Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Preview #1 of 2018 USATF Masters 5K Championships in Atlanta Georgia

August 14 2018. Four days to go! We expect a few more entries but there is already a strong field guaranteed. This is the first year the USATF Masters 5K National Championship has been hosted in Atlanta by the Atlanta Track Club’s Atlanta’s Finest 5K after a 7-year run in Syracuse under the stewardship of Dave Oja. That is a tough act to follow but Atlanta knows how to put on Road Races, from the 60,000 entrant AJC Peachtree Road Race to the Hearts and Soles 5K near Valentine’s day to this race which is in association with the Atlanta Police Foundation and raises funds for their Crime Stoppers program. All comments below are based on entrants as of August 13 at midnight. There are some terrific races to anticipate this Saturday, the 18th of August. Race starts at 7:25 AM!
First weather outlook. By the way, the Race Day Morning weather forecast as of August 13th is for 72 degrees, little wind (4 mph), but lots of humidity, 95%, and scattered thunderstorms (50%). Let us hope that 50% chance drops down or that the ‘scattered thunderstorms’ become ‘scattered showers.’ Having a little bit of rain, if it does not affect footing, might be a plus. 

Contenders for Overall Masters Championship.

Women. The front-end of the field for the Women’s Championship was loaded early on, but keeps getting better! Laurie Knowles of the Atlanta Track Club pulled off a big surprise to take the Masters title at the AJC Peachtree Road Race this year, finishing 20 seconds ahead of Jen Rhines. A 35:21 10K in warm, muggy conditions certainly gives her ‘street cred’ [or should it be ‘road cred’?] heading into the Championship! [In 2017, she clocked 34:45!] 
Laurie Knowles finishing off her 2:40:09 2017 NYC Marathon as 20th Woman overall and 7th US Woman [Photo Credit -- Karen Mitchell-Posted on L. Knowles Facebook page]

Molly Watcke was another athlete who had a fine run at the AJC Peachtree, finishing just 9 seconds back from Rhines in 35:51. Christy Peterson had an off day in Atlanta this year with a 37:46 10K, but she turned in a 17:51 5K at the Championship in Syracuse last year when she finished 3rd; she knows how to get on the podium. 
A Post-AJC Peachtree Road Race collage of Molly Watcke, Jen Rhines, and Christy Peterson [L to R] [Photo posted on M. Watcke's Facebook page]

Jennifer Baylliss has an undefeated  winning streak going in National Championships. She took the crown over the 6K course at the Cross Country Nationals in Tallahassee, and nailed the 10K road victory in Dedham in 37:19. She has not demonstrated the same prowess in the 5K road races. I found an 18:21 in the San Francisco Hot Chocolate 5K, but her 10K time over a challenging course suggests she could well crack 18 for a 5K.  
Jennifer Bayliss hammering to the finish line to take the 2018 Masters 10K title in Dedham MA at the James Joyce Ramble [Photo Credit --Mike Scott]

Sonja Friend-Uhl finished 2nd in the 5K Championships two years ago in 17:47. With her ferocious track speed, she is always a threat for the podium. Friend-Uhl did not make the Masters Outdoor TF Meet in Spokane this past month due to family and work obligations, so we have less information about her current fitness than usual. But anyone who can break 10:00 in the Indoor 3000 Meters has to be reckoned with. 

Sonja Friend-Uhl claims the final podium spot in the 2016 USATF Masters National 5K Championship [Photo Credit --Bob Brock, bobbrockimages.com]

Those five are probably the strongest favorites for the podium but there are 5 others who will be close and could break through. Fiona Bayly finished 4th in the 5K Championship two years ago in 18:02. More recently she has run 37:42 at the UAE Kidney 10K.  Abby Dean finished 4th Masters this year at the BAA 5K in 18:14, and is likely to be faster now than in April. Cassandra Henkiel took 4th last year in 18:09 and will be in the thick of things again this year. Nancy Thomas finished 7th in Cross Country Nationals this year at Tallahassee and could make things interesting on the road. Marisa Sutera Strange runs for the first time in her new 55-59 division but she is still a threat for the podium. Last year at Syracuse she finished 6th in 18:25 but the year before she ran 17:55 to take 4th. That is going to be some lead pack—Wow!

