Friday, February 28, 2020

Top Masters Athletes in the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta

February 28, 2020. The 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials are this coming Saturday in Atlanta GA. Tons has been and will be written about this race, but the focus here will be on  the Masters athletes who have qualified and are listed in the Status of Entries.

It is safe to say that, other than Roberta 'Bobbi' Groner, 
Roberta Groner celebrating her 6th place Overall and first American Marathon finish at the 2019 World Championships in Doha [Photo Credit: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images via]

Abdi Abdirahman and Bernard 'Kip' Lagat, few of the other folks I will mention are getting much attention from the national media.
Bernard Lagat broke Meb Keflezighi's American Masters Marathon Record on his second attempt at the distance, running an Olympic Trials Qualifying Time of 2:12:10 [Photo Credit: Gold Coast Marathon via]

From a scan of the Status of Entries it appears that only two other male athletes are participating in the trials,  Eric Loeffler, and Alex Taylor. There are over 30 Masters athletes on the Women's side.

Another element is the priority the athlete, in conversation with Coach, assigns to the race. For the top runners, clearly making the Olympic team or not makes this the race of the year, even the race of the 4-year Olympiad, for them. Some runners had the qualification standard as their main goal and are just happy to be at the trials and have an awesome experience. Kate Landau, for example, whose qualifying time is 2:31:56, indicated that she is not tapering at all for Atlanta; the Trials will be her 'B' race while Boston is her 'A' race.

Conditions for the Race. Most people know that Atlanta is hilly. The official stats say the course has 1,389 feet of elevation, matched by an equivalent amount of descent. According to the Atlanta Track Club, that's more climb than there is at Boston but, it seems to me, perhaps not as much descent, since Boston has a substantial overall drop and Atlanta's course is an out and back. No doubt hill training, both up and down, has been an integral part of the prep for those who hope to do well. The maps below show the course layout, 3 tours around the main loop followed by 5+ miles of the main loop on the 4th circuit, kicking south then on that 4th loop for the finishing 3+ miles where the race will be decided if it is close through mile 23.
Map Showing Marathon Course for 2020 Olympic Trials in Atlanta []

A 'HeatMap' showing elevation [from:]

The weather forecast is still favorable as far as temperature and precipitation. There was some worry that it could get too warm in Atlanta at the end of February with a noontime start. Last week it was pretty wet in Atlanta. No worries about either of those any more. As of today the forecast calls for about 43 at the start, rising to 47 by the end, and partly cloudy skies. The main worry is a forecast of double-digit winds, 14-15 mph. That will hinder the runners more than help them and, if true, drops the 'feels like' to a 36 to 41 range over the course of the race. They will definitely need to make the right adjustments. If the wind is out of the NW, as forecast, each of the  3 loops will send them out to the north into a headwind for a 2-mile stretch. On the finishing loop, once they make the turn after mile 24, much of the final 2 miles will be into a head- or cross- wind.

Athlete Profiles--Previously Participated in USATF Masters National or WMA Championship
My first focus is on athletes who have already transitioned into Masters Elite status by participating in one of USATF's National Masters Championships or in a World Masters Athletics [WMA] Championship. I focus on the Women first and then move to my predictions for the race, folding the analysis of the four Masters Men into that section.

Here are the nine Masters Women who have participated in USATF Masters National Championships and also qualified and declared for the Trials, in Qualifying Time [QT] order:

Roberta 'Bobbi' Groner. The Masters entrant with the highest recent profile is Groner, who not only qualified for the Marathon at the World Championships in Doha but finished as top American and 6th overall. She ran her 2:29:09 PR in Rotterdam in April 2019; that was her QT, among the top 20 in the race. She is probably the only Masters runners whom pundits would say has a realistic chance at actually qualifying to be on Team USA for the Olympic Marathon. Nonetheless, few are putting her in the top 3. She ran in the USATF Masters 8 Km Championship last year, as part of her run-up to Rotterdam, taking the title by almost 4 minutes in 26:48. Fan-zone says: Post-race indulgence: Champagne.
Roberta Groner finishing off her 2:30:12 at the 2019 TCS NYC Marathon [Photo:]

Note: For profiles of most Olympic Trials marathoners, direct your browser to:

Kate Landau. Landau's QT of 2:31:56 came from the 2018 BOA Chicago Marathon, where she was 1st Masters, 8th overall, and 3rd US woman. A month and a half later, she took 1st in the Masters Women's race at the 2018 USATF Club Cross Country Championships. Relocated from Portland for her career, Landau is now in the Jacksonville Florida area. Landau told me that she and her coach decided to make the Trials her 'B' race; she is not tapering and continues to prep for Boston.
Kate Landau finishing off her 2:31:56 Olympic Trials Qualifier at the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon [Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Marton]
Dawn Grunnagle. Originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin, the Dallas Texas resident nailed her 2:33:14 QT  in Berlin last year. She finished 13th overall and was the 2nd American; it is a top 30 QT for Atlanta. She was a double gold medal winner at the WMA Indoor Championships in Torun, Poland last year. That Championship boasted three non-stadia events, including 10 Km and Half Marathon road races. Grunnagle was the first woman 40 or over across the line in both road races, clocking 34:24 and 1:16:25 respectively. Fan-zone says: Post-Race indulgence: Salty sweet potato fries and pumpkin cheesecake.
Dawn Grunnagle [USA kit] on her way to victory at the 2019 WMA 10K Championship in Torun, Poland

Meriah Earle. Originally from Urbana, IL, the Escondido, CA runner waited, like many others, until last December and got her 2:34:35 QT at the California International Marathon [CIM]. She finished 3rd overall and first Masters among the 72 women who beat the Qualifying Standard in that race. She has followed the Coach's dictum of road runners toughening themselves up with a little Cross Country. Earle finished 6th in the 2018 Masters Club Cross Country Championship on  a frigid December day in Spokane Washington, and won, on a  day more to her liking, the 5 Km USATF Masters Cross Country Championship in San Diego this past October. Fanzone says her favorite sports team is the Atlanta Braves. Too bad the trials are in February! [But maybe a chance for some Atlanta Braves memorabilia anyway?]
Meriah Earle with her trophy and medal for winning the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championship [Photo courtesy of San Diego Track Club]

Laurie Knowles. The fastest hometown Masters Marathoner to race Saturday in Atlanta, Knowles got her QT, 2:37:52, where I live, at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. It is also the Course record. The top 23 women in that Marathon, not to mention the top 3 women in the Half Marathon, bettered the QT required for Atlanta. A veteran of Olympic Marathon Trials, she also participated in 2008, 2012, and 2016. She led her Atlanta Track Club 40+ team to victory at the 2018 and 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships, winning overall in 17:29 and 17:34. She knows the hills of Atlanta; she runs on them all the time. Fan-zone says: Post-Race indulgence: Margaritas and Mexican food.
Laurie Knowles wins the 2018 USATF Masters National 5 Km Championship at the Atlanta's Finest 5K in Atlanta, GA [Photo Credit: Jason Getz/Getz Images]

Hilary Corno. Corno's QT of 2:42:14 came at the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon where she was the 13th US woman and 2nd masters runner across the line. Perhaps in honor of that,  the Southen California transplant from New Hampshire, specified, in the fan-zone, her post-race indulgence as Chicago Deep Dish Pizza. Along the way, she finished 2nd at the USATF Masters Half Marathon Championship in 2016 in San Diego in 1:19:55 and, most recently, took 2nd at the USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships, also in San Diego.
Hilary Corno headed for a 2:48:49 at the 2016 Boston Marathon; she would run 6 minutes faster in 2017 [Photo Credit: Matthew Muise]

Perry Shoemaker. Originally from Annapolis, MD, the Vienna Virginia resident headed for the Pacific Northwest to get her QT, at the Eugene Marathon in 2:43:33. At 48, the second oldest qualifier, Shoemaker did not start racing and training until she hit 40. The first I heard of her was when, at the age of 43, she won the 2014 USATF 12 Km Masters Championship in Alexandria VA in 44:17. She would repeat her victory the following year. In 2017 she won the USATF Masters 8 Km Championship in 29:10.
Perry Shoemaker headed to victory at the 2017 USATF Masters 8K National Championship at the Shamrock Marathon/Towne Bank 8K in Virginia Beach, VA [Photo courtesy of Race]

Kelly Griffin. Originally from Mars, PA., the North Carolina resident sought and found her QT in the Great Lakes area at Grandma's in Duluth. Griffin joined 44 other women Marathoners in beating the QT that day, finishing 38th in 2:43:34. Like Earle, Griffin ran in a recent XC Championship, Earle got her XC 'cred' on a cold day in Spokane; Griffin did the same this past year in Bethlehem, PA, navigating the muddy Lehigh course to a 6th place finish in the 2019 Club Cross Championships. Fan-zone says her favorite book is Green Eggs and Ham.
Kelly Griffin [Photo Credit:]

Melissa Hardesty. Originally from Schererville, IL, Hardesty runs out of Binghamton NY now and headed due north to get her 2:44:14 QT at the 2019 Scotia Bank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. She was the first Masters athlete across the finish line in the Women's division. Hardesty finished 96th at the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials. She made her debut at a USATF Masters National Championship when winning the 10K Championship in Dedham last April in 37:06. Like Shoemaker, she did not compete in high school or college, getting her start in road racing at the sage of 30.
Melissa Hardesty punches her ticket to the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials with a 2:42:49 at the 2015 CIM [Photo]

Athlete Profiles--Competitive Open Athletes who are now Masters Athletes in the Women's Field
Now three other Masters Women who have not participated in any USATF Masters Championships but are likely to be in the mix for a top 5 Masters finish. [Note: There is no official Masters contest in the race; it is a selection race.]

