Saturday, October 5, 2019

2019 USATF MASTERS GRAND PRIX MUSINGS-Two Championship Races Left

The 2019 USATF Masters Grand Prix circuit has concluded 6 of its 8 events, and heads to its final two races, the 5 Km Masters Cross Country (San Diego CA), and the 15 Km (Tulsa OK) on the 12th and 26th of October, respectively.
Five individual contests and three team contests already have a winner. Marisa Sutera Strange has locked up the W55 win with 5 wins and 500 points; Nat Larson has the M55 in his pocket with 495 points on 4 wins and a 2nd place; David Angell cannot be caught now with 480 points in M40; nor can Brian Sydow, in M45, with 475 points on 5 events; Catherine Radle, has an insurmountable lead with 390 points in W75. This is Angell’s 3rd consecutive Grand Prix title; he has now won the Grand Prix every full year he has been a Masters athlete. Larson also racked up his 3rd in a row and Strange has her third title in the last four years! Sydow has a 210-point lead with two events to go so he attains his first Grand Prix victory. None of Radle’s rivals are within 200 points of her total, so Radle has her first Grand Prix victory sewn up! 

Start of the Men's 40+ Race at the USATF Club XC Championships in Spokane, WA last December to Kick off the 2019 Masters Grand Prix Circuit Photo Credit-Robyn Doloughan

In the Club Grand Prix, the Atlanta Track Club has two titles already. Their W70+ team has 400 points with 4 wins, but no other team can score more than 300 points even if they would win the final two contests. Their M60+ team has again beaten back challenges from the Boulder Road Runners, Shore AC, and the Genesee Valley Harriers with 500 points. The Greater Springfield Harriers have the M50+ division sewn up with 480 points on 4 wins and a 3rd place finish. Even if one of their two closest rivals, Atlanta and GVH, would win the last two events, neither could exceed 470 points. For both Atlanta squads, this is their 2nd consecutive Grand Prix win. Greater Springfield collected their 3rd straight title. The rest of the divisions remain highly contested!

Start of the Women's Race at the USATF XC Championships in Tallahassee, Fl in February--The beat goes on-Race #2 in the 2019 Masters Grand Prix series

W40 Jill Braley has the lead at 370 points but she needs to score additional points at either San Diego or Tulsa. Otherwise Vanessa Lordi, the defending Grand Prix Champion, with 320 points, could edge her; Lordi entered both events early, but not Braley.  
Jill Braley adds to her W40 Masters Grand Prix lead with a W40 win at the USATF Masters 1 Mile Championships at the Michigan Mile, hosted by the Crim Fitness Foundation at the HAP Crim Festival of Races in Flint Michigan in late August Photo courtesy of the Crim Fitness Foundation and Enmotive Timing

W45 Alexandra Newman leads with 320 points but is pressed by Nancy Thomas with 290. However, Thomas has just turned 50; if she races again this year, she and her totals go into the W50 competition. No one else has over 200 at present so Newman can ice it by raising her total over 400 with a 6th place or better finish in San Diego. W50 Amy Fakterowitz leads at 460 points from 5 contests. The only athlete who can catch her is Mary Shah, who has 420 points on 5 races. Shah would need a 1st and a 2nd place or better in the last two races. That makes Fakterowitz a strong favorite. W55 See Done above. 
Marisa Sutera Strange heading for one of the Age Division victories contributing to her 2019 W55 Masters Grand Prix win-at the USATF 5 Km Championships at the Atlanta Track Club's Atlanta's Finest 5K in August Photo by Michael Scott

