Monday, September 2, 2019

Hot Racing in 'Hot-lanta' - USATF Masters 5 Km National Championships

August 31, 2019. Fair skies, gentle winds, temps in the mid-70's and humidity down in the low 70's-as good as it gets in Atlanta in mid-August! And the Masters runners were ready with epic battles and tremendous accomplishments! The Atlanta Track Club did a great job as always, hosting the Champioinships as part of their Atlanta's Finest 5K on Saturday, August 17th!
David Angell 104 and Jason Holroyd 156 lead out the Masters Runners, with Martin Wennblom cap and Greg Mitchell eyeglasses falling in behind Holroyd at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta
Photo Credit: All photos used with the compliments of Michael Scott.

MEN The defending Champion, David Angell, knew he had prepped well and should be able to deliver a strong race. Going for his second straight victory in Atlanta, he had to worry about Gregory Mitchell, the reigning Overall Masters Half Marathon Champion and 2015 5K Masters Overall Champion; Mark Andrews, the 2016 10K Masters Champion, and two swift runners new to the USATF Masters Grand Prix circuit, Jason Holroyd and Martin Wennblom. They had both run 5K's in around 16 minutes or just below. A lead pack of those 5 formed early, with Angell pulling the pack along through a 4:56 first mile. Just before they made the sharp turn from Marietta to Tech Drive, Angell opened up a 30 meter gap, with  Andrews and Wennblom leading the chase pack and trying to stay close. When they hit the final steep hill, the chase pack started to close on Angell, with Mitchell just holding on. But when Angell crested the hill, the others were spent and he kicked away for a dominant win in 15:41. Mitchell rallied, too, after cresting the hill, passing Holroyd and Wennblom, but then Wennblom unleashed a strong finishing kick to take himself past both Andrews and Mitchell and nail 2nd place in 15:55. Andrews held off Mitchell to claim the final podium spot in 15:57, with Mitchell a second back and Holroyd another second behind him in 5th. After the race, Angell noted that the humidity had not been too bad; he was happy it had been a good day and that he could defend his title.
David Angell 15:41     Martin Wennblom 15:55     Mark Andrews 15:57
David Angell takes the final turn with no one within striking distance at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

WOMEN The top returning athletes were Laurie Knowles, Sonja Friend-Uhl, and Fiona Bayly, who finished 1st, 4th and 5th last year.
Sonja Friend-Uhl 239 center tracks her teammate, Laurie Knowles right at the start of the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

Last year Laurie Knowles got out fast, nobody stayed with her and she won by over half a minute in 17:29. The chase pack of Molly Watcke, Jennifer Bayliss, Sonja Friend-Uhl, and Fiona Bayly came home between 18:07 and 18:20. Knowles was taking an easier summer of training this year as her main focus is the Olympic Marathon Trials in February. "This is a good rust-buster for me, and improves my motivation for fall training." Friend-Uhl had a great Indoor Track season this year, taking wins at the Mile and 800 meters. She noted, "I have been training for 6-7 weeks after taking a break in June, focusing mostly on lactate threshold, but gradually building in VO2 Max. The heat and humidity has been really intense this summer in Florida. My training times have been slow so I am not sure what to expect." Bayly indicated that her training had been interrupted in March by a sprained ankle. "I was on crutches for the 3 days before catching the plane for Poland and the Half Marathon road race at the World Masters Athletics Championships in late March." Bayly is a tough runner; she took the Gold Medal there nonetheless. And a month later took 2nd Masters behind Roberta Groner at the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K in 37:31. Like last year, Knowles went out fast and took the lead. This year, though, Friend-Uhl made more of an effort to keep her in sight. Kelly Couch, who had run 38: 4th place overall at the Masters 10K Championships in Massachusetts in late April, laid off the pace a bit as did Bayly. Marisa Sutera Strange, who had finished 6th in the 2017 5K Championships and had taken 5th at the 10K Championships started cautiously, as usual. Her mode seems to be to start gradually and use her strength to move up toward the front after the early part of the race.  Friend-Uhl was able to stay about 20 meters behind Knowles, going through the mile in 5:21 and the 2 Mile in 10:58. Then come the hills. Knowles said later, "I didn't realize Sonja was all that close and I backed off a bit in the last mile-'rookie mistake!' Lucky for me the race wasn't longer." Friend-Uhl had started to close up that last hill, carried it over the top and, as she puts it, "The last 200m before the finish came after that final monster of an uphill... so I was like a horse to the barn at that point! I closed like a freight train and surprised us both I guess!" In the end, Knowles had defended her title in 17:34! Instead of being half a minute back like last year, Friend-Uhl came across the line in 2nd, only 1 second back, 17:35. Couch was able to maintain her lead over Bayly and, despite her best efforts, Strange could not close on them in the late stages, and happily took 5th in 18:38. Couch was 3rd in 18:12, with Bayly 11 seconds back in 4th. After the race, Knowles summed up her experience, "As always, I’m grateful for the win and the opportunity to compete.  The Atlanta Track Club always does such a great job  — especially for national championships!  It makes me very excited for February!!"
Laurie Knowles 17:34     Sonja Friend-Uhl 17:35     Kelly Couch 18:12
Laurie Knowles takes the final turn, unaware that Sonja Friend-Uhl has kicked into high gear for the closing 200 meters [See lime green running shoe right behind runner in red singlet] at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

