Friday, January 17, 2020

Masters Championship Races at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships-Preview

January 17 2020. San Diego, CA. Like their feathered friends, storied for their return to Capistrano, a few miles north, Masters Runners are returning to the shores of Mission Bay for the latest installment of the USATF Cross Country Championships, often referred to as Cross Nationals to distinguish them from Club Cross. Many raced here in October for the 5 Km Masters Cross Country Championships. Saturday morning, January 18th, the races go off at 9:30 AM (Women 6 Km), and 10:30 AM (Men 8 Km) kick off a full day of racing with USATF Junior and Open Championships following. The forecast calls for upper 50’s, partly cloudy skies and gentle winds, a perfect day for XC!
The Gun Sounds! The Masters Women were off and running at Mission Bay in October. Photo:A Snail's Pace FB post

Overall National Championships
The Women's race is first. Lorilyn Bloomer, Kimberly Mueller, and Marisa Sutera Strange will meet again. Last October, Oregon's Bloomer had the best day of the  three, finishing 3rd, with San Diego's Mueller 5th and Strange, from the Northeast 7th. With only 34 seconds between Bloomer, Mueller, and Strange, reversals are possible. 
Kimberly Mueller finishing 2nd to Hilary Corno at the 2019 Dirt Dog Cross Country Championships in November FB photo posted by K Mueller

Perhaps Strange had an off day in October? Eight months earlier in Tallahassee, she was on her game as she won the 2018 edition of Cross Nationals. Can she repeat? At the age of 56 it would be an astounding accomplishment. 
Marisa Sutera Strange far left pushes the pace with the rest of the lead pack, L to R Jill Braley, Sarah Barber, and Laura Bosley on her way to the Overall win at 2019 Club Cross in Tallahassee

Several others in the field could factor into the podium race. Grace Padilla, the champion of the 2016 Cross Nationals edition in Bend, OR, did not compete this past October. Padilla edged Mueller for 7th by 2 seconds at 2018 Club Cross in Spokane. But Padilla finished further back in Bethlehem this year, 14th, although 4 seconds ahead of Strange. It could have been that the muddy conditions hindered her more than others, or it could have just been an off day. In either case, she will be looking for a good outing at Mission Bay. 
Grace Padilla heading for a top-10 finish at 2018 Club Cross in Spokane Photo-Mike Scott

With a 1:25 Half Marathon and a 3:07 NYC marathon last fall, Eva Lozano has strength. Her outing at the Balboa Park 4 Mile XC race, where she finished behind Amy Halseth, shows that she can handle Cross Country. It will be a fascinating race to watch. Technically Strange is the defending champ, but she lost to Bloomer three months ago on this same course. So Bloomer enters as the favorite. Padilla beat Strange by 4 seconds in Spokane. But if Strange has a good day, it could end differently; she is a competitor.
Lorilyn Bloomer       Kimberly Mueller     Grace Padilla
Front of the Pack at Mission Bay in October Photo: Cal Coast FB post-Photographer-Philip Nevenhoven

Jacques Sallberg and David Angell renew their rivalry in the Men’s race. Angell finished 3rd, with Sallberg 5th at 2018 Club Cross, while Sallberg won both Cross Nationals and Club Cross competitions this past year in Tallahassee and Bethlehem.  
Jacques Sallberg closes in on the win at Mission Bay in October Photo: Cal Coast FB post-Photographer-Philip Nevenhoven

Eric Blake, who bested Angell on the roads at the 10 Km Championship in Dedham and finished a close 2nd at the USATF-NE Cross Country Championships, will also challenge. Blake was only 8 seconds back from Michael Gordon, who finished 5th at Club Cross last month. He will challenge for the win. The race in Bethlehem was an anomaly for Angell; his preparations went well but on the day, he did not have his normal outing and was not close to the lead pack. He will certainly be looking for redemption at Mission Bay. 
David Angell leading Jacques Sallberg and John Gardiner at 2019 Cross Nationals in Tallahassee Photo-Mike Scott