Laurie Knowles     Molly Watcke     Sonja Friend-Uhl

Men. As of registration today, it appears this will come down to another duel between David Angell and John Gardiner. Gardiner finished 2nd to Kevin Castille at the 2016 Masters 5K Championships, with Angell 7 seconds back. In more recent efforts, Gardiner took 3rd at Carlsbad in 15:50 and turned in a 15:42 on the 4th of July. So far Angell has shown that he can match Gardiner’s pace for much of any race but once Gardiner throws in a sustained surge, that has been enough to create separation. 
John Gardiner [blue singlet] has a few strides on David Angell as they head for 2nd and 3rd respectively at the 2016 USATF Masters 5K National Championship [Photo Credit--Gavin Liddell]

Angell has generally run his 5K’s in the 15:30 to 15:45 range but his most recent outing in a regional race was a 16:02, where he finished 9th overall and 1st Masters by a large margin. After winning the 8K and 10K Masters National Championships, in 25:39 and 32:32 respectively, he finished 2nd to Greg Mitchell at the Half Marathon National Championships in 1:11:20. Perhaps this will be Angell’s turn? Other potential contenders include Jonathan Frieder and Greater Springfield Harrier teammates, Nat Larson and Kent Lemme. Last year Frieder clocked 15:49 at Syracuse; that would be about a half minute back from the 2016 times of Gardiner and Angell, but competitive with their more recent times. 
Jonathan Frieder powers his way to the finish line and a 7th place Overall finish at the 2018 USATF Masters 10K Championship [Photo Credit-- Mike Scott]

Larson and Lemme are dominant in their age divisions but their best recent 5K efforts have been in the high 15:50’s. I am guessing Angell’s 16:02 was an aberration but if I am wrong, Frieder, Larson and Lemme would be right there to challenge him. It seems unlikely anyone else currently registered can crack 16 minutes. Perhaps a speed demon or two will enter between now and the 18th to liven up the race at the front. When I spoke with Greg Mitchell in Ann Arbor he had not ruled it out.

John Gardiner     David Angell     Jonathan Frieder

Record Efforts?

Marisa Sutera Strange should have the best shot at taking down a US record in her new Women’s 55-59 age division. Last year at Syracuse she finished 6th in 18:25 but the year before she ran 17:55 to take 4th. Should she match either of those two times, she will better the listed American record for the 5K of 18:32, set by Shirley Matson over twenty years ago. That would be no small feat on a course that is tougher than the flat, fast course at Syracuse. Although no one would be surprised to see Strange take that one down in Atlanta,  it is not guaranteed by any means. She has struggled with her fitness this year. Her time at the 8K in March, 30:40, is age grade equivalent to an 18:39, and then she ran 18:54 at Freihofer’s in June. If she has emerged from rehabbing an injury, 2 months is enough time to pare quite a few seconds off a 5K time but coming across the finish in under 18:32 may be a tall order this year.  
Marisa Sutera Strange grimaces with the effort of closing out the 2018 Masters 10K Championship and a 4th place finish overall [Photo Credit-- Michael Scott]
Tom Bernhard holds the M65 record from his 17:31 effort in 2016. He is still at the top of the division, but his times last year were slower, and he has not yet regained the speed he had in 2016. He did run 17:58 at the Morgan Hill Freedom 5K which is advertised as ‘flat and fast’. Late bulletin: Bernhard has cancelled his trips to Atlanta and Flint; he pulled a calf muscle in a track workout on 7/22 and it has not responded despite a week off. There are also a bunch of super-fast M60 runners, Rick Becker, Roger Sayre, Joe Sheeran, and Ken Youngers, but it appears that Brian Pilcher put the 5K record just a little out of their reach when he pushed it down to 16:38 in 2016. Gene Dykes who broke the M70 Marathon record earlier this year is entered. But that is a tough record, too—Warren Utes stepped off an 18:01 in 1990. The 39:04 10K Dykes ran at the Masters National Championship in Dedham is age-grade equivalent to an 18:53. Chopping 52 seconds off a 5K time is no easy feat. Even if Dykes could make a run at it under the best of circumstances, he told me he is running 160 miles of the Big Foot 200-mile race just 4 days before the 5K Championship. He won’t even decide whether to come to Atlanta and compete for sure until the day after that ultra-marathon.