AGE GRADING Each runner's chip time is run through a series of calculations by the timer, resulting in a score from 1 to 100. Using a data-based fitting and smoothing procedure, 'world best' times have been projected for each age and gender of the fastest time that could be achieved by an athlete with those characteristics For example, the 100% 5K time for a woman of 53 is 17:05; an athlete running 19:49 would have an age grade score of 86.21%. The score indicates how close to that fastest time the runner came, with 100 being a match, 90 representing 'World Class' and 80 'National Class.' Age-Grading allows runners of all ages to compete for top overall prizes.
WOMEN Runners with the 5 highest Age Grade scores received cash prizes. The top 5 included all of the 'usual suspects' to use a phrase from the movie classic, Casablanca. These runners typically achieve scores close to or above 'World Class.' They are: 5th place Katherine Wolski 53 89.04% 4th place Patrice Combs 62 89.06 3rd place Fiona Bayly 51 92.04 2nd place Sonja Friend-Uhl 48 92.06 1st place Marisa Sutera Strange 56 94.86. This was Strange's 4th race this season -she has 2 Silver and now has earned her 2nd Gold Medal in Age Grading.
Marisa Sutera Strange on her way to the Age-Grading Overall Championship and the W55 Division Win at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

Five women achieved the 85% age grade level and so earned Silver Elite Performance Medals, available only at Masters National Championships: 
Hronn Gudmundsdottir 88.67 Victoria Crisp 87.23 Laurie Knowles 86.94 Nancy Thomas 85.36 Amy Fakterowitz 85.30.
Marisa Sutera Strange 18:38 94.86%     Sonja Friend-Uhl 17:34 92.06     Fiona Bayly 18:21 92.04

MEN As with the Women's race, the top 5 scorers earned cash prizes. No surprises here, either; the top finishers are at the pinnacle of Masters Road Racing achievement: 5th place Doug Goodhue 77 90.82% 4th place Tim Meigs 52 91.06 3rd place Mark Andrews 48 91.10 2nd place Roger Sayre 61 92.18 1st place Nat Larson 57 92.20. In his first three races in this 2019 Grand Prix season, Larson took first in Age Grading in each of them. But then an injury hit and he was not able to run the 10K Championship in Dedham. This was his first race since then. Imagine how happy and relieved he must have felt to be at the top of the Age-Grading list once again. Sayre is always in the hunt and since returning to injury-free fitness, Hall-of-Famer Goodhue has been making  a habit of World Class performances. Andrews and Meigs are less familiar only because they do not often run in National Championships. We should expect to see more of Andrews in the future as he is now running for the Genesee Valley Harriers.
Nat Larson defends his Overall Age-Grading title at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

Three additional runners turned in World Class times: 
Mark Zamek 90.49 Ken Youngers 90.29 Mark Hixson 90.12

The next 14 finishers achieved the 85% grade level, earning a Silver Age-Grading Medal: 
Gregory Mitchell 89.00 David Angell 88.66 Paul Hughes [Non-US Citizen-No Medal] 88.24 Gary Droze 87.68 Jason Holroyd 87.63 Brent Fields 87.59 David Matherne 87.22 Brian Sydow 87.20 Robert Qualls 87.20 Jeffery Dundas 86.94 Joseph Reda, III 86.81 Reno Stirrat 86.74 Gary Leaman 86.47 Martin Wennblom 86.13 Aaron Linz 85.56 Bob Deak 85.55 Terry McCluskey 85.27
Nat Larson 16:54 92.20     Roger Sayre 17:28 92.18     Mark Andrews 15:57 91.10

M40 The top 3 in this division, David Angell, Martin Wennblom, and Jason Holroyd, finished 1st, 2nd and 4th overall. The description above covers their rivalry. But there was quite a race for 4th ad 5th between Charlotte teammates, Brad Balaban and Ben Hovis. Running together most of the race, Balaban finally had a small gap on Hovis after they crested the last hill and turned onto the finishing stretch. With an Atlanta runner between them, Hovis was taking no chances and gave one last, furious kick that pulled him past the Atlanta runner and within one second of his teammate.
David Angell 15:41     Martin Wennblom 15:55     Jason Holroyd 15:59
Martin Wennblom kicks away from Mark Andrews, Greg Mitchell, and Jason Holroyd to take 2nd place Overall and in the M40 Division at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