John Gardiner was on the Cross Nationals podium last year in Tallahassee, within a half minute of Angell, and only a little further back in Spokane. He was actually closer to Angell in Bethlehem but not to Sallberg. If things break his way, he could be on the podium. Solomon Kandie ran a 33:36 10K in Albuquerque last fall and a 1:14:36 Half Marathon in the spring. Paul Smith has a 56:35 Sactown10 Miler to his credit, along with a 2:49:35 at the California International Marathon. His teammate, Jesse Barragan, ran 34:38 in Spokane, finishing a half minute behind Joshua Gordon. All 4 could factor into the podium race. Sallberg is running extremely well right now on the turf, and he is the defending champion from Tallahassee. It would be tough to pick against him winning. I expect Angell to bounce back from an off day, but Blake is a tough customer as he showed in Dedham.
Jacques Sallberg     Eric Blake     David Angell

Age Grading National Championships
Age-Grading levels the playing field across Masters competitors of all ages by comparing that athlete’s performance to the projected World’s Best for the runner’s age and gender. Age Division Championships sort out who is the best runner within a given 5-year age group. Age-grading sorts among those Champions, and sometimes runner-ups, to figure out who has run the best for their age. The runners with the top age grading scores are considered to be the best Masters runners across all age divisions. Strange, 56, who took the age-grading title last October, and Jane Treleven, 71, who finished 2nd should be at the top again. 
Age-Grading Podium at Mission Bay in October [L to R- Jane Treleven, Carmen Ayala-Troncoso, Marisa Sutera Strange] Photo: San Diego Track Club FB post

Treleven apparently celebrated a birthday between last fall's 5 Km race and this one; that will help her to keep the other challengers at bay. Jeanette Groesz, 70, finished 5th last October but was on the podium in Spokane. Bloomer, 47, finished 7th in San Diego last October.  Laura Bruess, 57, finished 10th age-grading at Bethlehem; the only one who beat her there and is entered Saturday is Strange.
Marisa Sutera Strange     Jane Treleven     Jeanette Groesz

On the Men’s side, Nat Larson, 2019 Harrier of the Year, 57, and Joe Sheeran, 62, who aspires to the title in 2020, are the co-favorites. 
Joe Sheeran well ahead, with no one in sight at the 2019 Club Cross 60+ race at Lehigh last month Photo - Mike Scott

They have been at or near the top of the heap for the last year in 50+ and 60+ respectively. Sheeran finished 2nd to Rick Becker in M60+ at Spokane; Larson won the M50+. Cross Nationals in Tallahassee was the only event where Larson and Sheeran ran in the same championship race; Larson had the honors, 90.42 to 89.74. 
Christian Cushing-Murray, 50-54, L and Nat Larson, 55-59, R heading for the top finish in their respective divisions at 2019 Cross Nationals in Tallahassee

Larson was on the comeback from a niggling injury at Club Cross in December; Sheeran scored 92.44 in the M60+ race as Larson 'only' managed an 88.8. If Larson is back at the top of his game, it will be fun for the spectators to see who emerges at the top of age-grading. They will run in the same race, as they did at Tallahassee. The race not mentioned is the Masters 5 Km XC in San Diego. Larson did not enter. But instead of Sheeran winning the top age grade award, as many expected, Sallberg ran so fast that he took the age-grading title along with the Overall win. Sallberg loves the course at Mission Bay; if he has another day like the one he had last October, he has a shot at another double, winning overall and age-grading. Mike Blackmore, 57 at the time, outpointed Sheeran in Tallahassee to finish 2nd to Larson with a 90.01.  His Bowerman team did not contest the 50+ race at Bethlehem so we lack recent direct evidence of his fitness. If he is at the top of his game, he could win it all. But another Bowerman runner is even more likely to contend. Blackmore ran well at the Stumptown #5 XC race in Oregon with a 29:59; his teammate, Paul Smith, 55, ran even better with a 28:15. [Note: There are two Paul Smith's in the Championships, one in 40-44 and this one in 55-59.] Blackmore is now 58 but if Smith can still run a minute and a half faster, he gets the higher age grade score. Craig Godwin's 35:08 at Club Cross earned the 52-year-ol a 6th best age-grading score in the M40+ race.
Jacques Sallberg     Nat Larson     Joe Sheeran

