the 5k from 35K to 40K and actually passed Keibel just before the 40K mat and at that point was 3 seconds ahead. But Keibel showed some extra grit as he rallied for the final 2K and came home the division winner by 22 seconds—What a race! It’s a shame they could not both win. Wilson came in 5 minutes later; Pemberton cut into Wilson’s lead a bit but was a minute and a half back at the finish.

Martin Keibel 66 Manchester CT 3:18:06 80.42 Patrick Rupel 65 Edmond OK 3:18:28 79.48 James Wilson 65 Brookline MA 3:23:18 77.59

The top 2 finishers in the division were Annie Pedersen of Denmark and Chile’s Rut Guzman Aguayo in 3:55:15 and 4:03:24

The top 4 American finishers included Kristi Berg, Alyn Park, Sharon Vaughn, and Shuko Yamane. Berg has run lots of marathons over the years, but I cannot find any recent Boston Marathon attempts. She won the 60-64 division at the 2014 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in 3:46:42 and then last September at age 64 shew took 3rd in the 60-64 division in 4:05:51. Park finished 2nd last year at Boston in this division in 3:49:08. I cannot find any marathons for Vaughn until October 2016 when she finished 34th in the 60-64 division at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 4:24:17. In April 2017, she ran 3:33:58 to win the 65-69 division in the Big Sur International Marathon. But there must have been some problem that forced them to shorten the race because Athlinks lists it as being 21.0 miles, not 26.2. Yamane runs lots of marathons including Boston. In 2014 she ran 4:26:11 to finish 109th in the 60-64 division. In 2016 she was back, running 4:10:45 to take 63rd in the division. She came back again next year to take 21st in the division in 3:56:18. Now she was getting somewhere!

Park started out like she expected to move up from 2nd last year to 1st this year, crossing the 10K mat in 54:49. Two minutes later, Vaughn sped past the clock, followed 45 seconds later by Yamane; Berg was nearly 2 minutes further back. Although Park and Vaughn were both slowed by the elements, they maintained their paces well so that Park gradually pulled away for a 4 minute edge over Vaughn at the finish and Vaughn kept the rest of the field well behind her, claiming 2nd US finisher by nearly 4 minutes. Yamane and berg had quite the see saw battle though as Berg gradually cut down Yamane’s lead from 1:10 at 20K to 11 seconds at the 35K mat. Surprisingly or not considering they were past the most serious hils, both sped up from 35K to 40K but Yamane sped up more. Berg cut her pace from 6:11 per kilometer to 5:56, but Yamane lowered hers from 6:17 to 5:50. And that increased the gap between them back up to 16 seconds in favor of Yamane. Yamane kept it up all the way to the finish,taking the 3rd spot by 45 seconds—quite a duel!

Alyn Park 67 Denver CO 4:06:22 79.36 Sharon Vaughn 65 Austin TX 4:10:21 75.69 Shuko Yamane 65 Honolulu HI 4:12:19 75.10


Albert Wieringa, a long-time resident of Florida but still a Dutch citizen and Sweden’s Björn Suneson finished in3rd and 4th in 3:50:07 and 3:53:10. Wieringa won the Age Division last year in 3:29:38.

The top American contenders were Thomas Claflin, Gene Dykes, David Howey, and Byron Mundy. A regular at Boston in recent years, in 2014, Claflin finished 83rd in the 65-69 division in 3:59:02. The following year was his high point in the division, finishing 41st in 3:47:36. In 2016 he ran 3:59:01 to finish 94th in 65-69; his 4:34:58 in 2017 led to 254th place in his last year in 65-69. Dykes has also been a regular at Boston; in 2014 Dykes’s 3:09:04 left him 3rd overall (1st American). After taking 2015 off, Dykes won the following two years in 3:09:56 and then 3:09:35. Eight days before the Boston Marathon this year, Dykes ran in the Rotterdam Marathon and took down the US 70-74 Marathon record, cracking the 3-hour barrier in the process with a 2:57:43. One would have thought that would rule him out for Boston but not so. Howey finished 9th overall (5th American) at Boston in 3:30:08 in 2015 and finished 7th (4th American) in 2016 in 3:24:04. In November 2017 he ran 3:30:14 in the Harrisburg Marathon. Another regular at Boston, Mundy ran 3:49:57 to finish 57th in 65-69. The following year it was a 3:30:20 for 11th. Mundy ran almost as fast in 2017, clocking 3:34:33 for another 11th place. Dykes should either be a strong favorite because of his speed in past Boston Marathons or a non-factor with heavy legs after running a fast Marathon 8 days before Boston. Which would it be?
Gene Dykes [#257] winning his division at the 2015 Caesar Rodney Half Marathon in 1:30:46 Photo:

Dykes had no doubt in his mind which it would be as he passed the 10K mat in 43:25, with a 4-minute lead on Mundy and a 5-minute lead on Howey. Claflin, perhaps wary of the weather was another 3 and a half minutes back from Howey. Considering the weather conditions, one would have to conclude that running two marathons in 8 days quite agrees with Dykes. He sped through the half marathon in 1:33:47 and took the win in 3:16:20. It was almost a half hour before another runner in the division finished. By the halfway mark, Howey had passed Mundy and enjoyed a lead of over a minute, passing the mat in 1:43:19. Claflin was another 7 minutes back and appeared to be no threat for the 3rd American spot. By the time they got into their 2nd hour on the course, the elements were wearing down Claflin, Howey, and Mundy. It took Mundy nearly an hour to traverse the 10K from 25 to 35; Claflin took 2 seconds less and Howey did a bit better, keeping it down to around 55 minutes. From there both How3ey and Mundy slowed further but, surprisingly, Claflin managed a quicker pace and pulled within 2 minutes of Mundy by 40K, slipped past in the last 2 kilometers and wound up 3rd American, well behind Howey, but almost a minute ahead of Mundy.