W40 Laurie Knowles and Kelly Couch, first and second in this division finished 1-3 overall so consult the description above for the race between Knowles and Couch. A minute back from Couch, Erika Holroyd and Jill Braley were engaged in a tight contest for the final division podium spot. Close for much of the race, after the last hill and up onto the flat, Holroyd had a gap and try as she might, Braley could not close it in the last 100 meters. Holroyd crossed the line 5 seconds ahead of Braley to capture the Bronze medal. 
Laurie Knowles 17:34     Kelly Couch 18:12     Erika Holroyd 19:18
Kelly Couch takes the final turn on her way to 3rd Overall and 2nd in the W40 Division at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

M45 The top 2 finishers in this division, Mark Andrews and Gregory Mitchell were 3rd and 4th overall. See that section to see how their race went. Brian Sydow and Brent Fields battled all the way with two of the Charlotte Running Club's M40+ team. That rivalry propelled them forward. As a result, Sydow claimed 3rd in the division in 16:26, with Fields 3 seconds back, just off the Division podium.
Mark Andrews 15:57     Gregory Mitchell 15:58     Brian Sydow 16:26
Mark Andrews 103 takes the final turn ahead of Greg Mitchell and Jason Holroyd on his way to 3rd place Overall and 1st place in the M45 Division at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

W45 Sonja Friend-Uhl, who finished 2nd Overall, took the Division crown on the way. With Knowles, Friend-Uhl, and Couch all achieving separation, Abby Dean, Holly Ortlund, and Nancy Thomas knew the overall podium would not be awaiting them at the end of the race. But bragging rights are important, too. Plus Ortlund and Thomas also had to deliver for their teams in the team competition. Dean's Athena team did not enter a 40+ team so she was a free agent. Last year Dean was on her game but Thomas was not. Last year at this race, Dean took 5th overall in 18:43 and Thomas was 2 minutes back. This year Thomas found herself flying along the straightaway after cresting the hill, leaving Dean and Ortlund well behind. Around the final turn she heard footsteps but had enough to hold on for 5th overall in 19:11, ahead of Katherine Wolski (see W50), and 2nd in the Age Division. Dean ran a gutsy race, Even though she could not catch Thomas, she claimed the final division podium spot by 11 seconds in 19:19. Ortlund took 4th, and was there at 19:30 for her winning Atlanta team.
Sonja Friend-Uhl 17:35     Nancy Thomas 19:11     Abby Dean 19:19
Nancy Thomas kicking away in mid-air from Katherine Wolski on her way to 5th Overall and 2nd in the W45 Division at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

M50 Last year Tim Meigs took the honors in 16:28 with an 11 second margin over Kent Lemme, with Lemme's teammate, Mark Hixson another 4 seconds back. This has been a tough year for the core of the Greater Springfield Harrier's 50's team. Lemme is still not back close to his normal fitness, and Hixson is apparently just starting to get back to his norm. Meigs was probably unaware or at least uncertain about any of this. He just knew he had to run his race; and, of course, he also wanted a top 5 or at least top 10 Overall finish if he could get it! When they hit that last hill, Meigs found himself in the 2nd Chase pack with Balaban, Fields, Hovis, and Sydow [See M40 and M45]. The pack hung together up the hill but once they crested it and headed along the flat, and then down towards the final turn, Sydow was able to pull away. In the final kick, Meigs was not quite able to get up to Sydow. He found Balaban kicking past and heard another set of footsteps-no way he would let the 2nd runner by! He got Hovis by running all out through the finish line, with both getting the same 16:28 time. Interestingly that was Meigs's exact same time as last year. That also gave him the win in M50. Although not quit as sharp as last year, Hixson had no trouble running with his teammate, Nat Larson, who was also coming back from injury. Hixson claimed 2nd in 16:54. Joseph Hegge, running for Garden State, was able to leave Michael Slinsky 11 seconds back, and claim 3rd in 17:27.
Tim Meigs 16:28     Mark Hixson 16:54     Joseph Hegge 17:27
Tim Meigs leading Ben Balaban and Brent Fields at the final turn on his way to 8th Overall and 1st M50 2019 at the USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

W50 Fiona Bayly, 4th in the overall race, ran away with this division as she did last year, defending the division title in 18:23. Amy Fakterowitz, Hronn Gudmundsdottir, and Katherine Wolski were in  the hunt for the remaining podium spots. Wolski had finished 2nd to Bayly in 18:55 last year. The other two had not competed but Gudmundsdottir had taken the division title in 38:51 at the 10K Championships at the James Joyce Ramble this past April. Fakterowitz was 2 minutes back in 4th at that race. Gudmundsdottir was not able to replicate the magic she enjoyed at the 10K; she ran two back-to-back 19:25.5's that day. She struggled home here in a comparatively slow 19:30, but that is LDR. Runners bring different fitness and training to the start line every race. Even though Wolski was not as sharp as last year, she claimed 2nd in 19:12, with a good 18 seconds t spare. Fakterowitz almost caught her, winding up only 7 seconds back in 4th.
Fiona Bayly 18:23     Katherine Wolski 19:12     Hronn Gudmundsdottir 19:30
Fiona Bayly on her way to a 4th place Overall Finish, 3rd overall Age-Grading and the W50 Division Win at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

