Thursday, May 28, 2020

A Boulder Road Runner Memorial Day Week Virtual 5K/10K Competition

May 25, 2020 The Boulder Road Runners decided to give 60's runners a little excitement during a 'No Road Races' spring. Virtual has been the way to go since mid-March. Elite Masters Distance Runners have been training well during this difficult Covid-19 time, but with no national Championships in sight before late August at the earliest, motivation can be a challenge. I reported last week on the virtual 5K competition across several age divisions, by the Garden State Track Club and the Atlanta Track Club, as well as an intramural Penn Relays 'socially distanced' substitute [4 x 400m] that the Shore Athletic Club ran. There was also a precursor to today's report, a 60's only ATC vs. Greater Lowell Road Runners contest.

One small, local road race did take place in Northern Indiana the weekend of May 16th. It was small, capped at 250 and had waves of 14 or fewer runners in each wave. The waves off every ten  minutes from 9 am to 12 noon, with people signing up for a specific 10 minute starting time slot. Finishers were encouraged to disperse and return to their vehicles or homes. People received their results on their smart phones right after the race but Awards were not announced until after the last wave completed. Any awards were mailed. That is interesting because it is a model for small road races to emulate and improve upon. Whether larger road races can operate with similar messages is an unanswered question at this point. Most large road races either cancelled the 2020 edition, offered a Virtual alternative, moved to 2021 or deferred to the fall. Runners are eagerly awaiting news from the prominent races that deferred to the fall.

In the meantime, at least for 60-year olds and one 70's runner, there is the Boulder Road Runners Virtual Series. The first race is scheduled to take place between May 23rd and May 31st, in part to coincide with the Virtual Bolder Boulder 10K. As usual, runners may use a single virtual time trial for more than one competition as long as it fits in the appropriate time slot and meets all requirements of both races.
Boulder Road Runners-First Place at the 2017 USATF Masters 8K Championship in Virginia Beach-L to R: Mark Donelson, Kyle Hubbart, Dan Spale, Bruce Kirschner, Doug Bell [Photo courtesy of Boulder Road Runners]

Here are the guidelines that Boulder issued:


TIME WINDOW-Starting Memorial Day Weekend on Saturday, May 23, 2020 [any time] and Ending at 12 Noon Mountain Time (1 p.m. Central, 2 pm Eastern Time) on Sunday, May 31, 2020.

DISTANCES-Participants have a choice of two distances: 5 Kilometers (3.1 miles) or 10 Kilometers (6.2 miles). Although virtual races are based on the honor system, we request that each individual submit a screenshot or GPS link to their race course. 

PARTICIPANT QUALIFICATIONS-Need to be current USA Track & Field (USATF) member and a member of a Men/Women 60-69 USATF Masters Grand Prix national championship team associated with an official club sponsor. Clarification: As with USATF MLDR rules, an older runner is allowed to drop down to a lower age division, but not the reverse. Runners in their 70's or older would be allowed on a 60's team.

SCORING-Based on USATF age grading standards. For teams composed of up to 5 individuals, the top three age graded finishers are scored. For teams composed of up to 7 individuals, the top five age graded finishers are scored. Clarification: The top age-grade percentages will be added up for a total; high score wins. They will report averages as well. The ordering will be the same whether by total or average as long as the same number of runners are scored for each team.

COURSES-Can run on any surface, including a track. Roads, bike paths or gravel trails recommended, if practical. Courses can have some variability, but drop in elevation should be less than 50 feet for 5K and 100 feet for 10K. Must start and finish within one-third of total distance. For example, 1 mile apart for the 5k, 2 miles apart for the10K. Although not identical, these are consistent with USATF rules for records and are reasonable for virtual racing purposes here. 

RESULTS REPORTING-An online Google Docs file will be set up to collect race results. Each team must designate a team leader to prepare team rosters and submit team member finishing times and other results information, e.g., age, age grading, etc. Each team leader should also have a back-up leader. Team leaders and back-ups should provide their contact information and team rosters to Bruce Kirschner by Monday, May 18.

FUTURE EVENTS IN SERIES-A second virtual race will be held on or about July 4, 2020. Details based on the Memorial Day Weekend experience will be released in June. A third race is tentatively planned for Labor Day Weekend.

