Friday, October 25, 2019

Preview of 2019 USATF Masters 15 Km Championships at Tulsa

October 25, 2019. For the 7th consecutive year, the USATF Masters 15 km Championships will be hosted by the Tulsa Federal Credit Union Tulsa Run. The course shows off the sparkling downtown, the vibrant neighborhoods and just a few of the hills of Tulsa. It culminates in a challenging last mile that climbs 60 meters. And just to make it interesting, rain at the start, possibly changing to showers and 47 degrees. Never daunted, a terrific field of long-distance specialists is assembling.

Fiona Bayly, after a 2nd place finish Overall in 2016, is going for the three-peat this year. She won last year in 58:09. Melissa Gacek, who won in 2016 in 58:44, has taken 2nd the last two years. Bayly tuned up with a Masters podium finish at the New Balance Bronx 10-Miler in 1:02:54. Gacek prepped with a Masters podium of her own at the TC Medtronic 10 Miler in 1:03:51. Those times may be closer than they look, as the Twin Cities course is known to be one of the more challenging 10 Milers. 
Fiona Bayly wins the Overall Championship at the 2018 USATF Masters 15K Championship in Tulsa OK [Photo Credit: Tom Gilbert]

These two champions will have quite the duel! Who else is in the hunt for the Overall podium? Alice Kassens took 6th last year in 1:01:27 but has been up and down this year with injuries.  She has been training well over the last two months, so I will give her the nod for 3rd.  
Melissa Gacek takes 2nd place at the 2018 USATF Masters 15K Championship in Tulsa OK [Photo Credit: Tom Gilbert]

Brooke Bray, who ran 1:02:43 here last year, may be her toughest competitor. Samantha Forde ran a 1:26:08 in the Oakland Half Marathon in 2014, as well as a 1:29 HM and a 39:17 10K. . Perhaps she can run close to that? A 1:27:00 Half Marathon would be age-grade equivalent to a 1:01:16 15K. I can find no recent unclaimed results in Athlinks and her profile is private, so I can learn little there about current fitness. The win could go either way, but Bayly is the Champ until Gacek can find a way to defeat Bayly over the Tulsa hills.
Fiona Bayly     Melissa Gacek    Alice Kassens

They are off and running at the 2018 USATF Masters 15K Championship in Tulsa OK [Photo Credit: Tom Gilbert]

On the Men’s side the favorite is David Angell. The 3-time 10Km and 3-time 5Km Masters Overall Champion, will try to add the 15K to his win column. He has been on the podium three years running, and hopes to finally turn the page to a win. He finished 2nd last year in 50:53. 
David Angell claims 2nd place in the 2018 USATF Masters 15K Championship in Tulsa OK [Photo Credit: Tom Gilbert]

Never an easy task, the primary challengers look to be Christopher Naimoli who took Masters honors at the Great Cow Harbor 10K last month in 32:16. By comparison, Angell’s most recent 10K Championship win was in 32:22. The Cow Harbor course is probably not as challenging as the Championship course in Dedham, so the 10K is probably a toss-up or may even favor Angell slightly. Cross Country is a different medium of expression from roads, so certainly not decisive information. Both Angell and Naimoi ran the Paul Short XC race on the course for Club XC in Lehigh, with Angell taking the honors by 18 seconds. Jason Butler who took 4th in 53:17 in 2017, returns to try for a National Championship win in his home state. His time in the Chevron Houston Marathon this year was 2:34:21. That is about 3 minutes faster than he ran the same race in 2017. For what it is worth, that Houston time is age-grade equivalent to a 51:35 15K. So maybe he can push Angell a little more this year. Others who could be in the race for a podium spot include: Brian Sydow, Aaron Totten-Lancaster  and the Garden State twins, Elliott and Jonathan Frieder who are on the comeback trail after rehabbing injuries. Sydow is running very strong for his Atlanta team this year at the shorter distances; he was 6th at the 5K in 16:26, 4th in the 8K Championships in 26:26 and 8th in the 10K with a 33:37. The only worrisome thing in his race results is the lack of recent races longer than 10K. That may put him at a slight disadvantage relative to the others. Totten-Lancaster's time at the 10K Championships was a half minute slower than Sydow's but T-L ran 54:36 in the Army Ten-Miler two weeks ago. That is age-grade equivalent to a 50:48. He also beat Philippe Rolly by 15 seconds; Rolly was the surprise winner here last year. J. Frieder finished 4 seconds behind Sydow at the 8K but injured himself shortly thereafter and lost most of the spring and summer. His training has been going very well recently so he may not be far off his form. Sometimes the first race back is tentative; other times the runner is ready to go and fresh. Which will it be? The same goes for E. Frieder except that he has been injured more often than not over the last few years. He has a really nice result from Cross Country Nationals in Tallahassee in 2018 when he ran 27:54 and took 2nd in the 45-49 division. But he will have to prove himself anew on the roads.
David Angell   Jason Butler   Aaron Totten-Lancaster  

Age-grading is the top prize awarded for the best performances relative to age across all Masters Age Divisions, with 100 signifying the best possible;a 100  is essentially equivalent to the projected World's best for that athlete's age. Among the men, Roger Sayre and Tom Bernhard are the returning runners with the highest age grading scores and the favorites to go 1-2. Sayre’s 55:59 at age 60 graded at 89.53% while Bernhard’s 1:01:15 at age 67, graded at 87.57%. Furthermore both are regularly on the age-grading podium at Masters National Championships. Craig Godwin, who just turned 50 and ran 1:12:18 at the Eugene Oregon Half Marathon in the spring, is also a threat. That effort age-graded just over 90%. If Butler can break 52 in the 15K, he could well, at the age of 47, age-grade in the 86-87% range. Totten-Lancaster's effort at the Army 10-Miler age graded at 85.78%. Angell's 10K Championship time age graded at 86.97%. 
Roger Sayre   Tom Bernhard   David Angell

Fiona Bayly took the Women’s age-grading honors last year. Her winning time at age 51 earned a 90.89. Suzanne Ray, 66 last year, ran 1:11:06 to merit a 90.80% and 2nd place. Andriette Wickstrom's 1:11:20 at 63, landed her in 5th place with a 86.66. Patrice Combs, Jeanette Groesz, and Edie Stevenson all have a shot at the age-grading podium. Groesz earned an 89.75% at this race in 2017 when she was 68 and ran 1:08:26. Combs is regularly in the upper 80's, earning an 90.69% at Dedham. Of course it is also true that Groesz scored 90.82$ at the same race. Stevenson is a little trickier in that she has been injured and missed over a year of running on the circuit. In 2017 at Dedham, she age graded at 96%. She age graded at 97.20% in Tulsa. It is unlikely she will age grade that high, but in her best outing this year, she ran a 22:43 at the Freihofer's 5K; that age graded at 91.64%. I guess she's back!
Edie Stevenson   Fiona Bayly   Suzanne Ray

Looking Back from the Finish Line to the American Flag, with the Cathedral in the Distance. This is the way the Runners Finish off the USATF Masters 15K Championship in Tulsa OK [Photo Credit: Tom Gilbert]

As I picked David Angell and  Aaron Totten-Lancaster for 1st and 3rd Overall, they are my 1-2 picks in the 40-44 division. Christopher Naimoli got a nod as a possible Overall contender as well so that makes him number 3. Shawn Williams who ran 56:55 in the Clinton County 15K is poised to move up.
David Angell   Aaron Totten-Lancaster   Christopher Naimoli

Whether she finishes 1st or 2nd Overall, Melissa Gacek should certainly win this division. Alice Kassens and Brooke Bray  are mentioned as possible Overall contenders and that carries over to the Age Division. Consistency requires me to pick Kassens for the final spot on the division podium; Kassens could well prove me wrong though.
The Start of the 2017 USATF Masters 15K Championship Race in Tulsa OK [Photo Credit: Tulsa World]

I have picked Jason Butler to have his best finish at the 15K Masters Championships with a 3rd overall. That means I pick him to in the 45-49 division. The Frieder twins, Jonathan and Elliott could throw a monkey wrench into that prediction if they are ready to roll. Their training has been strong over the last few weeks. Brian Sydow could also push to the front if he can master the extra 5K of distance. His 33:37 in the 10K national Championship at Dedham is age-grade equivalent to a sub-52 15K. The course at Dedham is not quite as hilly as the Tulsa course but it is not a fast course. This could be a very tough podium to make. I will go with Jonathan over Elliott because he has a better road race record over the last couple of years.
Jason Butler   Brian Sydow   Jonathan Frieder

Jodi Buyyounouski ran 1:04:54 here last year and has a 1:34:33 at the Urban Cow HM. As mentioned above, I have only 2014 accomplishments of Samantha Forde to go by but those were impressive, a 1:29:30 in the San Francisco HM and a 1:26:08 in the Oakland HM. Kristin McCann ran 44:22 in the 10K at the Marine Corps Marathon, as well as a 1:10:46 at the 2018 Blue Cross Broad St 10 Mile run, age-grade equivalent to a 1:05:50. She also ran a 1:35:35 Half Marathon that year. Alexandra Newman ran 1:07:07 here last year but ran 43:20 at the 10K national Championships where she ended up on the podium.
Jodi Buyyounouski   Samantha Forde   Alexandra Newman