Age Division National Championships
Age Division National Championships will be contested in 5-year divisions from 40-44 to 90-94. Safe bets include Gunnar Linde, 91, who is unopposed in Men's 90-94, as is Warren Osborn in 85-89. Madeline Bost is in a similar position in 80-84 on the Women’s side. They will miss the thrill of competition but enjoy their victories, no doubt. Otherwise there is spirited competition in every division. 
Three of the contenders mentioned for Overall Champion are in other divisions. Kimberly Mueller and Eva Lozano should go 1-2. Amy Alzina and Juliet Wahleithner should contest for the final podium spot and appear closely matched. Alzina ran a 1:07:37 10 Miler in Santa Barbara in April and Wahleithner ran 1:07:59 in the Sactown 10 Miler. Alzina is apparently a distance specialist; I can find no serious races shorter than a 15K in the last 7 years. Wahleithner is more versatile, with Half Marathons in the 1:28-1:29 range and 5K's in the 19:02 to 19:57 range. Alzina has a faster half marathon at 1:26:47 but it is a 'Mountains to Beach' HM which suggests times are faster than most, just due to the course. As both of Wahleithner's are out and backs in Fresno, I call those roughly even as well. I can find a XC result for Wahleithner, a 27:38 in a 4 Mile Pacific Association event. I can find no results for Alzina in the So Cal Association XC series. 
Kimberly Mueller     Eva Lozano     Juliet Wahleithner
Sallberg is in 45-49, but Angell, Blake, Kandie and Smith are all in this division. As suggested above, Angell and Blake should battle for the Overall win and, in the process, sort out two-thirds of the division podium. Smith seems just a bit faster than Kandie so I predict him for 3rd place.
Eric Blake     David Angell     Paul Smith

As suggested in the Overall section, Bloomer is favored to win overall. If so she takes this division as well. But Grace Padilla will be nipping at her heels all the way unless, of course, she decides the best strategy is to go out hard and make Bloomer catch her. With a 19:14 Crazy 8's 5K XC result and a 1:27:06 Yosemite Half Marathon, Kristen Reyes should be right there with Bloomer and Padilla. 
Lorilynn Bloomer     Grace Padilla      Kristen Reyes
Masters Women lined up at the start waiting for the gun to sound at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championship at Mission Bay in October Photo posted on FB by A Snail's pace

Sallberg should take the Overall title and this division crown along the way. His teammate, John Gardiner, should not be far back. Joshua Gordon was a minute back from Gardiner at Club Cross in Bethlehem but was only 12 seconds back at Spokane last year. It could well be that the best of the rest is Joseph Galvin, running for the Marine Corps. He ran 59:23 at the Army 10 Miler and 1:25:05 at the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon. Underestimate a Marine at your peril. Nonetheless, he will need an exceptional day to make the podium in this tough division!
Jacques Sallberg     John Gardiner     Joshua Gordon

Nancy Thomas is the newcomer in this age division. She was always a podium threat in the 45-49 division. She is favored to take the 50-54 division title at these Championships. She came in 24 seconds ahead of her closest rival, Tania Fischer, in Bethlehem. Thomas bested Fischer by 20 seconds at Spokane. 
Nancy Thomas far left strides sharply round the bend on the way to a top-20 finish overall at 2018 Club Cross in Spokane Photo - Mike Scott

It does not seem that anyone else in the division can stay with those two. Kathleen Cushing-Murray was close to Fischer a couple of years ago but has finished well back at the last 2 Club Cross competitions. She was closer this year than last so may be coming back from injury or time away for other pursuits. The best bet for the final podium spot appears to be Maureen Friend, who ran 21:10 at the Crazy 8's 5 Km XC event. 
Nancy Thomas     Tania Fischer     Maureen Friend