BOULDER BOLDER VirtuALL MEMORIAL dAY 10K-All individuals planning to race a 10k on Memorial Day Weekend may also want to register for the free VirtuALL Memorial Day 10K, presented by BOLDERBoulder, the same weekend. For more information see



 Atlanta Track Club ATC Mike Anderson 62 Bob Dalton 66 Jeff Dundas 60 Neil Feather 66 Casey Hannan 60 Kirk Larson 68 Tom McCormack 66 Randy Stroud 65 Ken Youngers 63

 Athletics Boulder AB Rick Bruess 61 Kevin Cooper 60 Dan King 60 Martin Lascelles 65 Jay Littlepage 60 Ken Masarie 61

Boulder Road Runners BRR Doug Bell 69 George Braun 66 Benji Durden 68 Adam Feerst 60 Mike Fronsoe 62 Paul Nicolaides 64 Jack Pottle 65 Roger Sayre 62 Dan Spale 64 Mark Tatum 60

Greater Lowell Road Runners GLRR  Kevin Christie 61 Bill Dumont 62 John Hadcock 61 Peter LaGoy 60 Charlie Muse 63 Glenn Stewart 69 Peter Wasylak 64 David Westenberg 62

Shore Athletic Club SAC Kevin Dollard 62 Paul Deykerhoff 68 David Hughes 62 John Kilduff 68 Harold Leddy 65 Scott Linnell 63 Harold Nolan 73 Reno Stirrat 66

Greater Lowell Road Runners Liane Pancoast 62 Carol Gagne 63 Julie Haynes 61 Sally Reiley 60 Michelle Roche 60

Shore Athletic Club Dawn Ciccone 64 Barbara Donelik 73 Susan Stirrat 63


Note: Although runners are free to choose to run a 10K rather than a 5K I have chosen, for ease of comparison, to phrase my predictions as if all runners were choosing to run a 5K.

Men These  are four of the strongest Mens teams to participate in the USATF Masters Grand Prix (MGP) over the last few years. Last year ATC took the MGP with 500 points to 420 each for BRR and SAC. The year before it had been even tighter, with ATC at 490, BRR at 480, and Shore at 430! AB and GLRR have not contended the MGP title but have been among the top teams at Club XC the last couple of years. GLRR are the 2019 Club XC M60's champs; AB was just off the podiunm in 4th, with Atlanta, Boulder, and Shore further back. Of course a single race wil be influenced by available personnel more than a Grand Prix series. And roads and the turf are different surfaces; some runners excel at roads, others the turf. Needless to say these are tough teams that are closely matched. GLRR is getting the rematch they hoped for after ATC took their initial 5K contest. It will likely be close! 
ATC Ken Youngers, Mike Anderson, and Phil Richey were the top 3 for ATC, with Casey Hannan and Neil Feather adding the next two fastest times. 
Ken Youngers leading his 50's teammate, Gary Droze, into the final turn at the 2018 USATF 5K Championship in Atlanta [Photo courtesy of Mike Scott]

But by Age-Grading, Kirk Larson, 68, was their 5th runner. They will be without Richey but have added two of their strongest runners, Tom McCormack and Jeffery Dundas. At the 5K Championship in Atlanta in 2018, McCormack, the M60 American Record holder from 2014 at 16:58, clocked a 17:53, finishing 25 seconds ahead of Youngers on that tough course. 
Tom McCormack cruising to a 17:53 at the 2018 USATF Masters 5K Championship in Atlanta, leading his ATC 60's team to victory [Photo courtesy of Mike Scott]

Last year, Dundas was only 12 seconds behind Youngers on the same course. Dundas and McCormack have had up and down years recently depending on health and  injuries. Current fitness is impossible to gauge but McCormack, who resides and trains in the foothills of the Smokies, ran a sub-18 5K last September in NC. Dundas, who resides and trains in Metro Atlanta, ran an 18:12 last September, and an 18:28 at the Hearts and Soles 5K in Atlanta in February. 
Atlanta's M60+ Team Victorious at 2019 USATF Masters 8K Championship in Virginia Beach L to R: Kirk Larson, Mike Anderson, Jeff Dundas, Ken Youngers, Phil Richey [Photo courtesy of Atlanta Track Club]

Since this is an age-graded competition, it is worth mentioning that Larson outpointed Anderson in age grade % when they  both ran the 5K in Atlanta in 2018. Bob Dalton ran 22:03 at the 5K Masters Championship in Atlanta in August, and 1:08:18 at a 15K in October. Another addition is Randy Stroud who adds depth should ATC need it; he ran 22:28 at the USATF Masters 5K Championship in Atlanta last August and clocked 22:54 at a 5K in early February.

