Friday, August 16, 2019

Second Half of 2019 Masters Grand Prix kicks off with 5 Km Masters Championship in Atlanta

August 14, 2019. The 2019 Masters Grand Prix kicks off its 2nd half with the 5 Km Masters Road Championship in Atlanta. On Saturday, August 17 at 7:25 AM the Atlanta Track Club will send the Masters Championship runners off as the first wave of runners in their Atlanta's Finest 5K. The 5K is typically one of the premier events on the circuit; it is a privilege to have it hosted by one of the premier running organizations in the country!

An earlier post, on August 13th, previewed the Overall and Age Grading competitions. This post focuses on the contests for Age Division Championships. [A brief preview of the team competition is included in the Overall Preview for USATF at]As of Tuesday evening, the forecast for Saturday race time was 74 degrees with 78% humidity and winds at 3 mph. Those are better conditions than last year, although still classic Atlanta summertime race weather. None of that will phase these experienced Masters runners; their focus will be on the races within the race!


40-44 The only top returner from last year is the Overall and Division Champion, Laurie Knowles. She captured the title in 17:29, with over a minute to spare. As the earlier preview noted, Knowles has not had a normal race, by her standards, since last fall. But as long as she retains, or has regained, some of the fitness she displayed last year, she should take the division again. 
Laurie Knowles captured the Overall and 40-44 Division 5K Championships last year [Photo by Michael Scott]

Kelly Couch took 3rd in the division at the 10 Km Championships at the James Joyce Ramble in 38:07. That is age grade equivalent to an 18:29 5K; she should take 2nd if Knowles is lose to her form of last year. Erika Holroyd looks a good bet for 3rd place. She ran 32:26 at the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago, Age-Grade equivalent to a 19:52. She has also run 5K's in about 19 minutes. Holroyd is somewhat familiar with Atlanta racing; she finished 4th Masters runner in the Road to Gold 8 Miler put on by the Atlanta Track Club to preview the course they will employ for the 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials in 2020. Jill Braley ran a strong race in Buffalo last fall to take 2nd place in the Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships. Her efforts this year at the USATF Cross Country Nationals in Tallahassee and at the 8 Km Championships in Virginia Beach did not meet with the same success. Perhaps this will be the race where she gets back on track. Brooke Bray took Braley's measure at the 8K Championships and could well be the one to break onto the podium if any of the favorites are off their game.
Laurie Knowles     Kelly Couch     Erika Holroyd

45-49 Sonja Friend-Uhl, in finishing 4th Overall, took the Division Championship in 18:11. She seems a safe bet to repeat. Friend-Uhl took top honors at the USATF Masters Indoor Championships in the 800 and 1500 Meter events and then ran 5K's from the high 17's to low 18's in the spring.
Sonja Friend-Uhl cracking onto the podium at the 2016 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships [Photo by Bob Brock]

Abby Dean, who finished 2nd in the Division in 18:40 last year, would ordinarily be pushing the pace in hopes for a reversal of form. She ran a 31:37 8K in June, suggesting a 5K time of around 19:20 might be in the cards. But after that she ran in two 5K races, clocking 20:59 in July and 20:20 in early August. That pattern suggests a minor injury and recovery that is probably not full. It is doubtful she will be able to challenge Friend-Uhl for the win. Holly Ortlund, who took 2nd in the 40-44 Division in 2017 at the 10K Championships in 37:27, would likely take 2nd if she were at that full fitness. Her recent efforts at both 5K, in the low 20's, and an 8K in 31:37, suggest she also is dealing, perhaps, with some of the niggling injuries that occasionally slow us down. And, should any of the top favorites have an off day, Kathy Wiegand, who finished 7th in 40-44 last year, might well find her way onto the podium. Nor can we ignore Nancy Thomas, who finished only 8 seconds behind Wiegand last year.
Sonja Friend-Uhl     Abby Dean     Holly Ortlund