W60 This division is still highly contested. The defending Champion, Cynthia Williams, leads, with 395 points from 5 events. Her Atlanta teammate, Patrice Combs, is in 2nd and is the favorite right now. Her 390 points come from just 4 events. If she should win one of the last two events, her total would shoot to 490; if Williams won an event, that would displace her lowest of 5 scores, 65, and raise her total, but only to 430. Two other Atlanta runners, Margaret Taylor and Mireille Silva are also in the hunt. They have 380 and 350 points, respectively. Jennifer Teppo is a long shot, with 200 points on two events. She is the fastest of these talented runners. If Atlanta decides not to travel for those two contests, Teppo could still win. W65 Kathleen Allen leads, with Jeannete Groesz within striking distance. Allen has 345 points on 4 events; Groesz has 285 on 3 events. But, as in W45, Groesz is about to age up. She needs the points from the last 2 events to vie for the win. But once she competes, she ages up to the next age division and brings her points with her. Groesz will be contending, if at all, for the 70-74 title. Allen’s teammate, Cynthia Lucking is not completely out of it, but Allen is in a strong position. W70 Carol Rhodes has a big lead with 350 points on 4 events; Sharon Gerl is the one contender most likely to overtake her, with 200 points on 2 events. Gerl came in ahead of Rhodes at Cross Country Nationals in Tallahassee. If Rhodes runs the Cross Country event, she can put it out of Gerl’s reach by finishing 10th or higher. W80 Tami Graf, the defending Champion, is tied with Madeline Bost, last year’s W75 Champion. Bost has won the Grand Prix in her Age Division every year since its inception in 2014; she is a tough competitor. 
Madeline Bost captures the W80 win at the USATF Masters 1 Mile Championships at the Michigan Mile, hosted by the Crim Fitness Foundation at the HAP Crim Festival of Races in Flint Michigan in late August-Moved into a tie for the W80 lead in the Masters Grand Prix. Photo courtesy of the Crim Fitness Foundation and Enmotive Timing

One of Bost’s advantages has been that she is more willing to travel and compete than many of her potential rivals. If Graf enters the 5 Km XC in San Diego this year, that would put pressure on Bost to keep in step. Bost defeated Graf in Flint, to pull even in points. If Bost would win in San Diego, she would move ahead. Then we would have to see about Tulsa; perhaps a 15K might not be a race too far?  
Start of the 10K Championship Race at the James Joyce Ramble  in Dedham MA Photo by Michael Scott

M50 Kent Lemme, going for a ‘3-peat’, but struggling with some minor injuries this year, has the lead with 410 points on 5 events. Mike Nier has 340 points on 5 events. With his Greater Springfield team having the M50+ Club Grand Prix all locked up, it is possible Lemme will skip the last two events. If he does so, that leaves an opening for Nier to move up. M55 See Done above.  
Nat Larson closes in on one of the Age Division victories contributing to his 2019 W55 Masters Grand Prix win-at the USATF 5 Km Championships at the Atlanta Track Club's Atlanta's Finest 5K in August Photo by Michael Scott

M60 Ken Youngers won the inaugural Individual Grand Prix in 2014 when he was in 55-59 but he has not won since. He has 470 on 5 events; winning an event at this point raises his total by replacing one of his 90 point totals and moves him to 480. Roger Sayre has 390 points on 4 events. If he wins an event, he jumps to 490. It could go either way. M65 Reno Stirrat has the lead with 410 points in 5 events, but Joseph Reda has 390 points on 4 contests. He can jump ahead of Stirrat with a good result at either San Diego or Tulsa. But Stirrat can raise his total the same way. Defending Champion, Kirk Larson, is at 345 points on 4 contests. If neither Reda nor Stirrat compete in the final 2 events, Larson could be a surprise winner. A hundred points would propel him to 440 and a win if his two rivals give him the opening. M70 Lloyd Hansen, who won the 65-69 Grand Prix in 2014 and 2015, leads with 475 points on 5 events. Hansen would likely have closed the contest out at the 1 Mile Championship in Flint. He is currently injured, taking a break from running.  
Lloyd Hansen closes off the win at the USATF 10K Championships at the James Joyce Ramble in Dedham MA in April-This victory helped him build a commanding lead in the 2019 M70 Masters Grand Prix Photo by Michael Scott