 Heather Lieberg. A 2nd grade teacher from Helena MT, Lieberg obtained her 2:34:07 QT at the relatively challenging Medtronic TC Marathon in 2019. Lieberg was 16th at the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials. Lieberg has just turned 40 and perhaps barely thinks of herself as a Masters athlete yet. I would guess her 2:34:07 at Twin Cities translates to a Grade-adusted pace that would be faster than Grunnagle's 2:33:44 at Berlin.
Heather Lieberg captures the title at the 2019 Austin Marathon in Austin, TX [Photo Credit: Spillman]

Janet Cherobon Bawcom. Bawcom finished 5th at the Olympic Trials in 2012 and matched that in 2016. Her 2016 time of 2:31:14 was less than a minute behind 4th place finisher, Kara Goucher, and a minute and a half ahead of Kellyn Taylor. In 2017 she got her QT for 2020 at the CIM where she clocked 2:35:20 while taking 7th among US women. More recently, she was 2nd American behind Maggie Montoya at the challenging Lilac Bloomsday [12K] race in 41:57 last spring. Later in the year she finished 2nd overall in the Mt. Sneffles Half Marathon in Ouray; considering her marathon times, her 1:22:25 was not fast, but it was at altitude,  mostly over 7,000 ft. A drop of 800 feet offsets the altitude partially, but it is hard to know by how much. Suffice to say that Bawcom will be ready, but not sure if her fitness will match what she brought to the 2012 and 2016 trials. That would be a tremendous accomplishment.
Janet Bawcom in Training for her Third Olympic Trials Event [Photo Credit:]

Dot McMahan. McMahan, from Rochester, Michigan, won the 2019 CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in 2:35:30 to punch her ticket to Atlanta. The conditions that day were colder and about as windy as is forecasted for Atlanta. That should work in her favor although the hills perhaps not so much. She has a wealth of Marathon Trials experience. She was 8th in 2008 at Boston, showing she can handle hills, and 9th in 2012 at Houston in 2:32:16. Her 2016 effort at LA led to a 35th place finish.
Dot McMahan wins the 2019 CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis, IN. and Qualifies for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials [Photo Credit:]


Predictions for Top Outcomes Among Masters Marathoners.
There are no Masters Championships awarded in this race; it is strictly about qualifying for the Olympic Team. Still, my previews usually contain a 'prediction' about Masters outcomes so why not for this one too. It is just for fun; the Marathon being what it is, we never know what will occur during the race. Who would have guessed that Shalane Flanagan would have problems with the heat in 2016. The wind may be the wildcard on Saturday. If double digit winds do not turn up, the race will likely go to the fastest; if the day turns rough, that adds a lot of uncertainty into the mix. Who will make the best adjustments?

Groner has a real shot at qualifying; that makes her the favorite among Masters too. Grunnagle has a faster QT than Lieberg, but also on a faster course. McMahan and Bawcom both have lots of experience and if the day goes their way, they could be among the top 3 Masters runners. My guess is that the order among Masters athletes will be: Roberta Groner      Heather Lieberg     Dot McMahan

I fold the profile into the prediction so this section is longer for the Men. The main question among the men is Bernard 'Kip' Lagat vs. Abdi Abdirahman. Lagat is older and has less marathon and less road racing experience, than Abdi, but he has more World and Olympic Championship  medals on the track. And he has come on fast in the Marathon, gaining his 2:12:10 QT  at his 2nd attempt at the distance, the 2019 Gold Coast Marathon, which advertises itself as Australia's flattest and fastest Marathon. Abdi's QT is 2:11:34, not much faster but on a tougher course, the 2019 TCS NYC Marathon. Lagat knows the hills of Atlanta, though. He took the win at Peachtree overall in 2018! If the weather is cold and windy, my guess is that slightly favors Abdi, who has much more experience than Lagat at Marathoning in tough conditions, such as at Boston in 2018. Still, Bernard is the 'Amazing Kip', one cannot count him out! 

There are two Masters marathoners who are not celebrities, Eric Loeffler, a financial analyst, and Alexander Taylor, a software engineer. Loeffler and Taylor should be well back from those Abdi and Kip, unless they run into difficulties

Loeffler, a native Minnesotan, currently from Apple Valley MN, headed out west to capture his QT of 2:17:36 at the 2017 CIM. He competed at both the 2012 and 2016 Marathon Trials. Like 67 other athletes in the Men's 2016 field, Loeffler went through the HM in under 1:10 but the heat eventually got to him and he withdrew. In 2012, he finished 77th in 2:25:05. He has envisioned himself as a Masters athlete, at least as far as Cross Country goes. He finished 2nd in the Masters race in the 2018 USATF Club Cross Country Championships in 2018 in Spokane, and took 3rd in the Masters section at the 2019 edition at Lehigh. He is no stranger to adverse conditions.

Taylor started running in graduate school to help manage stress and maintain fitness. He started chasing a Marathon QT in 2010 and finally got it this year. Taylor, out of Lincoln, MA. nailed his QT of 2:17:08 at Grandma's Marathon last June.

I will give Loeffler the edge, based on more high level competition experience. My guess at the order among these 4 Masters athletes is:
Abdi Abdirahman    Bernard Lagat    Eric Loeffler

Pre-Race Interviews with Meriah Earle, Laurie Knowles and Melissa Hardesty

As I had interviewed each of these USATF Masters Champions within the last year, I asked them to provide answers to a 'Baker's Dozen' of additional questions about fitness, prep, hills, etc. For each question answered, I use initials to indicate ME, a response from Meriah Earle, LK for Laurie Knowles, and MH for Melissa Hardesty.
Meriah Earle [#991-left] and Kate Landau [#1041-right] braving the elements at the Masters Championship Race at the 2018 USATF Club Cross Country Championships in Spokane WA [Photo: Michael Scott]

1. First and foremost, I hope you are healthy now and planning to run in the Trials this coming Saturday. If not, please let me know what went wrong. As you know, Amy Cragg is out because of health, and others who qualified will not be able to run. If you are healthy now, but had some scares or worries along the way, let me know about those and how you were able to overcome them.
ME I have been very fortunate these last few months in staying reasonably healthy. I came down with a cold immediately following CIM and have had a few minor calf issues, but the body feels good!
LK  I am definitely looking forward to toeing the line on Saturday. For the most part, I have been healthy this training cycle, but, as is always the case, there are a few aches and pains that come with training with such intensity. I have definitely made use of regular massage and chiropractic, as well as my Norma tech compression pants and foam roller! 
2. How would you rate your fitness heading into the race? On a scale of 0 to 100%. If less than a hundred, any nuances you would like to share?
ME I would say I’m at about 90% of the fitness I was at before my qualifying race in December. Wish I had a few more weeks to build fitness, but it is what it is and I’m happy with the work I was able to put in during the past 11 weeks.
MH Hmm. It's difficult to know because training for this race has been different than what I've done for prior marathons. The short answer is, I've trained, and I'm ready to run. 
LK My workouts have gone really well this training cycle. I probably only had one workout that I would call a bad workout, so for me, that’s a win for sure. That being said, I’ve definitely had a number of easy days where 8 miles felt like 18.   I know I am fit right now, and I’m hopeful that that translates into a good day at the trials.  
3. If you have run in the Olympic Marathon Trials before, how has that helped you prep for the 2020 Trials?

ME This is my first trials.
MH I ran the trials in 2016. It's a lot of work to get to the trials, and runners always want more (faster, better). I didn't play sports as a kid, and I didn't run a race until I was almost 31. I felt intimidated, and I had to remind myself to take in the experience and enjoy the opportunity to run in such a big event. The 2016 trials were a race for survival, where just being there at the end was an accomplishment. I learned to respect the conditions, be patient, and enjoy being there. 
LK This will be my fourth trials, and I feel like my anxiety levels about the races have gone down significantly each time. I now approach it as a race, not the be-all end-all, and I think this is a much healthier approach to competition. 
4. Are you doing the prep for the Trials the same as you did the prep for your most recent Marathons?

ME My prep was very similar to my last marathon, just condensed.. Ideally I would like about month more of high mileage, but the short time between races made this difficult to do given that I needed to first recover from CIM before starting the trials cycle. 

MH My training has been different--much more focused on effort and training my legs to handle hills than hitting particular paces. I started running in Northwest Indiana (near Chicago), where there are no hills. After moving to North Carolina in 2013, and now Central NY since 2016, I've started running on hills regularly. But most of my marathon pace running has still been on flat ground to simulate race conditions. 

LK My preparation is similar for this marathon as it has been for previous ones, however I have had a lot more company for my workouts during this cycle, which I’ve really enjoyed. It has made the workouts go so much easier, better, and they were more fun.  I have a number of teammates that will be racing with me on Saturday and that has made things so much more enjoyable leading up to the race.
Melissa Hardesty wins the 2019 USATF Masters 10K Championship at the James Joyce Ramble in Dedham, MA [Photo: Michael Scott]
5. Have you done anything special to prep for the hills in Atlanta [1389’ of climbing apparently (and another 1389 of descent)] or have you always included lots of hill work in your training?

ME The biggest difference in this cycle was the hill work. I ran a lot of them and even tried doing my speed days on hilly terrain until my calf started to act up and then I decided it was best to stay flat for speed.
MH For this training cycle, I've done most of my goal pace running on hills. Most of my long runs have been on hilly terrain. 
LK I live in Atlanta so I am always on hills!
6. How many miles per week were you typically doing during the build-up phase of your Trials prep? And/or, if you prefer, how did you phase up to your max?

 ME Tried to average 80+ miles for about 6 weeks and had a couple of weeks 92-94miles. Speed on Tuesday, tempo or hills on Thursday, LR often with pace work on Saturday.
MH I averaged 88 miles per week for the 11 weeks prior to my 2-week taper. The mileage bounced around a bit with some 70 mile weeks and two 100 mile weeks. This was my first time ever running 100 miles in a week, but I only did that for two weeks before dropping back down to the low 90s before the taper. I don't do a big taper. I think I ran 77 miles this past week, and I'll probably run a total of 65-70 miles this week, including the race.
LK I maxed out just under 100 miles a week, and had multiple weeks  in the upper 80s to mid 90s.
7. How many hours per day do you typically commit to training (not just running but all aspects, whether yoga, exercises, weights, drills, etc.) during the heaviest phase? [of if you prefer, a range of hours per day?]

MH  I spent 12 hours per week on running at my peak. I usually do 15-20 min of strength and stability exercises and foam rolling after my morning run. I probably spend 14-15 hours a week at my peak.
LK 2 hours
Laurie Knowles negotiates the final turn on her way to victory at the 2019 USATF Masters 5K Championships at Atlanta's Finest 5K in Atlanta, GA [Photo by Michael Scott]
8. When did you start your taper? How much running do you do during the taper phase? What does your workout plan look like for the 10 days before the race? What are you doing with your ‘extra time’ during the taper? Fun stuff?