My pick for the age-grading podium includes Craig Godwin. He ran 33:25 in the Scania Run 10K and 1:12:18 in the Eugene HM. He did not fare as well at Club XC in Spokane, but his comparative advantage may be on the roads. If not, Frederick 'Rick' Herr will be running right at his side or ahead. Herr had the advantage at Club Cross, finishing 12th in 36:23, 15 seconds ahead of Godwin. His HM is more modest at 1:20:17, but it was run in Ogden Utah at 4200'. That suggests a faster sea level equivalent time, except that it has about 200 meters of elevation drop that works the other way. Herr also has a 59:41 at the Surf City 10 Miler, age grade equivalent to a 55:32 15K. Michael Slinskey finished 8th in the 8K Championship in 29:35, and 4th in the 5K Championship in 17:37. He also ran a 1:17:48 in the Faxon Law 20K, age grade equivalent to a 57:46 15K. Brad Slavens was about a half minute back from Slinskey at the 8K but only 2 seconds back at the 5k. That could either be because Slavens has gotten faster during the year or because Slinskey is better at longer distances. Either way they should not be too far apart. Slavens finished 6th here in 58:37 but he ran 56:17 in 2017, which is probably a better indicator of current fitness. I am going to leave Matthew Whitis out of the podium prediction because I cannot find any recent efforts and know he has been off the circuit for a while. But he was a mainstay of Atlanta's 40+ team and ran 54:26 in the hot race here in 2014 when he finished 4th in M45.
Craig Godwin   Rick Herr   Michael Slinskey
Brrr! The Masters Runners Had to Figure out the Best Head, Arm and Hand coverings--at the 2017 USATF Masters 15K Championship Race in Tulsa OK [Photo Credit: Tulsa World]
Fiona Bayly is the Overall two-time defending Champion. She is the Champ until someone beats her. That means I pick her for Age Division Champion as well. Last year there were 6 entrants and Laurie Wharton finished 6th in 1:08:08. But this year one of the other 3 aged up to 55-59 and the runners from Nebraska stayed home. Wharton might well run faster this year. Her 1:11:47 from the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run is age grade equivalent to a 1:06:47. Whether she runs faster or not, though, no one except Bayly can finish ahead of her in the division.
Fiona Bayly    Laurie Wharton

Michael Collins has a 33:20 10K and a 1:20:20 HM. He also has a 56:51 15K that is probably most relevant to this contest. He will have his hands full with Mark Zamek who finished 2nd to Nat Larson at the 5K Championships in 17:06. Zamek also ran a 57:08 at the Clinton County 15K. Lester Dragstedt's 31:09 that he ran to take 4th in M55 in Virginia Beach is age grade equivalent to a 59:49. The one worry is that Dragstedt tends to run mostly in the 5K to 8K range. If I go back to February 2018, I find a 1:33:48 HM. That may be an underestimate of his potnetial at longer distances. He ran Peachtree a couple of minutes slower that year compared to this. His 40:40:43 at Peachtree this year equates to a 1:02:11.  John Borthwick ran a 1:26:09 HM in 2017. If he can run that kind of effort now, it is age grade equivalent to a 1:00:32.
Michael Collins   Mark Zamek   Lester Dragstedt

Last year Kris Huff ran 1:07:00 to take 2nd in the 50-54 division. She has been consistent all year, running 43:30 to take 5th in the Division at the 10K Championships and ran a nifty 21:18 to finish 2nd at the 5K Championships. She should get 1st place here. Her teammate, Mary Sweeney, was two minutes back at the 5K, but did just run a 1:36:25 Half Marathon n Pensacola, age grade equivalent to a 1:07:53. Another Atlanta teammate, Robin Tanner, who ran a 1:26:22 15K recently should take 3rd.
Kris Huff   Mary Sweeney   Robin Tanner

Roger Sayre is the Age-Grading favorite and favored to win the Age Division as well. Sayre ran 55:59 to win here last year and he has been blazing all year at every distance from the 5K to the Half Marathon. Who else is in the picture? William 'Hugh' Enicks is the closest to Sayre in that he ran a 57:40 to finish 2nd in M55 here in 2016. That might be out of his range this year but he did run an 18:26 5K this August. Michael Anderson, John Blaser, and Brian Nelson should slug it out for the final podium position. Anderson ran 1:01:58 and Blaser 1:01:12 in 2017. Nelson ran 1:02:31. 
Roger Sayre   Hugh Enicks   John Blaser 

Patrice Combs finished 2nd at the 10K Championships in 43:27 and won the 5K Championships in 21:20. In 2018 she won the Half Marathon Championship in Ann Arbor Michigan in 1:34:49, age-grade equivalent to a 1:06:47. Even if that does not translate fully to this hilly course, she should not be far off. Andriette Wickstrom took 2nd in this division last year in 1:11:20. This year she will have to contend with Mireille Silva who ran 1:11:57 to take 5th in 55-59. Betsy Miller, who finished 3rd at the 8K Championships and 2nd at Cross Country Nationals in Tallahassee could also be in the hunt for the podium.
Patrice Combs   Andriette Wickstrom   Mireille Silva

65-69 Tom Bernhard returns to defend his Championship after a little break from the circuit. He ran 1:01:15 here last year. He should be able to defend the championship but there are some strong challengers. Joseph Reda finished 2nd at the 10K this year in 39:28 and took the title at the 5K in 19:14, the same time that Reno Stirrat clocked. Stirrat is also entered. I am leaving Stirrat off of the podium in my prediction. But he is a battler who could well prove me wrong. It is significant that Bernhard finished more than two minutes ahead of Reda at Virginia Beach. Stirrat was able  to beat Reda at a 12k in the summer in the heat. But hip issues cropped up in a Half Marathon he ran since then in 1:29:06. On paper, Bob Deak looks like a real threat. He ran a 59:17 15K in September. He also ran 1:27:44 in the Fox Valley HM. That river town 15K course is probably a lot flatter than Tulsa but it suggests he could stay with Bernhard for a while. Unless Deak was off his game in Atlanta, Bernhard should still prevail. Deak finished behind not only Reda and Stirrat, but was 3 seconds back from Robert Qualls as well. Like some other runners in the overall field, this distance seems to be a little out of his comfort range. Of course, I wrote something similar about Kirk Larson last year and he turned out, ran a smart race and took home the Silver Medal he won in 1:03:57.
Tom Bernhard   Joseph Reda   Bob Deak

Suzanne Ray is one of the best runners in this age division in the country. She won last year in 1:11:06. In 2017 she ran two minutes faster in a year when the field was loaded. She finished 3rd behind Sabra Harvey and Edie Stevenson. This year she has no competitors entered. 
Suzanne Ray
One Minute into the Race and the crowd is just starting to thin out at the 2018 USATF Masters 15K Championship in Tulsa OK [Photo Credit: Tom Gilbert]

70  Jerry Learned finished 2nd last year in 1:12:59. He is the favorite. The other two who could challenge him for the title are his teammate, Dave Glass, and Paul Carlin (yours truly). Learned has been finishing ahead of both all year. Glass, who was ahead of learned most of the year before has been getting closer and closer all year. According to the timing chip transponder at Flint, Glass just edged Learned but if he did it must have been by the thinnest of possible margins. And that was a 1 mile race, not a 9.3 mile race. Carlin finished 3rd last year in 1:13:40 and was running better earlier in the year. He ran 1:16:55 at the Blue Cross Broad Street 10 Miler, age grade equivalent to a 1:11:34, but that course is much faster than the Tulsa course. Both Learned and Glass were well ahead of Carlin at the 8K Championships, and then again at the 1 Mile Championships in Flint. Glass finished behind both those two at Tulsa last year but he was running injured for his team. Glass ran almost 3 minutes faster just two weeks later in the Stockade-a-thon 15K. Still Carlin might have a chance. It does not appear that Glass has ventured beyond a 10K since then. His 10K time in Dedham, however, was about 3 minutes faster than the 10K I ran a few weeks ago. Sam Benedict, who ran 1:23:29 here last year, is poised to move up should any of those three run into trouble.
Jerry Learned   Dave Glass   Paul Carlin

I initially picked Jeanette Groesz to take this division but then I reconsidered. Edie Stevenson ran 1:08:26 here in 2017, taking 2nd behind the remarkable Sabra Harvey. She was off the circuit for more than a year dealing with injuries but she returned earlier this year, running a 22:43 at the Freihofer's 5K. That suggests she is at close to her long-term normal. That means a sub-1:10 is certainly possible. Groesz is an amazing runner but her 15K times tend to be in the 1:14 to 1:15 range. Stevenson is likely to win this battle.
Edie Stevenson   Jeanette Groesz

75-79 Jan Frisby has been chasing Hall-of-Famer, Doug Goodhue since the summer. He caught him at the Road Mile Championship in Flint, but Goodhue got away again over the XC turf in San Diego. Frisby does not have Goodhue to contend with this time and he should certainly win here at Tulsa, probably in a time under 1:15. Charlie Patterson finished 5th here last year in 1:36:00. David Cohen has battled Patterson over the years, with one or the other taking honors at different times. Cohen is recovering from a 90K ultra earlier in the fall and a Half Marathon two weeks ago so may not be at his springiest. It could go either way, though.
Jan Frisby   Charlie Patterson   David Cohen

 Irene Terronez won here last year in 1:39:54 and is unopposed this year.
Irene Terronez

80-84 David Turner was on the 75-79 podium at both the 8K and 5K earlier this year. Now that he has aged up to 80-84, he will claim the gold medal at  here at Tulsa as long as he finishes the race. He is unopposed.
David Turner 

With many of the Club Grand Prix races already decided, there are only three divisions that will be tightly contested, but those will be doozies. 

