Saturday, April 27, 2019

Masters Athletes Ready to Roll at the 2019 USATF Masters 10K Road Championships

April 27, 2019. Sunday the 28th of April will see some terrific Masters Runners traversing the streets of Dedham, Massachusetts. From the long, gradual, rolling descent and then up through the town and down and then up into the neighborhoods, athletes will be focused on keeping their form, eyeing their rivals and reaching their individual and/or team goals. The course is not easy but many have run fast times here; this weekend should be no exception. Boston being Boston, the weather forecast changes from day to day and hour to hour. Earlier in the week, it looked almost perfect with mid-50s, partly sunny skies, and single digit winds. Last night a 50% chance of rain had crept into the forecast but this morning it was back to mostly cloudy, with rain holding off until mid-afternoon. Stay tuned and ‘keep your powder dry’ is still good advice 244 years after the battles of Lexington and Concord a few miles to the north. 

First, any updates on Overall and Age Grading, either because of a late entrant or because of more time to do my research? 


Men [no change]: Kevin Castille      David Angell    Eric Blake

Women [adjusted]: Jennifer St. Jean    Kaela O'Neill     Melissa Hardesty     (Marisa Sutera Strange)


Men [adjusted]:  Kevin Castille     Ken Youngers     Andy Gardiner      [Norm Larson]
Other possibilities: John Barbour, Norm Larson, Mark Reeder

Women [adjusted]: Jan Holmquist      Marisa Sutera Strange     Kim Ionta    [Jeanette Groesz]
Other possibilities: Nora Cary, Patrice Combs, Karen Durante, Suzanne Ray

Now consider the Age Division contests. In some, the favorite is likely to run away with it, although nothing is ever certain! In many the outcome is highly contestable.

The Runners stream off over wet streets at the 2018 USATF Masters 10K Championship


Women. Jennifer St. Jean, who finished 3rd overall last year in 38:27, and won this division, will try to hold off challengers like Kaela O’Neill who finished 4th overall at Club XC in Spokane. O’Neill was 39 last year so not in the Masters race, but ran 13 seconds faster than St. Jean over the same course. It should be quite a battle! St. Jean is coming off a strong Indoor Track season and O’Neill ran a 58:26 at the Tune-Up 15K for the Boston Marathon. Melissa Hardesty, if I have found the right person, ran in the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon and in 2017, finished 3rd overall in the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon in 1:21:47. That is age grade equivalent to a 37:50. Perla Rodriguez, who ran 1:04:14 at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler earlier this month, will make things interesting unless everyone else is at the top of their game.

Jennifer St. Jean     Kaela O’Neil     Melissa Hardesty

Men. David Angell has won the last two 10K Overall Masters Championships but will be hard pressed for a 3-peat here. He has a better chance for the Age Division three-peat. Angell won last year in 32:32. On paper, Eric Blake, a newly minted Masters athlete, matches up well. Blake ran 2:22:43 at the California International Marathon, at age 39. This year, as a new Masters athlete he finished 2nd to Abdi Abdirahman at the UA NYC Half Marathon in 1:09:06-That's smoking fast! Angell has not run that fast in a Half Marathon in the last two years but both Half Marathons he has run in were National Championships where the consensus was that the times were not as fast as anticipated. Angell ran 1:09:37 a couple of years ago in the Richmond Half late 2016. More importantly he has collected 5 National Championship gold medals at the 8K to 10K distance. Patrick Rich was the best of the rest, both Overall and in this division, last year; he finished 2nd a half minute behind Angell and 19 seconds ahead of Sam Teigen. Teigen, along with BAA teammates, David Bedoya and Brendan Prindiville, and TJ Unger should be in the hunt with Rich for the final podium spot. Bedoya finished 4th last year, 7 seconds behind Teigen. Prindivile bettered Bedoya by 4 seconds in the BAA 5K, so they are close. Unger ran 4 seconds faster over this course last year as a 39 year old. But his outings this year at the Doyle's Necklace 5 Miler and the 15K Tune-Up suggest he is not at his best. Aaron Totten-Lancaster returns for Atlanta. In 2016 he finished 5th overall in 33:22 and the following year, was 8th in 33:24. He ran well through October of 2017 but I can find no results since, neither in 2018 nor 2019. That would usually be a sign that he is not race fit and will not be in position to contend for a top age division finish. But that assumption has sometimes been proven wrong. I will go with Angell's experience to be the difference maker. He is the division champ until beaten. Blake appears a step faster than the rest. Then it could be any one of several runners nailing the bronze medal. Bedoya came in 16 seconds ahead of Rich in the Boston 15K Tune-up. I will use that to give Bedoya the edge. It is true Prindiville had the edge at the 5K but it is half as far and the difference in time was slight. Teigen could prove me wrong but his race times have not been quite as sharp this spring; he ran 40 seconds slower at Virginia Beach this year.
David Angell     Eric Blake     David Bedoya
David Angell heading for the finishing tape at the 2018 USATF Masters 10K Championship

Women. Karolyn Bowley finished 2nd to Jennifer Bayliss, both Overall and in this Division last year. It is hard to see anyone else in the division staying with her this year. Not only did she run 37:58, she also ran a 57:03 in the Boston Tune-up 15K. Alexandra Newman, Dana Parrot, and Heather Webster should contend for the remaining podium positions. Webster should have the edge. She finished 3rd last year in the 40-44 division in 39:42. Parrot finished 3rd in this 45-49 division in 2016 in 41:22. Newman has not raced here in recent years but ran a 33:37 8K in Virginia Beach this year.which is age-grade equivalent to a 42:30. Parrot's 1:08:20 in the Tune-Up 15K suggests her fitness is a little off where it was in 2016.
Karolyn Bowley     Heather Webster     Alexandra Newman
Karolyn Bowley claims 2nd place at the 2018 USATF 10K Championships

