Thursday, August 23, 2018

Masters Athletes Tackle a Reversed USATF Masters Mile Championship Course

August 22 2018. This Friday evening, August 24, 2018, Masters Elite Runners will contest the roads of Flint Michigan for the title of 2018 National Road Mile Masters Champion. On the suggestion of some of last year’s competitors, the Race Director decided to reverse the order of the race to make the turns a little gentler and the modest elevation changes come where it should enhance overall speed. The 2017 Start shall be the 2018 Finish and the 2017 Finish will be the 2018 Start! The Women will line up for a 6:45 pm start and the Men will toe the line at 7 pm sharp. The current 30 hour ahead weather forecast calls for 72 degrees and partially cloudy skies, 56% humidity, with winds 8-9 mph—very good conditions for a fast race again this year! [There is a 30% chance of a few light showers, but a 70% chance of no showers!]

Women Overall

Tammy Nowik, the home state heroine from Clarkson Michigan is back to try to regain the top spot that she won in 2016. Last year, in an off year, she dropped to 5th, but she has regained her fitness and will contest for the win again. It will be no easy task. She will have to fend off challenges from Melissa Gacek, who took 2nd place at the Twin Cities Medtronic Mile in May in 5:29. Second in last year’s contest in 5:30, and third the year before in 5:28, she finished just two seconds back from Nowik that year. Gacek has a little edge this year in that she took 2nd to Nowik’s 3rd at the2018  5th 3rd River Bank Run. 
Melissa Gacek headed for the Finish Line and 2nd place at the 2017 USATF Masters Mile Championship [Photo courtesy of Melisa Gacek]

On the other hand, how much relevance does a 25K have for a Mile run? The renewal of their duel will be enhanced by the addition of a formidable third opponent, Molly Watcke, who finished 2nd at the USATF Masters 5K Championship this past weekend in 18:07. I can find no recent Mile efforts, but the University of Michigan alumna has plenty of speed and loves to compete in Michigan! For what it is worth, an 18:07 is a 5:27 equivalent age-grade mile. 
Molly Watcke headed for nd Place Overall at the 2018 USATF Masters 5K Championship [Photo by Michael Scott]

Christina Burbach, Heather Webster, and Erin LaRusso will also be in the mix and if any of the top three falter, will be right there to stride their way onto the podium. Webster and Larusso finished 5th and 6th last year in 5:41 and 5:43. I cannot find a recent Mile effort for Burbach but her 19:28 at a 5K on St. Patrick’s Day and a 1:25:43 at the Aramco Half Marathon in January show that she has plenty of endurance.

Molly Watcke     Melissa Gacek     Tammy Nowik

Men Overall

The Masters Championships have been held as part of the HAP Crim Fitness Foundation’s Michigan Mile since 2014. For the first time, there are no returning champions on the Men’s side; a new champion will be crowned. The chief contenders appear to be: Alan Black, Tim Rieth, Chuck Schneekloth, and Sam Teigen. In the Midland Mile last week, Schneekloth finished 2nd to the famed Masters Miler, Mark Williams, in 4:44. Black ran faster in May with a 4:37.3 in an All Comers race but his more recent results at longer races have not matched that. He ran 16:53 at the 5K Masters Championships in Atlanta this past weekend but, to be fair, Black had to stop at Mile 2 because of throat/sinus issues. If he can keep those issues at bay for 4 and a half minutes on Friday, he may need to be reckoned with. 
Alan Black [red singlet] running with the front of the field at the 2018 USATF Masters 5K Championship [Photo by Michael Scott]

Tim Rieth also has a faster recent time at 4:42 but somehow doing that at a race titled the ‘Graveyard Downhill Mile’ suggested that effort may have been somewhat gravity-assisted. The question is: how much? Teigen is included because he is such a strong all-around runner, finishing 4th in the Masters 8K Championships in Virginia Beach in 26:05, and 3rd in the 10K Championships with a 33:21. He ran 16:21 in the Fitzgerald Lager 5K in June. I find no evidence of Mile efforts but if Teigen can figure out the right pace, his strength may come in handy over the last few hundred meters. I make Schneekloth the favorite because he has an extra gear he can call on. He won the Men 40-44 800 Meter Championships in Spokane Washington last month in a perfectly paced 2:02.57, finishing just behind Mark Williams who ran in the same heat, winning M45. Matthew Cutrona ran a 4:54 in the famous (and fast) 5th Avenue Mile in 4:54. Should any of the others falter, he will be well positioned to move up.