Craig Godwin enters as the favorite. He ran against Christian Cushing-Murray, Matt Farley, and Mark Hixson at Bethlehem, emerging in 3rd place in the division, ahead of all 3 who will oppose him in this race. 
Craig Godwin digs for the finish line and a 3rd place finish at 2019 Club Cross at Lehigh Photo - Mike Scott

The closest was Hixson, 49 seconds back. Godwin also took the age-grading title at the 15K on the roads in Tulsa with a 51:37, 4th overall.As always, the tea leaves have to be read through a somewhat murky liquid.  
Mark Hixson Far right leads runners around a muddy turn on his way to a 6th place finish at the 2019 Club Cross Championships at Lehigh University Photo - Mike Scott

Eric Hartmann did not run at Bethlehem but came in almost a minute ahead of Godwin at Spokane, but only 4 seconds ahead of Hixson. His 28:12 in the Stumptown #5 8 Km XC race suggests his conditioning was as good in November 2019 as in 2018 before Spokane. Just to make things interesting, Cushing-Murray finished 40 seconds ahead of Hartmann in Spokane. And just to confuse things a bit more, Farley finished well ahead of Cushing-Murray at this Mission Bay course last October. Wow! I guess they will have to run the race! Yee-hah!
Craig Godwin     Eric Hartmann     Mark Hixson

55-59  When a 56-year-old is in the mix for the overall win, there is little doubt who should be considered the favorite for the 55-59 division. Marisa Sutera Strange should take the title by a wide margin even though she has Laura Bruess, one of the finest 55-59 division runners in the US, in the same race. Bruess took 3rd at the recent Club Cross Championships in Bethlehem behind Strange's 1st. She had a harder time at San Diego last October where the race was stacked with talent; she took 5th behind Strange's win at that one.  
Start of the Masters Women's Race at 2018 Club Cross Championships in Spokane Photo  Mike Scott

Nancy Wilkins-Diehr was behind Bruess in both San Diego and Bethlehem; she has a shot at the podium. But Rosalva Bonilla, who had a faster time in the 50-54 division at San Diego has since aged up into this division.
Marisa Sutera Strange     Laura Bruess     Rosalva Bonilla

Nat Larson, although not quite a threat for the Overall win on the Men's side, is not far off and is one of the favorites to contend for the Age-Grading Championship. He should take the division handily. Mike Blackmore finished 22 seconds back from Larson at Cross Nationals in Tallahassee. Only one runner, Mark Zamek, finished closer in Bethlehem and he is not entered this weekend. Kevin Zimmer, who won the division last October at the 5 Km Masters in 17:59, and was a minute faster than Blackmore at 2017 Club Cross in Lexington, albeit a minute behind Larson. 
A Portion of the Men's field heads out onto the Tallahassee Cross Country course fo rthe 2019 Cross National Championships Photo - Mike Scott

Mark Tatum comes down from altitude to contest the division. He finished 2nd to Brian Pilcher at Dipsea this past year. That is roughly equivalent to a 2nd age-grading place as they handicap the race with runners starting at different times. He finished 3rd at Cross Nationals in Tallahassee behind Larson and Blackmore.
Nat Larson      Kevin Zimmer     Mike Blackmore


Nancy Simmons jumped into the USATF circuit in Flint, MI, with a big splash, taking first by 28 seconds over Patrice Combs, the very strong runner out of Atlanta. She also has some XC 'cred' from finishing 2nd, just a minute behind Bruess in 55-59 at the 2015 Cross Nationals in Bend OR. Nothing ever comes easy though. Suzanne Cordes also moved up from 55-59 this year. Cordes finished 6th at Bethlehem, 19 seconds ahead of Combs. 
Nancy Simmons takes the Road Mile win for 60-64 at the 2019 USATF Masters National Championships in Flint, MI Photo courtesy of Enmotive, Inc.
It should be quite a battle! Mo Bartley should have no trouble closing out the podium. She finished 2nd to Hall-of-Famer, Carmen Ayala-Troncoso, in San Diego.
Nancy Simmons     Suzanne Cordes     Mo Bartley