50-54 Fiona Bayly finished 5th Overall last year, taking the Division title in 18:19, and the Age-Grading Championship at 91.11%. Katherine Wolski was 2nd in 18:53. Bayly was definitely on her game earlier in the year when she ran a scorching 37:31 at the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K. Of course, not every outing is as incredible. A 38:35 in the New York Mini 10K reminds us that even the fastest runners have on and off days. If Bayly has a day like she did for the Healthy Kidney 10K, she will fly to victory. 
Fiona Bayly rounding the final turn on her way to an 18:11 and the Age-Grading Championship at the USATF Mastes 5 Km Championship last year [Photo by Michael Scott]

If it as an effort closer to the Mini 10K, she is still likely to win but will be pressed more closely by Hronn Gudmundsdottir and Wolski. Gudmundsdottir finished 6th Overall and took division honors at the 10K Championship in April. Her time of 38:49 suggests she can compete with Wolski for the 2nd position. Wolski has run her recent 5K’s in the low 19’s, and also clocked a 39:23 10K. Amy Fakterowitz finished 4th at Dedham in 41:18 and that is the most likely finish for her this year. 

Fiona Bayly     Hronn Gudmundsdottir     Katherine Wolski

55-59 Based on her 18:30 at Freihofer’s in early June, Marisa Sutera Strange cannot be counted out for Overall honors and should take the Division crown easily. 
Marisa Sutera Strange strides to victory at the 2019 USATF Masters Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee [Photo by Michael Scott]

Kris Huff finished 3rd in 50-54 last year and clocked a 44:30 10K in Dedham for 5th place in the Division. She seems a safe bet for 2nd place. Teresa Quan and Mary Sweeney should battle for the final podium position. Quan ran 39:46 in the 8K Championship at Virginia Beach. Sweeney clocked 50:43 at Peachtree. That suggests a tight contest. I will give Sweeney the edge because of ‘home city advantage’ and because the Peachtree course is more challenging and weather conditions are also tougher.
Marisa Sutera Strange     Kris Huff     Mary Sweeney

60-64 Patrice Combs took Division honors last year in 21:44. Her recent Peachtree outing of 43:10 shows her recent fitness is good. She should have no trouble repeating as Champion. 
Patrice Combs heads for her 60-64 Division Victory at the 5 Km Masters Championship last year [Photo by Michael Scott]

Mireille Silva’s 23:41 last year netted 9th place in 55-59 but would have been good for 2nd place in 60-64. Her 46:11 at the 10K Championships and a 22:35 at a 5K in May mean she should be the favorite to come in 2nd behind Combs. Teammates, Margaret Taylor and Cynthia Williams, will resume their friendly rivalry. Taylor came in ahead of Williams at the 10K Championships in Dedham, with Taylor 7th in 49:33 and Williams 8th in 50:06. Williams reversed that outcome at Peachtree, clocking 53:25 to Taylor’s 53:33. I will go with the most recent result but it is likely to be a tight race again for the final podium position.
Patrice Combs      Mireille Silva     Cynthia Williams

65-69 Victoria Crisp took the Division title in 23:31 last year and seems poised to repeat. She has two sub-23-minute 5K efforts this past June and July. Atlanta teammates, Kathleen Allen and Terry Ozell will vie for the 2nd and 3rd place finishes. Allen ran 27:46 to finish4th in the Division last year. Ozell has run 4 Milers this year in 36:50 and 38:07 and a 1:16:24 at Peachtree. The faster of those two 4-milers favors Ozell over Allen, with the slower one favoring Allen. The 38:07 is more recent so that encourages me to pick Allen for 2nd. Peachtree is tough but the time of 1:16:24 suggests that Ozell either ran into trouble or was running sensibly in the hot and humid conditions or was running easily with a friend or relative.
Victoria Crisp     Kathleen Allen     Terry Ozell     