Gene Dykes 70 Bala Cynwyd PA 3:16:20 84.57 David Howey 70 Etters PA 3:44:53 73.83 Thomas Claflin 70 Brighton MI 3:54:09 70.91


Japan’s Tamaki Matsuda finished 2nd in 4:17:41 and 4 Canadians, Patricia Dudar, Susan Magher, Jane Wintemute, and Gayle Robinson finished 4th through 6th and 8th in 4:36:44, 4:36:45, 4:37:58, and 4:46:24.

The top 4 Americans included Joanne Neustrand, Jeannie Rice, Nancy Rollins, and Irene Taylor. Neustrand is definitely a regular at Boston. In 2013 she finished 3rd in 65-69 with a 4:12:36 effort and came back a year later with a 4:21:30 for 19th and in 2015 with a 4:25:43 and again 19th place. After waiting out a year, she came back with a 4:26:48 and a 24th place in her final year in 65-69. She would do better in 2018 she thought, at least in terms of finishing position. Rice runs lots of marathons and many other races of varying distances. Like many of her counterparts, she is devoted to Boston though. She ran 3:46:49 in 2014, taking 3rd in 65-69. The following year she won the division in 3:39:34. The next year was an off year by Rice’s standards as she ran ran 3:54:06 and finished just off the podium/ Perhaps that is why she skipped Boston in 2017? Rice was not idle; she ran 3 other marathons at least. The best of those was her winning effort at the Columbus Marathon in 3:29:41. Rollins has been a regular at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, winning 65-69 there in 2014 in 3:43:06 and in 2015 in 3:43:30. In her final year in the division she finished 2nd in 3:46:04. 2017 was an off year as her time skied to 4:01:35 although she did return to the top of the podium, albeit in 70-74. Boston was a bit more up and down for Rollins; she finished 3rd in 2015, running 3:48:55. She returned 2 years later with another subpar, by her standards, effort, finishing 3rd in 4:23:44. She was determined to do better in 2018. Taylor, by contrast, is not a regular at Boston. Hailing from Alaska, she is a regular at the Anchorage Weekend Festival of Races, although running the Half more commonly than the Marathon. She won the Skinny Raven Half in 2013, 2014, and 2017, posting the same winning time of 2:05:13 in both 2013 and 2017. She tried the marathon in 2015, finishing 2nd in 4:55:07. It would seem this should shape up as a duel between Rice and Rollins.
Nancy Rollins running 1:47:18 at the 2016 Door County Half Marathon Photo: Nate Perry

Rice was taking no prisoners as she laid it out in the first 10K in 47:14; it was 5 more minutes before Rollins crossed the mat, taking a much more conservative approach. Neustrand was another 6 minutes back with Taylor a further 6 minutes behind. Taylor was one fo the rare runners who ran a negative split on the day. Covering the first half in 2:23:36 and the 2nd half in 2:23:16. That stood her in good stead as as she almost made the podium, finishing 4th. The early speed of the others left her too far back. Rollins was the only one of the top 3 to run a faster 2nd half marathon on the day. Neustrand ran strong enough to keep Taylor at bay, claiming 3rd with over 8 minutes to spare. Up through the 35K it looked like there was no contest for 1st as Rice had widened her lead over Rollins to nearly 17 minutes. But then as with so many other elite runners on the day, the elements finally caught up with Rice; she had been clicking off her 5K’s in 31-33 minutes. From 35K to 40K, it took her over 45 minutes, and she lost 12 minutes of her lead to Rollins. Rice is a gritty runner, though, who would not give up. Even though it took Rice another 23 minutes to cover the last 2 kilometers, she was determined to finish. Rollins passed her and took the win with 2 minutes to spare. Rice took 2nd place and was almost certainly brought directly to the medical tent.

Nancy Rollins 71 Evanston IL 4:17:01 81.23 Jeannie Rice 70 Concord OH 4:19:11 79.21 Joanne Neustrand 70 Boca Raton FL 4:38:25 73.74


Villiam Novak of Slovakia took 3rd in 4:15:32.