 Joe Sheeran has not lost a division cross country race since moving up to 60-64 at the 2017 Club Cross in Lexington. Dan King will continue to try. His first effort over the relatively flat San Diego XC course came up 11 seconds short. He was further back over the 8K XC course at Lehigh in Bethlehem. That course is more challenging in elevation and the footing was trickier; King was a full minute back. Anthony Uzwiak was a minute and a half behind King at Lehigh, but that was closer than either Dan Spale or Rick Bruess, two other strong runners that can compete for the podium. 
 Dan Spale, all alone in 3rd place, in hot pursuit of John Barbour and Brian Pilcher in the 60+ race at 2016 Club Cross Championships in Tallahassee

Spale took 3rd overall in the 2016 Club Cross M60+ race behind Brian Pilcher and John Barbour. The closest finisher to King at San Diego though was Michael Lebold who was 36 seconds back. The race for that final podium spot should be a killer!
Joe Sheeran     Dan King     Michael Lebold

65-69  Deborah Shea appears to be the strongest in the division based on her 27:05, good for 5th in the division at the Masters 5 Km XC in San Diego. She should be up to a challenge from Sara Cohen who ran 28:05 at the Colder Boulder 5k and 28:05 at the Colleen DeReuck Classic 4K XC.  Nancy Antos's 30:19 at San Diego is better than a 28:00 effort over 4 Km XC unless the DeReuck course is much tougher. 
Deborah Shea     Nancy Antos     Sara Cohen

Three of the top runners in this field ran at Club Cross in Spokane last year, John Hirschberger, Robert Qualls, and Tomas Rodriguez. Rodriguez took 3rd in 33:52; a minute later Hirschberger and Qualls battled to the finish separated by just 2 seconds! It appears that Hirschberger's fitness is not in the same place now. At the Urban Cow HM in October he ran 10 minutes slower this year than last; his time at the Clarksburg Country HM a month later confirmed that level of fitness. Rodriguez may be in a similar situation. I could not find XC results for him; I did find a 1:45:59 HM at Mammoth Lake for him. That race is at 7800' so it would be much faster at sea level but it still seems slower than I would anticipate. Qualls ran at both Bethlehem and San Diego, taking 3rd at Club Cross but finishing ten seconds back from Chuck Smead in the San Diego 5Km XC race.
Chuck Smead     Robert Qualls     Tomas Rodriguez

Despite the presence of top runner, Jeanette Groesz who aged up from 65-69 this year, Jane Treleven won the division in San Diego handily. Her 23:49 gave her a half minute margin over Groesz. Groesz had, in turn, a 2 minute edge over the 3rd place finisher, her teammate, Sharon Gerl. Gerl may be quite a bit faster now as that race was an anomaly; at Tallahassee earlier in the year, for example, Gerl was only a half minute behind Groesz. It will be interesting to see how Jo Anne Rowland does. On the comeback trail, she finished 4th in San Diego a minute and change behind Gerl; she should be closer this time.
Jane Treleven     Jeanette Groesz     Sharon Gerl

Rick Katz, who finished 2nd last October in San Diego, and David Dunbar, who ran 5 seconds faster in 65-69, should enter as favorites. Katz and Dunbar finished 3rd and 4th at Club Cross in Bethlehem but neither Terry McCluskey nor Gene Dykes, who went 1-2 are entered. Ignacio 'Nash' Jimenez just aged up from 65-69; that complicates things. In Tallahassee in February he ran 34:00. That was only ten seconds slower than Chuck Smead, favored to win 65-69 on the basis of his 20:37 at San Diego, a minute faster than Dunbar and Katz. Unattached, Jimenez does not race often so it is hard to interpret the lack of results since Tallahassee. The most recent event I can find before that is from 2017. 
Ignacio Jimenez cruising to a 2nd place 65-69 finish at 2016 Cross Nationals in Bend, OR