Men. Kevin Castille should take this division handily on his way to the Overall Championship. As noted in the first preview, Castille recently ran 29:58 at the Cooper River Bridge Run. That gives him a cushion of over two minutes to work with in the Overall race and over three minutes in this division. Of course nothing is certain until the gun goes off and the race unfolds. The two top contenders for the remaining podium spots are Jonathan Frieder and Brian Sydow. Last month Frieder and Sydow were flying down the Boardwalk at Virginia Beach toward the finish of the 8K Championship. Sydow outlasted Frieder to take 4th Overall and 1st in the Division in 26:26. Frieder was 4 seconds back. Greg Putnam, who has been more competitive in the past finished 40 seconds behind Frieder last year in this 10K and last month in Virginia Beach he was still a half minute back. Should any of those run into difficulties or not show for any reason, Chris Georgules, who ran a 53:26 at the Tune-Up 15K is poised to move up onto the podium.
Kevin Castille     Brian Sydow     Jonathan Frieder
Kevin Castille racing to victory in the 2017 15K Championships in Tulsa OK [Photo: Tulsa World]

Women. This should be one of the most competitive divisional races. There is no clear favorite although Holly Madden who finished 3rd in the division last year in 40:29 appears to be the strongest among several returning contenders. But her 1:04:50 Tune-Up 15K this past March 30th is age grade equivalent to a 42:33. Mimi Fallon finished 19 seconds behind Madden in this race last year but ran a 40:09 on an uncharacteristically humid day at the Beach to Beacon 10K. She has already run 40:27 this year. Jennifer Hegarty who finished two minutes behind Madden at this race last year, ran a 40:27 at the Reebok 10K in October. So far this year, her focus has been on Indoor Track efforts from the 1500 to the 3000 meters. Amy Fakterowitz won the 8K National Championship in this division at Virginia Beach. Her 32:02 there is age grade equivalent to a 40:33. Hronn Gudmundsdottir ran a 19:27 5K last November, age grade equivalent to a 40:24 10K. Lori Kingsley ran an 18:58 5K in Syracuse in 2017, age grade equivalent to a 39:21. Her more recent efforts, including a 1:03:23 15K at the Stockade-a-thon, are more consistent with a low 40 to low 41 10K. Kingsley's Willow Stret teammate, Emily Bryans ran faster here last year than Hegarty but her more recent efforts are more in line with a 43 to 44 minute 10K. Laurie Wharton and Anne Benson cannot be counted out entirely either although a tine under 43 minutes would be a great result for either. So many runners expected to achieve a low 40's 10K--tough to pick. Fallon appears stronger than Madden so far this year, as does Fakterowitz.
Mimi Fallon     Amy Fakterowitz     Holly Madden
Mimi Fallon finishes strong at the 2018 edition of the USATF Maasters 10K Championship

Men. Ordinarily Kent Lemme would be the strong favorite. He won the division here last year in 33:49. But this has been an unusual spring for Lemme. He was focused on training with his daughter for the Boston Marathon. That suggests higher volumes of mileage training than might be ideal prep for a 10K. His 8K time of 27:42 at the 8K in Virginia Beach was fast enough to take the M50 crown again but it was a minute slower than his 2018 time. His 56:51 time in the Tune-Up 15K is probably 5 minutes slower than one would normally expect. It could be because he and his daughter ran it together at her pace or it could be indicative of a problem. In 2016 Andy Gardiner was the 4th runner across the finish line in these Championships, running 33:11. Given Lemme's focus on the Boston Marathon, it is not surprising that Gardiner took his measure at the Club XC Championships in Spokane this year, running 34:43. Lemme was almost two minutes back. Based on these facts, I make Gardiner the favorite. As the Boston Marathon can be quite draining and took place just 13 days before the 10K Championship, it is not clear if Lemme should be favored for 2nd place; he may be simply running for team points. If Lemme's 8K race is more indicative of actual fitness than the 15K, he could well run under 35 minutes.Tim Van Orden ran 34:53 at the Lone Gull 10k last fall. His 53:03 at the Tune-Up 15K this spring is equivalent to a 34:46. Others who are in contention include Jason Cakouros who ran 35:55, finishing 5th in the division last year; Mike Nier and Joe Shairs who finished 4th and 5th in the division at the 8K Championships in 28:26 and 28:40.
Andy Gardiner     Tim Van Orden     Kent Lemme 

Women. Marisa Sutera Strange had a couple of uncharacteristic races last year. This year she is back on top of her game as evidenced by her overall win at the USATF Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee and her 2nd place Overall finish at the 8K behind Roberta Groner in 30:37. That time is age grade equivalent to a 38:49 10K. Strange won the 50-54 division last year in 38:53.Kim Ionta is the only other athlete in this division who is likely to break 39 minutes. She ran 31:03 in the Doyle's Emerald Necklace 5 Miler this spring. Even if I treat that race as an 8K, as one of my correspondents suggested, it age grades equivalent to a 39:06. That suggests Ionta can keep pace with Strange. Strange is a fierce competitor and as the reigning 'Champ', gets the edge in my pick. Mary Swan won this Division last year in 42:36 and should be favored for the third place finish. Kris Huff finished 26 seconds back from Swan at the 5K Championship last year. Huff's 34:10 effort at the 8K Championship which gave her the 3rd place finish in the division, age grades equivalent to a 43:19 10K. Beth Stalker who finished 3rd here last year in 43:32 ran a 27:31 4 miler, age grade equivalent to a 43:52 10K must also be considered a threat.
Marisa Sutera Strange     Kim Ionta     Mary Swan
Maria Sutera Strange captures the 50-54 title at the 2018 USATF Masters 10K Championships