M55 Last year Nat Larson took this division with ease, taking the title by 40 seconds over Mark Zamek in 16:24. But this year Larson was coming back from a 3 month layoff from racing. He knew he would be doing well to run within a half minute of that time this year. It would likely be close. Luckily he had his teammate, Hixson, to run with. Zamek went out faster at the start, but Larson was able to catch him. By the time he was heading to the final turn, Larson had a good 60 meter lead and Zamek would not be able to catch him. They went 1-2 again this year, but only 12 seconds separated them at the finishing tape, with Larson at 16:54. Atlanta teammates, Gary Droze and David Matherne, vied to finish next for their team. Matherne was able to pull away to finish 3rd in the division in 17:35, with Droze in 4th, 20 seconds back.
Nat Larson 16:54     Mark Zamek 17:12     David Matherne 17:35
Mark Zamek 225 takes the final turn in his M55 2nd place effort at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

W55 Last year Marisa Sutera Strange was not at the top of her game. Strange finished 3rd in this division in 20:50. Huff finished 3rd last year in W45 in 21:23, not so far back. Huff ran a few seconds faster this year so had a good outing! But Strange, back to her old self, ran two minutes faster than last year, claiming 5th overall and taking this division in 18:38. Huff's 21:20 was good for 2nd, two minutes ahead of Mary Sweeney.
Marisa Sutera Strange 18:38     Kris Huff 21:20     Mary Sweeney 23:9
Kris Huff winding it up as she kicks to the finish and 2nd place in the W55 Division  at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

M60 Roger Sayre led the way last year in 17:29, and you had to break 18:00 in this division to get within shouting distance of the podium. Joe Sheeran and Rick Becker flew in from Washington and Tom McCormack, who has been battling injuries since breaking the M60 5K and Mile records a few years ago, drove in from East Tennessee to help his Atlanta team. Sheeran, Becker and McCormack came in 2-3-4 in 17:36, 17:50, and 17:53. Ken Youngers was 5th in 18:18. Youngers has been running much better this year, clocking a 36:19 at the 10K Championships in April. That represented back-to-back 18:09.5 5K's so I thought it was practically a lock for Youngers to crack 18 this year! Youngers's teammate, Jeffery Dundas, had also run well in Dedham in April, clocking 37:47, but he ran into trouble in the AJC Peachtree Run on the 4th of July so his fitness was doubtful. Gary Leaman would be in the mix as well. He did not run the 5K Championships last year but he did run int he 8K last year, finishing only 13 seconds back from Sayre on a day when Sayre was flying! As it turned out, Sayre ran exacty the same time as the previous year in defending his division title. Youngers did run faster, but only 8 seconds faster. No doubt he ran into some trouble on the day or in the run-up to the race. Dundas had recovered from whatever was bothering him on the 4th of July as he strode through the 5K in 18:22 to claim the division bronze medal. Leaman was another 7 seconds back as 4th American. The 4th runner across the finish line, Paul Hughes, ran in a Boulder Road Runners singlet, but is not a US citizen. Hence he can neither score points for a team nor claim any award.
Roger Sayre 17:29     Ken Youngers 18:10      Jeffery Dundas 18:22
Roger Sayre approaches the final turn as he claims first in M60 and 2nd Overall in Age-Grading  at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

W60 Patrice Combs had no problem defending her title, running 26 seconds faster than last year. Her 21:22 gave her a winning margin of over a minute and a half. Ena Weinstein brought it home next, powering over the finish line in 22:57, just 9 seconds ahead of Mireille Silva. Margaret Taylor and Cynthis Williams finished 4th and 5th, just 15 seconds apart. Combs adds this to her 8K victory for her 2nd National Championship Gold Medal this year.
Patrice Combs 21:22     Ena Weinstein 22:57      Mireille Silva 23:06
Patrice Combs leads her two Atlanta Track Club teammates, Kris Huff and Hiroko Guarneri into the final turn as she claims the win in the Women's 60 Division and 4th place Overall in Age-Grading  at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