In Men’s 40+, the Atlanta Track Club and the Garden State Track Club-New Balance square off for season’s honors. With Atlanta ahead 370 to 365, whoever wins the Championship here gets 100 points and the Grand Prix win to boot. If the Frieder twins had been running races right along, it would be sensible to make Garden State the favorite. Because they are both returning from injuries, it is too close to call. The Atlanta Track Club legally filed a team declaration that changed the makeup of their 40+ and 50+ teams, moving Brad Slavens who should be able to run around 57 minutes onto their 40+ team and moving Mike Anderson back up to 50+.  If the Frieder's are fully healthy and competitive, it is unlikely their combined time would be much better than the combined time of Totten-Lancaster and Sydow . It is slightly more likely that Atlanta will have the lower combined time from their first two runners. It appears that Slavens is closely matched with Garden States' Williams who has a recent 56:55 15K and Mark Zamek, who ran 57:48 in that same race. 
Atlanta Track Club   Garden State Track Club

The Men’s 60+ Club Grand Prix is settled already but the Boulder Road Runners want to send a message to this year’s winners, the Atlanta Track Club, about next year by finishing off with a win. With Sayre leading the way, Boulder should enjoy a comparatively easy win over the Shore Athletic Club and Kansas City Smoke
Boulder Road Runners   Shore Athletic Club   Kansas City Smoke

Women’s 60+ is a tight contest between last year’s Club Grand Prix Champions, Team Red Lizard of Oregon, and the Atlanta Track Club. As with the men, the 2019 Women’s 70+ Club Grand Prix goes to Atlanta, but Team Red Lizard is running at full strength in this event to test themselves against the 2019 Grand Prix winners. It should be tight, with the Red Lizard team more balanced across their top 3 runners and Atlanta relying on Combs to lead them to victory. I give Atlanta the edge though.
Atlanta Track Club   Team Red Lizard
This event winds up the 2019 Masters Grand Prix season. Grand Prix awards will be presented at the Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh in Bethlehem, PA. The Masters races at that event kick off the 2020 Grand Prix.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Masters LDR XC in Paradise?--Recap-2019 USATF Masters 5 Km XC Chanpionship

October 21, 2019 Mission Bay offered a near-perfect morning for cross country on the 12th of October--temperatures in the low 60's, light winds, sunny skies, and little humidity. The course was three loops, of just over a mile each, around Mission Bay Park, in a setting somewhat reminiscent of last years 5 Km XC Masters Championship in Buffalo, NY. The course went around a park that is in public use during the race. The Local Organizing Committee had very good control over the places where the course crossed paved trails and parkland that were in use by the General Public. I heard of no incidents where runners were impeded in any way. It is all grass except for a few places where it crosses narrow bits of pavement. There are some undulating bits, but no serious hills. No complaints? Are you serious, this is LDR, after all. Some runners noted that the course was softer than they had expected. One said she wished she had brought spikes; another said he was just resigned to running a little slower than he had hoped. The Women's Race went off first at 7:45 AM, with the Men following at 8:30.

Overall Championship--First Runners Across the Finish Line. The favorites went off the line and had soon left the field strung out behind. The lead group through the first loop included: Celestine Arambulo, Lorilynn Bloomer, Jill Braley, Hilary Corno, Kelly Couch, Meriah Earle, Donna Mills-Honarva, Kimberly Mueller, Marisa Sutera Strange, Katherine Wolski.  I had Earle picked as the favorite based on her blazing Masters win at Carlsbad in 16:57! Corno had been 2nd about a half minute back. Both had good Marathons in the last year; Corno 2:42 at Chicago last fall and Earle 2:46 at Boston this past spring. Their combination of speed and endurance boded well for this XC race.Two of the three top men and the top woman at Club XC in Spokane all had strong Marathon backgrounds. Bloomer has no recent Marathon credentials but she has run a couple of sub-18 5K's and she has a lot of XC races under her belt. She took 4th Overall at the 1st of the Stumptown XC series in Portland this year. She did not enter last year but in 2017, she completed all 5 in the series. Couch took 5th at Club XC in 2017 in Lexington KY and finished 3rd this year at the challenging Masters 5K National Championship in Atlanta. Mueller, Earle's teammate, is a fine XC runner, finishing only 5 seconds behind Earle at Club Cross in Spokane. Strange won the Masters Overall title at the USATF XC Championships in Tallahassee in February. Braley finished 2nd to Strange in Tallahassee and took 2nd behind Sonja Friend-Uhl in the 5 Km Masters Championship last year in Buffalo.

By the time they hit the little hill at three-quarters of a mile on the first loop, Meriah Earle was in the lead, with the other challengers strung out behind. Earle commented after the race, "Such an amazing group of women competitors. I never felt like I built a lead. I could always hear footsteps behind me or the encouragement from the crowd for the runners who were close." Nonetheless, by the finish, Earle had stretched her lead a bit. She took the win by 12 seconds in 18:38. Earle is no stranger to podiums but, as far as I know, this is her first Overall National Championship as a Masters runner.

Mariah Earle took 1st place Overall at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships in San Diego [Photo: San Diego Track Club FB post]
Corno's strength allowed her to stay ahead of 3rd place winner, Bloomer, who was 7 seconds back from Corno. Couch finished just off the podium in 4th, clocking 19:11 and edging Mueller by just 3 seconds.After another 12 seconds, the Chase Pack roared toward the finish line, Mills-Honarva leading the way in 19:26, followed in the next 13 seconds by the 7th through 10th place finishers, Strange, Wolski, Arambulo, and Braley.

 Meriah Earle 18:38     Hilary Corno 18:50     Lorilynn Bloomer 18:57

The top guns on the Men’s side were two runners from Cal Coast, Roosevelt Cook and  
Jacques Sallberg, West Valley’s Neville Davey, and a local runner, Adam Dailey, of boomRunning. Davey and Sallberg have met before on the Cross Country turf, most recently in Spokane where the edge went to Davey, but only by 3 seconds! Sallberg has not had the success at Club XC that he has had at the February race, the USATF XC Championships. Sallberg has won the Masters race in February in 4 of the last 5 years, at Boulder, twice at Bend, and then in Tallahassee earlier this year. All four ran at Carlsbad, but Cook, who was not yet 40, ran in the Open race. Davey again edged Sallberg although this time they were clocked the same time to the second, 15:21, but Davey was awarded 2nd and Sallberg 3rd in the Masters race. Dailey was 14 seconds back. Cook outran them all but
even though the course was the same, they were two different races with different dynamics. Cook, in any case, showed greater speed on the day, clocking 14:56! But Road speed and Cross Country speed are not interchangeable; some excel on roads, others on the turf. And fitness can rise and fall during the year. As an example, Sallberg came in half a minute ahead of Cook at the Mark Covert 8 Km XC in September. By midway through the race, these four had separated themselves from the rest. No one dominated but at most junctures it appeared to be Cook and Dailey pushing the pace, with Sallberg tucked in behind or between, and then Davey. 
Roosevelt Cook #139 and Adam Dailey #144 at the front of the lead pack, followed in order by Jacques Sallberg, Neville Davey, and Mark Yuen at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships in San Diego [Photo: Cal Coast Track Club FB post]

Davey’s teammate, Mark Yuen, hung tight with those four for a good stretch but had fallen back to the chase group by the third loop.  It was coming down to crunch time; would someone be able to make a decisive move? Heading south along the bay and then up across the road and up the small hill, it was Sallberg moving swiftly, putting the others in jeopardy. Try as they might, they could not match the acceleration, and had to focus on the others; who would be on the podium? Sallberg was away and held it to the line for the win in 15:54, with a surprisingly big winning margin of 11 seconds. 
Jacques Sallberg sprinting for the finish line and the Overall Win at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships in San Diego [Photo:Cal Coaast Track Club FB post]

For the rest, the Carlsbad story was repeated as Cook used a big kick to pull away from Davey, who has a pretty good kick himself, and both pulled away from Dailey. Cook had 2nd by a single second over Davey, with Dailey just off the podium another two seconds back. Yuen paid a price for running with the leaders as Jason Batterson was able to catch him and claim 5th in 16:46 with Yuen 6th a second back. Sallberg indicated how happy he is being part of the Cal Coast team now. "Joining Cal Coast was one of the best decisions I've made. Coach Bill Sumner is awesome. He gives honest feedback and has a wealth of knowledge that he shares with everyone on the team.And the team is super mega supportive of each other.' Sallberg was one of the fans of the course, describing it as 'perfect, and so good to get back to running on it again. Last time was in 2011."

Jacques Sallberg 15:54     Roosevelt Cook 16:05     Neville Davey 16:06


Age-Grading levels the playing field across age groups by comparing a given athlete’s time to the best projected time for an athlete of that age (and sex). The projections are based on the ‘World’s Best’ data for single age records maintained by the Association of Road Racing Statisticians. The projections are anchored at the 5K, 10K, Half and full Marathons as those are the most commonly raced distances. The projections are also smoothed across ages, so an unusually talented athlete of a given age does not completely throw off age-grading for the individuals in his/her single-age group. If an athlete matches that projection, they earn a score of 100 with slower times earning lower marks. USATF considers 90 to be World Class, 80 National Class. Because the data are for the World, it is possible, and perhaps even likely, that a runner setting a new American record will score below 100.