Age Division Competition?


40-44 Alice Kassens, Laurie Knowles and Christy Peterson will compete for the overall win and for this age division. Knowles is the favorite to repeat her AJC Peachtree Masters win, with Peterson a likely 2nd and Kassens closing out the podium. Kassens will have to run her best to keep Kathy Wiegand at bay, though. Kassens finished 20 seconds ahead of Wiegand at Club Cross Country in Lexington KY last December. 
Nancy Thomas #1074 and Kathy Wiegand #1010 lead the chase pack into the 2nd loop at the 2017 National Masters Championships at the USATF Club Cross Country Event in Lexington KY

But Wiegand ran 19:27 on the Atlanta’s Finest 5K last year so she knows the course and has run in the humidity.

Laurie Knowles     Christy Peterson     Alice Kassens

45-49 Jennifer Bayliss, Abby Dean, Sonja Friend-Uhl, Cassandra Henkiel, Nancy Thomas, and Molly Watcke will contend for the Overall Masters title and will view this as a nice add-on. The only two runners who have recently cracked 18 minutes are Friend-Uhl and Watcke, and Friend-Uhl’s sub-18 was a year and a half ago whereas Watcke not only broke it on July 4th, but she averaged under 18 minutes for the 10K on the AJC Peachtree course which is definitely not considered a fast course. For the remaining podium spots it should be a heck of a fight. Bayliss should be able to crack 18:00 but I cannot find a recent 5K where she has done it. Henkiel ran 18:09 last fall in Syracuse, but 18:26 this June at Freihofer’s; Dean ran 18:16 at the BAA 5K in April,  Friend-Uhl ran 18:07 on Memorial Day, and Thomas clocked 18:37 at Morgan Hill on the 4th of July. Watcke is the clear favorite. Friend-Uhl has won too many races against her peers to doubt she would take 2nd.  It could go either way between Dean and Henkiel but I will give the edge to Dean, for now, on the basis of a better time this year. 
Cassandra Henkiel [pale blue singlet] leads the chase pack at the 2017 USATF Masters 5K Championships in Syracuse [Photo Credit-- Amir Findling]

Thomas will definitely have her work cut out to break onto the podium.

Molly Watcke   Sonja Friend-Uhl    Jennifer Bayliss

50-54 Fiona Bayly, who will figure into the overall race, should take the title in this division. She ran 18:02 in the 5K National Championship in 2016 and has two 10K efforts under 38:00 this year. That seems a little too fast for a very fast runner out of Tennessee, Katherine Wolski. She took 2nd place last year in the 5K National Championships and has an 18:51 5K and a 39:45 10K to her credit. 
Fiona Bayly powers up the steepest hill on her way to victory at the 2017 USATF Masters 15K Championships in Tulsa OK [Photo Credit- Tulsa World]

After some serious accidents with injuries earlier in the year, Laurie Wharton is starting to see the way out from recovery; she averaged 6:44 per mile for the Dog Days 5k. If she can match or improve on that, she has a good chance to edge her teammate, Kris Huff, for the third spot on the podium.