M65 As mentioned in the preview, this was a rematch between Joseph Reda and Reno Stirrat. Stirrat ran faster at Virginia Beach before aging up to this division for the 10K at Dedham. Reda enjoyed the honors at Dedham with a half minute margin. And now they would meet again. Both were pumped. Stirrat pushed the pace the whole way with Reda tracking him a ways back. When they crested the hill, regained their stride and headed for the final turn, Stirrat was focused on catching Cal Coast's Brian Nelson, and as they turned the corner, Stirrat accelerated and caught Nelson. Just as Stirrat had Nelson in his sights, Reda had Sirrat in his. He unleashed one last, perfectly timed kick, catching Stirrat right at the finish line. Reda and Stirrat had the same 19:14 time, but Reda had the photo finish win! Stirrat gave him credit for running a smart, strategic race. Everyone is looking forward to see how this rivalry will play out the rest of the year. The race for the Bronze medal was almost as close. Robert Qualls and Bob Deak crested the hill with no more than a stride between them. As they turned the corner, Qualls drew a bead on Timothy Riccardi [M60] and managed to pass him and finish in 19:26. Deak had no answer, taking 4th in 19:29. Races within races-Yeehah!
Joseph Reda III 19:14     Reno Stirrat 19:14     Robert Qualls 19:26
Joseph Reda taking the final turn ahead of Mike Anderson with his sights on Reno Stirrat and a first place finish in the M65 Division  at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

W65 Like Combs in W60, Victoria Crisp easily defended her title, running 18 seconds faster than last year. Her 23:18 left her with a margin of over 3 minutes over the 2nd place finisher, Terry Ozell. Ozell, in turn, had nearly as big a margin on the Bronze Medalist, Kathleen Allen.
Victoria Crisp 23:18     Terry Ozell 26:46     Kathleen Allen 29:24
Victoria Crisp on her way to a win in the W65 Division  at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

M70 Lloyd Hansen won the division by wide margins at both the 8K in Virginia Beach and at the 10K in Dedham. But in this race, Hansen was just running to help his team; a hamstring injury meant he would not compete for a top prize. Terry McCluskey of Ann Arbor would go head-to-head with the top two Atlanta athletes, Jerry Learned and Dave Glass. Try as they might, Learned and Glass could not match McCluskey's pace, especially once they hit the final hill. By the time they crested that, McCluskey was clear fo all M70 pursuers. He cruised home in 20:48, a winner by the better part of a minute. Making the final turn, Learned had ten meters on his teammate, but Glass is a 'never say die' kind of guy and nearly caught him with a final surge that brought him up 2 seconds short of Learned at the finish line. A minute later, Hansen finished his gutsy run, coming across in 4th. He had been very tentative for the first mile, but then things felt a little better, so he picked up his pace. That allowed him to rally past Doc Rappole to take 4th place in 23:02.
Terry McCluskey 20:48     Jerry Learned 21:41     Dave Glass 21:43
Terry McCluskey cruising to a win in the M70 Division  at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

W70 Susan Aderhold repeated as 70's Champion, beating her 2018 mark by 41 seconds in 30:16. Terry Foody was three minutes back in 2nd and 7 minutes later, Carol Rhodes finished 3rd.
Susan Aderhold 30:16     Terry Foody 33:34     Carol Rhodes 40:38
Susan Aderhold about to claim victory in the W75 Division  at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

M75 Doug Goodhue, the 'Silver Bullet', continued his tour de force year, adding the 5K title to the 8K and Club XC titles he already took this Grand Prix season. He is 3 for 3 so far. The only difference is that someone from his division finished within two minutes of him. And it might have been a little closer if Jan Frisby  had not tweaked his lower left hamstring a week and a half before the race. Based on a good outing at the USATF Masters Outdoor Track Championships and solid training, he had been targeting a 5K close to 22 flat. Frisby is one of the very few guys that can give Goodhue a test when they are both healthy. Goodhue was, as usual, focused on finishing as high as possible among all the 70+ runners, to help Ann Arbor to the team victory. He stayed as close as he good to his running buddy, McCluskey, through the first half of the race but then had to let him go. Goodhue stayed well ahead of his Atlanta M70 rivals, though, clocking 21:28 to take the M75 win and helping his M70+ team result. Frisby, after starting out tentative found things loosened up a bit and he could stride pretty well for the last half of the race. He took 2nd in 23:20. If Frisby can get past this hamstring strain and stay healthy otherwise, we could see some close races in this division over the remainder of the Grand Prix season. David Turner, in his last year in the division, came in third, three minutes later.
Doug Goodhue 21:48     Jan Frisby 23:20     David Turner 26:19
Hall-of-Famer, Doug Goodhue, claims the M75 Division win and 5th place Overall in Age Grading  at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

W75 Catherine Radle won this division last year in 35:35. She ran a minute faster this year, but dropped to third place. Two strong runners, Norma Thomas and Myrna Barnett entered this year, Thomas coming all the way from Southern California. She made the trip worth it by taking Gold in 30:55. Barnett could not stay with her but had a margin of nearly a minute on Radle. This is Thomas's first National Championship since taking honors in Brea, CA in 2015, when she won the 8K.
Norma Thomas 30:55     Myrna Barnett 33:47     Catherine Radle 34:38
Norma Thomas took first place in the W75 Division  at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