70-74 Susan Aderhold is the defending Champion in the Division; she ran 30:57 last year. Terry Foody did not compete here last year but she seems poised to challenge for the Division title this year. She has a 29:23 5K to her credit on August 2nd along with some in the 31-33-minute range. Last March she clocked a 27:24! Carol Rhodes took 2nd last year in 37:52. If she can run close to that this year, she should claim the Bronze medal ahead of Judy Melton.
Terry Foody     Susan Aderhold     Carol Rhodes

75-79 Catherine Radle won the Division last year in 35:25, but has her work cut out for her. Norma Thomas, who took the 8K Championship title in 2015 in 43:29 and ran 45:14 the following year. But she will probably not bring that level of fitness to Atlanta. The most recent race I can find is a 2:14:27 Half Marathon in 2017. She was typically running her HM’s in the high 2:07 range  in 2015 and 2016. A 2:14 is still very fast but that was two years ago; what is her current fitness? 
Norma Thomas ran 45:14 at the 2016 USATF Masters 8K Championships in Brea, CA [Photo by Leon Laub]

Radle also faces a challenge from her teammate, Myrna Barnett, who did not run here last year. She has some mid-33 minute 5K’s to her credit this year and a 1:16:24 at Peachtree. Radle apparently ran into trouble at Peachtree, clocking a 1:48:45.  I will guess that Thomas is in good condition; she is making the trip from Southern California to compete.
Norma Thomas     Myrna Barnett     Catherine Radle

80-84 Mary Ann Maher is unopposed. In mid-February she ran a 51:51 5K, followed a week later by a 49:36 effort. In April she ran 47:32. It seems unlikely she would lower her time again by another two minutes, but it will be interesting to see. She has only to finish the race to claim a National Championship.
Mary Ann Maher

90-94 Betty Lindberg is the defending Champion. She won the Division last year in 51:56. Unopposed, she will waltz home the victor.
Betty Lindberg

40-44 David Angell won the Overall Championship last year and collected the Division title along the way. He should repeat. He has some 5K's this spring and summer in the 15:33-15:54 range. He also finished 2nd to Abdi Abdirahman in the Masters competition at the AJC Peachtree Road Race in a fast 32:54. Cracking 33 minutes in that heat and humidity is quite an accomplishment. 
David Angell #104 and John Gardiner #145 setting out on their duel-Angell took 1st in 15:45 at the 2018 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships Hosted by The Atlanta Track Club [Photo by Michael Scott]

Jason Holroyd  ran the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K in 25:51 and the 8 miles of the Road to Gold race in 43:40. Both suggest he could run around 16 minutes or a bit under. That is probably not fast enough to threaten Angell but makes him a strong favorite for 2nd in the Division. Walt Guyer ran a 1:11:56 Half Marathon in March, which is suggestive of a mid 16's 5K. He ran a 15:52 5K last year, but most of his 5K's are in the low 16's. Others who might break onto the Division podium include Ben Hovis, Thomas Knowles, and Martin Wennblom. Hovis has a 16:20 5K and a 27:27 8K to his credit this year. Knowles is on the comeback trail from an injury earlier this year; he ran a 16:37 5K in June. Wennblom ran 16:05 in June and 16:17 two weeks ago.
David Angell     Jason Holroyd     Walt Guyer

45-49 Kevin Castille broke the American Record two years ago in Syracuse, running a sizzling 14:29. That course was flat and fast, unlike the one in Atlanta. He just ran 14:24 in a Louisiana 5k in July. But if Castille can run within a minute of those times, he should have no trouble taking the Division crown along with the Overall Championship.
Kevin Castille winning the 2017 USATF Masters 5 Km Championship and setting the American Record of 14:29 at the Syracuse Festival of Races [Photo by Bob Brock]