Men. With Nat Larson otherwise engaged, Mark Reeder, who finished 2nd here last year in 35:45, moves into the favorite's role. He ran 17:30 at the CVS 5K and 35:50 at the Lone Gull 10K. But it is a little troubling to find no results this spring, not even in usatf-ne events. John Sullivan who was over a minute back at the 10K last year, finished 10 seconds ahead of Reeder at the CVS 5K and only 2 seconds back at Lone Gull. His 1:20:50 at the New Bedford Half Marathon in mid-March verifies that he has roughly the fitness he exhibited last year. Alan Evans ran a 2:42:44 Marathon at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. That is age grade equivalent to a 36:01 10K. But it is more of a stretch when the base race is a Marathon. And, like Reeder, there are no results in 2019 that I can find. But, unlike Reeder, Evans did run at Club XC this year, clocking 37:06 over a 10K course, finishing 4th in the division. Gregory Oshust who finished 4th in the division at the 5K Championships in 18:36, might play a role here as well.
John Sullivan     Mark Reeder     Alan Evans

Women. Nora Cary, Patrice Combs, and Jennifer Teppo should battle for the win. As far as I can tell, they have not raced against each other in recent years. Cary won the 2017 5K division title in the 5K on the fast Syracuse course in 20:32. Combs won the 5K division title on the more challenging Atlanta course last year in 21:44. On April 7th, Cary ran a 43:06 in a Cherry Blossom 10K run. That is 3 seconds faster than Combs's winning effort in Dedham last year. Combs's 34:29 8K effort in Virginia Beach is equivalent age-grading to a 43:49 10K. That gives Cary a slight edge in terms of races this spring. Teppo won the division 15K National crown in October, running 1:08:21 on the challenging Tulsa Run course. She also ran a 21:17 5K this March, age grade equivalent to a 44:39. Teppo also claimed the division crown at the Club XC Championships in Spokane.This one is too close to call but I will go with the following order.
Nora Cary     Patrice Combs     Jennifer Teppo

Men. Charlie Muse took the Division title last year in 37:51, 8 seconds ahead of Ken Youngers. Subsequent races suggest that was an off day for Youngers. At the 5K Championships, Youngers clocked 18:16, age-grade equivalent to a 37:36 10K. His 29:03 at the 8K Championship in mid-March age grades at the same level as a 36:35 10K. Russell Blatt, Matthew Curran, Jeffery Dundas, Norm Larson, and James Miller will battle Muse for 2nd and 3rd. Muse has focused on longer distances this spring so it is unclear if he has the speed work to crack 38 minutes. Neither his 1:28 and change at the UA NYC Half Marathon nor his 3:11:27 at the Boston Marathon are equivalent to a sub-38 10K. Blatt, in contrast, has run a 1:25:01 Half Marathon, a 37:37 10K, and an 18:08 at the BAA 5K this spring. Matthew Curran is a strong XC runner who has run 5K's in the 18:21 to 20+ range. The lower end of his range is equivalent to a 37:44 10K.Jeffery Dundas, wh finished 2nd in the M55 division 5 years ago at this race in 35:59, has not run here since. He did run the 8K Championship in Virginia Beach. His 4th place divisional finish in 29:47 is age-grade equivalent to a 37:29 10K. Norm Larson finished 17 seconds behind Youngers last year . His 29:40 at the 8K was 7 seconds faster than Dundas, suggesting he might well be able to run in the low 37 range this year. That is reinforced by his 15K time in the Boston Tune-up of 57:54 which is also equivalent to a sub-38 10K time. It is tough to find results for James Miller, but he ran at the Club XC Championships in Spokane, finishing 5 seconds behind Youngers. Youngers is stronger on the roads than the turf so Miller is unlikely to finish that close in a road race. It will be interesting to see.
Ken Youngers     Norm Larson     Russell Blatt
Ken Youngers finishing off a tough race at the 2018 edition fo the USATF Masters 10K Championships

Women. Karen Durante, Jeanette Groesz, and Suzanne Ray finished 1-2-3 last year and all three return to contest the division again. Their times were 46:30, 48:02, and 48:39. That was the only Championship where Groesz came in ahead of Ray. She ran 1:11:06 to take the 15K Division Championship. The 1:11:06 is equivalent in age grading to a 46:35. She ran a 1:39:02 Half Marathon in December. That time is equivalent to a 45:42. Ray ran a 2:22:48 30K race in early marach tat is age grade equivalent to a 47:23. Durante's late fall and spring have not been quite as impressive. Her 1:16:23 in the Tune-Up 15K is equivalent to a 50:04. Her Doyle's 5 Miler time of 37:25, when treated as an 8K, is equivalent to a 47:40. Taken together, this suggests a close race between those two. Ray will certainly want to redeem herself for last year, and is likely to do so.Groesz has run more consistently, her 1:15:49 15K in Portland this spring age grades equivalent to a 9:40. It seems unlikely anyone else in the division can crack 50.
Suzanne Ray     Karen Durante     Jeanette Groesz
Karen Durante finishes off her winning effort in the Women's 65-69 Divisin at the 2018 USATF masters 10K Championship