Chuck Schneekloth     Sam Teigen     Tim Rieth


Women. The 2nd place finisher from last year, Jeannie Rice, 70, is back to see if she can win it this year. Last year’s champion, Sabra Harvey, is taking a break. She is focusing all her efforts on defending her World titles at the World Masters Athletics Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Malaga Spain in early September. Doreen McCoubrie, who took 3rd in Age-Grading at the 5K this past weekend should be in the hunt. 
Marisa Sutera Strange #287 and Doreen McCoubrie #273 head off in the Masters 5K Championships in Atlanta [Photo by Michael Scott]

Marisa Sutera Strange would ordinarily be one of the favorites for age-grading. But it depends on whether the performance last weekend, a good two minutes slower than her norm, was a one off aberration or indicative of current fitness. Molly Watcke could also factor in. She took 5th in Age-Grading at the 5K in Atlanta. Mary Richards, 64, also commands respect. She ran 6:30 last year at this race for a 90.67 age grade; a recent 19:56 5K suggests she is in similar condition this year.  Strange is definitely the wild card, but if she runs as she did last week, then McCoubrie, Rice and Watcke could all outscore her. If she runs closer to her norm, then she could easily win age-grading. In this case, I will opt for continuity and assume she is again primarily racing for her team.

Jeannie Rice     Doreen McCoubrie     Mary Richards

Men. None of the podium finishers from last year, Kevin Castille, Nat Larson, nor Dave Bussard are back this year. Tom Bernhard, who finished 4th last year, is entered but is a scratch due to a calf issue. The top returning age-grade scorers from last year are Mike Nier, 53, and Doug Goodhue, 76. Nier’s 87.09 and Goodhue’s 86.73 from last year are probably good predictors for this year’s efforts. Nier has run well all year and Goodhue, though on the comeback trail, ran well in Atlanta last week on a challenging course. Goodhue has been a fixture on the age grading podium through most of his career, and may get there again, but he might need a few more months of injury-free training. The main threats for the podium come out of the 55-59 and 60-64 groups. Mark Zamek, 55, age graded at 89.86 last week in Atlanta. Out of the 60-64 group we have Roger Sayre, 60, who graded at 91.33 with his 17:29 at the 5K, and Ken Youngers, 62, who scored an 88.72. 
Roger Sayre #206 early in his 'World Class' Age-Grade performance at the 2018 USATF Masters 5K Championship [Photo by Michael Scott]

Though Bernhard is not here from the 65-69 group, Doug Bell and Peter Mullin are. Mullin ran 5:31.4 in the 1500 Meter run at the Masters Outdoor Championships in Spokane. If that is a good indicator of current fitness, it is probably not age-grading competitive. But Mullin had run the 10,000 meter event the day before. Perhaps the 5Ks he was running in the spring around 19:17 are better indicators. If so, he might well age grade around 87 to 88 which could be competitive for the podium. Bell would ordinarily be in the mix, but Mullin has been running a little faster than Bell this past year, in part because Bell has been struggling with back issues. Lloyd Hansen and Terry McCluskey from the 70-74 division have often been on age-grade podiums in the past but they too have been working to regain their past fitness levels and are probably not quite there yet. I will go with the order suggested by last week’s 5K in Atlanta.