The top 4 American contenders were Frank Bright, Myung Joon Kim, Kenneth Neil, and John [‘Johnny-O’] Ouweleen. Bright finished 2nd in the 70-74 division at the 2014 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in 3:48:27 and the following spring ran 3:48:37 at Boston, finishing 10th. The following October at Twin Cities, his time grew to 4:07:45, still good for 2nd though. The next year he skipped both but returned to Boston in 2017 with a 4:21:24 for 30th place in his last year in 70-74. Kim ran many marathons on the West Coast, most around 4:30 or so. He decided to head east to try Boston but still ran the LA Marathon in February 2016 in 4:16:48. Two months later he uncorked a 4:04:36 to finish 14th in 70-74. Kim returned and ran a little faster in 2017, clocking 4:02:18 for 9th place in the division. He wanted to be ready for a strong effort for his first Boston try at the 75-79 division. A regular at Boston the last few years, Neil ran 4:01:43 in 2015 to finish 22nd in 70-74, followed by 4:18 and 21st in 2016 and 4:16:42 and 23rd in 2017. Maybe 75-79 would treat him to a better finishing position. Ouweleen has been a fixture of marathoning for many years and almost always runs Boston. He skipped it in 2016 to run in the Virgin London Marathon. In 2013 he was 2nd in 3:23:52 followed by a 70-74 division win in 2014 in 3:28:11. He took 3rd in 2015 in 3:37:59 and then in 2016 enjoyed his trip to London, winning the 70-74 in 3:22:58. Ouweleen returned to Boston in 2017 for the warm conditions resulting in a 4:05:41 and a rare finish off the Boston podium for his first try at 75-79. Ouweleen took off with his usual aplomb, letting the downhills carry him to a 50:28 for the first 10K and a 5-minute lead over Kim. 
John Ouweleen during a training break photo:

Seven minutes later Bright crossed the 10K mat, followed by Neil a minute later. Try as he might the rest of the way, Neil could not close on Bright who ran a well-paced race, covering the first half in 2:12 and the second half in 2:15. Bright took the third spot on the podium with 16 minutes to spare. Ouweleen went through the Half in 1:49:36 over 8 and a half minutes ahead of Kim. That was the largest lead he would enjoy. By the 30K mark it was down to 7 minutes and it kept coming down as Ouweleen’s 5K splits climbed from the 27-28-minute range up to over 30. By 35K the lead was under 5 minutes. Both runners were struggling but Kim not as much as Ouweleen. By the 40K Kim was within 16 seconds and continued strong to take the win with 1:44 to spare as Ouweleen claimed 2nd by almost 14 minutes.

Myung Joon Kim 75 Los Angeles CA 4:11:52 70.45 John Ouweleen 77 Sebastian FL 4:13:36 72.48 Frank Bright 75 Shreveport LA 4:27:15 66.4


The top 4 Women were all US Citizens: Jo Ann McCallister, Hansi Rigney, Molly Sherwood, and Carol Wright. McCalister finished 3rd in the Boston Marathon last year with a 5:03:46 and ran the Boston Prep 16 miler in New Hampshire in late January in 3:00:54; she was able to maintain fitness at least through mid-Winter. One of the top Marathoners in the country and a regular at Boston, Rigney has finished on the Age Division podium on Patriot’s Day in 2013 to 2017 except for 2016 when she finished 5th. She won 70-74 in 2013 in 4:15:57 and 75-79 last year in 4:53:58. She also won her age division at the Big Sur International Marathon, Chicago and the California International Marathon, all in faster times than her Boston win, unsurprisingly given the heat in Boston. Sherwood has not been a regular at Boston but she had run the last two years. In 2016 she finished 8th in 70-74 in 4:55:22 and finished 4th 75-79 in 2017 with a 5:06:37. Like Sherwood, Wright has recently become a Boston regular, finishing 9th in 70-74 in 2016 with a 4:57:13 and returned in 2017 to claim 5th in 75-79 in 5:26:21. It looked like this was Rigney’s tyo lose. Considering how most favorites did, that might not have been surprising.

As one might expect from these seasoned veterans, no one blew up. But that meant that leads established early typically held all the way to the finish line, with little drama. Rigney ran like the Champion she is, covering the first 10K in 1:02:11; McCalister came across the mat 2 minutes later, trailed by Wright 3 minutes later and Sherwood another 8 minutes back. Those gaps all grew throughout the race with Rigney winning by over 20 minutes, McCalister claiming 2nd with over 45 minutes to spare, and Wright taking the final podium spot with a 25 minute margin on Sherwood. Rigni apparently likes near gale conditions better than heat as she carved over half an hour out of her 2017 time.

Hansi Rigney 76 Carmel CA 4:55:58 77.20 JoAnn McCalister 76 Goffstown NH 5:17:44 71.99 Carol Wright 76 Sandpoint ID 6:03:40 62.9.

80 and Up

Our international guests from Japan and Canada took the first 4 spots and 6yj, with a German resident of Florida 5th:

The lone American entered, James Michie, has run many Marathons including Philadelphia in 2014 where he finished 5th 75-79 in 4:46:25. He tuned up for Boston by taking 3rd in 75-79 at the Chevron Houston Marathon in 4:54:45. The weather was not kind, as we know, but Michie persevered and finished the race in 6:08:01. That was definitely a victory!

Three cheers for the Masters Runners who raced in Boston in 2018 and persevered all the way to the finish in near gale conditions. Congratulations to one and all!

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