AB  Were this a XC contest, Dan King would be expected to lead the AB team and probably all others; he took 3rd at Club Cross last December behind Joe Sheeran and Mark Reeder. It would have been interesting to see how King fares on the roads. But I learned rcently from Strava that King is rehabbing a hamstring so all bets are off. [After posting this, DK let me know he would not be turning in a time for this virtual competition. He is focused on rehab and maile training for the Brooklyn Mile.]
Dan King claims the final podium spot at the M60 and up race at the 2019 USATF Club XC Championship at Lehigh University in Bethlehem PA [Photo courtesy of Mike Scott]

Over the last couple of years, Sheeran has beaten BRR's Sayre on the turf, but Sayre has reversed the tables on the roads. Rick Bruess is AB's capable number 2 on the roads, finishing 33rd at Club Cross. He ran two 5K's in Colorado in the mid-19's last year and in the earlier part of the year ran 5K's in California from the mid 18's to low 19's, presumably an altitude effect.  

Kevin Cooper was only 13 seconds behind Bruess at Club Cross so he gives them good depth through 3. 
Kevin Cooper orange singlet pushes the pace as he helps his Athletics Boulder team to the win at the 020 USATF XC Championships at Mission Bay Park in San Diego [Photo courtesy of Mike Scott]

Martin Lascelles ran 19:40 a virtual 5K in Colorado about a month ago. By way of comparison, he ran 18:53 at Carlsbad last year. Jay Littlepage ran 19:43 at the Denver 5K last September but this New Year's Day ran the Resolute Runner 5k in 21:10 compared to his 22:01 last year. Ken Masarie, in 2017, ran the Loveland Classic and the Human Race in Ft. Collins in 39:11 and 38:57, but I can find no results since then. If he has similar fitness now, he could be among their top 3.

BRR Roger Sayre has been the team leader, whether on the roads or the turf, since he joined the team a couple of years ago. In Atlanta last August he finished 40 seconds ahead of Youngers and the better part of a minute ahead of Dundas. That is what we would expect this time around unless he is not fully recovered from the injury he sustained in Tulsa last October when he had to jog in over the last mile or so to help his team. A 19:50 at the Snowman Stampede's 5K in Littleton CO on February 22nd might make one think that his recovery was not that far along. But in 2019 he ran the 10K in 43:04 so we can presume the 10K, at least, is a tough course. Their website refers to all 3 of their races, 5K, 10K, and HM as flat and fast. The toughness must, therefore, be due to altitude. [Note: After this was published I learned that the 43:04 10K was a day after a snowfall and Sayre ran about the 19:50 was probably a good indicator of fitness in February. Still, that was 3 months ago. The main point that Sayre would be expected to run faster than that but maybe not as fast as his 2018-19 times is still valid.] The 19:50 must be an over-predictor of what Sayre would run at sea level, and maybe he was playing it safe at that time. 
Roger Sayre running [or should we say snowshoeing?] the 2018 Snowman Stampede 10K