M80 Sid Davis took this title unopposed last year in 41:42. This year he had to contend with 4 other competitors. One of those was John Elliott who took the M80 title at the 8K Championship in Virginia Beach in March. It was no different here; Elliott is a national champion many times over. He took the division crown in 28:57 with over two minutes to spare. Fred Motz, no slouch himself, clocked a 31:07 to claim the Silver Medal. Like others in this race trying to defend a title, Davis did run slightly faster but fell several places. Steven Fuchs clocked a 38:06 to claim the final podium position 3:33 ahead of Davis.
John Elliott 28:57     Fred Motz 31:07     Steven Fuchs 38:06
Fred Motz capturing 2nd place in the M80 Division  at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

W80 Mary Ann Maher took the title unopposed, clocking 47:48 for the win.
Mary Ann Maher 47:48

M90 Richard Soller took this title unopposed last year with a 44:41. This year he would have to beat Nathaniel Finestone. Finestone is new to Masters National Championships this year but took the title at the 10K in Dedham with a fine 1:22:31. He would clearly be a formidable challenger to Soller as that is equivalent to running back-to-back 41:15.5's. Of course the fire of competition might lead Soller to quicken his pace. It is remarkable that two gentlemen in their 90's would travel from Ohio (Soller) and New Jersey (Finestone) to compete in the humidity of Atlanta for a national championship! The race unfolded about as one would expect from the reference times. Soller was not able to run faster than last year, and Finestone did run faster than his back-to-back 5K's, breaking 40 minutes for the win! 
Nathaniel Finestone claims the win in the Men's 90-94 Division  at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

They are expected to lock horns again in Flint Michigan, where both are entered in the 1 Mile Championships.
Richard Soller takes the final turn on his way to 2nd place in the Men's 90-94 Division  at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

Nathaniel Finestone 39:06     Richard Soller 44:54

W90 Last year Betty Lindberg took the division crown unopposed in 51:56. Even though she is now in her last year in the Age Division, at 94, she lowered her time by 23 seconds. A local heroine, she took her 2nd straight gold medal!
Betty Lindberg 51:33
Betty Lindberg, 94, finishes off the race as the oldest National Champion in the Women's 90-94 Division  at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta

Scoring is the cumulative time of the first three finishers on each team.
W40+ Last year this division was a real shootout with Athena from Southeastern Pennsylvania and the Impala Racing from the Sn Francisco Bay area challenging the local Atlanta Track Club. Atlanta came out on top but not without a struggle. The Athena Club could not make it this year but the Impalas were back to try their luck. And the Impalas looked to be stronger; last year they averaged 19:13 per their 3 scoring athletes; this year they aspired to crack 19. They would need that as Atlanta averaged 18:34 last year and would likely push that pace again. Atlanta enjoyed the terrific 1-2 punch of Laurie Knowles and Sonja Friend-Uhl punching their 17:34 and 17:35 times at the finish line. The only hope for the Impalas would be if they had a tight pack come in well ahead of Atlanta's 3rd runner. Kelly Couch got the Impalas started at 18:12, and Nancy Thomas kept it rolling a minute later. But that was their run; when Atlanta's  Jill Braley zipped across the line a dozen seconds later, it was all done. Hronn Gudmundsdottir closed out the Impala's scoring 9 seconds later. That gave Atlanta 54:32, an average of 18:11, to the Impala's 56:53, for an 18:58 average. Atlanta's 'B' team of Kathy Wiegand, Hiroko Guarneri, and Katherine Serrano took 3rd place.
Atlanta Track Club 54:32     Impala Racing 56:53     Atlanta Track Club 'B' 1:05:52

M40+ Last year it was a cakewalk for Atlanta as their A and B teams were the only entries. This year they had to worry about the Charlotte Running Club, the Garden State Track Club-New Balance, and the Genesee Valley Harriers (GVH).  In Mark Andrews, GVH drew first blood at 15:57. But after that it was all Atlanta and Charlotte in their uniforms that were nearly indistinguishable at a distance. Charlotte's Brad Balaban and Ben Hovis made the final turn neck and neck with Atlanta's Brent Fields and Brian Sydow. They sprinted with all their might and main for the finish line. When the dust settled, it was Sydow an Fields in16:26 and 16:29 for 32:55, and Balaban and Hovis sandwiched between in 16:27 and 16:28. Through the first two runners Atlanta  and Charlotte were exactly tied. And what about GVH? If the next runner across the finish line had been GVH's Josh Harter in 16:58, it would have led to a 3-way tie at that point. GVH would also have a 32:55 total for their first two runners. Harter did his part, to the second, but that story was averted because Charlotte's 3rd runner, Aaron Linz, crossed the finish line 13 seconds ahead of Harter, giving the win to Charlotte in 49:40 for a 16:34 average. After Harter finished, Atlanta and GVH were tied, but 7 seconds later Chadwick Hales crossed the line for Atlanta, giving them the 2nd place trophy with a 16:40 average. Once GVH's Christopher Hernandez finished in 17:47, that gave GVH the 3rd place prize on a 16:54 average. Garden State's crew ran a tight pack, but the lack of up front runners on this day doomed them to finish just off the podium. Dave Ferrugia, Shawn Williams, and Thomas Knowles finished between 17:24 and 17:34, leaving them a couple of minutes behind GVH, averaging 17:30 per runner.
Charlotte Running Club 49:40     Atlanta Track Club 50:00    GVH 50:42