For this race, the strongest runners on the Women’s side appeared to be Hall-of-Famer, Carmen Ayala-Troncoso, 60, Jeanette Groesz, 70, and Marisa Sutera Strange, 56. Ayala-Troncoso and Groesz finished 1st and 3rd at Club XC in Spokane but the year before at Lexington, Groesz came in ahead of Ayala-Troncoso. Strange did not compete in Spokane but the year before in Lexington, Strange, came in ahead of Groesz and Ayala-Troncoso. But in both of those races, there was one and a half percentage points, or less, separating them. Others who might break onto the podium included Jane Treleven, 70, and Katherine Wolski, 53. Treleven earned a 91.41% score on her B.A.A. 5K performance in the spring, and Wolski finished 5th in age-grading at the 5K Championships in Atlanta this year and 3rd in the 5 Km XC in Buffalo last fall. Strange not only won the Age-Grading contest in Tallahassee, she won the overall Master’s race. So she is normally focused on that aspect of the race. On this day, she was not feeling so chipper at the beginning of the day, fighting off a sinus infection, but she focused on putting together the best race she could on the day. It helped, in a way, she said that she, like most others, had to focus on their footing, so that kept her mind off of any negative thoughts. 

At the end of the first loop, Strange was only a few seconds ahead of Ayala-Troncoso; with the 4-year age difference, Strange would need to run almost a minute faster to achieve a 90% score. They were both well back from Wolski, but they could give up a half minute to the younger Wolski. Groesz and Treleven were further back in the field in their own battle for the W70 crown. On this day, Treleven had the edge in the early going. As seems typical, Strange moved up through the field during the race, finishing a few seconds ahead of Wolski, at 19:31, earning the only ‘World Class’ score of the day, at 90.57%. Because of the footing, Cross Country races generally have slower times and hence lower age-grading scores than are found on the roads.Treleven stayed ahead of her rival, Groesz; her 23:49 scored at 88.64 for second. Ayala-Troncoso lost over a minute and a half to Strange, but she still made the podium, claiming 3rd in 21:08 and 87.72. 
L to R Jane Treleven, Carmen Ayala-Troncoso, Maria Sutera Strange--
Women's Age-Grading Winners at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships in San Diego [Photo: San Diego Track Club FB post]

Wolski's 19:34 was good for an 87.30, and Groesz rounded out the top 5 with her 24:19 and 86.81. Strange noted that she has been good friends with Ayala-Troncoso for over a decade ad that some days she comes out ahead in age-grading and sometimes it is Ayala-Troncoso. "It helps to have others running around me; it is so much better than running alone. I was conscious of Kathy Wolski right behind me most of the way. Masters running is all about good competition and great friendships!"
Marisa Sutera Strange 90.57     Jane Treleven 88.64     Carmen Ayala-Troncoso 87.72

On the Men's side, the main contenders appeared likely to be Doug Goodhue, 77, Tony Marshall, 75, Joe Sheeran, 61, and, possibly, Daniel King, 60. Sheeran appeared the most likely winner. At Club XC in 217 he won the 60+ Age-grading and no one who scored higher in the 40-59 race was entered here. His 90.93% in the M60+ 8K race at Spokane was higher than any of the age grade scores in the M40-59 10K. Goodhue finished 7th at Spokane with 86.59, but none of those between him and Sheeran were entered at San Diego. Moving over from the triathlon, Tony Marshall, 75, was the 'new kid on the block!' He announced himself with a 20:02 in Carlsbad this past spring when a mere 74. That age grades at 92.1%. As noted, age grades tend to be higher on roads so Marshall is unlikely to score that high, but he should be in the mix. Another runner who is relatively unknown at national meets is Daniel King. In February 2015, when the USATF XC Championships were in Boulder, the Athletics Boulder runner took the Men's 55 crown in 29:43. He was 7th in age-grading, just ahead of 2013 Athlete of the Year, Brian Pilcher. But neither Athlinks nor an internet search turn up much recent. Goodhue and Marshall are close enough in age that the outcome of the race would pretty much determine who took the age-grading crown, but not entirely. The two-year age difference meant that Goodhue had about 45 seconds to play with. It was largely the same with Sheeran and King, except that the 1-year difference there at a younger age, meant Sheeran had only about 10 seconds to play with. Better to just win outright, and have no worries, and that's what happened, as Sheeran took the 60-64 win, defeating King by 11 seconds in 18:18, and racking up an 87.98. And Marshall came across the finish line ahead of Goodhue, but only by about half a minute. Goodhue's 22:06 earned an 87.95, just three-hundredths of a percentage point behind Sheeran. King finished 4th out of this group; his 18:29 good for 86.39 and 9th place. Wait a minute, 9th place? Who else was in there? The 'youngsters'! least by Masters standards. In road racing championships it is rare for a 40's athlete to top the age-grading. In cross country it happens a little more often. 
Jacques Sallberg L and Doug Goodhue R claimed 1st and 3rd in the Men's Age-Grading at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships in San Diego [Photo: San Diego Track Club FB post]

In the 2015 XC Nationals in Boulder, Simon Gutierrez, 48, won the Age-Grading and in 2016 at Bend, a 42-year-old named Jacques Sallberg not only won the race outright, but took the age-grading crown, a few tenths of a percentage point ahead of Sheeran. That's what happened here, too. With the 4-man lead pack going all out for the win, Sallberg's winning effort led to an age-grade win also; his 15:54 merited an 89.38! Neville Davey, 44, took 4th with an 87.93; Ivan Lieben, 50, 5th with an 86.95, and Adam Dailey, 6th at 86.81.

Jacques Sallberg 89.38     Joe Sheeran 87.98     Doug Goodhue 87.95


Women  The first two runners across the line, Meriah Earle and Hilary Corno picked up the same age division medals along the way. As the 3rd finisher Overall came from the 45-49 division, third went to Kelly Couch, with Kimberly Mueller finishing 4th three seconds back.
Meriah Earle 18:38   Hilary Corno 18:50   Kelly Couch  19:11
All Lined Up and Ready to Go-The Women's Race
at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships in San Diego [Photo:A Snail's Pace FB post]

Men  Since the first athlete across the finish line in the Overall Men's race was from the 45-49 age division, Roosevelt Cook and Neville Davey, who finished 2nd and 3rd Overall, took 1st and 2nd in the Age Division. Cook garners his first National Cross Country Championship as a Masters Runner. 
Roosevelt Cook L and Adam Dailey R, with Jacques Sallberg tucked in between, push the pace at the front of the Men's Race at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships in San Diego (Photo: Cal Coast FB post-Photographer-Philip Nevenhoven)

The final podium spot went to Adam Dailey, a step up from his Overall finish, just off the podium.
Roosevelt Cook 16:05   Neville Davey 16:06   Adam Dailey 16:08

Lorilynn Bloomer captured the Bronze Medal overall and, along with it, the Gold Medal for the Age Division win. Celestine Arambulo, who finished 4th in the 40-44 division at Carlsbad in 19:36, and finished 8th in the Overall race, had too much firepower for Amy Halseth. Arambulo took 2nd in19:38, with Halseth 3rd a half minute back. She had plenty of distance over the 4th and 5th place finishers who were locked in a tight battle. Alexandra Newman took 4th in 21:52, with Deborah Spaulding a mere 5 seconds between them.
Lorilynn Bloomer 18:57   Celestine Arambulo 19:38   Amy Halseth  20:04

Jacques Sallberg took the Overall and Age Grading crowns and walked away with this Age Division gold as well. Mark Yuen who hung with the lead pack for quite a while, ended up 6th overall and captured M45 Silver, 7 seconds ahead of John Gardiner, who took 7th Overall.
Jacques Sallberg 15:54   Mark Yuen 16:47   John Gardiner 16:54

Women's 50-54 is almost always loaded with talent and that was certainly true at Mission Bay. Tania Fischer, the 2014 Division Runner of the Year, is a fixture on the podium. Her most recent exploits include a 2nd place divisional finish at Club XC in Spokane in 24:21,  and a division win at Carlsbad in 19:11. Hronn Gudmundsdottir topped the W50 division at the 10K Championships in Dedham in 38:49. She was a little off her game, apparently, in Atlanta where she could only muster a 19:39 for 3rd in the division, a slower pace than at her 10K win. Two months later would she be back on top of her fitness? She finished 2nd to Nancy Thomas in this division at the Mark Garen 5K XC race in 21:39. Kara Parker is a road racing 'phenom' out of the Twin Cities area. A 19:20 5K and a 38:16 at the MDRA 10K shows she has plenty of speed. How would she adjust to the XC turf? Katherine Wolski entered rather late but you can bet her rivals noticed when she entered. Wolski ran 19:12 on the rather tough Atlanta 5K course to finish 2nd in the division to Bayly and 27 seconds ahead of Gudmundsdottir. A year ago she won the division at the 5 Km XC Championship race held in Buffalo, NY. 
Parker showed she had no trouble with the turf as she gave Wolski a run for the title. In the end Wolski had just a little too much in the tank, taking the win by 10 seconds in 19:34.Gudmundsdottir seems to still struggle to show the fitness she displayed in Dedham. Still there are not that many who can claim to have beaten Fischer. Yet that's what happened, as Gudmundsdottir got the Bronze in 20:15, with Fischer 48 seconds behind. Fischer was unhappy with her race, thinking she had come in with fitness sufficient to break 20 minutes, but not on this day on this course.
Katherine Wolski 19:34   Kara Parker 19:44   Hronn Gudmundsdottir 20:15
Start of the Women's Race at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships in San Diego [Photo:A Snail's Pace FB post]