He has a history of strong XC efforts at USATF National Championships though. Jimenez beat out Katz and Lloyd Hansen for a 65-69 2nd place at the 2015 Cross Nationals in Boulder. Two years later he took 2nd in the division again at Cross Nationals in Bend OR. I am assuming if Jimenez shows up in San Diego that he is ready to roll.
Ignacio Jimenez     Rick Katz         David Dunbar

75-79 In San Diego last October Len Goldman and Jan Frisby went 3-4 behind Ray Marshall and Doug Goodhue, neither of whom is entered. Gordon Lutes was running in the 70-74 division in San Diego; he crossed the finish line 4 seconds behind Frisby. 
Jan Frisby left braves the cold at the 2017 Club Cross Championships in Lexington, KY

There is no reason to doubt the order of finish would be the same this time. But that's why we run the race!
Len Goldman     Jan Frisby     Gordon Lutes

80-84  Richard Williams and James Kurtz finished 3rd and 4th in San Diego behind Elmo Shropshire and John Elliott who stayed home this time. As in the previous Men's age division, this should make them favorites. But again there is a complication, this time in the person of Andrew Sherwood who has aged up from 75-79. His 31:17 in San Diego, good for 7th in 75-79, was well over a minute faster than Williams's. But even for Sherwood, there is a complication. Roland Cormier was a regular participant for the Shore AC in national championships. 
Andrew Sherwood navigates around a muddy turn at the 2019 Club Cross Championships at Lehigh University Photo - Mike Scott

Now that he has turned 80, he has become more active again. His credentials now include a division win at the USATF NJ 5 Km and 8 Km Cross Country Championships. His 5 Km XC time of 29:29 compares favorably with Sherwood's 31:17. The 8 Km XC shows that he also has the endurance to cope with the longer distance.

Roland Cormier     Andrew Sherwood     Richard Williams

Team Championships

While teams are not the central focus as they are at Club Cross, they are still the motivating force for many of the competitors.

W40+ The Janes Elite Racing, who took gold in Bethlehem, will try to repeat their success this weekend.To do so, they need to get past the San Diego Track Club and the Impala Track Club. It is probably too close to call between the Janes and San Diego. If Mueller and Reyes can come in ahead of all 3 Janes runners, San Diego could well win, even if the Janes have a tight pack of 3. But if one or more of the Janes can split those two up, the win could well go to the Janes. On paper I have San Diego as a slight favorite with it coming down to a half minute or less between the two teams. Impala will have a tough time keeping up but should have no trouble making the podium.  
San Diego Track Club     Janes Elite Racing     Impala Track Club
W50+ The Janes are unopposed; Cushing-Murray, Fischer, and Mary Lynch will necessarily focus on individual competition instead.  
Janes Elite Racing

W60+ The Impalas appear too strong for the competition. Simmons and Cordes should come in around 27:00 and Bartley should be within a minute or so. Boulder only brings two runners who are likely to run at that level. 
Impala Track Club     Boulder Road Runners

W70+ Team Red Lizard is a strong favorite in W70+ but with a rejuvenated Impalas team opposing them, all of the Red Lizard runners must do their job.
Team Red Lizard     Impala Track Club 

Team Red Lizard heads off on the hunt for a 60+ team win at 2019 Cross Nationals in Tallahassee R to L, Jeanette Groesz, Joanna Harper, Betsy Miller, and Sharon Gerl Photo - Mike Scott