ME I start cutting back mileage about 2 weeks out but I still keep two hard days a week. I think it’s important to keep intensity up and I don’t like a long taper. I still ran 60+ miles last week. The real taper probably started Saturday, 7 days before the race.
Ha,ha! I laughed when you asked what I’m doing with my “free time” during taper week! This week has been nuts with high school track starting up (I’m a track coach) and all the last minute things to get together before my flight tomorrow. Plus, there have been send off parties and I even got to do a news segment for NBC on Saturday! Can’t wait to see how crazy things are in Atlanta! 
MH I have two small workouts in the 10 days prior to the race. I did a short long run yesterday with a bit of effort (2 X 10 min and 1 X 5 min at goal marathon effort), and I'll probably do a light fartlek run on Tuesday.  I usually work more (at my actual job) during the taper to take my mind off of running. I also tend to sublimate my race anxiety by getting preoccupied with minor political or social grievances. Just a pattern I've noticed with myself.
LK We have been tapering for about two weeks before the race. During my taper, I did six by a mile at half marathon pace about 10 to 12 days out from the trials, a 11 mile long run with 8 miles around marathon pace, two by a mile at marathon pace six days out and 4 x 800  four days out.  
During the taper I also organized and held a birthday party for 12 five-year-old girls! At my house!! (Yes, I’m crazy!)
9. Are you doing anything different in terms of what goes into your ‘liquids’ bottles for the race? What do you typically use? You get 6 bottles, approximately one every 4 miles. Do you already know exactly where to grab your liquid? Will your table be color coded? And your bottle? Have you gotten detailed information already about those plans?

ME I use Maurten 320 in my bottles. They’ll all have the same thing at trials.  I did some simulation runs in training to practice grabbing and drinking at race pace. It’s actually really hard and I missed like 4 of my bottles in my last race! The race is really organized about it though. They sent out a chart with how the bottles will be set up. I’m on table 5 slot 3. 
MH I'm using on-course fluids to avoid the chaos of bottle service in such a big field. The trials are offering powerade and water bottles on the course. I think they were trying to cut down on the number of people getting bottle service. There was an issue at the trials in LA, where people who didn't sign up for bottle service didn't get anything except for water. Atlanta Track Club seems to be on the ball with planning, so I think I should be okay with fluids. 
LK A mix of Maurten and Tailwind . The track club sent us information about where our bottle placements will be a week before the race. We have very clearly labeled diagrams, with which table our bottles will be at, as well as what position on the table. It’s such a complex operation, but they’ve been doing an amazing job and I’m so impressed with how organized everything seems so far 
10. What is your plan for the last few days before the race? Will you arrive early in Atlanta or wait until just a couple of days before? Do you do anything that helps you to stay calm and focused for the race?

ME I get to Atlanta tomorrow night. I plan to scout out the course Wednesday to help visualize how to run the hills. I think knowing where a hill will end and having ran up it before helps take some of the fear out of running up it in a race. Part of what helps me stay calm and focused before the race is remembering just how grateful I am to be there and how much I love this sport. Nerves are just part of it. I would be nervous if I wasn’t nervous haha! In my evening prayer I always ask for the courage and strength to keep fighting in the race when things get hard. I think one of the hardest things to do as a runner is keep running hard when all is lost. Many times I’ve turned what I thought was a terrible race into PRs and podium finishes simply by not giving up on a “bad race”. **To be fair, I don’t think God really cares who goes to Tokyo, but I take solace in knowing He is with me and will help me through whatever challenges lie ahead.
MH I'm going to Atlanta on Thursday. I'll try to do some work, maybe read a book, and watch TV.
LK I live here and have a bunch of family coming in for the race, so my race week is definitely a little different than that of people flying in for the race I think. That being said, I will check into the hotel the Thursday before the race and stay there to focus a little better. 
11. As of now, the forecast looks surprisingly good, temps in the lower 40’s with partly cloudy skies. The wind could be a bit troublesome, at 11 mph out of the WNW. Apart from tucking in whenever feasible, does that wind alter your strategy in any way?
ME Oh the weather!! I HATE cold weather 😄😄! And by cold I mean anything under 60! This California girl loves running midday in 70 degree weather. I’m still traumatized from BOSTON 2018 when I ended up in the hospital with hypothermia. I’ll try to dress warm enough for the chilly 45 degree weather they’re predicting and hope my Raynaud's doesn’t kick in. As for drafting, have you seen how tiny distance runners are? I’m 5’8” so I sometimes become the wind breaker for everyone else. Ultimately the weather is something I can’t control so I just try to be well equipped to handle whatever the day may bring.

MH  The great thing about a big field is the opportunity to draft off of other runners. That's my plan if it gets windy. In general, it's important to get the effort right because I can't control the conditions. 

LK The wind makes a hard course even harder. If it does indeed end up being a windy day, I will be even more conservative on lap one. And for sure make every effort to stay with a group.
12. Do you feel you are prepping any different for this race as a masters athlete?

MH Training as a masters runner hasn't been much different for me because I didn't start running until well into adulthood, past the age when people feel invincible. I try to be diligent about strengthening exercises, massage/foam rolling, and recovery. 

LK I definitely take my easy days easier and add extra recovery days in.

13. What are your goals for the race?

ME Goals for this race- to run strong start to finish. Keep fighting when the hills seem too much and represent San Diego to the best of my ability. Top 50 would be nice, but it’s really all about the journey!

MH My goal on race day is to be patient and run the best race I can. I'm excited and humbled to run the trials as a masters athlete.

LK I would like to beat my seed, run a great third lap, and have fun.

Additional Masters Qualifiers [22] in the Women's Field (in QT order)

Gina Rouse. The Knoxville Tennessee athlete got her QT: 2:38:44 at the 2019 BOA Chicago Marathon.

Desiree Berry. Second in the Ironman Kona World Championships in 2006, her QT of 2:39:22 occurred at the 2018 California International Marathon [CIM]. She ran some local races the following spring at a comparatively slow pace. By December she ran 48:28 to finish 3rd at a local 12K, and then this year prepped in mid-January by finishing 2nd at the Redmond, WA Rain Run HM in 1:22:48.

Jenelle Deatherage. Originally from Peoria IL, the Madison Wisconsin Sports Medicine Physical Therapist went to Grandma's Marathon in 2019 and came back with a 2:41:17 QT. This will be her 5th Olympic Trials experience. She qualified in the 1500 meters in 2000, 2004, and 2008, and in the Marathon in 2016.

Bryanne Lauck. Originally from Carol Stream, IL., the Phoenix AZ 3rd grade teacher got her 2:41:20 QT at the 2018 CIM.

Allison Krausen. From Milwaukee, Wisconsin, now running out of Edwards, Colorado, Krausen also got her QT of 2:41:42 at the CIM, but in 2019. It was her first race as a Masters athlete. Co-owner and 'chief cook and bottle washer' for a family business in architecture and design, she missed the 2016 QT by just 25 sections so this counted as redemption.

Kris Lawrence. Hailing from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, but now resident in Guam, Lawrence punched her ticket with a 2:42:46 QT at the 2017 CIM.

Laura Kaulen. This Hilliard, Ohio special ed teacher nailed her 2:42:48 QT at the 2019 BOA Chicago Marathon.

Kimberly Hicks. A perinatal educator from Vista, California, Hicks took advantage of the 2018 CIM, a fast marathon in her home state, to collect her QT of 2:42:48.

Ann Alyanak. From Bellbrook, Ohio, Alyanak stayed in the Midwest, getting her 2:43:00 QT at the 2018 Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon.

Kate DeProsperis.  An Investment Banking Director from Western Springs, Illinois, DeProsperis got her QT of 2:43:11 early by running the 2017 CIM. She also competed in the 2012 Trials. Getting to the starting line will be a huge accomplishment. She lost 15 weeks of prep to a calf tear and acute tendonitis.

Angela Moll. Originally from Michigan, Moll is a physician at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego CA.  She collected her QT of 2:43:17 at the 2019 CIM.

Megan Foster. A resident of New York City and an Artist and Professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, Foster obtained her QT of 2:43:44 at the 2017 BOA Chicago Marathon.

Ruth Brennan Morey. A native Minnesotan, residing in Rochester, Morey finished 34th in the 2000 Olympic Marathon Trials and nailed her 2:43:49 QT at the 2019 CIM this past December.

Sharon Thompson. Originally from Grand Blanc, Michigan, Thompson owns a premium indoor cycling facility in Franklin, TN. She competed at the 2006 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, and has now qualified for four Olympic Trials. She qualified in the 10,000 meters in 2004 and 2008, and at the Marathon in 2012 and again in 2020. Her QT of 2:43:54 came at the 2018 Michelob Ultra Madison Marathon in Wisconsin.

Katherine Newberry. Originally from Burke, Virginia, this Wellesley, Massachusetts resident is a veteran Olympic Trials competitor. In 2004 she qualified in both the 5,000 and 10,000meter runs. In 2012 and 2016 it has been the Marathon. Her 2:43:55 QT came at the 2019 CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.

Karen Dunn. Dunn owns a running coch and personal training service in Trappe, Pennsylvania. The 2019 BOA Chicago Marathon provided the venue for her 2:43:59 QT.

Molly Friel. Originally from Great Falls, Montana, this resident of Fresno, California is th eoldest Marathon Trials Qualifier this year, at 52. Friel rates qualifying for the Olympic Marathon Trials at the age of 50 as her greatest accomplishment. She also competed in the Marathon Trials in 2004 and 2016. Her 2:44:00 QT came in the 2017 CIM.

Amy Robillard. A swim coach of club and high school teams in Cincinnati, Ohio, Robillard only had to drive two hours to get to the site of her QT Marathon, the 2019 CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. She clocked 2:44:00! She also qualified for the 2016 Trials.

Kasie Enman. A resident of Huntington, VT, Enman finished 11th at the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials, and three years later won the 2011 World Mountain Running Championships. She got her 2:44:09 QT at the 2017 BOA Chicago Marathon.

Merilee Blackham. A high school Cross Country and Track Coach in Ogden, Utah, Blackham competed in the 2016 Trials, finishing 104th. Her 2020 QT of 2:44:38 came at the 2018 BOA Chicago Marathon.