W50+, W60+, and W70+. Hat's off to the Atlanta Track Club for fielding at least one team in each of these divisions. Unfortunately no other clubs were able to enter complete teams of three. 
Atlanta A beat Atlanta B in W50+ as Mary Shah, Kris Huff, and Laurie Wharton took the honors in 1:03:51, averaging 21:17. Mary Sweeney, Susan Welch, and Kathleen Allen tallied 1:18:11 for a 26:04 average and 2nd place.
Atlanta Track Club A 1:03:51     Atlanta Track Club B 1:18:11

Atlanta took the W60+ prize with Patrice Combs, Ena Weinstein, and Mireille Silva clocking 1:07:25 for a 22:29 average,  a swift bunch!
Atlanta Track Club 1:07:25

Atlanta claimed the top prize in W70+ the same way. Susan Aderhold, Catherine Radle, and Carol Rhodes totaled 1:45:32 for a 35:11 average.
Atlanta Track Club 1:45:32

M50+ I have grown used to writing that 'the Greater Springfield Harriers took the division with ease. Last year they cracked 50 minutes and won the 5K title here by almost three minutes. At Virginia Beach for the 8K Championship, they won the division by almost 11 minutes! But this year they looked, if not vulnerable, at least approachable. Nat Larson had not raced since the 10K Championships in Dedham in April. Lemme had been up and down since running the Boston Marathon in mid-April. His best times this year do not come close to the times he was running in 2018. The Garden State Track Club and Atlanta had entered teams that would test the favorites. Larson was off his best but, luckily for Springfield, his pretty good is still fast. He and his teammate, Mark Hixson came across the line 1-2 for teams in 16:54. That took some of the pressure off of Lemme, who is furthest from being race fit. When the top 2 for Garden State, Mark Zamek and Joseph Hegge finished in 17:06 and 17:27, that opened up the possibility that they might get a 3rd runner in ahead of Lemme and if Lemme had a disastrous race, they might win. Of course, their third runner would also have to beat Springfield's Francis Burdett. Burdett always seems to be fighting his way back from injuries these days but he knows a lot about battling in races where he is not fully fit. Nor was Atlanta out of it either. David Matherne and Brad Slavens finished in 17:35 and 17:40. When their 3rd runner, Gary Droze, crossed the finish line in 17:55, that gave Atlanta three runners finished with a total of 53:10 and a 17:44 average. Two seconds later Lemme closed things out for Springfield, giving them a 51:45 for an average of 17:15. Another two seconds saw Garden State's Richard Osifchin finishing off Garden State's score at 52:32 or an average of 17:31, good for 2nd place. Another 8 seconds saw Burdett come across the line for Springfield. Even if Lemme had run into trouble, Burdett would have delivered a fast enough time to keep Springfield well ahead of Garden State. Atlanta's B and C teams finished in 4th and 5th in 55:38 and 1:00:21.
Greater Springfield Harriers 51:45     Garden State Track Club 52:32     Atlanta 'A' 53:10