Roger Sayre     Mark Zamek     Ken Youngers

Age Division

Women 40-44

Melissa Gacek and Tammy Nowik should battle it out in this division. Last year, Heather Webster slipped in between them but Nowik was off her game. 
Tammy Nowik [white singlet] heading for the finish line with Heather Webster closing fast at the 2017 USATF Masters Mile Championship 

This year Nowik has a couple of 18:20’s 5Ks, so she is probably primed to run right around 5:30 or a bit under, just like Gacek. Gacek has run just a little faster this year so I will give her the edge but it is almost a toss-up. Webster could upset this prediction but otherwise should still have a clear road to the division podium.

Melissa Gacek     Tammy Nowik     Heather Webster

Men 40-44

The primary players in the Overall contest are from this age division so I will go with the same order.

Chuck Schneekloth     Sam Teigen     Tim Rieth

Women 45-49

Molly Watcke, whom I have picked for the Overall win should take the division on the way to the overall podium. Erin Larusso has run strong here the last two years and this year should be no exception. She ran 5:47 at the Dart for Art mile earlier this summer. If she can run close to that, she should take 2nd. Melissa Senall is running primarily to advance the GVH team in the Grand Prix standings but will be happy to be on the individual podium as well. She ran 6:03 here last year.

Molly Watcke     Erin Larusso     Melissa Senall

Men 45-49

A slim field this year means that Matthew Cutrona and Tim Stewart will go 1-2. Cutrona has the edge based on his 4:54 at the Fifth Avenue Mile last year and his 18:15 5K in Atlanta last weekend. Stewart, who has run his 5K’s in the 21 plus range and ran a  2:28.4 800 Meters at the Outdoor Masters Championshikps, will be happy to take silver.

Matthew Cutrona     Tim Stewart

Women 50-54

Lisa Veneziano ran 6:01 here last year, with Julie Pangburn just 4 seconds back. Both may be primed to run a little faster this year. Veneziano’s 5Ks have been around 19:30, age-grade equivalent to a 5:54. Pangburn ran 5:59 at the McMulen Mile in June and hit 6:03.7 at the Mid-Atlantic USATF TF Championships. 
Jill Geer [left], Lynn Cooke [center], and Lisa Veneziano [right] head for the Finish Line at the 2017 USATF Masters Mile Championship 

They will have to contend with Amy Fakterowitz who ran 5:43 at the McMullen Mile in 2017. Her 5K times this year have been in the 20+ range so her fitness may be a little off of last years. Laura Delea, who ran a 6:14 at the Midland Mile last year and then uncorked a 6:02 at Fifth Avenue could factor into the race for the podium. But her 5K times, like Fakterowitz, have also been in the 20+ range.

Lisa Veneziano     Julie Pangburn     Amy Fakterowitz

Men 50-54

Charles Novak who ran 4:42 here a couple of years ago enters as the favorite. He ran 4:49 at the Akron 1 Mile in June and 4:41 at the Liberty Mile in Pittsburgh in July. Mike Nier will do his best to overtake Novak but he was ten seconds slower two years ago when Novak ran his 4:42. Nier ran 5:01 at the Indor track meet in February and will likely crack 5:00 but whether he can crack it by enough to threaten Novak is the question. 
Mike Nier [far right of picture] darts across the bridge with 400 meters to go at the 2017 USATF Masters Mile Championship [Photo by Melissa Gacek]

Scott Siriano, a trail runner from Colorado, could challenge, but appears to be a step slower than Nier. The best 5K time that I can find for him is 17:50, and that was not an altitude race. Still that is faster than the rest of the field. Should any one falter, it appears that Louis Csak, Dale Flanders, and Henry Hoffman, who all tend to run their 5K’s in the low 18’s, could find themselves on the podium instead.