That is ironic because the 45-49 division is probably the strongest division at the top. Greg Mitchell won the 2018 Overall Masters Half Marathon Championship in 1:10:36; he has a Carlsbad 15:39 and a 32:25 10K at the WMA Championships in Poland to his credit this year. As if those two were not enough, throw Mark Andrews, the 2016 Masters 10K Champion into the mix. Those three should go 1-2-3. If any of those three have an off day, Atlanta teammates, Brent Fields and Brian Sydow, will be pressing the pace. Fields ran 16:56 here last year to finish 2nd in the division while Sydow was 6 seconds back in 3rd.
Kevin Castille     Gregory Mitchell     Mark Andrews

50-54 Tim Meigs and Kent Lemme will renew their rivalry. Last year the honors went to Meigs with an 11 second win in 16:28. In May, Lemme ran a 16:31 in a 5K that bills itself in its title as 'America's Fastest 5K.' His recent efforts have been a little less spectacular at 17:01 and 17:06. Meigs, like Lemme, was focused on Marathon training earlier in the year but also tested his 5K speed with a 16:51 in July. That outing gives Meigs the edge but no doubt this will be a real 'barn-burner'!
Tim Meigs foreground#185 starts off, gradually building speed, to take 4th place Overall at the 2018 5 Km Championship

Who else might spoil their party. Lemme need look no further than his Greater Springfield teammate, Mark Hixson. Hixson was only 3 seconds behind Lemme here last year. I would worry about his fitness due to him running 28:54 in a recent 8K if it had not been at the Bridge of Flowers 8K, which bills itself as 'one of the toughest 8K's in New England.' Thomas Hampton, Jr. has an intriguing 16:27 5K to his credit from last November but that posting in Athlinks also indicates a gun time of 17:02. The latter time would still be faster than most other results listed for a 50-54 year old Thomas Hampton. A 50 year old Dan Cole ran 36:53 at Peachtree this year. If that is the same Daniel Cole who is entered in the 5K here, he might be in the mix.
Tim Meigs     Kent Lemme     Mark Hixson

55-59 Nat Larson took this division by 40 seconds over Mark Zamek in 16:24. Zamek is no slouch but Larson is the American Record holder based on the 15:54 he ran a couple of years ago in Providence, RI. Ordinarily the preview would be for Larson to win in a breeze. Zamek has been running his 5K's in the 17:19 to 17:36 range this summer. But Larson has not run as much as usual. In fact I cannot find any race results for Larson since the Frank Nealon Boston 15K Tune-up race in March. That was a characteristically fine 51:58 effort.
Nat Larson on his way to the Division Victory and the Age-Grading Championship at the 2018 USATF 5 Km National Championship in Atlanta [Photo by Michael Scott]

Significantly, he did not run the 10K Championships in Dedham. Does that mean he was injured or just taking a break for other reasons? It is hard to say. Still it is reasonable to conjecture that the layoff would mean Larson will not be at the top of his form. Of course when I used that reasoning for a different preview a couple of years back on Kristian Blaich, he came out and ran as well as ever. The third finisher should be one of the three Atlanta teammates, Gary Droze, Jeff Haertl, or David Matherne. Droze and Matherne ran this race last year, with Droze finishing 3rd in 55-59 in 18:15 and Matherne finishing 10th in 50-54 in 18:05. With a 17:37 5K in March and a 37:53 outing at Peachree, Matherne appears to be on his game. Droze is a little less certain. He ran his usual fine race in Virginia Beach in March, taking 2nd in the Division Championship in 29:14. But I can find no results since. Haertel ran an 18:07 5K in March, and has two 4-Milers in 23:37 and 24:17 this summer.
Nat Larson     Mark Zamek     David Matherne