Three northerners, Ivan Lieben and Charles Mullane, from the Bay area's West Valley Track Club and Matthew Farley from Oregon's Bowerman Track Club came down to try their luck in San Diego. Mike Nier was in from upstate New York. Cal Coast's Christian 'Cush' Cushing-Murray and boomRunning's Robert Verhees were poised to defend the Mission Bay turf. Lieben did not run in XC last December in Spokane and his outing in Lexington was ordinary. However he did finish 9th in the ultra-competitive 2015 Club XC contest in San Francisco in 34:16. That shows ability! A recent 1:20 Half Marathon shows that current fitness is good. Mullane took the 50-54 division title at the Garen Park 5 Km XC Challenge in 18:58 and has a 16:09 5K road race to his credit. Farley was definitely far from his best at Spokane last December, finishing 40th in M50. By the time Tallahassee rolled around two months later, it was clear a lot of recovery had taken place. Farley finished 4th in M50, but still well over a minute behind the leaders. Like Lieben, though, he has glory in his recent past. At Tallahassee in 2016 when it was the site of Club XC, he cooked a 33:45 [5:26/mile pace] to take 2nd in M45! Nier does not have that kind of pedigree but is remarkably steady and rarely far from the front.  He came in two minutes ahead of Farley in Spokane and only 30 seconds behind Verhees in Lexington. When injuries are under control, Cush is always a threat for a win. He finished 5th in Spokane, four minutes ahead of Farley. In Tallahassee, Cush took the division win in 27:57, a minute and a half ahead of Farley. His 16:08 at Carlsbad is close to normal for Cush the past few years, and mighty fast at a 5:11/mile pace.It is a second faster than Mullane's effort.  But it is good to remember only 3 years earlier, he sped to the Masters win in 15:11! The guy has speed to burn when he is on! Verhees is the reigning King of the XC turf in San Diego; he won the Balboa Park 4 Mile XC race in 25:19, but has not run any fast road 5K's recently. He has been focusing on ultra marathons and trail runs. His excursion at the 2017 Club XC Championships in Lexington brought him home about a half minute behind Cush. At Club Cross in San Francisco in 2015, Verhees took 3rd in M50, behind Cush and Lieben, but faster than Farley. What's clear is that these guys will always have a great race, but the outcome will vary over time depending on relative fitness.
Christian 'Cush' Cushing-Murray 43 with Robert Verhees 291 in hot pursuit for the M50 Championship at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships in San Diego [Photo: Cal Coast FB post-Photographer-Philip Nevenhoven)

This was not going to be Cush's day; that was clear by the end of the first loop, when he had to give way to Verhees and Nier, and the three northerners, Lieben, Farley, and Mullane, were well ahead. Lieben had his best outing in some time, taking the win in 16:58. A half minute later, Farley sped across the line in 2nd, followed a dozen seconds later by Mullane. Just off the podium in 4th, Verhees crossed the line in 17:54, followed 12 seconds later by Nier, who held off a hard-closing Christian-Murray by 3 seconds!
Ivan Lieben 16:58   Matthew Farley 17:25   Charles Mullane 17:37


As reported above, despite not feeling great at he start of the day, Marisa Sutera Strange had the top age grading score of the day, and took the Age Division win by over two minutes. The top of the field hunting for the other podium spots included Rosalva Bonilla, Eileen Brennan-Erler, Laura Bruess, Inge McClory, and Sue Zihlmann. Bonilla is primarily a track athlete who also runs some road races. Her half marathons are in the upper 1:30's to low 1:40's. McClory is similar in that she ran 1:39: 38 in the Half Marathon at Richmond VA and is a regular at the Bolder Boulder 10K, which she tends to run in the low to mid-50's. Brennan-Erler took 5th in the division at Club XC in Spokane, and ran a 21:04 on the fast Morgan Hill 5K course. Bruess ran a scorching 24:18 to take second in this division at the 2015 Club XC Championships in San Francisco. Her fitness earlier this year was good; she ran 20:06 at Carlsbad to take the W55 division win. She has lots of experience with big races and USATF National Championships where she often lands on the podium. With recent 10K's in the high 42's to low 43's, Zihlmann has shown she can run with Bruess and the others. 
Not surprisingly, Bruess got out and away; by the time she was speeding over the open ground toward the finish line, she had nearly a half minute on her nearest pursuer. She claimed the Silver Medal in 21:39. Zihlmann claimed third in 22:04, with Bonilla 13 seconds back and Brennan-Erler another 9 seconds back in 5th at 22:26. Eleven seconds later McClory claimed 6th.
Marisa Sutera Strange 19:31   Laura Bruess 21:39   Sue Zihlmann 22:04

In the Men's race, Mark Zamek, of Garden State Track Club, was out west to take on a quartet of locals from San Diego and L.A. Zamek took 2nd at the 5K Championships in Atlanta in 17:05, and then edged Nat Larson for the win at the National Masters Road Mile Championships in Flint. He finished 3rd, behind Larson and Tony Young, at Club XC in Spokane with a 36:16. So he came in with XC 'cred' on top of his 'road rep.' Prado's Jeff Creighton had a 37:26 10K and 2nd place in the 2018 Balboa Park 4 Mile XC race. Kevin Zimmer was 10th in 35:37 at Club XC in San Francisco in 2015 and, more recently, ran 16:49 to take the division title at the 2018 Carlsbad 5000. Cal Coast's Bradley Peterson would also run tough.His time this year at Carlsbad was 'only' 17:17 but he ran 16:59 the year before. Finally, Jim Walsh came in as a 'hometown hero,' taking the 55-59 division at the 4 Mile Championships in Balboa Park this year in 26:01
 Kurt Whittington 300 with a Slim Lead Over 2 50+ guys duelling on the turf, Jeff Creighton 142 and Michael Strickland 280 at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships in San Diego [Photo: Cal Coast FB post-Photographer-Philip Nevenhoven)

Zimmer showed flashes of that Carlsbad speed in taking the victory in 17:59, leaving Peterson 15 seconds behind in 2nd. Creighton, Walsh, and Zamek were locked in a battle for much of the race, with Creighton breaking loose to claim the final podium spot in 18:35. Zanek followed ten seconds later in 4th, edging Walsh by 2 seconds!
Kevin Zimmer 17:59   Bradley Peterson 18:14   Jeff Creighton 18:14


Hall of Famer, Carmen Ayala Troncoso, who finished on the Age Grading podium also took honors in her new Age Division this year. With a 21:08 finishing time, she had two and a half minutes on the field. The race for the other divisional podium spots was a doozy. Mo Bartley has been absent from National Championships for a bit except for Club XC. Her Impala team has been dealing with various injuries so trips to the East Coast for races were postponed. At Club XC, Barltey finished 6th in the Age Group in 28:04. Back in 2017 when she was more active in Championships, she took a division 3rd at the 5K in Syracuse in 21:41, and took the Gold Medal at the 8K in 35:23. Debbie Lee moves up from the track where she ran 22:18 at the 2018 Championships. She also has a 22:41 road 5K at the Irvine Half Marathon. Karyn Symmonds does not quite have that speed, but she did run a 23:14 at the Crazy 8's 5K. 
Bartley's experience in big races may have been the difference. In any case she was finally able to separate herself from the other two contenders and build a gap which grew to ten seconds by the finish line. Bartley crossed it in 23:46 to take 2nd place, with Lee in 3rd, and Symmonds just off the podium another 8 seconds back.
Carmen Ayala-Troncoso 21:08   Mo Bartley 23:46   Debbie Lee 23:46 
As noted earlier, this division had a closer race than some would have expected. Joe Sheeran has dominated recently, taking the Men's 60-64 title at the Club XC Championships in both Lexington and Spokane, as well as the M60 title as Cross Country Natiionals in Tallahassee this year. Daniel King does not often run in the National Championships, but in 2015 at XC Nationals in Boulder, he took the M55 title, finishing ahead of strong runners like Brian Pilcher, Dan Spale, and Roger Sayre.  Others who would try to keep pace with those two include William 'Hugh' Enicks, Michael Lebold, and  Anthony Uzwiak. Enicks finished 20th in M55 at Club XC in Lexington in 2017. The year before he took 2nd M55 at the 8K in Brea in 28:50, and finished 2nd at the 15K in Tulsa in 57:40. He clocked an 18:26 5K earlier this year. Lebold and Uzwiak have not been active on the National Championship circuit, but Lebold took 2nd M60 this spring at Carlsbad in 19:05, and is the reigning M60 Champion from the USATF 4 Mile XC Championships in Balboa Park, in 26:21. The only thing I can find for Uzwiak from this year is a 26:08 at the Killingsworth 4 Mile Road Race. However, he ran 24:41 at that same race in 2017. That time is age-grade equivalent to an 18:57 5K. If he had recovered to that level of fitness, he would make a race of it. King kept Sheeran in sight for as long as he could, but over the last loop, Sheeran was able to make a move and establish some daylight. Sheeran took the win in 18:18. Eleven seconds later, King came across in 2. Then there was a half minute wait to see who would emerge from among the chasers. This time it was Lebold who left the other two20 seconds back  to duke it out for 4th, 5th and points for their respective teams. Enicks was So Cal TC's top runner and Uzwiak was the KC Smoke's top athlete. Enicks edged Uzwiak by a single second to get his team off to the better start.
Joe Sheeran 18:18   Daniel King 18:29   Michael Lebold 19:05