Fiona Bayly    Katherine Wolski  Laurie Wharton

55-59 Another killer division—Two years ago, Mary Swan won this division in 19:55; if she matches that time this year, it might not be fast enough to make the podium.  Doreen McCoubrie rarely runs races as short as 5K. But just because she prefers longer races does not mean she is slow. In March 2016, she ran 19:01 in a 5K. This year she ran 31:39 at the 8K National Championships in Virginia Beach; that is age-grade equivalent to a 19:14, so she is likely to break 20 minutes by a good margin.
Doreen McCoubrie [gray knit cap] and Michelle Simonaitis [black singlet on McCoubrie's left] set the pace for the Masters runners at the 2018 USATF Masters 8K Championships where Simonaitis took 2nd Overall and McCoubrie 4th Overall [Photo Credit-Pam Fales]

Carmen Ayala-Troncoso, already in the Masters Hall of Fame, ran 19:47 at last year’s National Championship and has a 19:54 to her credit this year. 
Carmen Ayala-Troncoso heads for the win in the Women's 55-59 Division at the 2017 USATF Masters 5K Championhips in Syracuse

Marisa Sutera Strange just moved into this division and brings substantial 'cred' from her regular age division championships when she was in Women’s 50-54. As noted above, she is very likely to break 19 minutes and if she can match the 18:32 she ran last year in Syracuse, will take down the US record. She ran 18:55 at Freihofer’s in June. Even though that is far off her best, it should be enough to take first place in her new age division.

Marisa Sutera Strange     Doreen McCoubrie     Carmen Ayala-Troncoso

60-64 Patrice Combs finished 2nd last year, just losing out by 6 seconds to Nora Cary. Cary is not entered at present and Combs has been on a roll in National Championships, taking the Women’s 60-64 title at the 10K in April and the Half Marathon in June. 
Patrice Combs speeds to the finish line in taking 1st place in the Women's 60-64 division at the 2018 USATF Masters 10K Championships [Photo Credit -- Mike Scott]

Sharon Moore and Cynthia Williams will likely duel it out for the two remaining podium positions. Last year Williams was about a minute ahead of Moore and that seems to still be true based on 5K’s run this year.

Patrice Combs     Cynthia Williams     Sharon Moore

65-69 Victoria Crisp has a 1:42:10 HM and a 2:03 25K to her credit this year. Two and a half years ago she ran a 35:51 5-miler. She does not often run races as short as 5K but no doubt she has the mixture of endurance and speed to dominate this division. Cindy Lucking might well be battling for 2nd. Her 49:56 10K at Dedham suggests a sub-24:00 5K would not be out of her reach, and that should be enough to nail 2nd place, based on current entries. 
Atlanta Track Club Teammates celebrate their hard-earned Women's 60+ Team Win at the 2018 USATF Masters 8K Championships in Virginia Beach--Cindy Lucking, Cynthia Williams, Kathleen Allen, and Margaret Taylor [L to R] 

Cindy Ingalls took 6th last year in W65 with a 25:34 and Nonie Hudnall has been running her 5K’s in the 25:29 to 25:58 range this year. Hudnall finished ahead of Ingalls last year in Syracuse, taking 5th in 24:46. Ingalls ran a very nice 40:51 8K that is age grade equivalent to a 24:37, but a month later her time soared comparatively at the 10K where she ran 55:30, equivalent to a 26:14 5K. I give the edge to Hudnall based on her strong, consistent 5K times this year, and her coming in ahead of Ingalls last year.

Victoria Crisp     Cindy Lucking     Nonie Hudnall

70-74 Three Atlanta Track Club teammates are entered and no one else. Susan Aderhold and Carol Rhodes both have recent Senior Games results that suggest Aderhold should have the edge based on her 3:37.5 800-meter result compared to the 400 Meter time of 1:55 turned in by Rhodes. But the 5K distance may be a stretch. Judy Melton has run 5K’s this year so the distance should not be daunting, but it appears she does not have the speed that her teammates have.