It is hard to believe he would not be down close to 18:00 at least, even at altitude.  Dan Spale was BRR's top runner before Sayre joined the crew. Since then, when injury allows, Spale has run and been an effective #2 runner. At the 2018 5K that Sayre won, Spale came in 6th, 15 seconds behind Youngers. At Club Cross this past December, Spale finished 16th, ten seconds back from Dundas. Spale also led BRR at San Diego this past January. Mark Tatum is dynamite on the trails and on the turf.  He won his age division and finished 2nd overall to Brian Pilcher at Dipsea (a 'handicap' race) last year, arguably one of the toughest, and most illustrious, short trail races in the country. He also finished just 3 seconds back from Sayre in Tallahassee in early 2019. Jay Littlepage was their 2nd runner, finishing a minute and a half behind Spale. Curiously though, it appears that Littlepage is now running for their local rivals, Athletics Boulder. George Braun has been a consistent force for BRR the last few years. He took 2nd in the 65-69 division at Club Cross at Lehigh last December, running #2 for Boulder, finishing just 11 seconds back from Spale. Braun ran a 21:58 5K on New Year's Eve Day at the very end of 2019 and then ran races in January and February that were Half Marathons or longer. Jack Pottle was #3 runner for BRR at the USATF XC Championships in San Diego in January, finishing three minutes back from Spale. On March 1, 2020, he ran a 44:57 10K, which seems to be consistent with his other efforts at that distance over th elast year. Adam Feerst appears to be a new recruit. He was in Santa Monica over Christmas and ran a 40:15 10K there. It appears that he tends to run 20+ for 5K's at altitude. Mike Fronsoe was the #4 runner for BRR at the Tallhassee XC Championships in February 2019, finishing about 3 minutes behind Spale. A year ago, Paul Nicolaides, another new recruit, ran 42:34 to take the 60-64 crown at the Bolder Boulder 10K. Later in the year he won his division at the Marine Corps Marathon in 3:18:19. I am saving the best for last, in a way. Doug Bell is in the Masters Hall of Fame. Arguably at his best on the XC turf, he was also a force on the roads. As recently as 2018 he finished on the podium in the USATF Masters Grand Prix for M65. He took his age division at the 2019 Bolder Boulder 10K with a 43:36. Bell's back has troubled him in recent years but when he can keep it under control he is a definite threat. He was only 4 seconds off the 65-69 podium at Club Cross in Spokane. Now 69, if Bell has one of his good days, his age-grading will be very competitive. Benji Durden finished 2nd in the 1980 US Olympic Marathon Trials in 2:10:40. Denied his chance at Olympic glory by the boycott of the games held in Moscow, Durden went on to run his fastest Marathon, 2:09: in finishing 3rd at Boston in 1983. Most former elite runners who were at the top of their game in competing for Olympic and World Championship glory, are no longer competitive at the top of the Masters field, and that is probably true of Durden. But he will give no quarter. In January he ran 22:59 at the Chevron Houston 5K and 4:14:54 at the Marathon. Age-grading could make him a factor. It will certainly be an honor for the rest of the competitors to be able to say they competed against Durden!
GLRR Looking for their revenge, Greater Lowell brings a strong team although they would be happier if they had John Barbour and Mark Reeder, their two aces from Club XC last December. Reeder took 2nd in M60 and Barbour was just a minute slower, taking first in M65. Barbour and Reeder were 3rd and 4th in age-grading among the 60's and up runners, relevant for this competition. They will be missed. Barbour is nursing an injury and hopes to be competing again later this year. But even without those two, GLRR is competitive. In the earlier virtual contest, David Westenberg led the way with an 18:14, followed by Charlie Muse 18:50, John Hadcock 19:25, Peter LaGoy 20:20, and Kevin Christie 20:31. At Club Cross last December, Westenberg and LaGoy followed BRR's Spale across the finish line, 1 and 3 seconds back, respectively. [Note: After I posted this, I learned that Charlie Muse is out. I have no other details; that means GLRR is without 3 of its top 4 runners.] Bill Dumont, Glenn Stewart, and Peter Wasylak did not compete in the earlier virtual contest. 
Greater Lowell's John Barbour #1479 and teammate David Westenberg far right chasing Atlanta's  Ken Youngers, with teammate, Jeff Dundas middle background trying to maintain contact at the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University [Photo courtesy of Mike Scott]

Dumont's Athlinks profile is private so not much can be learned there, although there is a 2.5 mile leg of a 10 mile relay from last August where he had a 7:14 pace per mile. It also appears he ran the Boston Marathon last year in 3:33:28. Both suggest he would add depth rather than strength at the top. Stewart ran 20:46 at the Super 5K in Lowell in February, pretty fancy stepping for a 69-year-old, fast enough to earn a solid 83.23% age grade score. Last November he ran a 43:41 10K. Wasylak ran a 24:10 5K on New Year's Day, and a 39:17 5-Miler in early February. He ran 39:59 at Lehigh last December.
SAC Normally it would be Reno Stirrat and Kevin Dollard leading the way for Shore. But Stirrat had hip problems over the latter part of 2019 and into 2020. Just when those were subsiding, his back started to trouble him. To say he is not at peak fitness would be an understatement. But Reno is a battler and he has shown before that he can surprise us all on the day of a race. 
L to R: Timothy Riccardi, Reno Stirrat, Dan Spale, and Phil Richey dueling for the 60's Team Title at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee FL [Photo courtesy of Mike Scott]