I wrote that Suzanne Ray was a 'shoo-in' for the win based on her 2nd place finish at Club XC in Lexington behind the indomitable runner, Sabra Harvey. Ray also has taken a number of National Championships over the last couple of years, especially at longer distances.San Diego Track Club teammates, Ernestina Martin, Robin Payne, and  Mary Ryzner were expected to battle for the remaining podium spots. Ryzner, Paine, and Martin finished in that order in the 4 Mile Balboa Park XC Challenge. But last December Martin finished within two seconds of Ryzner at Club XC. So it seemed 2nd and 3rd were both under contention. 
Ray did not disappoint as she came home first, over half a minute ahead of the field. This time, Martin appears to have been on her game as she pulled away from Ryzner to capture 2nd place in 25:25. Just 5 seconds later, Ryzner claimed Bronze, with Paine following  a minute later in 4th.
Suzanne Ray 24:43   Ernestina Martin 25:25   Mary Ryzner 26:42

My preview listed Bob Deak, Kirk Larson, Robert Qualls, Joseph Reda, and Chuck Smead as the runners to beat. When Deak, a Florida State alum, was a scratch due to having too much fun in Tallahassee, and maybe running one race too many, I still had 4 picks left. Were they up to the pressure? You bet! Reda has already taken Championship crowns in the 5K at Atlanta and the Road Mile in Flint, not to mention strong races at the 8K and 10K. But Qualls was only 12 seconds back from Reda in Atlanta. Larson beat Qualls by 16 seconds in Spokane last December, and Smead came in a half minute ahead of Larson at Cross Country Nationals in Tallahassee. Reda was no doubt the favorite but the lack of recent XC results did raise a question about how he would do on the turf. As for the others it may just come down to who feels better on the day.
Reda showed he has no trouble with turf, at least the turf at Mission Bay. He took the crown by over a half minute in 19:50. Smead showed once again he is tough to beat at XC as he pulled away from the others to claim the Silver Medal with ten seconds to spare. Qualls took 3rd and then it was over half a minute back to Rick Pfeiffer, with Larson 11 seconds back in 5th.
Joseph Reda 19:50   Chuck Smead 20:37   Robert Qualls 20:47

I had Jeanette Groesz as the favorite over her teammate, Sharon Gerl, and Jane Treleven, who dropped down from the Pacific Northwest to try her luck. Groesz beat Gerl by half a minute at XC Nationals in Tallahassee in early February; by late April, Gerl was only 17 seconds back at Dedham. Groesz and Gerl ran 48:38 and 48:55 respectively in that 10K. At the B.A.A. 5K, Treleven ran 23:06; that is age-grade equivalent to a 49:09 10K. I thought it would be quite close.
Treleven apparently did not think so. She ran with confidence, winning the Gold Medal by a good half minute over Groesz. As noted earlier, this was also the 2nd best age-grading score on the day. Gerl had an off day, finishing over two minutes back from Groesz. Jo Anne Rowland, on the comeback trail after dealing with injuries, was 4th.
Jane Treleven 23:49   Jeanette Groesz 24:19     Sharon Gerl 26:45

With Lloyd Hansen out injured and Nolan Shaheed a scratch, it appeared it would be Terry McCluskey, the winner at Club XC in Spokane as the favorite, with Ronald Wells  and David Longmuir the closest rivals. Wells won the division at Club XC in Tallahassee. Longmuir won it in Lexington. I thought Donald Porteous's times were not quite up to those three. Porteous was right behind Longmuir in Lexington. Rick Katz, who took 2nd to McCluskey in Spokane, had been injured and when I saw his 6:37 at the Pearl Street Mile, I thought he was still in recovery mode. Longmuir and I ran into each other at packet pickup and he told me he had had surgery, if I remember correctly, just a couple of months ago and was slowly coming back. That raised doubts about his ability to contend but I have occasionally been amazed by how fast some Masters runners do recover from injuries. If you take Longmuir out of the equation, then it looked to me like McCluskey, Wells and Porteous, with Katz possibly figuring in if any of those three were off or if Katz's recovery was further along than I thought.
Tony Marshall (cap) has Terry McCluskey iin his sights as they head along the Mission Bay side of the course at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships in San Diego [Photo:A Snail's Pace FB post]

McCluskey did run faster than everyone else for the first 3.05 miles or so. And Katz's recovery apparently was further along, because he left Wells 15 seconds back and the others further back. Heading into the finish area, with two 60's runners and Katz sprinting for the finish line, one of the 60's runners managed to clip McCluskey's heel, sending him tumbling. McCluskey was able to get up and finished, but apparently a tick behind Katz. They both came across the line around 21:53. Wells came across in 3rd in 22:09, with Porteous next at 22:31, sharing the same time but getting the 4th place over Doc Rappole by a lean. 

Controversy There was much confusion after the finish. McCluskey thought he had still managed to get across the finish line first. The initial posted results did not include McCluskey. (The transponder/chip tag system was not up to the usual standards and I was told that a number of runners who were verified as crossing the line, did not show up on the transponder system. They had to rely on the Backup system in those cases.) When McCluskey talked with the officials, they assured him that his bib number showed up in the backup system. They asked him his time and he responded with what he thought his time was. McCluskey was then inserted as the first place finisher, and appeared on the new posted results as the winner prior to the Awards ceremony. The Referee had not realized how close it was because he was the only official and he was busy with other matters at the time and did not witness either the fall or the close finish. He did not have time right then to view any finish line video. Katz did not protest at that time. After seeing the initial posting, which showed him winning, he went back to the hotel to shower. He did not find out about the change until the awards system. He did not protest then. McCluskey did not file a protest against the 60's runner who had, in his mind, interfered with him because he did not want to get a guy disqualified when it did not change the outcome of the race. At the Awards Katz was awarded Silver, McCluskey Gold. And that's where it would have stayed except that it was brought to the referee's attention by another party, not Rick Katz, that they had a video showing that Katz had actually crossed the finish line first. This was well after the race was over; I am not sure if it was even the same day. The Referee then had the timer examine the backup system (later in the week) more closely and verified that Katz had crossed the finish line ahead of McCluskey. 
What of the potential foul against McCluskey? No official had witnessed the altercation so no ruling could be made as to whether the interference rose to the level of a foul. Apparently any foul ruling must be on the basis of an Official viewing the incident directly or (and I am not sure of this) viewing video of the incident. The Referee, several days later, issued an Official Referee's report summarizing the situation. This was entirely outside the Protest Period and was permitted under the rules as 'correcting an administrative error.' The Referee notes that the race was severely understaffed with officials. The Referee, Bill Quinlisk, was the only official available during the race. There was no official stationed at the Finish Line. there was no official camera pointing from behind the finish line up to the final part of the course. The only video at the finish line was a home video camera that was jerry-rigged to one of the Finish Line standards, by order of the referee. Otherwise there would have been no video camera whatsoever. The Referee stated that the video was inconclusive as to who crossed the line first. In those circumstances it was also impossible to rule on a potential foul; there were no officials to see the incident and it could not have been captured on official video. The backup system showed Katz ahead of McCluskey. So the final official results were changed to these as final:

Rick Katz 21:53   Terry McCluskey 21:54   Ronald Wells 22:09

Irene Terronez ran a 32:59 5K at the Senior Games. No other competitor had a recent time under 40 minutes. Patricia Bentz's 41:57 5K was much faster on an age-grade adjusted basis than Virginia Lopez's XC outing at the 4 Mile XC Championships at Balboa Park.
This time the prediction for first held up perfectly as Terronez ran very close to her 5K road time in taking the win in 33:25.  But Lopez proved me worng; her XC prowess enabled her to cross the finish line in 45:55, finishing almost 4 minutes ahead of Bentz.
Irene Terronez 33:25   Virginia Lopez 4:55   Patricia Bentz 49:46

Four runners were expected to contend for the podium with Tony Marshall the favorite off his 20:02 for second place in the M70 contest at the Carlsbad 5000 in the spring. The one most likely to upset his apple cart was Doug Goodhue, Hall-of-Famer and owner of more National records than I can keep track of. He captured the crown at Club XC last December by over 6 minutes, and took the 8K title in Virginia Beach by over 7 minutes. Things finally got closer in Atlanta when Jan Frisby, who has a few national titles of his own, showed up. The winning margin for Goodhue was still two minutes. But Frisby confided that the margin would have been less had he not tweaked his hamstring [I think I got that right] a week before the race. He proved that point in Flint when he upset Goodhue at the Road Mile Championships, winning by a fraction of a second and a good lean! Whether that can carry over to the XC turf and a longer race would be an open question but he could be in the mix. The other new contender is Len Goldman; this is his first National Championship race since turning 75. Although they wer ein different divisions, he and Goodhue ran on the same course at the same time last December in Spokane. Goodhue ran 50 seconds faster on their 8K course. Goodhue ran 21:24 in Atlanta and Goldman ran a couple of 5k's in 21:28 and 21:49. All that promised a barn burner of a race! 
It was a good race but by the third loop it was clear that Goodhue could not quite keep up with Marshall on a 5 Km XC course. Marshall had almost a half minute margin by the end. And Goldman is still a bit behind Goodhue, finishing a half minute back in 3rd. Frisby is still a bit away at distances longer than a mile, coming across the line just off the podium in 4th with a 23:33. If he can stay healthy and keep up with his training, watch out for him in the 2020 Grand Prix! 
Tony Marshall 21:37   Doug Goodhue 22:06   Len Goldman 22:35