Men. If I have found the right Robert Ruel, it appears this will be a tussle between him, John Barbour and Reno Stirrat. Stirrat had the best time a year ago when he finished 5th in the 60-64 division in 39:44. But Barbour, who ran 41:00, was in the early stages of recovery from an injury sutained before the Club XC Championships the previous December. He has demonstrated remarkable progress this spring with a 1:00:52 in the Tune-Up 15K in late March, followed a week later by a 31:00 in the Doyle's Emerald Necklace 5 Miler. That progression suggests a time under 39 minutes is not out of the question for Barbour If he can achieve that he will likely win the division. Stirrat appears a safe bet for second place with the possible exception of Ruel. Did I find the right person? It is not a common last name. The only Robert Ruel result I can find is  a 17;50 TBC 5K in Bridgewater MA. If the course is well measured it appears Ruel is capable of running around 37 minutes or below in a 10K. But a single race result is s slim reed to base such a projection on. Others who could play a role include George Braun, Kirk Larson, and Joseph Reda. All three ran in the 8K Championship with Reda finishing strongest of the three. His time there suggests a low 40's 10K is within reach with Larson and Braun somewhat slower. If I have the wrong Ruel or if the result is not indicative of his prowess at 10K, then one of those three should finish in third.
John Barbour     Reno Stirrat     Robert Ruel
John Barbour, in recovery mode, at the 2018 USATF Masters 10K Championships

Women. Hall of Famer, Jan Holmquist, will return to defend her crown; she won last year in 50:23. Her recent outing at Doyle's 5 Miler was a 40:41. Treated as an 8K, that would be equivalent to a 52:05, a bit faster if treated as a true 5 mile run. Usually there is no competition in sight; that might change this year. Sharon Gerl, who hs focused more on triathlons, began running with the Red Lizards out of Portland last year. She ran a couple of sub-24 5K's last year, which would be equivalent in age grade to a low 50's 10K. This year she has managed a 26:48 5K, equivalent to a 57:10. Holmquist should come safely home in first, but Gerl could make it interesting if she has a great day. Patty Foltz was in that same range last year when she ran 25:41 and 26:33 5Ks and a 50:24 at the Reebok 10K for Women. Not as strong this spring, she ran 48:00 at Doyle's.  
Jan Holmquist     Sharon Gerl     Patty Foltz

Men. Fifty-one years ago, no one could touch Amby Burfoot as he turned the corner onto Boylston Street and headed first to the tape in Boston. Not so in the present. A staunch member of the Raritan Cross Country team a decade or so ago, he has been away from National Championships for a few years. These days he tends to be more in search of good stories than big wins. He will find great camaraderie and swap more than a few yarns,. Lloyd Hansen, the M65 Runner of the Year in 2014, noted that back in his Raritan days, Burfoot had outkicked him in helping his team to a National title. Hansen has been on a tear recently, winning the 8K M70 National Championship in 32:36 and then taking the Age Division title at Carlsbad in 20:01. The former is equivalent to a 41:08 10K and the latter to a 41:26. Jerry Learned has been chasing him in most of the National Championships. Learned clocked 35:11 in Virginia Beach to take 2nd to Hansen. That effort age grades to an equivalent of a 44:24 10K. He also took 2nd to Hansen in Tulsa last October with a 1:12:59 15K. Dave Glass is the top returning runner from M70 last year, where he took 3rd behind the legendary Bill Dixon and the fellow rewriting the record books for Men 70 and up, Gene Dykes. Since that time nagging injuries have interfered with training and slowed him a bit. Learned has eclipsed him by anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes in the last few races. His 36:13 in the Delmar Dash 5 Miler is equivalent to a 45:28 so he will be right there in the hunt. Jim May is always dangerous. Last year he finished 6th in Dedham, clocking 45:25. In Virginia Beach this past March he was 27 seconds behind Learned in 4th, running the equivalent of a 44:57 10K. Allan Bates who finished 9th in M65 last year and May's teammate, Doc Rappole, may also break into the top bunch. Bates ran 45:42 last year and his times in the New Bedford Half Marathon and the Boston Tune-up suggest he is likely to run as well this go round. Rappole won the M65 USATF XC  Championship in Boulder in 2015. Since then his running has been up and down but he has been able to train consistently for a few months and his times are coming down. He ran a 1:18:23 at the Charlottesville 10 Miler. That would suggest a 10K time over 47. But the Charlottesville course is quite hilly; that time would have been closer to 1:17 or maybe even 1:16 on a flatter course. My old Tufts teammate, Stephen Viegas, who has contributed so much to USATF-NE and now the RRCA, will also be in the field, despite his recent traverse from Hopkinton to Boston.
Lloyd Hansen     Jerry Learned     Jim May

Women. Unless an unanticipated rival signs up at Packet Pickup, Kathleeen Scotti will defend her title with ease. She won in 1:25:43 last year.
Kathleen Scotti