Crystal Harris. A programmer/analyst for Boeing from Edwardsville, Illinois, Harris was out of action from ages 34-39 with stress fractures and other injuries. Her PR's have all come at age 40 and above. She clocked her 2:44:49 QT at the 2018 CIM.

Raquel Rios-Reed. Co-owner of First Gear Running Co. in Wichita, Kansas, Rios-Reed has qualified twice before. In 2012 she ran with a stress fracture in her big toe; in 2016 she ran with a broken foot. The goal this year is to get to the starting line healthy! She qualified at the 2017 CIM in 2:44:49.
For profiles of most Olympic Trials runners, direct your browser to:

Check back next week for a recap of the Masters Athlete performances in the Olympic MarathonTrials.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

My 2020 Pensacola Double Bridge Run

February 17, 2020. I was getting antsy. My training had been going well, but my last road race was in late October. Ran Club Cross at Lehigh in December but Cross Country doesn't completely scratch the itch [for me].  It's been a mild winter but mostly cloudy, so a little dreary in Indianapolis. Time to gas up the car and head south.

Three years earlier I had run in the Pensacola Double Bridge Run, clocking a 1:11:35 for 1st place in my 70-74 division but missing out on the Senior Grand Master prize, won by Stephen Bauer, 62, in 1:10:32. That year it was unseasonably cold; they start the race at 7 am because the main worry is that the temps will rise as the day goes on and get too warm. And it is point-to-point so you park near the finish and get shuttled to the start. Because I am risk averse I tend to plan on taking an early bus. That backfired in 2017. It was only 39 degrees with 10 mph winds when we were dropped by the shuttle bus at the staging area for the start. It's an excellent area, but not when it's cold; there was really no shelter. Lots of folks rotated in and out of the restrooms for a shot of warmth, but that was it. I can remember the last few minutes before the start, lined up behind the elites who were all in singlets, with goosebumps on display. On the other hand, with temps in the upper 30's and low 40's for the race, times were good. The winds were behind us or across us rather than head on. This year the forecast was for a little warmer at race time. Upper 40's and low 50's, ordinary wind and cloudy skies.

The first order of business was to get entered-no problem, they were happy to have me. They use a self-seeding approach. I figured to line up in the wave right behind the elites. My usual approach when facing a drive of 11 hours or so is to drive all but the last couple of hours or less two days before the race, leaving myself just a short drive the day before the race.  It was quick work on Google Maps to find a place in South Alabama where there were multiple motels, Evergreen, FL. I 'Hotwired' a motel at a very reasonable price. Nine and a half road hours to Evergreen; an hour and a a half plus to Gulf Breeze, FL where I had a motel at about the 6K mark of the race. Said goodbye to my wife, Jackie, Thursday morning and pulled into Evergreen, AL at the end of the day. No problems with the drive and both motels were fine, especially for the price.

Views from Motel in Gulf Breeze, FL [photos by author]

Good complimentary breakfast in South Alabama, even for a Yankee! I didn't get to check out the complimentary breakfast in Gulf Breeze; I wanted to leave before 6 am! But they had a microwave and fridge so I made my own--granola plus banana plus toasted half bagel with peanut butter, half cup of coffee. They also allowed me a late checkout-12 noon so I could attend the Awards Ceremony.

Headed to Pensacola Historic district Friday morning [See pics of Historic Pensacola below story] and then to the Expo where I managed to meet up with the RD, Jason Libbert, and thank him for the invite. He puts on a great show! There is a well-organized staging area and start to the race, and the post-race goodies and celebration are top notch!

Everything went smooth Saturday morning. Up at 4:30 AM, ate a quick breakfast in the motel room, did a few easy 'stretch and hold's and preventative yoga-like exercises for hamstrings and lower back, and headed off for Pensacola Beach, a 7-minute drive. Parked and hopped on a shuttle, the 2nd in line. Deposited in the staging area, it had everything anyone could want, including not only port-a-potties but, for early arrivals, the restrooms for the baseball park were open. They were open later, too, but the lines did get long. The Weather Forecasters delivered a good one. Temps were just above 50 at the 8 am race time, under cloudy skies, with hardly any wind. Found some parking lots a couple of minutes from the starting line to run around for warm-up, stride-outs, drills, stretching, etc. Pretty soon we ere called to the starting area. I could have lined up right with the elites but decided to start in the wave that left a minute later (self-seeded 7 to 7:30 pace). I figured 7:30 was my target pace, even if I might not quite get there, on average. I noticed another Masters athlete with white hair lining up in the same wave, but on the other side, a few runners away, and wondered if he might be my main competition. Unlike in USATF Masters National Championships there are no back bibs with age division noted.

The winner of the Age Division last year was a Paul Baswell, whom I didn't know; he ran 1:09:46. But the year before when he was in 65-69, I could find out he had run 1:16 and change, so at least Baswell had not been consistently faster than I might expect to run. The 70-74 title in 2018 went to Randy Frith who ran 1:15:59; he was also unknown to me. I would just have to wait and see. The Colors were presented, the National Anthem was sung and the 'pirates' in the make-shift pirate 'ship' fired the cannon and the race was on. All was good for the first 800 meters as I followed the youngsters out. But then I noticed this guy with white hair passing me. I fell in behind to see how well he would keep it up. Pretty well as it turned out. Between 800 meters and most of the 1st mile, I was worried he might drop me. But either I recovered or he realized his pace was a little too ambitious. He pulled me through the first mile in 7:23! I was only a couple of strides back and feeling like I could run with him. Another half mile saw me ease by him just as we pulled onto Bayshore Parkway and head towards the first bridge out to Gulf Breeze. I passed 2 miles in 14:49, but could hear his breathing right behind me. No time to slow down now---gotta keep on keeping on--or KFG as some of my NJ Strava friends would say. After another mile I could no longer hear the breathing-what a sweet sound, or in this case, lack of sound! I settled into a pretty good pace and then it was up the ramp onto the bridge, the first uphill, just to get our legs woken up. That slowed my 3rd mile down to 7:39, but i still passed the 5K mark (Strava tells me) in 23:16! The next mile was a flat slog across Pensacola Bay, and then the first real hill, about a quarter of a mile pull up and over, but not too steep. Woke up my legs so my pace only creeped up slightly to 7:40. [When I checked Strava after the race it told me I actually accelerated slightly as GAP [grade adjusted pace] fell to 7:32]. Feeling good! Then down and into Gulf Breeze, past my motel at about the 10K mark. Quite a change from the bridge where we are all by ourselves. In Gulf Breeze there are lots of folks lining the Parkway as we run about a mile and a half through the small town. Cheers and encouragement! Despite the cheers, my pace slowed to 7:53, and I started to wonder how far back my potential rival was. I worried he would suddenly sprint past. That worry helped me keep it going. Then it's up the ramp to the last bridge, along a bit of flat, and then the long pull starts at mile 7.7, over 600 meters up the higher of the two bridges. Again my legs woke up and my GAP, as I learned later from Strava, dropped to 7:40 for a pace of 8:00/mile. The good news is that once you crest that 2nd bridge-hill, it is downhill for 0.4 and then flat into Pensacola Beach and the finishing area.
On the down-slope on the Bridge-just we runners and a bit of traffic-Me sporting my green 'pirate' headgear from 2017 Gasparilla 15K [Photo compliments of Pensacola Double Bridge Run and Fishbein Orthodontics, cropped by author]

Luckily there were still a couple of runners in my sight; I focused on trying to catch them. You know what they say, "Catch or be caught!" I pulled even with a young woman runner, as we gradually eased up closer to a middle aged guy another 30 meters ahead. We went back and forth before she passed me again just as we headed into the finishing chutes for the curvy path of the final 400 meters to the finish. I couldn't keep pace with her, but she had pulled me within a few meters of this other guy. I focused on him and passed him with about 150 meters to go. Then it was time to close it out, keep my arms pumping, and dig for the finish line.
Heading for the Finish Line, wearing green headgear from 2017 Gasparilla 15K [Photo compliments of Pensacola Double Bridge Run and Fishbein Orthodontics, cropped by author]

The clock, looked like it said 1:12 and change but of course I lost a minute at the start by going with the first wave after the elites. I learned later my official net time was 1:11:16...and that Strava gave me credit for the exact same time in my ' Best estimated 15k effort
Strong to the Finish! [Started a minute behind elites so subtract a minute from the clock!] Don't Check that watch! All that matters is what the official clock says! [Photo compliments of Pensacola Double Bridge Run and Fishbein Orthodontics, cropped by author]

Slightly crumpled official results script from the Finish Line Timer Tent [photo by author]

Age Division First Place award from the 2020 Pensacola Double Bridge Run [photo by author]

Notice the large oranges on this tree outside one of the Historic Buildings

Saturday, February 8, 2020

2020 USATF Cross Country Championships--Recap

January 27, 2020. January 18, 2020. San Diego, CA. Masters  Athletes galloped around the Mission Bay Cross Country course for the second time in a three month span. The Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships were settled on this course over a shorter course. This time there would be Junior and Open Championship races as well, adding to the festival atmosphere. The Women ran first over a 6 Km course at 9:30 AM, with the Men following over an 8 Km course an hour later. Upper 50's, little wind and fair skies made for as close to perfect conditions as you are likely to find.