Jerry Learned trails closely with 455 points on 5 events and Dave Glass follows with 415 on 5. If Hansen has to skip the last two events and Glass would win both, he too would have 475 points, but Hansen holds the 1st tie-breaker edge [head-to-head competition]. Learned can reach 485 if he would win both.  No one would want to bet against him; Learned is a gutsy runner. Terry McCluskey has 370 on 4 events; repeating his win at Spokane would vault him to 480. M75 After a long bout with a leg injury, Hall-of-Famer, Doug Goodhue, returned to form and won the Grand Prix last year for the first time since 2014. He leads this year with 395 points on 4 events; Jan Frisby is 2nd with 295 points on 3 events. Goodhue’s only loss in 4 tries was to Frisby, at the 1 Mile, and then only by a single second. Frisby has already signed up for both San Diego and Tulsa so he will push Goodhue to the max. Goodhue is very competitive and a fierce cross country runner. Before Flint, it had been several years since Frisby beat a healthy Goodhue. Most likely Goodhue will get his 2nd consecutive title. But if Goodhue does not close it out in San Diego, Frisby could push him all the way. M80 The main contenders are John Elliott who took the 75-79 title in 2014. He has 200 points from 2 wins. Sid Davis has 170 points from 2 events, and Richard Williams has 100 points on 1 event. David Turner has just aged up into the 80-84 division and brings 180 points on two events with him. He has entered at Tulsa, but not San Diego. If Elliott and Davis choose not to compete out west, Turner is the likely winner. Williams has to win in San Diego and then decide to travel to Tulsa for a 15K. M85 No contestants will have the required 3 race minimum. M90 Two athletes have qualified for the Award in this lofty age division, Nathaniel Finestone, leading with 300 points from 3 wins, and Richard Soller, with 290 points from a win and two 2nd place finishes. 
Nathan Finestone captures his third Age Division win at the USATF Masters 1 Mile Championships at the Michigan Mile, hosted by the Crim Fitness Foundation at the HAP Crim Festival of Races in Flint Michigan in late August Photo courtesy of the Crim Fitness Foundation and Enmotive Timing

If neither competes again, which seems likely, Finestone wins!

M40+ Last year’s winners, the Garden State Track Club New Balance, got off to a slow start this year but have been gathering steam. They are in 3rd with 305 points on 4 events, behind the Atlanta Track Club with 370 on 5, and GVH, with 310 on 4. The race in San Diego is likely to be quite competitive; Tulsa may be a better bet for adding points. But that strategy has its own risks; that is the last GP event-no recovering from a bad day, should it happen. GSTC-NB has strong longer distance runners, especially if the Frieder brothers are back from injury. If they would win at Tulsa, that might be enough for the GP repeat win.
M50+ See DONE above. 
M60+ See DONE above. 
Orange and Red Mix?-Atlanta Track Club & Boulder Road Runners cool down together after the 8K race at the Shamrock Marathon Weekend in March in Virginia Beach [L to R, front-M. Anderson, P. Richey, G. Braun, K. Youngers (turnd to converse) and J. Dundas (back right) Photo posted on FB by Mike Anderson

M70+ The Ann Arbor Track Club won this division last year with 500 points. They skipped two events in the spring, but they added 200 points at Atlanta and Flint. At 400 from 4 events, they are within striking distance of their archrivals, the Atlanta Track Club, with 450 on 5 and the Genesee Valley Harriers with 440 on 5. This division race is a ‘barn burner’; anyone could take it!
W40+ The Impala Racing team has 445 points on 5 events but have not quite shaken Atlanta with 380 points on 4 events. If Atlanta finishes 4th or better in one of the final two events, they vault above 445 points. But the Impalas are not standing still. This one could go either way, but it appears the Impalas are focused on getting the win. Both are entered at San Diego; if Atlanta can get the win and the Impalas finish 2nd, they would be tied going into the final race of the season. Hang on to your hats, folks-This could go down to the wire! 

W50+ The Athena Track Club has won this division every year since the Club Grand Prix started. With 300 points on 3 events, they trail GVH with 330 points on 5 events, and the Atlanta Track Club, with 450 points on 5 events.  To win Athena needs to contest the final two events and score at least 160 points. But Atlanta can still drive their score up a little. Atlanta is in the driver’s seat, but no one is counting Athena out!
W60+ Atlanta would have this one locked up if the Team Red Lizard squad were not such a strong adversary. Atlanta has 480 points on 5 events and Red Lizard has only 290 on 3. But the Red Lizards have the edge, 2-1 in head-to-head competition. If the Red Lizards win both San Diego and Tulsa, they would have 490 points and the win!

Atlanta Track Club's 60+ Team after their successful outing in Virginia Beach at the 8K Championships at the Shamrock Marathon Weekend in March in Virginia Beach [L to R M. Taylor, P. Combs, C. Williams, K. Allen] Photo posted on FB by Margaret Taylor

W70+ See DONE above.

Terrific competition is the rule! By the end of October, the winners will all be known; they will mount the stage in Bethlehem PA in December to accept the accolades of their fellow athletes.  
Masters Grand Prix Rules and complete standings for the Individual (Women, Men) and Club Grand Prix contests can be accessed through:

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