M40+ Sallberg and Gardiner should lead Cal Coast to victory, but it will be no cakewalk. The Sports Warriors Track Club and the SRA Elite should press them all the way. On paper, Cal Coast should prevail. Sallberg should have the top time and Gardiner the 2nd best team time, with Barragan perhaps not far behind for SRA. If SRA's Scott Abbott can stay close to Barragan, that will help their cause. After those 4 it should be a dog fight with several runners from both teams capable of running in the 29 to 31:30 range, depending on how their day goes. Trevor Cox, Mark Streyver, and Kurt Whittington will need to deliver for Cal Coast, as will SRA's David Mastro, Paul Smith, and Kevin Yamamura. Even if the Sports Warriors pack their top 5 in between 29:00 and 31:30, they  will not keep up with the other two teams unless one or two of their runners, perhaps Solomon Kandie or Colin Olson, can hang up front with the other top 4. Even then, Anthony Fleg, Gavin Sosa, and Chakri Dhaouadi will have to stay tight together. Cal Coast, with the full complement of 9 runners entered, has a little more room for error if one of their top 5 on paper has an off day. The Sports Warriors have 7 and the SRA Elite the 5 needed for a complete scoring team.
Cal Coast Track Club     SRA Elite     Sports Warriors

M50+ This division features a classic West Coast shootout between the Bowerman and Cal Coast Track Clubs, with the SRA Elite close behind. Bowerman is bringing a powerhouse of a team! If their top 5 all have good days and they pack tightly as Bowerman sometimes does, they could wind 5up with the fastest team time of the day across all divisions. Matt Farley, Craig Godwin, Eric Hartmann, and Paul Smith should all come in under 30 minutes. They have 5 other runners capable of coming in just over 30:00. Cal Coast is strong but may not be able to match up with Bowerman across the board. Their top 4 of Michael Connors, Christian Cushing-Murray, Rick Herr, and Greg Keyes can also come in between 28 and 30 minutes, but then they need one of their veterans , David Olds or Ray Knerr, to run like they were a few years back and stay tight on that first four all the way to the line. It still might not be enough to match Bowerman but there would be great stories to tell! SRA brings what would ordinarily be considered a strong team. Gary Blanco, Michael Fadling, and Iain Mickle can run with the top bunch but they need two more runners in that class. It is hard to believe that a team that might crack 2:43:00 as a Team total can only manage a distant third in 50+!
Bowerman Track Club     Cal Coast Track Club     SRA Elite

Cal Coast team photo, including Coach Bill Sumner sunglasses, 2nd row at 2019 Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay Photo: Cal Coast FB post-Photographer-Philip Nevenhoven

M60+ It’s a Rocky Mountain showdown in M60+! Bragging rights are on the line. With King leading the way, Athletics Boulder should prevail, but the Boulder Road Runners won't give an inch! The Road Runners have no one who can match up with King; that gives AB a huge advantage. Jay Littlepage and Dan Spale match up well with AB's Rick Bruess and Kevin Cooper, and Chuck Smead provides close support to those two. Unless one of those three Road Runners turns in an unexpectedly fine performance, the day belongs to AB. Both teams rely on the minimum of 3 runners; the pressure is on!
Athletics Boulder     Boulder Road Runners

M70+ It’s the other way around in this division; the Boulder Road Runners should take a narrow win over the San Diego Striders. But it could go either way. Rick Katz showed in Bethlehem that he could beat Dave Dunbar, who came in a few seconds ahead in San Diego when still in 65-69. He will need to do it again on Dunbar's home turf. Similarly, James Reynolds came in well ahead of Gordon Lutes and Daniel Diehr in San Diego last October. He needs to maintain that margin. Steve Doyle gives San Diego much needed depth. He can run with Lutes and Diehr; at Tallahassee last February he came in just ahead of them.  Jan Frisby came in ahead of all three of those Striders in San Diego, but he ran into a 'mechanical' problem at Bethlehem so it will depend on whether that was momentary or had some lasting effect on training. The other question mark is Boulder's Dave Dooley. If he can run as he did at Spokane last year, it's all over and Boulder will win easily. But he only recorded a 22:00 at the DeReuck 4K cross country classic. Even allowing for altitude, that seems way slower than being equivalent to the 37:49 he turned in at Spokane. A lot will ride on who Boulder's #3 runner is, and how they fare on the day. The excitement is building!
Boulder Road Runners     San Diego Striders

Thrills and chills are in store; it should be a fabulous day for racing on Saturday! Let's do it!

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