Susan Aderhold     Carol Rhodes     Judy Melton

75-79 Madeline Bost, the reigning Women’s 70-74 Masters Grand Prix champion, is entered. She ran 34:53 last year at Syracuse to take the National title. 
Madeline Bost strides to the finish line and first place in the Women's 75-79 Division at the 2017 USATF Masters 5K Championships

Her rival in this division, Catherine Radle, has a 36:49 5K to her credit this past March. Perhaps more importantly she ran in the Community 5K race in Atlanta last year, clocking 34:47. Because the Atlanta course is probably not as fast as the Syracuse course, the 34:47 may be more than 6 seconds better. Radle also has the home course advantage. This one could go either way, but I give Radle the edge for the reasons just cited. 

Catherine Radle     Madeline Bost

80-84 Tami Graf is unopposed at present; she won the Women’s 80-84 crown at Syracuse last year with a 5K effort of 37:06. 

Tami Graf

85-89 No entrants as of now.

90-94 Betty Lindberg is unopposed at present; she won the 90 and up division at the AJC Peachtree Road Race (10K) in 1:52:06. Perhaps she can crack 55 minutes, as the 5K course is not thought to be as challenging as the AJC Peachtree course.

Betty Lindberg


40-44 David Angell, who will contest for the overall win, should take this age division title along the way. 
David Angell claims the Overall Masters win for the 2nd straight year at the 2018 USATF Masters 10K Championship [Photo Credit -- Michael Scott]

Alan Black ran almost as fast as Angell’s 2017 15:37 at the 2015 5K Championship in Syracuse but his most recent efforts have been over 16:00. Jon Hager, Thomas Knowles and Chris Weiss should battle for the remaining podium spot. Hager has a 35:41 10K this year and Knowles and Weiss have 17:15 and 17:20 5K’s to their credit. Matthew Yacoub could also factor in; he ran 20 seconds faster than Black at the Club Cross Country Championships in Lexington. 

David Angell     Alan Black     Jon Hager     

45-49 I have made John Gardiner the favorite for the overall win so he is certainly favored for the Age Division win. As noted above, Jonathan Frieder’s 15:49 from last year’s 5K Championship will give him confidence as he tries to reverse recent history and speed to the victory. It will be a tall order. Brent Fields is the favorite for the final podium spot. He ran 16:28 2 years go at the 5K Championships in Syracuse and more recently clocked a 34:45 10K in the Championships at Dedham and a 34:59 at the AJC Peachtree 10K. 
Brent Fields kicks for the finish line; every second counts in the team competition. Fields takes 5th in the 45-49 division [Photo Credit: Michael Scott]

Those two times suggest he can run well under 17:00. Fields will not have a waltz to the podium though. His two Atlanta teammates, Peter Kotchen and Brian Sydow are both capable of going under 17 minutes as well. Sydow has 5K’s in the 16:40-16:50 range and bested Kotchen by 20 seconds last year in running 17:16 at the Atlanta’s Finest 5K. But to his credit, Kotchen reversed the tables at the AJC Peachtree Road Race last month in clocking a 36:38. Matt Stegman has run 5K’s in the 16:17 to 16:49 range as well. Should any of those top runners falter, Steve Bell, Tommy Carroll, and Matthew Cutrona are well positioned to move up. Both Bell and Carroll have recent 5K’s around 17:30 and Cutrona bested Kotchen at Cross Country Nationals in Tallahassee this year.

John Gardiner     Jonathan Frieder     Brent Fields

50-54 With the exception of his teammate, Nat Larson, no one in this division has been able to stay with Kent Lemme, and Larson moved up to 55-59 last year. Lemme ran 15:56 last year at the 5K Championships last year and has taken the 50-54 title at the Cross Country Nationals, the 8K in 26:43, and the 10K Championships in 33:49 this year. 
Kent Lemme powers to M50 Victory at the 2018 USATF Masters 10K Championships [Photo Credit -- Michael Scott]