Keith Witthauer glides along the turf at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships in San Diego (Photo: Cal Coast FB post-Photographer-Philip Nevenhoven)


The San Diego Track Club entered a Women's 80's team, which is unusual in Cross Country Championships. They competed with each other as there were no other entries. The 'leader of the pack' on Saturday was Henrietta Frankum who took the win in 45:35. Martha Walker  was only a half minute back in 2nd. Once Donna Gookin came across the line in 3rd, they had a real celebration!
Henriette Frankum 45:35   Martha Walker  46:01   Donna Gookin 54:11

The Men's race in this division was hotly contested, with one unattached athlete, and runners from 4 different teams. I figured John Elliott was the favorite; he has won many national championships, including the 5K national Championship in Atlanta this year in 28:53. Richard Williams took the title at Club XC in Spokane, ran 31:20 in the America's Finest City 5K. That looked good for 2nd if not first. The other athlete who could be a factor was Elmo Shropshire who ran a 32:05 to win the (road) 5K title at the Senior Games. I have since learned that Shropshire also ran 7:46 to finish 4th in the 1500 Meters. That speed can help if a race is close.
Whether it was greater speed for finishing or perhaps that the 32:05 he ran was not all out, is unclear. Sometimes in these big events like Senior Games or even the USATF Outdoor TF Championships, athletes are competing in multiple events so it may make sense to run cautiously and save energy for your next event. What is clear is that Shropshire was able to pull away from Elliott to enjoy an 11 second margin by the finish, crossing in 29:44. Elliott took 2nd. Williams was unable to stay within two minutes of those two but he was well ahead of 4th place finisher, James Kurtz.
Elmo Shropshire 29:44   John Elliott 29:55   Richard Williams 32:42

Suzi Falco took the Gold Medal unopposed, running 44:30, to top the 80-84 winning time.
Suzi Falco 44:30

Warren Osborn took the 85-89 Gold Medal at the Balboa Park 4 Mile XC  race in 46:06. Edward Gookin ran 46:43 at the Carlsbad 5000 this past spring. That is a huge difference in pace. I could find no recent results for Al Ray who is a member of the Atlanta Track Club but did not run in the 5K Championship this year.
Osborn had no trouble in flying to victory in 33:24. Gookin claimed Silvera dozen minutes later. Ray took the Bronze Medal.
Warren Osborn 33:24   Edward Gookin 46:25   Al Ray 53:10


 [In this section, all references to place are to place in the team competition. Any runners who are unattached or from incomplete teams are not counted. That means a runner who finished 4th in a given age division might well finish better than that in the team competition. In women's races and men 60+ races, teams are allowed to score based on the first 3 runners; in Men's 40+ and 50+ divisions, teams need the standard 5 athletes to get a complete score. ]


This division was primarily a dust up between the Impala Racing Team (Impala) out of the San Francisco Bay area, the Prado Racing (Prado), out of San Diego and the San Diego Track Club (SDTC). SDTC got off  to the quick start with Earle taking the win, but Prado kept pace when Corno took 2nd 11 seconds later. The Impala's Couch came 3rd so no one was out of it yet. SDTC kept the pressure on when Earle's teammate, Kimberly Mueller, claimed 4th. Fifth place went to Donna Mills-Honarvar of A Snail's Pace (Snails). Twenty-four seconds after Mueller took 4th, Prado's Celestine Arambulo captured 6th, giving them 8 points to SDTC's 5. It could still go either way. After Jill Braley of Atlanta took 7th, Prado's Angela Moll  finished 8th. That gave Prado the first complete score . It was Prado with 16 and SDTC with 5 points and counting. They needed their 3rd runner, Victoria Barana or Eva Lozano, to finish better than 11th to win. As it turned out, they came across the finish line in 9th and 10th, giving SDTC the win with 14 points, a 2 point win over Prado. The Impalas beat all the rest of the teams but could not keep pace with the leaders. Julie Ann Dougery and Liz Gottlieb finished 12th and 14th to give Impala 29 points and 3rd place. That gave them a 19 point bulge over Team Rogue, with the Atlanta Track Club (Atlanta) another 7 points back. The Snail's, SDTC 'B', and Perros Bravos (PB's) followed in 6th through 8th. Two home teams defended the San Diego turf, but only one could win.
San Diego Track Club 14   Prado Racing 16   Impala Racing 29

John Gardiner leads Dan Lesser gray singlet and Ivan Lieben as they try to maintain contact with the lead pack at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships in San Diego (Photo: Cal Coast FB post-Photographer-Philip Nevenhoven)
The two true home teams were boomRunning (boomR) and Prado both based out of San Diego. The Cal Coast Track Club (Cal Coast), their coastal neighbors a few miles to the north, are outside rivals. To that mix add West Valley Track Club (West Valley) from the SF Bay area and Garden State Track Club (GSTC) from New Jersey, and you have plenty of rivalries. To be frank, GSTC's main priority was probably to pick up Grand Prix points; cracking the podium would be an incredible bonus. Sallberg and Cook got Cal Coast off to a great 1-2 start, and Gardiner was not far back in 7th, giving Cal Coast 10 points from their first 3 runners. Davey, Yuen, and Lieben took 3rd, 6th, and 9th for 18 points from their first three. They were behind but within striking distance. boomR was only 4 points back with Dailey, Lesser, and Raura taking 4th, 8th and 10th for 22. Batterson, Ryan, and Turner gave Prado 5th, 12th and 14th for 31. GSTC ran a tight 4 man pack that finished within 24 seconds of one another. They took 16th through 19th for 70 points out of 4 athletes. Montgomery and Mullane finished 11th and 13th to give West Valley 42 points and the win. boomR was next to complete their scoring with Robert Verhees and David Lipke in 15th and 20th to give them 57 points. Now it was a question of how soon Cal Coast's 4th and 5th runners would come in. They needed to tally less than 47 points between them. Luckily for Cal Coast, Whittington came in right after Lipke in 21st and was followed 17 seconds later by Cox in 23rd, giving Cal Coast 54 points and the 2nd place trophy. 
Kurt Whittington R and Michael Connors L kicking on in to the Finish Line at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships in San Diego (Photo: Cal Coast FB post-Photographer-Philip Nevenhoven)

Garden State's Zamek split the last two Cal Coast runners; his 22nd place gave Garden State 92 points and a chance for 4th. But when Stange and Ray claimed 26th and 27th, that closed off Prado at 84 and gave them the 4th place finish. Garden State was happy with their 5th place, nonetheless and the 60 Grand Prix points it gave them. If they win at Tulsa, they could well take their 2nd Club Grand Prix M40+ title.
West Valley Track Club 42   Cal Coast Track Club 54   boomRunning 57

The A and B teams for SDTC squared off with the Genesee Valley Harriers (GVH), the Impalas, the Snails, and the Southern Cal Track Club (So Cal). Wolski drew first blood when she ripped across the finish in 19:34. But 45 seconds later, the Impalas were right back in it with Gudmundsdottir claiming 2nd. Forty seconds later SDTC's Stuart came 3rd, followed closely by Zihlmann of the Snails in 4th. Except for GVH they were all still very much in the hunt. Shore finished almost at the same time giving the Impalas 7th and 7 points on two athletes. But SoCal's Bonilla answered in 6th to give them 7 points also. It would come down to the 3rd runner, as it often does. When  the Impalas' Brennan-Erler came across 9 seconds later, that gave the team 14 points and the win! Morris finished 8th to give the Snails 12 points on 2 runners and Bischoff finished 9th to give GVH their first points. SDTC's Morris took 10th for 13 team points on 2 athletes. Who would get their final scoring runner in first, SDTC or Snails, or would GVH pack it in to steal the 2nd place awards at the last minute? Longworth and Keller of the Impalas took 11th and 12th, pushing all other team's scorers back 2 places. Then GVH's Gregorich came next in 13th, giving them some hope. So Cal's Lee finished next in 14th  to give them 21 points and 2nd place. Magnussen finished in 15th to give GVH 37 points. Herrin finished 16th to close off SDTC's scoring at 29 and ice the final podium spot. Now it was a question of waiting to see if the Snail's 3rd runner would finish 24th or better. The uncertainty was resolved shortly after when Dellinger finished 22nd to give the Snail's 4th. GVH had to be happy with 5th place and the 60 GP points!
Impala Racing Team 14   Southern Cal Track Club 21    San Diego Track Club 29

Members of A Snail's Pace Women's Teams [J. Dellinger 21 P. Galambos 32 L. Morris 66 D. Mills-Honarvar 61 S. Zihlmann 109 S. Nunez the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships in San Diego (Photo: A Snail's Pace FB post]