M60+ Last year the Atlanta Track Club and the Boulder Road Runners were in a regular donnybrook. When the dust settled Atlanta had a 35 second victory overall. Not only did that give Atlanta the 5K Championship, it clinched the 2018 Masters Club Grand Prix title for them as well. This year there would be no clinching of the Grand Prix title; Boulder was too close for that. Atlanta was arguaby a little weaker this year in that Tom McCormack would not be leading the way for them with a sub-18 effort, as he did last year. But Ken Youngers  and Jeffery Dundas are running very strong so that balances things off. Mike Anderson gives them very reliable depth. Boulder might be a little weaker as well. They still have Roger Sayre up front, running as strong as ever. Last year they had Dan Spale at number two, who was not as his best but was not too far off. This year they had Kyle Hubbart back and in better shape when he ran last year for the team. But would he run as fast as Spale's 18:33 in last year's race? Like his counterpart for Atlanta, Nate Anderson provides reliable depth. Shore AC was back to try to improve on their 3rd place showing last year. Reno Stirrat would lead the way as usual but without their reliable #2, Kevin Dollard, Shore would be hard pressed to move up. Sayre took first for Boulder in 17:29, giving them the early edge. But then it was Atlanta's turn as Youngers and Dundas finished 2nd and 3rd in 18:10 and 18:22. That gave them 36:32 for two. Stirrat scored next for Shore in 19:14. When Anderson finished next in 19:17, that sealed the deal for Atlanta. At 55:49 they had the win. Even if the next two Boulder runners finished in the next few seconds their total would be  over 56 minutes. As it turned out, Hubbart and Anderson finished in 19:30 and 20:30 to give Boulder 57:29 and a 19:10 average for 2nd. Harold Leddy ran a strong race for Shore in Dollard's absence, beating his own 2018 time by over a minute to finish at 20:29. When their reliable Captain, Scott Linnell, finished 26 seconds later, Shore had a combined time of 1:00:38 for an average of 20:13 and a 3rd place finish, ahead of Atlanta's B team.
Atlanta Track Club 55:49     Boulder Road Runners 57:29     Shore Athletic Club 1:00:38

M70+ In 2018, Lloyd Hansen led Ann Arbor to victory in this division with a 20:46. This year he was coming in with a hamstring issue that would reduce his speed. But he had to run because the other members of the team had conflicts and only he, Terry McCluskey, and Doug Goodhue would be able to race. Everyone had to finish or there would be no score for Ann Arbor and no Club Grand Prix points. Last year McCluskey and Goodhue finished in 21:58 and 22:30, with me (Paul Carlin) as their insurance runner at 23:13. This year I was thousands of miles away in Alaska at my niece's wedding. Atlanta hoped to wrench the title away from Ann Arbor. In 2018, Jerry Learned ran 21:27 and Dave Glass 22:07. If those 4 ran that way this year, Atlanta would lead Ann Arbor by over 50 seconds through the first two finishers. So then it would come down to whether Hansen could finish and if he could finish, would he run faster than Atlanta's #3 runner. Last year Curtis Walker and Sam Benedict ran 24:14 and 24:29. Walker was not running at all this year and Benedict was off his game and running for the B team. But they had an able replacement in Larry Lioy who ran 24:30 in the 65-69 division in 2018. Hansen would almost surely have to run faster than that. 24 minutes is very slow by Hansen's usual standard but a hamstring injury is nothing to sneeze at. GVH would also contend for the Championship but they were 2 and a half minutes back from Atlanta last year with no reason to expect faster results this year. Doc Rappole, Keith Yeates, and Liam Finnigan would have to elevate their performances for GVH to move up. McCluskey and Goodhue both rose to the challenge and each ran about a minute faster than 2018. McCluskey clocked 20:48 and Goodhue 21:28. Learned and Glass came next at 21:41 and 21:43. That took a little pressure off of Hansen as Ann Arbor had an advantage of over a minute after two runners in, rather than the deficit they might have feared. Hansen started off very tentatively so there was no early clue that he would run as fast as he needed to. He was well back from the top 7 and appeared to be running with pain. After the race, Hansen indicated that the first mile had been difficult but things somehow seemed better after the halfway point and he was able to move up. He advanced so well that he caught up and passed Lioy and then on the final hill, Yeates and Rappole, to finish in 23:02, three seconds ahead of Rappole, 40 seconds ahead of Yeates, and 2 minutes before Lioy, Atlanta's #3 runner. Ann Arbor successfully defended its 2018 victory, totaling 1:05:18, only 4 seconds slower than last year. That was an average of 21:46 per runner. Rappole, Yeates and Finnigan all came in ahead of Atlanta's 3rd runner, but Lioy was close enough that Atlanta still got 2nd with a cumulative time of 1:08:32, a 22:51 average. GVH wound up in third at 1:11:27, an average of 23:49 per runner.
Ann Arbor Track Club 1:05:18     Atlanta Track Club 1:08:32     Genesee Valley Harriers 1:11:27

M80+ Atlanta fielded an M80+ team, an unusual achievement, but not the first such team this Grand Prix year. The San Diego Track Club fielded an 80+ team at the Club Cross Country Championships in Spokane last December. And at the 10K Championship in Massachusetts, the New England 65+ Running Club fielded a Men's 80+ team. Needless to say, Atlanta's team was unopposed. Fred Motz, Sid Davis, and Dennis Maher ran a cumulative time of 2:01:29 for an average of 40:30 per runner in taking first place.
Atlanta Track Club 2:01:29

Where two or more teams showed up to contest the Championship there were some terrific battles. 

Next it is on to Flint for the 1 Mile Championship on Friday evening, August 23rd. 

Photo Credit: All photos used with the compliments of Michael Scott, who snaps excellent shots of athletes at many USATF Championships. 

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