There will be quite a battle for the remaining podium spots. Lemme’s teammate, Mark Hixson is rarely far behind Lemme, clocking 34:20 at Dedham, for example, and 27:08 at the 8K. Those times suggest a time in the 16:40’s is within his reach. Others who have that kind of time within reach include Eric Stabb, who has some 5K’s in the 16:20 to 16:40 range. He came in a second ahead of Hixson at Club XC but then Hixson bested Stabb by 15 seconds at Cross Country Nationals. Tim Meigs, who is known more for longer distances has, nonetheless, clocked a 16:34 at a recent 5K. Frederick Herr was only a few seconds back from Hixson and Stabb at Club Cross Country. His most recent 10K of 34:57 is age grade equivalent to a low 17’s 5K. Francis Burdett ran 17:48 at the 5K Masters Championships last year but ran 17:04 this past April at the BAA 5K. Adam Engst ran 17:10 at last year’s 5K Championships. A recent 17:43 suggests he might be able to match that result.

Kent Lemme    Eric Stabb    Mark Hixson

55-59 Nat Larson set the US record in the 5K for this division last year at the CVS Downtown 5K in 15:54 and followed it with a 16:06 in Syracuse. Those times are probably out of reach on this course, but Larson should win the division comfortably as usual. 
Nat Larson [Far left] leads Kristian Blaich [red singlet] across the finish line, taking the crown in Men's 55 in 16:06 at the 2017 USATF Masters 5K Championships

Gary Droze and Jeffery Dundas of Atlanta, along with Garden State’s Gary Leaman and Mark Zamek of Garmin, should be in the hunt for podium spots. Leaman ran 17:25 last year in the 5K Championships and nearly matched that this July with a 17:30. Droze ran 17:50 last year and followed that with 5K’s in the low 18’s in the first couple of months of 2018. His time in the 8K Championship in March is consistent with the notion of a low 18’s 5K capability. The only recent race I have found is a trail run. Dundas finished 2nd in the division in Cross Country Nationals and then followed that with a 45:45 12K later in February. He seemed ready to run a mid-17’s 5K. But between then and June, he may have run into some difficulty with injury or illness as he recorded a 41:51 10K. That raises some doubts about his current fitness. An apparent newcomer to the Masters Grand Prix circuit, Zamek has run two high quality 5K’s in July—a 16:59 and a 17:20.

Nat Larson     Gary  Leaman     Mark Zamek

60-64 This division also keeps getting better and better in terms of competitiveness up front. We started with the top 3 runners from the Men’s 60 and up division at Club Cross Country last year, Joe Sheeran, Rick Becker, and Ken Youngers, along with Roger Sayre, who was in 55-59 at the time, but had, arguably, a faster equivalent time at the 10K run by the 40-59 crew. This week Tom McCormack tossed his hat into the race. McCormack has been absent, wrestling with injuries for a few years now, after setting the standard in 2014 for 60-64 runners with a US record of 16:58, lowered 20 seconds two years later by Brian Pilcher. McCormack also still holds the 1 Mile and 12K records for the division. In a recent exchange of notes, McCormack indicated that he is currently ‘not very fast’ but will run to help his team. Somehow, I think that McCormack’s ‘not very fast’ might still be enough to be in the mix, but we shall see. In any case it will be great to welcome McCormack back to the Grand Prix circuit after too long an absence. Sayre beat Sheeran at the 8K, but Sheeran arrived late and did not get much of a warm-up. Sheeran will be hungry for a win; we shall see how it comes out. As the winner in their last meeting, I give Sayre the role of favorite. 

Roger Sayre strides towards a 5th place finish in Men's 55-59 in 36:29 over the 10K course at the 2017 Club XC Championships in Lexington KY

Joe Sheeran rolls to victory in the Men's 60 and up race in 29:29 over the 8K course at  the 2017 Club XC Championships in Lexington KY

The presence of so many luminaries at the top of the division means that many excellent runners will have little chance of making the podium. All are strong enough if any of the top bunch falters, they are ready to move up. This includes the three amigos from Cal Coast, Brian Nelson, John Holcomb, and Steve Brumwell, who came out from the Coast to run 30:35 to 30:45 in the 8K at Virginia Beach, coming in just ahead of Mike Anderson and Reno Stirrat. Those times suggest mid-18’s to low 19’s might be feasible for this bunch. And George Braun, Timothy Riccardi and Kevin Dollard came in right behind Stirrat last year at the 5K Championships. Kyle Hubbart, who ran 18:17 last year at the Masters Championships would be at the head of this second group except that he is not fully recovered from injury; he is coming to Atlanta to provide depth for the team. I could keep going on but there must be a limit and I will stop here. 