It seems odd to have a National XC Championship and not have the Greater Springfield Harriers in the hunt. But they have had a tough year with injuries. As they wrapped up the Grand Prix title despite that, they decided to stay home and heal up for the 2020 season which will kick off at Lehigh in December. With Atlanta, Cal Coast, GVH, and the Jamul Toads (Toads) contesting the Championship there would be plenty of fireworks! GVH's Nier kicked things off with an upset win, but Cal Coast answered a few seconds later with Cushing-Murray and Peterson, taking 2nd and 3rd. When Cal Coast's Connors zipped across the line in 4th a half minute later, it looked like the hand-writing was 'on the wall' as Cal Coast had 9 points from their first 3 runners. As long as their 4th and 5th runners ran reasonably well, Cal Coast would prevail. Walsh got the Toads going with a 5th place and Stricklanddid the same for Atlanta in 6th place. Flanders came next in 8th to give GVH 9 points on two. They would be behind still with their next runner, but if he finished soon, the race would get tight.Eleven seconds later, D. Bischoff did just that, beating Atlata's Droze to  the line by 2 seconds. That gave GVH 16 points on 3 runners, still well behind Cal Coast's 9 but not out of it. Of course they had to worry about Atlanta and the Toads too. Atlanta struck next with Slavens finishing 10th to give them 25. They were just as far behind GVH as GVH was behind Cal Coast. The Toads needed the next couple of runners to have a chance. Everyone else was looking for #'s 4 and 5 to close out their scoring. Carr got some Cal Coast cheers as he finished 11th--just one more now. Balcom's 12th gave the Toads their 2nd scorer and Dragstedt's 13th gave Atlanta their 4th scoring runner and 38 points. That gave GVH plenty to wory about. You can imagine the Cal Coast cheers when Morales finished in 14th, to close out Cal Coast's scoring at 34 and cement the win! The Toads were cooking now with Castro in 15th and Stevenson in 17th! They were split by GVH's Tchamov in 16th, giving GVH 32 points on 4 athletes and they were back ahead of Atlanta by 6 points. It was down to #5 vs. #5. Six seconds after Stevenson finished, GVH's Van Kerkhove sped across in 18th, closing out GVH's scoring at 50 points for 2nd place. Another 8 seconds saw Atlanta's Bailey finish in 19th so Atlanta claimed 3rd with 57. When Wallbank finished in 21st that gave the Toads 70 points and a 4th place finish in a National Championship--not bad!
Cal Coast Track Club 34   Genesee Valley Harriers 50   Atlanta Track Club 57
Cal Coast Track Club Members [L to R front: Kevin Carr, Luis Morales, Matthew Simpson, Chrustian 'Cush' Cushing-Murray, and Bradley Peterson; L to R back: Bill Amor, Coach Bill Sumner] in post-race glory at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships in San Diego (Photo: Cal Coast FB post-Photographer-Philip Nevenhoven)

The SDTC was looking for another 'home town' victory in this division, but they would have to contend with the Boulder Road Runners (Boulder) and the 2018 Club Grand Prix winners, Team Red Lizard (Red Lizard) from Oregon. Symmonds got things going for SDTC with the win. But she was followed 15 seconds later by Groesz of the Red Lizards; 20 seconds later, her teammate Ray gave them the earl lead with 5 points on two runners. The Red Lizard's 3rd runner, Gerl, typically finishes within a half minute or so of Groesz, but she had an off day. That gave room for SDTC to claim the title when Powers and Martin  claimed 4th and 5th to give SDTC ten points and another team win in Mission Bay! Gerl finished 8th to give the Red Lizards 13 points and 2nd place. That helps them in their Club Grand Prix contest with Atlanta. Boulder's Peter, Antos and Kirsch took 9th through 11th for 30 points and 3rd place.
San Diego Track Club  10   Team Red Lizard 13   Boulder Road Runners 30

Even without Atlanta, who wrapped up the Club GP in Flint, this was a highly contested deivision, with 8 contenders: Cal CoastA&B, the Kansas City Smoke (the Smoke), Prado, SDTC A & B, So Cal, andToads. The Toads showed they were a team to be reckoned with in this division.  Lebold took the top spot,  to give them the early lead. Twenty seconds later Enicks nipped Uzwiak by a single second to give So Cal 2 and the Smoke 3. Only 15 seconds passed and Hunt put Prado on the board with 4. Thse teams could all still hope for a win, but those hopes were dashed when Sist and Ruland, of the Toads, finished 5th and 6th. That closed their scoring with 12 points and the win. Nelson took 7th to put Cal Coast on the board. Prado's McEntee took 8th , giving Prado two runners in and 12 points. Thirteen seconds later, McCormack answered for the Smoke, giving them also 12 points from 2 runners. It looked like Cal Coast had no hope for a podium position. But then Subith and Griego finished 10th and 11th to suddenly close off Cal Coast's scoring at 28. 
Jayson Fultz L and Sheldon Subith R stride for stride at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships in San Diego (Photo: Cal Coast FB post-Photographer-Philip Nevenhoven)

Could Prado or the Smoke get their 3rd runner in before the 16th slot? Prado was able to answer positively as Wagner took 15th, giving Prado 27 points and a one point margin over Cal Coast. They had the Silver Team Medals. McDermott came up just short so the Smoke landed in 4th with 30 points. Tp finish just two points off the podium at a national Championship is pretty hot stuff--just what you might expect from the Smoke!
Jamul Toads 12   Prado Racing 27   Cal Coast Track Club 28

The Impalas and the SDTC contested this one. Ths time the northern California runners had the edge. It was a close matchup head to head, but at each position, #'s 1,2,3, the Impalas came out on topt. It was closest up front where Rowland nipped Young to give the Impalas a 1 to 2 lead. Then Herman came in alomst three minutes ahead of Hult; Impalas 4, SDTC 6. The order was maintained when Williams took 5th for the Impalas, giving them 9 points and the win. Allen came in 6th for SDTC to claim the Silver Medals and 2nd place.
Impala Racing Team 9   San Diego Track Club 12

This paragraph will not cover the controversy in any detail. See the M70-74 section of the Age Division reports. The initial results for 2nd and 3rd were reversed by a Referee Report on an administrative error.

This was the most hotly contested division on the day, with 9 teams vying for this National Championship podium: Ann Arbor Track Club (AATC), Atlanta A&B, Boulder, Eastside Runners (Eastside), GVH,Tamalpa Runners (Tamalpa), San Diego Striders (Striders), San Diego Track Club. Marshall gave the Striders the early lead when he zoomed across the line in 1st. Sixteen seconds  AATC's McCluskey and Boulder's Katz finished in a virtual tie with Katz awarded 2nd and McCluskey 3rd. That put them both on the board. McCluskey's, old running partner, Goodhue  took 4th just 12 seconds later. But Wells of the Striders was only 3 seconds back in 5th. That gave the Striders 6 on two runners with AATC at 7 on 2 runners. Tamalpa's Porteous and Goldman took 6th and 8th to give them 14 on two runners and slot into 3rd at that point. Even though Porteous and Goldman were only separated by 4 seconds, GVH's Rappole separated them and matched Porteous for time but finished 7th. But GVH was on the board! Reynolds came 9th to give Boulder 11. At that point it was Striders 6, AATC 7, Boulder 11, Tamalpa 14 and GVH at 7 but with only 1 runner in yet, so at least 17 points. When May came in 10th for GVH that gave them 17. They needed their next runner to be close. But all of the teams needed their third runner in. This pdium would be sorted in the trenches! Learned gave Atlanta their first scorer at 11, and then the first shoe dropped when Boulder's Frisby came across in 12th, giving Boulder a complete score at 23. That lead only lasted 4 seconds, though, as Lutes of the Striders took a lucky 13, to give them the win, 19 to 23. Eastside's Andersen took 14th to put them on the board. A half minute later Yeates closed off GVH's scoring at 15th, giving them 32 points and hope for the podium. But 7 seconds later, Carlin (your reporter) fnished 16th to give AATC 23 points and a tie for 2nd on points. Boulder takes 2nd on the tie-breaker. AATC in third, GVH 4th (32 pts.). Tamalpa in 5th (32), followed by Eastside (56), Atlanta A (60), SDTC (86), and Atlanta B (95). Wow-that was close!
San Diego Striders 19   Boulder Road Runners 23   Ann Arbor Track Club 23 

The San Diego Striders Men's 70 and Up Team [L to R:Gordon Lutes, Steve Doyle, Tony Marshall, unknown- perhaps Ron Wells, and Daniel Diehr enjoy the fruits of victory

This was a home town affair with the San Diego Striders going against the SDTC. But it was no contest. The top 3 runners from the Striders, Williams, Osborn, and Kurtz, came in 1-2-3 for a perfect score of 6. The SDTC was happy to take 2nd in a National Championship as Temples, Gookin, and Frankum combined for 15 points. 
San Diego Striders 9   San Diego Track Club 15

Congratulations to all of the teams and individuals who competed. Especially in the team contests, many athletes run even when they are not at their best. Some are injured but run anyway. Others are not currently injured but may have lost training time to an injury or other interruption. Sometimes runners who led their teams to glorious victory just a year or two earlier and slugging it out in the trenches for a point or two so their team can finish just a little higher and get 5th rather than 6th!