WOMEN Marisa Sutera Strange, 56, was the surprise winner of these Championships last year in Tallahassee. Could she repeat? The main threat comes from Lorilyn Bloomer who came in 48 seconds ahead of Strange at the 5 Km XC Championships. Kimberly Mueller also came in ahead of Strange in October, although just by 17 seconds. Grace Padilla finished 7th at the Club XC Championships in Spokane last year, two seconds ahead of Mueller. Padilla came in 4 seconds ahead of Strange at Clb Cross in Bethlehem PA in December. Others in the hunt for a podium spot included Amy Alzina, Vivien Hyman, Kristen Reyes, Gwendolen Twist, and Juliet Wahleithner. The gun sounded and the pink singlets of the Jane's Elite moved to the front as Gwendolen Twist and Grace Padilla dictated the early pace, with Bloomer content to tuck in. The others started more conservatively. After the first kilometer, Bloomer moved up and began dictating the pace. By the time they  were into the series of small hills, Padilla had fallen back a few meters, even with Alzina, but Twist was still close. As they headed out for the 2nd loop, Bloomer's relentless pace began to tell, as the 5 meter gap grew to 10 meters and then 20. As Bloomer surged along the side of the course that runs along Mission Bay, the lead kept growing. In the meantime Strange moved up through the pack and took up the chase. Soon she was isolated, unable to catch up to Bloomer, but well ahead of the other pursuers.  
Lorilynn Bloomer heads for the finish line tape and the win at the Women's Masters Race at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA [This and all other photos courtesy of Mike Scott]

Bloomer sprinted to break the tape in 24:14, as Strange toughed it out, 70 meters back, for 2nd.
Marisa Sutera Strange foreground holds off a hard-charging Juliet Wahleithner to take 2nd at the Women's Masters Race at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA

Juliet Wahleithner, who was 12 seconds behind Strange at the first split and 14 seconds back at the second split, broke out of the chase pack on the last loop, got within 8 meters, but had to settle for 3rd. Vivian Hyman who had also moved up through the pack over the 3rd loop, finished just off the podium six seconds back. She was followed in by Alzina, Twist and Reyes in that order, Twist and Reyes clocking the same 24:56 time. Strange noted that it helped to know the course from October. "But it is tough to be ready for XC in January; I had no expectations except to run hard. I was really happy to finish second under the circumstances." It was a solid win for Bloomer, her first National Masters Championship.
Lorilynn Bloomer 24:14   Marisa Sutera Strange 24:31   Juliet Wahleithner 24:33

MEN David Angell, who finished 2nd last year in Tallahassee, and newcomer, Eric Blake, who beat Angell at the 10K Masters Championships, had come to challenge the defending champion, Jacques Sallberg. Those three formed a lead pack midway through the first 2 Km loop of an 8 Km course. Chokri Dhaouadi, Paul Smith, John Gardiner, Colin Olson and Kevin Everett were bunched up just meters behind.  
Three Hundred Meters into the Men's 8 Km Race Front Row-L to R: David Angell, Paul Smith, Kevin Everett, and John Gardiner at the Men's Masters Race at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA

On the second loop, Sallberg pushed the pace. Angell and Blake were the only two who could stay close; they were looking at a 20-meter gap. It was nearly another 50 meters back to Dhaouadi, with a chase pack led by Gardiner and Godwin 50 meters further back. Sallberg poured it on, widening the gap, bringing home his 2nd consecutive USATF Masters Cross Country Championship and his 5th in 6 years; that is dominance! 
Jacques Sallberg sprints along the Missiion Bay side of the Cross Country Course on his way to the win in the Men's Masters Race at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA

Sallberg’s winning time on the 8 Km course was 26:52, with Blake and Angell over 150 meters back in 2nd and 3rd. Sallberg noted, after the race, that it was time to take off the cross country spikes for a bit. He hopes to find himself racing on the grass again in Toronto at the WMA Championships. He will go for a Steeplechase win on the track and XC on the turf! He made the US Olympic Trials in the Steeplechase as an Open Athlete, finishing, I believe, as high as 4th. Angell observed that it was a little warm, but '...the course was in good shape, with only a few soft problem areas. I am happy that I ran well and redeemed myself after Club Cross. That Sallberg is dang tough!'
Jacques Sallberg 26:52   Eric Blake 27:35   David Angell 27:42


As noted in the Overall recap above, Gwendolen Twist and Amy Alzina led for the first loop, followed by Vivien Hyman, Kimberly Mueller, and Juliet  breakingWahleithner, with 15-20 meter gaps between each. Alzina and Twist still had 20 meters on Hyman by the 2nd split, but Wahleithner was now on Hyman's heels. 

Wahleithner surged during the last loop, away from Vivien Hyman to win by 25 meters in 24:33. 
Amy Alzina #101 passes Gwendolen Twist #146 in the final sprint to the finish line, locking up the final Overall podium position in the Women's Masters Race at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA

Alzina rallied when Wahleithner and Hyman went past, taking 3rd, with Twist 4th and Mueller 5th.
Juliet Wahleithner 24:33   Vivien Hyman 24:39   Amy Alzina 24:47 

Eric Blake and David Angell battled over the first two loops but by the third loop Blake started to pull away, eventually winning by 30 meters in 27:35. 
Eric Blake #212 creating a 5 meter gap back to David Angell on his way to the Men's 40-44 Division win at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA

There was quite a battle for the third podium spot behind Angell. At the end of the first loop, Colin Olson and Paul Smith  were stride for stride 20 meters head of Jesse Barragan and Billy Edwards. On the 2nd loop, Edwards was not able to go with Barragan when he surged to catch Olson and Smith. Those three were still in lock step by the third split. 
Jesse Barragan dictating the pace with Colin Olson trying to keep pace; Barragan took the final podium spot in the Men's 40-44 Division at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA

Barragan pulled away on the final loop, opening up a 40 meter gap over Olson who took 4th, followed by Smith, and Edwards.

Eric Blake 27:35   David Angell 27:42   Jesse Barragan 28:38

Lorilyn Bloomer took the overall title by a wide margin, capturing the age division title at the same time. No one could match her speed over the 6K. Grace Padilla matched her for the first loop, only 10 meters back at the first split. Kristen Reyes was laying off the pace, 50 meters back; Jennifer Brown was another 50 meters back. Bloomer's punishing pace got to Padilla in the second loop as she slipped back from Bloomer; at the same time, Reyes was moving up. By the end of the second loop, Reyes was on Padilla's shoulder. 

Top panel is Grace Padilla who claimed 3rd place in W45; bottom panel shows Kristen Reyes #136 heading for the finish line behind two 40-44 runners, Kimberly Mueller #130 and Juliet Wahleithner #147; Reyes took 2nd in the 45-49 Women's Division at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA

During the final loop, Reyes started dictating the pace, but Padilla hung tough. Reyes had too much over the final 400 meters, claiming 2nd in 24:56, with Padilla 20 meters back in 3rd. Jennifer Brown finished 4th.
Lorilyn Bloomer 24:14   Kristen Reyes 24:56   Grace Padilla 25:01

Jacques Sallberg dictated the pace for the overall lead pack until he pulled away for the win. He was never challenged by anyone in his age division. Chokri Dhaouadi and John Gardiner stayed with Sallberg and the rest of the lead pack for the first loop but gradually fell back over the 2nd loop. Dhaouadi found himself 50 meters behind the lead pack but had forged a similar lead over Gardiner. Gardiner is a tough runner and held the gap there for the rest of the race but could not close. 
John Gardiner, in ' no man's land' along Mission Bay, keeps it going to take 3rd place in the 45-49 Men's Division at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA

Dhaouadi had his first podium at a USATF National Masters Championship; for Gardiner the total is probably in the dozens! Joshua Gordon and John Foster finished 4th and 5th.
Jacques Sallberg 26:52   Chokri Dhaouadi 28:07   John Gardiner 28:24

50-54 The top runners in this division sorted themselves on the first loop and held their positions the rest of the way. At the first split, Nancy Thomas, new to the division, had 30 meters on the Division Silver Medalist from 2018 Club Cross in Spokane, Tania Fischer. Fischer, in turn, had 60 meters on Mary Lynch, with another gap back to Maureen Friend in 4th. 
From Top to Bottom, Tania Fischer took 2nd and Nancy Thomas finished 1st in the 50-54 Women's Division at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA

Those gaps got  bigger over the rest of the race as each runner held her pace and her place. Thomas enjoyed her first National Championship in the 50-54 division.
Nancy Thomas 26:09   Tania Fischer 26:46     Mary Lynch 27:08

Craig Godwin is running on another level now; he had 4 seconds on his teammate, Matt Farley, by the first split. Christian Cushing-Murray and Mark Hixson were on Farley's heels. Godwin's lead was up to 45 meters by the end of the second loop. Similar gaps separated Farley from Cushing-Murray and Cushing-Murray from Hixson. Everything looked similar at the end of the third loop, with the gaps ever so slightly larger, and many were ready to record that order of finish. But not Cushing-Murray! On the final loop he closed on Farley, and then passed, pulling 40 meters ahead by the finish. Farley gritted his teeth and held on for third as Hixson closed to within 10 meters! Godwin went from strength to strength as he enjoyed a 150 meter margin of victory at the finish. 

From Top to Bottom, Craig Godwin, Christian Cushing-Murray, and Matt Farley who took 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 50-54 Men's Division at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA
Age Division Gold at Tulsa and San Diego, and in between,  a podium finish at the ultra-competitive Club Cross at Lehigh, not a bad stretch for Godwin. 
Craig Godwin  28:32   Christian Cushing-Murray 29:11   Matthew Farley 29:32 

55-59 Marisa Sutera Strange  captured the Overall Silver Medal; she captured Age Division Gold along the way. Strange had a lead of over 150 meters by the end of the first loop and added to it all the way to the finish, winning by more than 500 meters. It was a much tighter contest for the remaining spots on the podium. Laura Bruess, in her last year in the division, continues to run well, taking the Division Bronze Medal at the highly competitive Club Cross Championships in Bethlehem in December. But she was up against a West Coast speedster, Kimberly Hazard, and another high altitude runner, Rosalva Bonilla, in San Diego. Bruess had a 15 meter lead on Bonilla at the end of the 1st loop, with Hazrd tucked in behind Bonilla. Things didn't change much over the next loop, except that Bruess extended her lead to 25 meters. The 3rd loop was a different story; Bonilla and Hazard cranked it up! They passed Bruess and duelled all the way to the finish line, with Hazard pulling 3 meters ahead by the finish line! 