60-64 Last year Roger Sayre took the honors with a blistering 17:29. He was followed across the line by three stalwarts who are not entered this year, Joe Sheeran, Rick Becker, and Tom McCormack. Ken Youngers ran 18:18 but that was, remarkably, only good enough for 5th place. Sayre has been going from strength to strength. Earlier in the year he took the Gold Medal in the Half Marathon at the WMA Championships in Torun, Poland in 1:17:29. He clocked 38:10 in the tough Bolder Boulder 10K in May and then ran 57:31 at the Utica Boilermaker 15K. He should be ready to roll in Atlanta!
Roger Sayre flies to victory in 60-64 in the 2018 USATF Masters 5 Km Championship in Atlanta [Photo by Michael Scott]

Fully recovered from back surgery a couple of years ago, Youngers will give him more competition this year. Youngers took the 10K title in Dedham this year in 36:18 and ran a recent 5K in 17:34. Sayre probably still has the edge but nothing can be taken for granted. It does not appear anyone else can stay with those two. Gary Leaman ran 18:45 in the 55-59 division here last year. He has an 18:21 to his credit this year in the Fitzgerald Lager 5K. Jeffery Dundas took 4th at the 10 Km Championships in a fast 37:47 but then ran into trouble at Peachtree. Sayres's new Boulder teammate, Paul Hughes, was only 48 seconds back from Sayre in the Bolder Boulder and had a 38:28 at a Colorado Springs 10K. If the Peachtree result was a 1-shot anomaly for Dundas, he might well take the bronze medal. That's what his Dedham result would predict. Hughes and Leaman should be close to each other. High altitude runners sometimes have trouble with humidity and New Jersey runners have had plenty of humidity to run in this summer, so I will give a slight edge to Leaman. [Late heads up from Boulder Road Runners-Hughes is not a US citizen so he will run with a BRR singlet but cannot count for their team nor win an individual award.]
Roger Sayre     Ken Youngers     Gary Leaman

65-69 Kirk Larson is the defending Champion; he took the title in 20:10. Since last year Joseph Reda and Reno Stirrat have aged up. they will renew their new rivalry at the top of 65-69 in Atlanta. Stirrat had the edge in Virginia Beach, running 31:27 in the 60-64 Division while Reda took 2nd in the 65-69 division in 32:03. Stirrat ran a fine 18:44 5K in June but ran into some trouble later as his 5K's this summer have been in the low 20's.
Reno Stirrat starts to pull away from Stephen Chantry at the 2017 USATF Masters 8 Km Championships at Virginia Beach 

Stirrat increased his mileage to the 75-85 per week range this past month as the beginning of Marathon prep, but tapered for the 5K. Reda appeared to be at the top of his game this summer; he ran 45:29 in the tough Bix 7 mile run. Larson will be right there, pushing the pace as always. He ran 41:07 at the 10 Km Championships in Dedham. Robert Qualls and George Braun could also be in the mix; they finished 16 and 18 seconds behind Larson at Club Cross Country in Spokane.
Joseph Reda     Reno Stirrat     Kirk Larson

70-74 Lloyd Hansen enters as the favorite. He finished 2nd last year to Gene Dykes who is not entered this year. His 20:46 last year was nearly a minute ahead of Jerry Learned who took 3rd. This year Hansen has been on a roll, running 20:01 at the Carlsbad 5000 and winning the 8K and 10K Championships by wide margins. Hansen and Learned went 1-2 at Virginia Beach but Hansen won by over two minutes. At the 10K in Dedham, Dave Glass resurfaced as a contender; Hansen ran 42:13 to Glass's 2nd place finish in 44:54.
Lloyd Hansen surges toward the finish line and the 70-74 Division Title at the 2019 USATF Masters 10 Km Championship [Photo by Michael Scott]

Learned was another minute back in 4th. Since then Learned has run a 20:50 in the Hollis Fast 5K and a nice 46:39 at Peachtree. That suggests at least a modest recovery from whatever slowed him down in Dedham. Glass has run the Firecracker 4 in 28:32 and the Silks and Satins 5K in 21:50. Terry McCluskey might also contend; he won the Club Cross Country Championship in December and then won his age division at the Naples Half Marathon with a fine 1:33:43 in January. He has been dealing with nagging injuries since then; he finished 6th in Virginia Beach in 36:18 and ran 22:13 in the 5K at Dexter-Ann Arbor in June. Hansen has also been dealing with a recurring foot problem; he has not raced since Dedham.