He finished 2nd in M65 at the 15K Masters Championship in Tulsa with a 1:00:28, despite his hip problems leading into that. Stirrat subsequently cracked a 31:48 to win his division at the Ashenfelter 8K in late November. Dollard clocked 1:03:36 at Tulsa and ran a 20:09 in a Turkey Trot 5K. 
Kevin Dollard #192 and Scott Linnell #328 in the thick of things at the 2019 USATF XC Championships in Tallahassee [Photo courtesy of Mike Scott]

Captain Scott Linnell will provide his usual strong support. After a 400 and 800 meter outing in Indoor Track in February, Linnell ran in one of the last road races before the pandemic closed everything down, clocking a 1:38:29 at the E Murray Todd Half Marathon on March 8th. Prior to that he raced in the Winter series of 5K's clocking between 20:28 and 21:41. Paul Deykerhoff, after running a 7:08 mile on the Indoor Track in early February, joined Linnell at the Half Marathon in early March, clocking 1:58:11. David Hughes is a mystery to me; I can find nothing on Athlinks nor from a quick web search. There are two ultra-marathoners with that name, but one is 58 and one 64; neither is 64. John Kilduff, 68,  is a speed demon by comparison, clocking a 6:02 for the Indoor mile. He ran 1:36:07 at the Todd HM, and was Shore's 2nd runner on the B-team at Club Cross, finishing a half minute ahead of Linnell. What I just wrote about Kilduff goes double for Harold Leddy; he ran 5:40.6 in an Indoor Mile in March 2019 and was the top runner on the B team at Club Cross, clocking 33:39, finishing a minute and a half ahead of Kilduff.  
Shore AC's Harold Leddy [L] and  Jack Pottle [R]of the Boulder Road Runners going toe to toe at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships in San Diego [Photo courtesy of Mike Scott]

Harold Nolan, at 73, the Dean of the Shore team, is a speedy track guy who runs road races on occasion. He took the 2017 USATF National Road Mile 70-74 Championship in 6:07, beating yours truly by 7 seconds. More recently he clocked 24:11 at a 5K between Christmas 2019 and New Years. In early February, took the NJ/NY Indooor 800 meter 70-74 Championship in 2:55.8, and the 3000 meter championship in 13:44.01 [7:23 pace]. Scoring by age-grading make Kilduff and Nolan more competitive.

There are so many imponderables, across so many runners, that it is always difficult to pick teams. That is doubly so during a pandemic and no races; that affects training and fitness differently for different runners. Some may come back more easily from injury; others may allow fitness to slip some from lack of race-motivation. With those caveats, and just for fun, here's how I see it likely to come out. As always, we run the race to see how it comes out virtually!

ATC (1) Tom McCormack rarely agrees to race unless he is feeling confident he can turn in a good time. So I expect him to be around 18 or, more likely, faster. Youngers should certainly run well under 18. Even if Anderson should slip a bit from the 18:40 he turned in against Garden State, the addition of Dundas should more than make up for it. Larson should again be able to run mid-20's. If all that comes to pass, ATC's average age grade % would be around 88 or slightly higher. That should be enough for the win. If any of those 5 are off, though, ATC's average could fall enough to give an opening for the BRR crew.

BRR (2) Sayre will surely run much faster than the 19:50 he clocked in February. But will he be recovered sufficiently to record a faster time than McCormack and Youngers? If so, BRR could upset ATC. But everything has to fall into place. Spale and Tatum would need to have times that are close together and not too far behind Youngers. Getting a good day from Bell would help immensely. A couple of years back we would have written him in for 18+; if he can come in close to 20, that would help BRR a lot. They still need one more good age grade. It is most likely to come from Pottle running around 20 or from Fronsoe cracking 20 by a good bit. If all goes well, I have them a bit under 88% on average.

There appears to be a little distance between those two and the rest if everyone entered delivers their best.