From Top to Bottom, Marisa Sutera Strange, Kimberly Hazard, and Rosalva Bonilla, who took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the 55-59 Women's Division at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA
Sixteen seconds later Bruess finished in 4th --That was a terrific race!
Marisa Sutera Strange 24:31    Kimberly Hazard 27:18   Rosalva Bonilla 27:19

Although perhaps not quite as dominant as in the previous few years, Nat Larson  was still the runner to beat in this division. Kevin Zimmer finished over a minute behind Larson at Club Cross in Lexington in 2017 and hoped to stay closer this time. Iain Mickle is always dangerous; he took 2nd in the Division at the 2017 USATF Masters15K Championship on the roads. Mike Blackmore, Paul Smith, Mark Tatum, and Scott Tucker could also factor into the podium race. Blackmore finished 2nd to Larson at the 2019 Championship in Tallahassee. Smith was well back from Larson at Club Cross in Bethlehem but Larson was the only one ahead of him in that race entered in San Diego. Tatum finished 3rd at the 2019 Championship in Tallahassee and finished 2nd behind Brian Pilcher at Dipsea. With very modest elevation changes, the course at Mission Bay is arguably not as suited to Tatum's strengths as some others. Tucker finished 4th behind Larson at Club Cross in Spokane, ahead of Blackmore and Mickle, Larson went out strong as usual, crossing the first split in 7:00, with a 40 meter lead on Smith and Tatum another 30 meters back. Zimmer, Blackmre and Mickle started more conservatively, about 12 meters back from Tatum. Larson pulled ahead even farther ont he 2nd loop and it appeared unlikely anyone in the division could catch him. Zimmer was able to close on Smith, followed by Mickle and Tatum. Blackmore, either because he came in with an injury or encountered an unexpected challenge during the race, had fallen over 50 meters back, and withdrew before the end of the 3rd loop. Larson held the lead all the way to the finish, enjoying a winning margin of over 250 meters. 

From Top to Bottom, Nat Larson, Kevin Zimmer, and Iain Mickle, who finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the 55-59 Men's Division at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA

Zimmer pulled away from Smith on the third loop. He could not close on Larson but took 2nd as Mickle moved past Smith to claim 3rd. Smith was 40 meters back in 4th, followed by Tatum in 5th. Tatum had a see-saw battle with Tucker. In the end they both had the same time; Tatum had a little more left as he passed Tucker in the final hundred meters, taking 5th by a stride.
Nat Larson 29:50   Kevin Zimmer 30:30   Iain Mickle 30:49

 60-64 Nancy Simmons took this division at the USATF Masters 1 Mile Championships in Flint Michigan. She came in almost a half minute ahead of Patrice Combs, the swift runner for the Atlanta Track Club. Mile speed does not always translate into Cross Country prowess, and Combs would be the first to say that a 1 Mile race is too short to be in her sweet spot. Still that was enough to establish Simmons as the favorite. Combs is not entered in San Diego. Simmons's teammate, Mo Bartley, was competing at a National Championship for the first time since 2018 Club Cross at Spokane, where she finished 6th in 60-64  with a 28:04. Suzanne Cordes, a teammate of Simmons and Bartley, also entered here, ran 26:42 to finish 9th in 55-59. Bartley's last National Championship event before that was the 2017 5K (road) Masters Championships in Syracuse; she finished 6th in 21:41, a minute behind Combs, and 46 seconds back from Cordes. On paper that suggested a finishing order of either Simmons, Cordes, and Bartley, or with Simmons and Cordes reversed. Lisa Hermanson, of the Badgerland Striders, was a wild card. Her Athlinks profile is private, so it is harder to find results, but it would be unusual for a runner to make a trip from Wisconsin to San Diego without being competitive. By the end of the first loop it was clear that Cordes was off her best. Bartley and Simmons crossed the first timing mat in 9:24, but it was almost a minute before Hermanson ame across, with Cordes right on her shoulder. The 2nd loop saw little change, with Bartley and Simmons in lock step and, 2 minutes back, Cordes and Hermanson matching stride for stride. On the final loop, Simmons gradually carved out a lead, taking first, with Bartley 20 meters back. 

Top Panel Suzanne Cordes, who finished 3rd; Bottom panel shows Nancy Simmons #141 and Mo Bartley #104, who finished 1-2 in the Women's 60-64 Division at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA
By the end of the third loop Hermanson had fallen away from Cordes, who took 3rd with 200 meters to spare.
Nancy Simmons 29:20   Mo Bartley 29:25   Suzanne Cordes 32:35

Joe Sheeran has dominated this division on the Cross Country turf since 2017 Club Cross in Lexington KY. His most recent exploits include a division win on this course last October by 11 seconds over Dan King. He repeated the victory at Club Cross in Bethlehem PA with a margin of a full minute over King. Would it be more of the same? King, the 2015 USATF XC Champion in the 55-59 division at Boulder, would try to end Sheeran's dominance. He would be joined in the hunt by another 'Dan' from the Rockies, Dan Spale. Spale finished 3rd in the 60+ race at the 2016 Club Cross Championships in Tallahassee. Michael Lebold  and Anthony Uzwiak finished 4th and 5th at San Diego in October. Sheeran pushed the pace right from the start, but King made it clear he would stay with him as long as possible. 
Three Hundred Meters into the Men's Race and Joe Sheeran #329 is leading his Division out, with Dan King right on his heels at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA
 At the end of the first loop King was right on Sheeran's shoulder. Nearly a hundred meters back was Lebold who had to back off the blistering pace, followed 4 seconds later by Uzwiak, with Spale trailing those 4 by another 40 meters. Nothing changed on the 2nd loop except that the gap from the two leaders to the chasers ballooned to 250 meters. By the end of the third loop, King was starting to struggle to stay with Sheeran as a 10-meter gap had developed. King needed to close that, or Sheeran would prevail again. Lebold now had ten seconds on Uzwiak, but Spale was right on Uzwiak's heels. Despite King's best efforts, Sheeran pulled away on the 4th loop, crossing the timing mat for the final time with a 40 meter gap. King had no worries for 2nd place as he had over 400 meters on the chasers. Spale was now pushing the pace for the final podium spot with Lebold matching stride for stride; Uzwiak was 20 meters back. Sheeran took his 3rd Cross Country National Division Championship in the last 4 months; King claimed Silver and Spale kicked it in, closing off the podium with a margin of 20 meters on Lebold. Uzwiak took 5th 5 seconds later. That was one tough podium battle!

Joe Sheeran 30:38   Dan King 30:48   Dan Spale 32:50

65-69 Deborah Shea finished 5th over this course at the 5 Km Masters Championships in October; none of those who finished ahead of her are entered. Her time was 27:05. Nancy Antos ran 30:19 there and has a good shot at 2nd place in this race. She needs to beat back a challenge from Sara Cohen, who ran 28:05 at the Colleen DeReuck 4 Km XC Championships in Colorado. That 28:05, if both courses are measured accurately, corresponds to a 35 minute 5 Km race for Cohen, at best. Even allowing for altitude and possible terrain differences, 5 minutes is a lot of time to make up. Shea pushed off like the favorite and enjoyed a 150 meter lead by the time she crossed the timing mat for the first time. Cohen was proving that she belonged; apparently her 4 Km XC race was not her best. Even though she was 150 meters back from Shea, she had over 400 meters on Antos. The second loop was Cohen's best as she closed to within a hundred meters of Shea. 
Sara Cohen claims 2nd in the Women's 65-69 Division at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA
Shea was having none of that though; she re-established the 150 meter lead by her third trip over the timing mat. She held that all the way to the finish line. Cohen took 2nd with Antos 3rd. Cohen's teammate, Lorraine Green, took 4th five minutes later.
Deborah Shea  34:54   Sara Cohen 35:23   Nancy Antos 38:49

Based on 2018 Club Cross results at Spokane and 5 Km Masters XC results on this course in October, it looked like a close race between Chuck Smead, Tomas Rodriguez, and John Hirschberger. There were some uncertainties; it appeared that Hirschberger might not be at peak fitness. Smead and a new teammate, Jack Pottle, ran in tandem for the first loop, allowing Rodriguez to build a 40 meter lead. Jack Nash was another 10 seconds back, with Hirschberger 27 seconds further back in 5th. Rick Bushore was 25 meters back in 6th. It looked as if Smead and Pottle might close on Rodriguez over the 2nd loop but it did not happen. Pottle was now about 70 meters back and Smead was struggling to stay close to Pottle. Nash had built the gap back to Hirschberger up to 150 meters, with Bushore still a few seconds back from Hirschberger. Smead's problems worsened and he had to withdraw before the end of the third loop. Pottle was 20 seconds back from Rodriguez but had over two minutes on the rest of the field. Bushore was now falling back from Hirschberger; a gap of 70 meters now existed. Nash's chip did not register at the 3rd split so his 4th loop split appears instead. Whether Nash was already in trouble over the 3rd loop or his race did not fall apart until the 4th loop, he not only lost his lead over Hirschberger and Bushore but had to watch them pull away. By the 4th trip across the timing mat he was 200 meters behind Bushore, who was 100 meters behind Hirschberger. Rodriguez was never headed, finishing 120 meters ahead of Pottle. 

Top panel-John Hirschberger #266 who finished 3rd; Bottom panel Jack Pottle #314, who finished 2nd in the Men's 65-69 Division at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA

Hirshberger was well back in 3rd at the finish. But he had left Bushore in his wake, over 120 meters back in 4th, with Nash in 5th.
Tomas Rodriguez 35:19   Jack Pottle 35:50   John Hirschberger 39:06

70-74 The top 4 runners from the October 5 Km Championships in October were back. Jane Treleven, running unattached, took the win by 30 seconds over Jeanette Groesz, with bigger gaps back to Groesz's teammate, Sharon Gerl, and Jo Anne Rowland on the comeback trail. Would the gaps change? Would the order change? Treleven and Groesz, now teammates, pushed the pace at the front crossing the timing mat for the first time in 9:24. Their teammate, Gerl, was almost a minute back. Forty seconds later Rowland came across in 4th. That 1st loop set the tone for the rest of the race. Treleven won but Groesz was always within a few seconds of her. 
Jane Treleven leads her teammate, Jeanette Groesz as they go 1-2 in the Women's 70-74 Division at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA

The gap back to Gerl grew but she still had over 600 meters on Rowland by the finish. 
Sharon Gerl captures 3rd place in the Women's 70-74 Division at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA

Rowland knows how much work she needs to do to get back to her former fitness. It will be fun to watch her progress. None of the Red Lizard teammates ahead of her are going to make it easy.