Men. Hall of Famer, Doug Goodhue, has dominated this division since regaining his form last year. Still on the comeback trail, he won at Dedham in 46:52, and 10 months later would win the 8K Championship in 34:22, age grade equivalent to a 43:22. But Goodhue cannot make the 10K this year due to commitments with the Glass City Marathon group, which is now contracted to manage, with Goodhue's advice and counsel, the DXA2 Half Marathon in Ann Arbor. In his absence, another storied legend, Jan Frisby returns to the fray, for the first time since last August when he ran 26:21 in the 5K Championship in Atlanta. That effort was equivalent in age-grading to a 54:29. Frisby has other family involvements in New England this weekend so entered even though not at top form. He assumed Goodhue, an old friend and rival, would be entered so he would be running for 2nd or 3rd at best. With no recent races and only 6 weeks of good training, there are no guarantees, but if everything breaks right for him, a sub-50 is not out of the question. He has had some heel problems so even if he gets to the starting line in good shape, there is always the question of whether the heel will hold up under race conditions. If so, he could be adding another gold medal to his ample collection. Frisby is one of the few,  perhaps the only runner to be named Age Division Runner of the Year in 50-54, 55-59 and then again in 70-74. David Pember ran 53:26 here last year to take 3rd and his 42:41 at Doyle's suggests he is ready to run that time again. His closest competition appears to be from Denny LeBlanc and John Noyes. LeBlanc ran 45:19 at Doyle's 5 Miler, roughly equivalent to a 57:00 10K. Noyes is also close. His focus has been on 5K's but he ran three of them between 27:04 and 27:25 this past fall. Those are equivalent to 10K's in the 56:30-57 range.

Jan Frisby     David Pember     Denny LeBlanc

Women. Tami Graf, winner of the 2018 Grand Prix for this division is taking up where she left off. She won the 8K at 1:04:40, and then earned Individual and Team Bronze Medals in the Cross Country Championships in Torun, Poland. She is unopposed on Sunday.
Tami Graf

Men. Bill Riley is a marvel. He has excelled at Masters running for decades, a divisional runner of the year in the age groups 60-64, 65-69,70-74, 75-79 and 80-84. He and his longtime rival, Harry Carter, do battle here almost every recent spring. Last year Riley took the honors, 53:10 to 54:01. No one else in the division cracked 1:13. Riley has run a 26:35 and a 28:09 5K this year already. He should be ready. Carter has a 28:04 at the BAA 5K and has also run a 3:14:02 30K. Ram Satyaprasad who was in 75-79 last year, ran 1:00:14. His fitness may be off a little this year as he could only manage a 1:447:44 at the Tune-Up 15K. His chief rival for the bronze medal should be Norman Goluskin who ran a couple of 5K's in the 27-30 range last year, a range equivalent to 56:23 to 1:03:31 10K's. He also clocked a 1:32:29 15K in Europe in March. That time is age grade equivalent to a 1:00:38 10K.
Bill Riley     Harry Carter     Norman Goluskin

Women. Edna Hyer has a very active racing calendar in New York and has taken home National 5K Championship medals from Syracuse in the past. As of now, she is the only entrant in the division so she will surely take home a medal from Dedham as well, most likely Gold.
Edna Hyer

Men. Larry Cole is the sole entrant. Unlike Hyer, he is a regular at this Championship. He finished 4th last year in the 80-84 age division with a 1:18:42, and took 3rd the year before in 1:13:30. 
Larry Cole

Men. Nathaniel Finestone runs unopposed in this division, our oldest competitor. He won his division earlier this spring at the Garden State 10 Miler in 2;16:12 and at the Essex County Cherry Blossom 10K in 1:26:17.
Nathaniel Finestone

Monday, April 22, 2019

2019 USATF Masters 10 K Championships--A First Look at Overall and Age Grading

April 21, 2019. As of Monday afternoon, over 220 of the fastest Masters Distance Runners in the country were signed up to contest the 10K Championships in Dedham Massachusetts. The last Sunday in April has seen the James Joyce Ramble host this race every year since 2013. It is not an easy course; there are definitely hills which some refer to as rolling. Fast times have been run here including a number of US records. If the forecast holds, the weather will be fine--mid 50's at race time, mostly sunny skies--winds at 9 mph.
The 2018 USATF Masters 10 Km Championships a hundred meters into the race with David Angell #1 and Ryan McCalmon #100 leading the way Photo Credit: Michael Scott

Not all the Clubs that normally participate have been heard from. For example, no one from the Boston Athletic Association or the Greater Springfield Harriers is entered yet. Based on entries as of Monday afternoon at 1:25 pm, April 22, here is my early preview for Overall and Age Grading contests this year. Once online registration closes on Wednesday, the 24th, at midnight, I will update.

Women Last year the top 5 spots went to Jennifer Bayliss, Karolyn Bowley, Jennifer St. Jean, Marisa Sutera Strange, and Ginger Reiner. Strange won in 2016 in 36:48 and Reiner won with a 37: 11 effort in 2017. Right now only St. Jean and Strange are entered. Bayliss was not at the top of her game at the USATF Cross Country National Championships in Tallahassee so may not be making the trip this year. Last year she won in 37:19. Both Bowley, affiliated with the B.A.A., and Reiner who lives in the Greater Boston area, may well enter in the next few days. St. Jean had one of her best recent years on the Indoor Track this past winter, and that may carry over to this race. St. Jean's time last year was 38:27. Strange appears back on the top of her game after taking 1st place overall at the Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee this year and taking a strong 2nd place behind Roberta Groner at the 8K Championships in Virginia Beach at 30:37, three seconds faster than her time the year before. 