Roger Sayre     Joe Sheeran     Rick Becker

65-69 As noted above, it has been easy to pick a winner in this division when Tom Bernhard is entered, He has not lost a road race in this division since he aged up in 2016. But he will not make Atlanta due to a calf injury. And, as of today, neither Doug Bell nor Peter Mullin, two other podium mainstays, are entered. That makes the race for Gold wide open. Kirk Larson, who finished 4th last year in 19:33, is the current favorite. 
Kirk Larson finishes with speed to claim 4th place in Men's 65-69 at the 2018 USATF Masters 10K Championship in Dedham MA [Photo Credit -- Michael Scott]

John Hirschberger, who ran 20:16 to finish 7th in last year’s Championships, appears to be the closest challenger. He finished less than a minute back from Larson in the 10K but was 2 minutes back in the 8K. Larson focuses on the 5K to 10K LDR range while Hirschberger tends to excel in longer LDR events. With Lloyd Hansen, Jerry Learned, and Terry McCluskey all recently aged up to Men’s 70-74, it is not obvious who the close challengers to them might be. Perry Linn, a relative newcomer to the circuit, may be the closest. He ran 1:33:20 at the Half Marathon Masters Championships, finishing a half minute back from McCluskey, and within two minutes of Hirschberger. Since then he has clocked a 5:51 Road Mile; both suggest a low to mid- 20’s 5K should be well within his grasp. Bob Dalton, who finished ten seconds behind Hirschberger last year may find that a stretch this year. His time at the AJC Peachtree Road Race, 46:11, was over two minutes slower this year than last. But apparently a lot of runners had times this year that were a minute or two slower than last year, so the time is not decisive. With a 21:57 5K run on the 4th of July, it is also possible that Victor Vasquez could factor into the podium race.

Kirk Larson     John Hirschberger     Perry Linn

70-74 Gene Dykes ran a 2:57:43 to break the US record for Men 70-74 in April in Rotterdam and took down the 10K record by running 39:02 at the Masters Championships in Dedham. Fresh off a 19:31 5000 Meter win at the Masters Outdoor TF Championship in Spokane, one would think Dykes would be a sure pick for first. There is one complication; he may not run. He is apparently registered to run 160 miles of the ‘Bigfoot 200’ which would finish 3 days before the race in Atlanta. He is waiting to see how beat up he is from that effort before deciding whether to compete in Atlanta or not. For ordinary mortals we would say there is no chance, but he did win his age division at both the Rotterdam and Boston marathons within 8 days of one another. There are plenty of other contenders. Dave Glass, Tony Gingello and yours truly, Paul Carlin went 1-2-3 last year. I will not be competitive for the podium this year, but Glass and Gingello should be. I am largely over my most recent hamstring issues but have not trained up enough to break 22 minutes. The former two runners, split by John Combs, took 1st and 3rd at XC Nats this year. But, as noted earlier, Lloyd Hansen, Jerry Learned, and Terry McCluskey have aged up to this division this spring and summer. Hansen beat Glass by a few minutes in Ann Arbor over the Half Marathon. That is not decisive as Hansen has, historically, counted the Half Marathon as one of his favorite events. But he also has a 10K time this year of 41:07 10K, which is a couple of minutes faster than Glass’s 10K at the Masters Championships. Learned ran 44 seconds faster than Glass last year in Syracuse. That is not definitive, though as his 10K time at the Championships this year was only 15 seconds faster than Glass. At Ann Arbor, Learned was bandaged up due to a freak non-running injury incurred as a result of a dog-handling mishap. In a note, Learned assured me he would be ready for Atlanta. Whether that means ready to run or ready to run up to his recent norm is a question I do not know the answer to. McCluskey finished ahead of Glass at the Half Marathon and also came in a minute ahead of him at the 8K in March, despite losing some time while helping an injured runner off the course. 
Teammates Terry McCluskey and Lloyd Hansen running together in the 2018 USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships in Ann Arbor MI [Photo Credit--Posted on Lloyd Hansen's Facebook page]