If AB's King were healthy and fit, it would likely be very tight between them and GLRR. With King hobbled to any large degree by a recalcitrant hamstring it appears unlikely that AB can count on him leading the way. Since an interval workout on the 18th he has been either bike riding, running int he pool or doing a run/walk. Knowing King he will try to make enough progress to turn in a decent 5K by the 31st. But even if he recovers mostly it is hard to see how he would be able to get much under 19. If so, then Westenberg and Muse of GLRR are likely to outpoint King in age-grading. With strong support from Stewart (age-grading effect), Hadcock and LaGoy, GLRR could well average around 85%. That should land them on the podium!

If King surprises me and comes all the way back, then AB contends with GLRR for 3rd.  But that would be pushing it. With Bruess, Lascelles, and Masari all expected to come in under 85%, their average would also be close to 85%. If my reading on King is accurate, AB is likely to be a bit under 84% average. That would land them in 4th at best.

Shore is somewhat in the same boat as AB with their top runner, Stirrat, having recently graduated from Walk, Run/Walk and Elliptical workouts to 4-6 mile runs at what would normally count as an easy pace, Stirrat is further along than King. But he has been away from strong workouts for a longer period of time. Running a low 20's time would be amazing, and perhaps unwise. It seems unlikely that anyone else except possibly Leddy could crack 20 by much. With Dollard, Kilduff, Leddy, and Linnell running their usual good efforts, and Stirrat chipping in what he can, it would be surprising if Shore got an average above the low 80's.

Atlanta Track Club     Boulder Road Runners   Greater Lowell Road Runners 

Women As with the earlier virtual contest, Women's teams are prepared to join the battle. At first glance, I thought the Greater Lowell Road Runners had the edge over the Shore AC. Liane Pancoast finished 4th at the 2019 USATF Masters 10K Championship in Dedham MA with a 44:53.  
Liane Pancoast #81 finishing strong at the 2019 USATF Masters 10K Championship at Dedham [Photo courtesy of Mike Scott]

Julie Haynes was further back but at 49:22 finished over 4 minutes ahead of
Julie Haynes charges toward the finish line at the 2019 USATF Masters 10K Championship at Dedham [Photo courtesy of Mike Scott]

Shore Athletic Club's Susan Stirrat.  

Susan Stirrat strides to the finish at the 2019 USATF Masters 10K Championship at Dedham [Photo courtesy of Mike Scott]

Pancoast and Haynes were joined by the celebrated marathoner, Sally Reiley, who clocked 3:28:39 at the NYC Marathon last November. That age graded at 84.33.  
Sally Reiley finishing off her 2017 Boston Marathon [Photo credit:]

Dawn Ciccone, Stirrat's teammate, finished 14 seconds ahead of her at Club XC and both run their 5K's in the low 25 to low 26 minute range. 
Dawn Ciccone #2147 negotiates the rain-soaked course at the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem PA [Photo courtesy of Mike Scott]

All of the GLRR top  three regularly crack 24, with Pancoast and Reiley sometimes under 24. Carol Gagne and Michelle Roche run their 5K's in the 29 minute range and above; they can be counted upon if in case any of the others cannot run to their potential. 

All I had heard about Shore's 3rd teammate was that they were giving a 70's woman a chance to compete in the virtual race. I thought it unlikely she would be enough stronger that the contest would become close. Was I ever wrong! When I investigated further, I found that Barbara Donelik, 73, runs very fast times for her age. The 1:51:46 Half Marathon she ran at the Philly Marathon last November age graded at 91.47%. This past December and January she ran two 5K's in 23:38 and 24:14. If she can run close to 23:30 and Ciccone and Stirrat can both run in the low  25 minute range, they could upset Greater Lowell.  Those times would give them an average around 82.4. If Pancoast, Haynes and Reiley ran 22:40, 23:20, and 22:25, their average would be about 82.3. So the outcome lies on a knife edge; it could easily go one way or the other. With just three runners, Shore has no room for error; all three have to be ready to run when called upon.

My hunch, and it is just a hunch, is that the Greater Lowell runners are more apt to hit their times as a group. But I have been proven wrong before and may be again. My the best team win!

Greater Lowell Road Runners     Shore Athletic Club


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  2. Congratulations to the GLRR for taking the MV first place brick during the Mill Cities Relay in 2023. SRR Fluff Enough