The 2018 USATF Masters 10K Championships with Jennifer Bayliss #206 and Ginger Reiner #201 leading the women's field. Heather Webster red GVH singlet and Marisa Sutera Strange [green Athena singlet back left] are also gathering speed Photo Credit: Michael Scott
Heather Webster, who finished 6th in this race the last two years, could factor into the podium contest as well. Others who might contend for the Overall podium include: Melissa Hardesty and Perla Rodriguez. If it is the same Melissa Hardesty, she ran a bunch of 2:40+ marathons in her mid to late 30's, and  has a 1:21:47 Half Marathon in fall 2017 when she was 40. Subject to this being the same person, she also may have run a 37:32 10K last November and a 23:46 4 miler this March. That 4-Miler is age grade equivalent to a 37:36 10K. Rodriguez finished 5th at the Credit Union Chery Blossom 10 Miler in 1:04:14, finishing a minute ahead of Casey Keeters who finished 4th in the 40-44 division at the 5K Championships last year in Atlanta. Rodriguez's 10 mile time is age grade equivalent to a 39:17 10K. Among those currently entered my picks for 1-2-3 are:
Jennifer St. Jean     Melissa Hardesty     Marisa Sutera Strange

Men David Angell arrived on the scene in 2017 and ran to an 18 second win in 32:37. Last year he ran 4 seconds faster and enjoyed an even wider, 29 second margin of victory. He is going for three in a row. Up until I checked the Status of Entries this morning, my view was as follows. It appears there is only one individual with a solid shot at staying with him. Eric Blake, a newly  minted Masters athlete, ran 1:09:06 in the UA NYC Half Marathon, the first Masters athlete after Abdi Abdirahman over the finish line. That compares favorably with Angell's time last year in the Masters Half Marathon Championship. His time in that race was 1:11:20, but times were generally a bit slow in that race. Angell has a 1:09:37 from the Richmond Half Marathon in November 2016. Angell is arguably faster in the 8K to 10K range than the 15K to Half Marathon range. Blake's most recent 5000 meter effort was a 15:52 on the Indoor Track. Angell ran 9:22.95 in the 3000 meters at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships. Angell's 3000 meter time appears roughly equal to a 16:08 but Angell has run faster on the roads where he clocked 15:45 on a tough course in Atlanta to take the 2018 5K Masters Championship. In the spirit of 'the champ is the champ until someone beats him', I give Angell the edge. But it should be a fun race to watch! The runner who is both entered and in the best position to stay with them is Patrick Rich, who finished 2nd last year in 33:02. Rich ran a 51:48 in the Frank Nealon Boston Tune-Up 15K this year , suggesting he is not far off his fitness last year. Sam Teigen and Jonathan Frieder, who finished 3rd and 7th year could contend for the podium. Bryan Sydow who edged Frieder for 4th at the Masters 8K Championship by 4 seconds, will also be in the hunt. Teigen was 15 seconds back at Virginia Beach so may be a bit off his best.

Then this morning I saw that Kevin Castille had entered. Unless he runs into unexpected difficulties, the fastest Masters Runner whose name is not Lagat or Keflezighi will have no trouble pacing the field home. He just won the Cooper River Bridge Run in 29:58, not bad for a spry 47 year old! 
Kevin Castille approaches the finish line at the 2017 USATF Masters 15K Championships in Tulsa Oklahoma; he was the first runner across the finish line and won the Masters competition by over two minutes. Photo Credit: Tulsa World

Although he has run in, and won, a number of our other road and cross country championships, this will be his first trip to Dedham that I know of.

Kevin Castille     David Angell     Eric Blake    

Women In 2018 Jan Holmquist, then 73, took the title with a 50:29 that graded at 93.37%. She was followed by Marisa Sutera Strange, Karen Durante, Jeanette Groesz, and Patrice Combs. All but Durante are already entered. Holmquist appears to be in fine form. She ran the Doyle's 5 Miler 23 seconds faster this year than last, so it appears possible she could raise her age grading score back above 95% as it has been in the recent past. Strange graded at 93.87% in Virginia Beach so can definitely push Holmquist for the title. Groesz ran the Shamrock Run Portland (15K) this spring in 1:15:49 which is slightly faster in age-grading terms than she ran that race in 2017. 
Jan Holmquist crosses the finish line at the 2017 USATF Masters 10 Km Championships where she age=graded at 96.79%!

An age-grade in the upper 80's is likely with a higher score possible if she has a good day. Combs has age-graded in the upper 80's. recently. She graded 89.99% last year in Dedham and this past month her 34:29 at Virginia Beach age-graded 89.91% for the 8K. Mimi Fallon who did not make the race last year, ran a 39:10 in 2017, at age 51, for an 88.56% score. The 37:57 she ran last October in the Reebok Boston 10K for Women, at age 53, graded at 93.63%. If she can come anywhere close to that time in Dedham, she would very much be in the hunt for an age-grading finish on the podium.
Jan Holmquist     Marisa Sutera Strange     Jeanette Groesz

Men Last year Nat Larson, 55 at the time ran 33:24 to take the honors in age-grading at 93.90%. He was followed by Gene Dykes, Bill Dixon, and Tom Bernhard. At the moment, none of those 4 are entered. Dykes is mostly focusing on longer races. I can find no races for Dixon since last November so he may be inactive or injured at the moment. Bernhard ran well in Virginia Beach, clocking 29:49 for a 93.20%. Bernhard may yet enter but he indicated at Virginia Beach that he may curtail his Championship participation this year compared to past years. We shall see. If none of those enter, who else should we look for? John Barbour appears to have recovered to a great extent from the injury he sustained in the run-up to the 2017 Club XC Championships in Lexington KY. He is still not back to the level he enjoyed in early 2017. 
John Barbour winning the 2017 Men's 60-64 title at the 2017 USATF Masters 10 Km Championship; his age grade was 89.43%!