Jane Treleven 29:51    Jeanette Groesz 29:57   Sharon Gerl 32:16

It looked like another tight race between Rick Katz and David Dunbar. Dunbar had the edge in October at the 5 Km XC Championships, finishing 5 seconds ahead of Katz. But Katz reversed that at Club Cross in Bethlehem, finishing almost a minute ahead of Dunbar. Perhaps the mud and terrain bothered Dunbar more or maybe it was just an off day. But whether they would be battling for 1-2 or 2-3 depended on a wild card named Ignacio 'Nash' Jimenez. He had finished 2nd at Cross Natinals in Boulder in 2015 and at Bend Oregon in 2017. Was he coming to the Championships solely as Coach of his Women's 50+ Team Nash? Or would he be competing for the win. Based on past experience, he would be competing! Others who would factor into the podium race included Jerry Learned and Dave Glass of the Atlanta Track Club, and Katz's teammate, Jeffrey Dumas. By the time the field had sprinted through the first 400 meters and turned to run up along the Bay, it was clear that Jimenez had come to race. By the time they crossed the timing mat the first time, Jimenez was 80 meters ahead of Dunbar, who was struggling to keep him in sight. Dunbar was finding this terrain more to his liking than that at Lehigh, but Katz was not. Katz was as far back from Dunbar as Dunbar was from Jimenez. Glass and Learned were another hundred meters back, with Dumas right on their heels. The first loop was a good forecast of the rest of the race. In a triumphant return to Cross Nationals, Jimenez grew his lead consistently from loop to loop, finishing first with 250 meters to spare. Katz took 3rd with a similar gap back to Learned, who took 4th, followed by Dumas and Glass. 

Katz was probably not happy with a 3rd place finish, but had the satisfaction of three podium finishes in the three Cross Country National Championships contested between October and January; that's consistency!
Ignacio Jimenez 36:04   David Dunbar 37:07   Rick Katz 38:19
75-79 There were no entrants for this division on the Women's side.

Jan Frisby, Len Goldman, and Gordon Lutes met at the USATF Masters 5 Km XC Championships in San Diego in October. In that race, Goldman finished a minute ahead  of Frisby, and Frisby finished 5 seconds ahead of Lutes, who was running in 70-74 that day. The only question involved Frisby. Unlike the other two, Frisby competed in the Club Cross Championships at Lehigh. One of his muscle groups, perhaps the calf if I am remembering correctly, acted up during that race and he fell back over the final 2 loops. Would that still be affecting him or would it have affected his training leading into the race? We would find out! The first loop told the story. Goldman had a 200 meter lead on Lutes, who had 150 meters on Frisby. Most likely the injury had slowed him down and he was providing an insurance runner for his 70+ team while picking up 90 Grand Prix points! He knows from experience that it is important to pick up points that are available as you go. Injury could slow him, or one of his rivals, down later in the year; it's good to have points in the bank. Goldman built his lead up to 250 meters, winning his first XC National Championship since 2015 when he won the 70-74 Club Cross Championship at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. It will go nicely with his National Championship on the roads from the 2016 USATF Masters 8K Championship in Brea, CA. 

Top to Bottom Jan Frisby #255, Gordon Lutes #292 (about to pass Jim Reynolds) and Len Goldman finished 3-2-1 respectively in the Men's 75-79 Division at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA
A remarkably consistent runner at races up to 10K, Goldman is almost always close to the front. Lutes took 2nd and Frisby third. Lutes enjoyed his first National podium as a 75 year old! Przemyslaw 'Przemek' Nowicki took 4th. He lost quite a bit of training time and was running without benefit of perfect eyesight as he was recovering from an eye operation. He will be a bigger factor in 75-79 races later this year.
Len Goldman 39:45   Gordon Lutes 40:36   Jan Frisby 44:16 

80-84 Madeline Bost took this division unopposed in 53:18, adding 100 Grand Prix points to the 95 she collected at Lehigh. She is well on her way to her 7th consecutive Masters Grand Prix Championship!
Madeline Bost 53:18

Roland Cormier returned to the National Championship circuit after a break of a few years. His victories in the USATF-NJ 5 Km and 8 Km Championships indicated that his current fitness was the best among the Cross Nationals competitors. In San Diego last October, Andrew Sherwood ran a minute faster than Richard Williams. That played out on the first loop. Cormier built a gap of 400 meters over Sherwood, and Sherwood was 700 meters ahead of Williams. Those gaps grew with each loop. Cormier had his first national title as an 80-year old. 

Top panel- Richard Williams, who took 3rd and Bottom panel-Andrew Sherwood red singlet and Roland Cormier white singlet, who took 2nd and 1st, respectively in the Men's 80-84 Diuvision at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA
 Sherwood enjoyed his 2nd place finish and the 95 Masters Grand Prix points he added to the 90 he acquired in Bethlehem. He is the early leader in 80-84. James Kurtz finished 4th, four minutes behind Williams.
Roland Cormier 48:42   Andrew Sherwood 56:46   Richard Williams 1:01:26

85-89  There were no entrants for this division on the Women's side.

Warren Osborn took the Men's title unopposed. 
Warren Osborn starts out on his way to a victory in the Men's 85-89 Division at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA

He enjoyed his 2nd Gold Medal at a National Championship in the last 4 months. He took 1st in this division at the 5 Km Masters Championship on this same course last October.
Warren Osborn 1:05:41  

90-94  There were no entrants for this division on the Women's side.

Gunnar Linde, who took two 8K National Championships home in the 85-89 division a few years
Gunnar Linde starts out on his way to victory in the Men's 90-94 Division at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA

ago at Brea, CA, was unopposed and took the win.
Gunnar Linde  1:20:04


Age-Grading sorts out which of the Age Division Champions, and runners-up, ran the fastest for their age. The Age-Grading procedure compares the individual's actual time to the projected World’s Best for a runner of their age and gender. Everyone knows who the main contenders are, but no one knows who is on the podium for sure until the calculations are done, and the scores posted. The Women’s contest was close! Jane Treleven, 71, who finished 2nd to Marisa Sutera Strange, 56, at the 5 Km Masters Championship on this course in October, reversed the tables by 0.02% points, winning at 87.54. Jeanette Groesz, 70, took 3rd with an 86.0%, and then there was a 6 percentage-point drop! Sharon Gerl took 4th at 80.98. Laura Bruess was 0.3 percentage points behind in 5th.
 Jane Treleven 87.54    Marisa Sutera Strange 87.52   Jeanette Groesz 86.00

A similar reversal occurred in the Men’s race. Jacques Sallberg, 45, missed adding the Age Grade to his Overall Championship by 1.02% points. Joe Sheeran, 62, who finished 2nd to Sallberg in October, made sure to get the victory here with an 86.60. Craig Godwin, 52, at 85.26, edged Nat Larson, 57, for the final podium spot by 0.18% points; the next 7 age graded performances were all above 82%. Sheeran topped all age-graders at Lehigh in December, making this his 2nd consecutive top score in USATF National Cross Country Championships. 
Joe Sheeran 86.60   Jacques Sallberg 85.58   Craig Godwin 85.26  

In team competition, the top 5 runners score for Men 40+ & 50+; for Men 60 and up and for Women, it is the top 3 runners for each team. 
W40+ The Janes Elite Racing led 8-19-21-26 at the end of the first loop of the 3-loop 6 Km circuit. With 1st, 3rd and 4th for 8 points, they had a huge lead. If they could keep up the pace, they had no worries. The other three, San Diego Track Club, Team Nash, and Impala Racing were in a tight battle. The Janes slipped back ever so slightly over the 2nd loop but still had just 10 points from 2nd, 3rd and 5th. Team Nash had moved ahead of the San Diego Track Club, 20-22 but it was very fluid, changing from one turn to the next bend. Amy Alzina was in first for Team Nash, but was threatened by Gwendolen Twist and Vivien Hyman, of the Janes. The risk to San Diego was that Eva Lozano, in 9th, was only a second ahead of the Impala's Nancy Thomas. None of the Janes faltered over the final loop, claiming the victory with 12 points as Hyman, Twist and Grace Padilla took 2nd, 4th, and 6th for 12 points. Lozano was able to hold off Thomas for San Diego. Equally important was that Juliet Wahleithner of the Impalas, and Hyman were bit able to pass Alzina. 

Gwendolen Twist #146 of the Janes holds off Kristen Reyes of the San Diego Track Club taking 4th and 5th places in the Team Competition at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA
In the end San Diego's 21 points was enough for 2nd place on their home turf, with Team Nash scoring 22 for 3rd! Wahleithner's dash to the front pulled her Impala team within a point of the podium at 23.
Janes Elite V Hyman, G Twist, G Padilla 24:52 avg 12   San Diego Track Cub K Reyes, K Mueler, E Lozano, [M Minjarez, D Shea] 25:24  21 Team Nash A Alzina, J Brown, A Mayfield, [K Hazard] 25:46  22

W50+The Janes took 50+ also as they were unopposed. 
Janes Elite T Fischer, M Lynch, K Cushing-Murray 27:17 avg 6   

W60+ The Impala Racing Team won the 60+ contest handily taking 1-2-3 for a 6-15 victory over the Boulder Road Runners
Impala Racing N. Simmons, M. Bartley, S. Cordes 30:26 avg 6   Boulder Road Runners S Cohen, N Antos, L Green 39:24 15

W70+ Team Red Lizard enjoyed the same dominance in 70+, claiming a 6-15 victory over Impala Racing
Team Red Lizard J Treleven, J Groesz, S Gerl 30:42 avg 6   Impala Racing J Rowland, I Herman, N Williams 39:06 15

M40+ Second at the Masters 5 Km Championships, 2nd at Club Cross, the Cal Coast Track Club was looking for a win. The Sports Warriors TC, out of Albuquerque NM, aimed to deny them that honor. SRA Elite from the SF Bay area in Northern California would be in the mix as well. The Boise Betties and Billies would try to shake things up as well. At the end of the first loop, Cal Coast's Jacques Sallberg and Chokri Dhaouadi of the Sports Warriors were tied for 1st. The Sports Warriors had runners in 5th, 8th, 14th and 16th; Cal Coast's next 4 were in 3rd, 12th, 15th and 17th. Sports Warriors had a slim 4-point lead, 44-48. SRA Elite was not far back at 53 points from a 3-7-11-13-18. Boise had 73 points so had lots of ground to make up. But with only a ten-second spread between 1st and 9th place, little was certain. By the time of the 2nd trip over the timing mat, things had settled out more; the spread between 1st and 9th was now over a minute. Even though Sallberg had moved strongly into the lead, the Sports Warriors were holding up well in the chase pack. With a 2-5-8-11-17 count they had 43 points and a two-point lead over Cal Coast [1-3-10-15-16]. SRA Elite was still within ten points, totaling 53 points on 4-6-12-13-18. 
John Foster #253 and Juan Morales #303 battle in the trenches for their teams, Boise and Cal Coast in the Men's 40+ Team Contest at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego, CA