Charles Novak     Mike Nier     Scott Siriano

Women 55-59

Marisa Sutera Strange ran 5:26 here two years ago. She has not had the same level of fitness this year. Still, her 18:55 at Freihofer’s 5K for Women suggested she might still run something like 5:45. But last week in Atlanta, her time was almost two minutes slower. If nothing much has changed in the intervening six days, it seems she is running for the team and will be happy to run a time closer to 6:15. Doreen McCoubrie has not run here before but ran 5:55 on the track in June and her 19:41 last week in Atlanta on a challenging course was age grade equivalent to a 6:00 mile. Karyl Sargent ran a 19:54 at Syracuse last year which was age-grade equivalent to a 6:04 mile, but her 33:25 8k in Virginia Beach in March was equivalent to a 6:12. So something in the 6:05 to 6:10 range seems a reasonable expectation. Two others who could wind up on the podium include Terri Cassel and Suzanne Cordes. Cassel is primarily a longer distance runner. She ran 1:03.5 in the 15K at Tulsa last fall. That suggests she should be able to break 6:10 in the mile. But she ran 43:42 at the Bolder Boulder which suggests something closer to 6:15, even allowing for the altitude effect. Cordes was only 6 seconds behind Strange at Atlanta last week so she could factor in as well. Even if she is off her game, Strange is fiercely competitive; I give her the edge for the podium.

Doreen McCoubrie     Karyl Sargent     Marisa Sutera Strange

Men 55-59

Nat Larson took this division in 4:49 last year but he is taking the week off after a terrific 3rd place finish Overall in Atlanta last week. In his absence, Mark Zamek, who finished 2nd to Larson in the Age Division with a 17:04 at Atlanta, is the favorite. 
Mark Zamek #237 kicks it into high gear as he nears the finish at the 2018 USATF Masters 5K Championships [Photo by Michael Scott]

He will have to fend off Jeff Haertl and Eric Stuber who ran 5:08 and 5:10 here last year. One complication is that I can find no 2018 results for Haertel and he did not run in Atlanta last week.  Stuber ran a 17:58 5K in June so he appears to be on track. If Haertel should be in the early stages of a comeback and just running for the team, that leaves a potential opening for Tim Lambrecht who ran a 5:31 mile at the Dart for Art Mile or for Chuck Bridgman who has run 5Ks in the mid 18-minute range.

Mark Zamek     Eric Stuber     Jeff Haertel

Women 60-64

Mary Richards took the division crown last year in 6:35 and should do so again. 
Mary Richards heads for the Finish Line and a Women's 60-64 National Masters Mile Championship in 2017 [Photo by Michael Scott] 

Terry Ozell who finished 4th in the division has moved up to 65-69, but the Ann Arbor Track Club now has some contenders for the podium. Carol Poenisch ran 7:10 at the Dart for Art Mile and has been running 5Ks in the low to mid-24s. Maggie Hibler has run a recent 5K in 22:42 and also has a 23:08 5K to her credit. The 23:08 is age-grade equivalent to a 7:09. It should be close but I will give the edge ot Poenisch on the basis of her recent Mile effort.

Mary Richards     Carol Poenisch     Maggie Hibler    

Men 60-64

Roger Sayre and Ken Youngers should go 1-2. Sayres won the division at the 5K in Atlanta last week against a stacked field in 17:29. Youngers finished off the podium with his 18:18, but that won’t be the case here. He should run faster than the 5:23 he turned in last year; he ran 5:16 in May. 
Ken Youngers #236 and his 55-59 Teammate, Gary Droze bringing it home at the 2018 USATF Masters 5K Championships [Photo by Michael Scott]

Michael Young ran 5:30 here last year and turned in a 5:35 at the Dart for Art Mile. That should be enough to close out the podium. Both Kevin Dollard and Mark Rybinski are capable of breaking 5:40 so they will be right there if any of the top 3 falter.

Roger Sayre     Ken Youngers     Michael Young

Women 65-69

Terry Ozell ran 7:18 here last year and ran a 7:32 in May. Both times put her a little ahead of Cindy Lucking, whose 25:03 5K in Atlanta last week age-grades at the equivalent of a 7:49 Mile. 
Cindy Lucking heading to the Finishing Line at the 2018 USATF Masters 5K Championships [Photo by Michael Scott]

But it could be close; Lucking came in about a minute ahead of Ozell at Cross Country Nationals in Tallahassee. They are teammates and friends so will probably both be happy whichever way it turns out.