That year he ran the Doyle's Emerald Necklace 5 Miler in 30:13 three weeks before winning the 60-64 age division at Dedham in 37:42. This year, just before his 65th birthday, he ran 31:00 in that 5 miler suggesting a time under 39 minutes should be possible. That would put his age grade in the upper 80's. If his fitness is improving by the week, he might crack 90. Norm Larson and Ken Youngers could also make a run at the title. In the 8K Youngers and Larson graded at 91.36% and 90.24%. The order was reversed at the USATF XC Nationals in Tallahassee. Jonathan Frieder was only a little behind at 88.89% in the 8K and is, arguably, stronger at the 10K than the 8K. And, as above, Kevin Castille should lead the way. His Cooper River time age graded over 97%.
Kevin Castille     Ken Youngers     Norm Larson     

Next up will be updates on the Overall and Age-Grading contests once online registration closes and Age Division Championships, followed by team races if time permits.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

2019 Cherry Blossom Ten Miler- My Race

April 17, 2019.The 47th running of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Miler took place on Sunday, April 7th. A 'Bucket List' race for most runners, Phil Stewart and his team do an incredible job. The race is really well organized. Although the Cherry Blossoms had officially peaked on April 1, the unusually favorable weather meant there were still plenty of Cherry Blossoms on many trees. Runners especially appreciated having the Cherry Blossoms on the trek out to Hanes Point and back, arguably the toughest 4 miles of the course, as a welcome distraction. I heard comments that "It was almost magical!"

The Race had recruited their usual set of very strong Elite Open runners. What is less well known is that the Race makes it very easy for Elite Masters Runners to obtain seeded entries to line up right behind the Men's Elite racers. Since this is a bucket list for most serious runners, that is very welcome, and attracts a much more geographically diverse field than might be expected. In addition to plenty of runners from D.C, Maryland and Virginia, the Masters Age Division podiums included runners from Arizona, California, Texas, Missouri, Minnesota, Tennessee, Indiana, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts and Ontario in Canada.

My Race The seeded entry allows runners going for a fast time and an age division award to run free from the start without worrying about crowded conditions slowing them down. The horn sounds, the Elite Men race off with dozens of fleet Masters runners streaming along behind them. I had obtained such an entry at the age of 73 based on being a 3-time National Champion (twice at the Half Marathon and once at 10 km) with wins at other prestigious races like the Beach to Beacon 10K, and a history of fast times in my late 60's. But with a series of hamstring injuries over the last few years, the best recent time I could point to was a 1:13:40 third place finish at the 15K National Championship last October. I got a very nice note back from the Race Director, Phil Stewart, who granted my request for a seeded start and hoped it would help me to re-establish myself as a nationally competitive runner in my age division.

With my entry confirmed, I Hot-Wired a hotel at 15th and L, about a mile from the start so I could jog to the race. It was actually pretty cool; the Hotel's's been around for over a hundred years.

It had a cool, retro lobby:

The Metro was not operating on Sunday before the race starts, so being within a mile or two to the starting area was important. I like to drive, so hopped into my car for the 7 hour drive from Indy to Frederick, MD where I stayed Friday night. That way the long part of the drive is 2 days before the race. I am also careful to stop a couple of times and do stretching exercises while getting gas, and maybe buying a sub sandwich for the road. I did a quick shakeout run with a few stride-outs and then dinner. Saturday I drove into DC, about an hour, and parked in a garage a few blocks from the hotel that was open both Saturday and Sunday, so I could get out--a lot of parking garages in DC are closed on the weekends or even if open on Saturday, might be closed on Sunday--so you have to check. This was Central Parking and I could reserve online which showed me it was open from 10 am on Sunday.

My hotel was able to give me an early check-in which was nice. Even though it was a little over a mile to the Expo and the Packet Pickup, I decided to walk rather than take the Metro. Some of my runner friends say they try to keep off their feet as much as possible the day before the race. But some of my best runs have seen me, on the day prior to the race, doing a long-ish walk or carrying stuff up and down several flights of stairs, etc. I am careful not to overdo it, but ordinary walking seems fine, even up to a couple of miles. Of course I prefer if those walks can be in the Blue Hills outside of Boston or along the beaches and marshes near Virginia Beach. But walking around DC was like going back in time. I studied for a Master's degree at Georgetown in the late 60's and stayed around for a couple of years beyond that--no Metro then; I walked a lot in those first couple of years before I got a car.

The day of the race everything went smoothly. Luckily the weather was near perfect--mid 50's, partly cloudy but no rain, and little wind. I had my 'throw away' over-shirt and warmup pants from Goodwill to wear over singlet and shorts, and my gear check bag with my non-throwaways [usatf xc long-sleeve tech shirt from Tallahassee and Nike warmup pants] for after the race. That was mostly because I anticipated hanging around after the race. Otherwise I could have just run back to my hotel in singlet and shorts. It was almost 60 by the time we finished. As pre-arranged by messaging, I met up with the Atlanta Track Club crew who were there to run in the mixed team competition--Mike Anderson, Ken Youngers, Jeff Haertl, Laurie Wharton and Casey Teeters.
Atlanta Track Club Mixed Team for Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run-2nd place--L to R: Casey Teeters, Jeff Haertl, Ken Youngers, Laurie Wharton, Mike Anderson [Photo by George Banker]

Hanging out and warming up with them made the pre-race a lot more fun!