Jan Frisby was at the top of this division in 2015 when he won the Masters Grand Prix and set the American 10K record for the division with a 40:15, but a series of challenges has interrupted his training. Most likely he is coming to Atlanta primarily for the Men’s 70+ team competition. The Coach, Bill Sumner, is one of the Cal Coast founders and has coached more High School, Open, and Masters Champions than you can count. He will definitely be is in the mix. He won the Men’s 70-74 division at Carlsbad this year in 21:12 and has run most of his 5Ks this year in about 21:30 or under. Gingello has run his 5K’s a bit slower, mostly at 21:55 and above but he does have one at 20:54. You can never count Tony out in a Championship race though; last year he ran similar times and then turned in a 21:02 in the Championship race. If Dykes were coming in anywhere near fresh, he would be the favorite. Based on his time at Dedham, he should be able to break 19 minutes. But it is hard to see how running a 160-mile race 3 days before would not have a deleterious effect on this race. So I will ignore Dykes (at my peril) in the forecast, and go with the order in the most recent championship even if it was a Half Marathon.

Lloyd Hansen     Terry McCluskey     Dave Glass

75-79 The question is which Doug Goodhue and which Robert Hendrick will show up for the race. Hendrick would be the first to acknowledge that if both show up fully healthy, the race goes to Goodhue. Goodhue has been struggling over the last couple of years with leg issues; Hendrick has had foot issues this year. Goodhue ran for the team at the 8K in March when he was not up to his norm and Hendrick beat him. But in the 10K, Hendrick struggled with the foot and Goodhue struggled with his leg issues more successfully and came out on top. The foot also bothered Hendrick in the Half Marathon but Goodhue was busy directing the race so could not compete. Also Hendrick is very focused on competing in the Half Marathon at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Malaga, Spain in early September. That may mean he is not as sharp for a 5K as he might otherwise be. Also, if he is having any issues with the foot, he may choose to rest and not chance further damage. We shall see. 
Doug Goodhue powering through the pain to take 1st place in Men's 75-79 at the 2018 USATF Masters 10K Championships in Dedham MA [Photo Credit -- Michael Scott]

Richard Kutzner has now aged up to this division and will contend. Although not his best race by a long shot, Kutzner did come in 2 minutes ahead of David Turner at Club Cross Cintry in Lexington, and should have the edge here. He also ran a 1:50 HM. Those times are well off what he was running just a couple of years ago so if he has been able to recover from some challenges, he may be even more competitive. If Goodhue and Hendrick run close to their norm, Kutzner would still make the podium, in 3rd place. If either of them has difficulty, or scratches, Kutzner will be well-placed to move up.  

Doug Goodhue      Robert Hendrick     Richard Kutzner

80-84 Steven Fuchs ran 34:58 in last year’s Masters 5K Championships, finishing 4th, but he has a different set of rivals in this race. This July he ran a 10K at the beginning and end of the month in 39:04 and 38:48. Halfway through July he ran one in 32:33. That sets him up as the favorite. One of his rivals, Sid Davis, ran a 41:21 5K in March. The other rival, William Hosken, has no recent road races on record but does have a 20:20.27 3000-meter run on a track from 2011. That is hardly current however.

Sid Fuchs     Sid Davis     William Hosken

Disclaimer: In this preview, when I write that a given athlete seems capable of running a certain 5K time, that is not adjusted for how challenging the Atlanta’s Finest 5K course is nor for weather which is likely to be more humid than many runners are accustomed to.

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