Lloyd Hansen     Jerry Learned     Dave Glass

75-79 Hall of Famer, Doug Goodhue has been running this year like his moniker, the 'Silver Bullet'! He took this Division in last year's race with a 22:30, winning by almost a minute over Robert Hendrick who is not entered this year and announced that he would not be running on the circuit for the foreseeable future. Richard Kutzner, another formidable distance runner, was another minute back in 3rd. He, too, has decided not to enter this year. Goodhue won the 8K Championship in 34:22 with a margin of over 7 minutes. 
Doug Goodhue, the 'Silver Bullet' rolls to another win, this time in the 75-79 Division at the 2018 USATF Masters National Championship in Atlanta [Photo by Michael Scott]

Jan Frisby, another of the lions of the 90's and 2000's, made yet another comeback to take the 10K title in Goodhue's absence this year. Age Division Runner of the Year in 1994,1995, and 1999, Frisby came back to earn the title again in 2015. He continues to struggle with heel problems; his 50:13 was a few minutes slower than he was aiming for. In the interim he had a nice outing at the USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships, taking a nice double with what Frisby refers to as a 'pedestrian' 23:45 5000 meter run, followed by a nice 6:13 1500 Meter run where he had several more seconds in the tank had he needed them. Until a week before the race, Frisby had been hoping for a sub-23 5K in Atlanta. Unfortunately the heel acted up again. He was 50-50 for a while but is definitely panning on coming; he will aim to start at a more modest pace of 8 minutes per mile and then see, as the race unfolds, if he can pick it up without adding damage to the heel. Goodhue has been on his game since the 8K. He skipped the 10K because he was committed to run the Glass City Half Marathon. A 1:37 and change half marathon showed that he was still as fit as in March. He ran into a little trouble in July; his 38:07 was not up to his recent standard. Still it seems likely that he will have enough fitness for another sub-23 this Saturday. David Turner, Jr. who finished 3rd in the 8K Championship in 42:13, also ran a 25:57 5K in June. He seems a safe bet for the Bronze Medal.
Doug Goodhue     Jan Frisby     David Turner

80-84 Sid Davis is the defending Champion; he won last year in 41:32. He will not be the favorite on Saturday, however. John Elliott won the 8 Km Championship in Virginia Beach this year in 48:24. That is age grade equivalent to a 29:31. He showed that was no fluke by clocking 29:27 in a May 5K. Fred Motz looks a safe bet for 2nd place. He ran a 33:08 5K last November. His 1:10:11 at Peachtree shows he retains that fitness level. James Kurtz will push the pace but may have to settle for 3rd place. He ran 1:12:03 in a 10K and has run 5K's this year in the 34:30 to 37 minute range. Should any of those three have an off day, it appears Steven Fuchs who ran a 39:38 5K in June, is poised to move up.
John Elliott     Fred Motz     James Kurtz

90-94 Richard Soller is the defending Champion; he took the division unopposed last year in 44:31. That was the only Championship he competed in last year. This year he entered the 8K in Virginia Beach as well and captured the Gold Medal in 1:20:56, age grade equivalent to a 49:01 5K. At the Senior Games in June, he faced a competitor in  the division and ran a 47:24 5K, showing he has more speed than he revealed at the 8K. Nathan Finestone enters as the favorite, however, based on the 1:22:28 he registered in taking the 10K Championship this past April in Dedham; that is age-grade equivalent to a 39:29. Finestone has since recorded a 40:31 5K in early June and a 1:09:49 5 Miler in late June, age grade equivalent to a 42:03 5K.
Nathan Finestone     Richard Soller

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