Very soon it is time to get into the Yellow Corral behind the elites. Mike and Ken escort me up towards the front of the corral and then the horn sounds. We start at a walk but within a few strides, we are running. The ATC bunch take off and I move into a better pace for me. There are plenty of other runners around me but it does not feel crowded. One of the things about starting towards the front for an old guy, even a pretty fast old guy, is that for the first couple of miles, a *lot* of people are passing you. So it's important not to get discouraged by that. And after a while you do eventually start to pass people. Also you can use some of those passing, at least for a few strides to check to make sure you're keeping your pace up. You can try to stay with someone for 50 meters or so before letting them go. Someone had said the Cherry Blossoms peaked almost a week before, but I saw a lot of gorgeous Cherry Blossoms, especially on the way out to Hanes Point and back from miles 6 through 9.

This was my first time running a race with a GPS Watch. I used to be 'old school' and just had a watch with a timer and relied on mile markers. But it is true that I do not always spot the mile markers at races. It was nice to have the GPS vibrate at the miles so a quick glace could show me where I was. I was hoping to get down around a 7:45 per mile average pace. But at my last few races, a Half Marathon, and a couple of Cross Country races, I had averaged over 8. And my 8K effort three weeks earlier had only been at 7:35 pace. After a mile it showed 7:29. That seemed about right; the first mile seemed a bit downhill overall. I knew I would slow down naturally over the next couple of miles; I just hoped I did not slow down too much. When the next couple of miles came in around 7:40 it seemed things would be okay. But in the back of my mind was the doubt. Would I start to fall way off pace after mile 5 or 6? One of my goals had been, as a minimum, to be under 8 per mile at the half way point and then see what I could do from there. I hit that one okay with a minute and a half to play with if I needed it. Of course I hoped to come close to 2.5 minutes under by the time I was done. 

Everything clicked along nicely through mile 6 but then the GPS told me Mile 7 was up in the 7:50's. I thought that was okay; I did want to be able to finish strong if possible, not be shuffling in over the last mile. And that's the way it worked. I had miles 7 and 8 in the mid 7:50's, mile 9 back to the low 7:40's and the last mile in 7:28 (grade-adjusted 7:23) despite it having the only uphill of any note on the course. Unlike in USATF National Championships, where runners indicate their age and gender on a back bib, M70 for me, there are no visible indicators at these races. So when I saw a guy ahead in the last mile who looked like he was perhaps in his 70's, I made sure to pass him. Of course, a minute or so later I saw he had apparently done the same calculation as he sped past me. I hoped he was a mere 69 or below. 
Cruising Across the 2019 Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Finish Line in my Ann Arbor Track Club singlet in 1:17:29 [Photo Credit: Marathon Photo]

At the end of the race I could find my time. My GPS said 1:17:32 but the official time was 1:17:29. But I had no idea how I had done relative to others in my age division. It was only later when I was already on the drive home and stopped for gas that I was able to see a preliminary result on line that said 'Unofficial Result Paul Carlin 1 M70-74---Sweet! 
Running @ Washington, DC, 4/7/2019, by The Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile
Chip time


Gun time

07:47 min/miles
Age Grade
Indianapolis, IN
NameSplits km.mi.PositionPace Time
5K3.11 mi189607:45 min/mi00:24:06
10K6.21 mi238207:44 min/mi00:48:02
15K9.32 mi233307:46 min/mi01:12:21
Finish9.96 mi07:47 min/mi01:17:29
LegLeg TimePosTotal timePos 
 3.11 mi00:24:06189600:24:06
 6.21 mi00:23:56238200:48:02
 9.32 mi00:24:19233301:12:21
 9.96 mi00:05:0801:17:29

Division M 70-74: 1st

53 finishers behind. 0% ahead.

Note: The race announced a few days after the event was complete that construction had forced them to alter their route, which had been known already, and that they had carefully measured to retain the full distance run, which we would have assumed, but that on the morning of the race, a set of cones for a turnaround had been misplaced. The course was, inadvertently, 80 yards short of a full 10 miles. Hence all the times referenced in this article are actually for a 9.96 mile race. The race suggested that the actual time for a ten mile could be estimated by the following adjustments:

Difference between time for 9.96 miles and 10 miles
Add 14 seconds to official race time
Add 17 seconds to official race time
Add 19 seconds to official race time 

The Race agreed to honor the cash prizes for course records and such. But the mistake fell heaviest on Stanley Kebenei, an Open athlete who broke the American Record of 46:13 set by Greg Meyers in 1983. He ran 46:00. The adjustments above suggest Kebenei would have come in right around 46:12 or 46:13 had he covered a full 10.00 mile course. He will have to come back next year with renewed resolve.

To get an Age Division win at such a prominent race when still on the comeback trail is doubly sweet--Lucky that none of the really top Aces showed up. As noted above, it makes sense to think of this time as being roughly equivalent to a 1:17:47 or so on a true 10 mile course. It's another good step on the comeback trail. My best 10 Miler last year was 1:22+; that would have been faster if not for severe Anterior Tibialis pain over the last mile or so. But it would not have been 5 minutes faster. That was another nice facet of the race for me-no pain of any sort during or after the race. Let's see if I can keep it going for the rest of the year.

The post-race activities were handled well. I somehow missed linking up with the Atlanta bunch. This being my first time at Cherry Blossom, I think I took a wrong turn when I followed some other runners through an opening in the fencing and exited from the finishing chute before I should have. But I still managed to come back through for my Mylar blanket and water, bananas and granola bars, etc. The race was all I could hope for. I would come back in a minute!