Terry Ozell     Cindy Lucking

Men 65-69

In most recent races the order for this division has been Tom Bernhard, Peter Mullin, Doug Bell, and Kirk Larson. 
Kirk Larson #168 Heading for the Finish Line and his First Age Division National Championship at the 2018 USATF Masters 5K Championships [Photo by Michael Scott]

With Bernhard out, everyone could well move up a notch. Larson finished a half minute ahead of John Hirschberger at the 5k Last week, with Perry Linn behind him.

Peter Mullin     Doug Bell     Kirk Larson

Women 70-74

Jeannie Rice, one of the favorites for the Age Grading podium should take the division with a wide margin. She ran 6:39 last year. Carol Rhodes ran a 37:52 5k in Atlanta last week. I can find no recent results for Susan Hartman and for Judy Melton, only 2017 5ks in 55 to 60 minutes.

Jeannie Rice     Carol Rhodes     Judy Melton

Men 70-74

Gene Dykes is skipping the Mile Championship after having taken division firsts at the 10K, Half Marathon and 5K since turning 70, not to mention breaking the 10K Record for 70-74 year old’s. He noted that he has tended to strain his hamstring in short races like the Mile; he has sometimes gotten away with it but does not want to push his luck. In his absence, Lloyd Hansen, who finished second to Dykes at the 5K in 20:46 becomes the favorite. His 20:46 age grades to 6:01. 
Lloyd Hansen heads for a 2nd place finish as he pulls away from John Hirschberger at the 2018 USATF Masters 5K Championships [Photo by Michael Scott]

Jerry Learned was next in Atlanta in 21:37, with Terry McCluskey 21 seconds back. Those two are age grade equivalent to a 6:16 and a 6:23. Paul Carlin (That’s me!) took 2nd last year in 6:14 but I am still on the comeback trail and have not arrived yet. My 5K time from last week suggests something closer to 6:45 this year. I hope to do better than that, but even breaking 6:30 seems almost out of reach. Dave Glass who was on top of the division all last fall and at the start of this year may be shut off the podium again, but not for lack of trying. Glass could break 6:25 and might wind up on the podium if things break his way.

Lloyd Hansen     Jerry Learned     Terry McCluskey

Women 75-79

Catherine Radle is running unopposed. But even if she were challenged, she still might win. She is running well, with a 35:35 5K last week in Atlanta.

Catherine Radle

Men 75-79

A healthy Doug Goodhue dominates this division and so far this spring and summer, the ‘Silver Bullet’ has delivered, taking the crown at the 10K and the 5K last week. 
Doug Goodhue gets off to his usual 'Silver Bullet' start. At age 76 he is still leaving behind almost all of the 70-74 and many of the 65-69 year old male runners [Photo by Michael Scott]

The only one close to him is Robert Hendrick who is off to Europe for the WMA games in Malaga. Ron Mastin, who was atop this division a couple of years ago, ran 58:21 this year at the AJC Peachtree Road Race (10K), 8 minutes slower than in 2016 but almost half an hour faster than in 2017. So he is on the way back—always great to see! Still that suggests a mile time over 8:00. David Cohen ran 7:19 here last year and turned in a 53:02 10K at Dedham in April; he seems a safe bet for 2nd.

Doug Goodhue     David Cohen     Ron Mastin

Women 80-84

Unopposed, Tami Graf will win this race. As in Women 75-79, Graf is running very well and would doubtless win against most opposition. She clocked 38:38 in a 5K in June.

Tami Graf

Men 80-84

C. Christopher Rush is running unopposed. The most recent efforts I can find are a 3:14 800 meter run 3 years ago when he was 79 and a 6:05 1500 Meter run 7 years ago when he was 75.

C. Christopher Rush


  1. Thanks for the shoutout! I, unfortunately, can't make it to flint. But ran 4:51 in wilmington, de last night!! - Matt Cutrona

  2. In case you find it useful I have found a free app for runners, it is called GPS TOTAL RUN (for Android) and has everything: Statistics, Times, Saves and loads routes, records routes, has maps, etc.
    I recommend that you at least try it.
    It is an app awarded in an app contest