Nothing changed significantly over the 3rd loop. Whether Olson of the Sports Warriors was ahead of Barragan of SRA Elite or vice versa was varying from stride to stride; the same was true of Cal Coast's Juan Morales and Boise's John Foster. The outcome of those two duels would have consequences. Cal Coast and the Warriors were neck and neck heading into the fourth and final loop. Morales was the hero in the trenches this day. Morales was not able to pass Foster, but he caught one of the Warriors who had been ahead, as well as a differnt Sports Warrior. All told, Morales moved up from 12th at the end of the first loop to 8th at the end of the race while everyone else pretty much held their position; that gave Cal Coast the win by a single point, 43 to 44! Of course every win is a team win and no one individual gets credit for a win; all contribute! The SRA Elite held onto the final podium spot with 53 points. The Boise Betties finished 4th with 73 point sbut their top 3 runners made some critical differences in the scoring of the top 3 teams.
Cal Coast Track Club J Sallberg, J Gardiner, J Morales, T Cox, M Steyvers, [K Whittington, C Johnson, E Neri] 29:28 avg 43    Sports Warriors Track Club C Dhaouadi, C Olson, M Hussein, G Sosa, A Fleg, [D Trujillo] 29:40 44   SRA Elite J Barragan, P Smith, S Abbott, D Mastro, K Yamamura 30:03 53   

M50+ The Bowerman Track Club threw everything they had into the 50+ race and ran away with it. By the end of the first loop, Craig Godwin and Matthew Farley were 1-2 for Bowerman, and their next 3 athletes were at-5-6-7 for 21 points ; their #6-9 runners were in 9-12-15-16, pushing up their rivals' scores. Cal Coast's strong 50+ team held 3-4, thanks to Christian 'Cush' Cushing-Murray and Frederick 'Rick' Herr, with #'s 3-5 holding down 8-11-13 for 39 points. Eighteen points is a huge lead in a XC race, albeit early. The Atlanta Track Club and the SRA Elite were locked in a tighter battle for the final podium spot. At the first timing mat, Iain Mickle gave SRA a 1th place standing, but he was followed by Atlanta's Brad Slavens, Gary Droze, and Jeff Haushalter in 14th, 19th and 22nd before the next SRA athlete at #23. Atlanta had a ten-point lead for 3rd place, 97 - 107. The only change between Bowerman and Cal Coast was that Christian Cushing-Murray moved up from 3rd to 2nd by the finish. Craig Godwin took 1st for Bowerman, winning by over half a minute. Bowerman took the victory with 22 points to Cal Coast's 44. Neither Atlanta nor SRA could stay near those two clubs. Several runners would have to step up for SRA if they were to close the ten-point gap to Atlanta. By the end of the 3rd loop, SRA had moved up. Mickle moved up to 8th but each of their 5 scoring runners also moved up at least 1 spot; Gary Blanco moved from 28th to 25th. Atlanta did not have the same across the board movement, but Slavens moved from 14th to 10th and Droze from 21st to 14th, offsetting the movement of SRA and leaving Atlanta still in the driver's seat, 97 to 107. By the finish, Mickle had moved up to 7th and Michael Fadling from 22nd to 20th, but that only dropped their score to 104. Atlanta held steady at 97 and collected the third place. The Cal Coast 'B' team finished 5th with 134 points.
Bowerman Track Club C Godwin, M Farley, E Hartmann, C Cook, P Smith, [S Tucker, W Sealand, J Clifford, J McCormick] 30:00 avg 22   Cal Coast Track Club C Cushing-Murray, F Herr, G Keyes, R Knerr, D Olds, [M Connors, B Brisco] 31:09 44   Atlanta Track Club B Slavens, G Droze, L Dragstedt, J Haushalter, M Whitis 33:05 97   

M60+ In a Rocky Mountain showdown, Athletics Boulder [AB] was going toe to toe with the Boulder Road Runners [BRR]. AB had taken 4th at Lehigh to BRR's 9th but BRR was bringing a stronger team to San Diego. A depleted Shore Athletic Club [Shore] hoped to fend off the local Jamul Toads [Jamul] who took the Masters 5 Km title on this mission Bay course the previous October. Shore's top runner, Reno Stirrat, needed to focus on his final Marathon prep, and keeping an uncooperative hip in flex; he is one of a handful of runners going for 6SDS3, running a sub-3 hour marathon in each of 6 different decades. He runs in Phoenix on the 9th of February-Go, Reno! Harold Leddy joins Kevin Dollard and Scott Linell as 'next man up!' With top 60's runners, John Holcomb and Keith Witthauer fighting health problems, and Brian Nelson not available, Cal Coast brought a reconstituted 60's team and would also take a swing at landing on the podium. 
AB did what it needed to do over the first loop; at the first timing mat, Dan King was in 1st and they held 7th and 11th for 19 points and an 8-point lead over BRR. Dan Spale was in 4th for BRR and then they had 9th and 14th. Chuck Smead was having an off day but hung in gamely for the first two loops before he had to withdraw. Michael Lebold gave Jamul a 2nd place at that point, along with an 8th and 24th for 34 points. They would need their 3rd or 4th runners to move up if they were to challenge BRR for 2nd. Cal Coast was in 3rd, three points ahead of Jamul, thanks to a 5th place position from John Araujo. The Kansas City Smoke [Smoke] was tied with Jamul for 4th with 34 points. Shore was 8 points back but had a pretty tight pack at 12-13-17. Over the 2nd loop, Rick Bruess and Kevin Cooper both moved up 2 spots to drop AB's score to 15. Jay Littlepage moved up 3 spots and Jack Pottle two to lower BRR's score by 5 points to 22; now they were 7 points behind AB. The 2nd loop was tough for Cal Coast as they dropped 5 positions winding up at 36, now 3 points behind the Smoke and only two points ahead of Shore. Shore's Dollard had moved up from 12th to 10th, and Scott Linnell from 17th to 15th. The 3rd loop saw AB and BRR both fall a point to 16 and 23. Jamul inched closer to BRR by lowering its score on the course to 33. Cal Coast's John Araujo fell from 11th to 12th but both Tomas Rodriguez and Bill Amor held their positions; with 37 points Cal Coast was now tied with Shore and both were 3 points ahead of Kansas City. Dollard had continued to move up, now holding 8th. The podium looked to be set, barring last minute heroics, but the race for 4th was hot from there to the finish! Cooper moved up 2 spots to drop AB's final total to 14; BRR's Spale moved up to 2nd, so BRR wound up in 2nd at 21. Jamul fell back two points to 35 but edged the 4th and 5th place teams, Shore and Cal Coast, tied with 38 points. The current tie-breaking rule is that the team with the highest place from their last scoring runner is awarded the better finish. That put Shore 4th and Cal Coast 5th. The Kansas City Smoke were 5 points back in 6th, followed by the San Diego Track Club
Athletics Boulder D King, R Bruess, K Cooper 33:22 avg 14 Boulder Road Runners D Spale, J Littlepage, J Pottle, C Smead/DNF 34:21 21 Jamul Toads M Lebold, J Ruland, D Wilson 36:24 35

M70+ The San Diego Striders, the Boulder Road Runners and the Ann Arbor Track Club had a real showdown at the Masters 5 Km Championship on this course in October. San Diego took the honors with Tony Marshall and Ron Wells leading the way. Boulder and Ann Arbor were 4 points back, with Boulder awarded 2nd on a tie-breaker. At Club Cross, Ann Arbor got their revenge on the Striders, taking first. Boulder did not send a complete team. Ann Arbor was skipping this Championship so it looked like there would be a shootout between Boulder and San Diego. That did not materialize, however, as Marshall was out, apparently due to health reasons, and Wells had some transitory reason that forced him to miss the event. As a result, the real struggle would be between San Diego and the Atlanta Track Club for 2nd and 3rd. By the end of the first loop, Boulder was in control, with Rick Katz leading the way in 1st, but their 2nd-4th scoring runners crossed the timing mat 4-5-6 for 10 points and a 9 point lead, which is huge over three scoring runners. Jerry Learned and Dave Glass were running tight in 2nd and 3rd for Atlanta. Their third runner, Andrew Sherwood, now in the 80-84 division, would not be able to contribute very much to the cause; what he had at this point was enough. His 14th place gave Atlanta 19 points and a 5 point lead over San Diego which had Gordon Lutes, Daniel Diehr, and Steve Doyle running as a tight pack in 7th, 8th, and 9th, for 24. The Shore Athletic Club was 12 points back in 4th. When Jeffrey Dumas moved up to 3rd for Boulder, that increased their lead to 9-20, as Atlanta fell back to 20. With San Diego and Shore holding steady, things were tightening up. Boulder stayed consistent through to the finish line, taking the win with 10 points. The big change was due to a major move by Lutes; he started the loop in 7th and finished it in 4th, lowering San Diego into a tie with Atlanta. Lutes and Glass had an epic battle over the last 2 kilometers, with never more than a second separating them. Try as he might, Glass could not get past Lutes, and try as he might, Lutes could not drop Glass. Finally the finish line was in sight, both had given their all, Lutes took 4th to Glass's 5th by a mere 0.8 seconds. That saved the tie score for San Diego and the tie-breaker rule favored San Diego. Shore finished 4th with 37 points.
Boulder Road Runners R Katz, J Dumas, D Dooley, (J Reynolds, J Frisby) 39:55 avg 10    San Diego Striders G Lutes, D Diehr, S Doyle 42:33 21   Atlanta Track Club J Learned, D Glass, A Sherwood 45:36 21

M80+  At the Masters 5 Km XC Championship in San Diego last October the San Diego Striders had to beat off a challenge by the San Diego Track Club. They took care of that 6-15. This time there was no opposition, and it was another perfect 1-2-3, 6 point score for the Striders!
San Diego Striders Richard Williams, Warren Osborn, James Kurtz 1:04:19 avg  

The 2020 USATF Masters Grand Prix series next heads to Dedham, MA for the USATF Masters 10K Championships on April 26th.
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