Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Boulder Road Runners-Memorial Day Week Virtual Age-Graded Competition for 60's Athletes--Recap

June 6 2020. The Boulder Road Runners [BRR] M60 guys had had enough of 'no races!' With their ace, Roger Sayre taking the lead, assisted by Team Captain, Bruce Kirschner, they laid out a plan for a Virtual competition series among M60 and W60 teams. They decided to contact other 60+ teams that had been competing in the USATF Masters Grand Prix over the past few years. Luckily they had a few contacts and asked me to help them contact a few others. Athletics Boulder [AB], the Atlanta Track Club [ATC], the Greater Lowell Road Runners [GLRR], and the Shore Athletic Club [SAC] were eager to join in. Their team reps, Mike Anderson and David Westenberg coordinated on their end. The timing of the first race did not work for the Garden State Track Club, but they left open the possibility of competing later in the series.  The guidelines for the contest are posted after the recap below.

AB's Dan King and GLRR's Charlie Muse were not able to run, King because of a hamstring injury. Muse going down meant GLRR were without 3 of their top 4 runners as Mark Reeder and John Barbour are also unavailable at present. SAC's Reno Stirrat was plagued by hip problems off and on since last summer. As those faded away this winter, his back seized his attention. He took some time off and is working his way back to fitness. Roger Sayre had some problems at Tulsa and he too is on the comeback trail. Sayre and Stirrat, though not at their best, competed here; those who can, soldier on. Sayre was at the top of his game up through October last year, claiming a podium spot in the Cross Country contest and then took the Gold in the Half Marathon at the World Masters Athletics Championships; that and his stellar work in a number of National Championships led to USATF naming him the  2019 USATF M60 Road Runner of the Year. 
Roger Sayre crossing the finish line in Torun, Poland to claim the M60 Gold Medal in the 2019 World Masters Half Marathon Championships in 1:17:49, edging  his Kazakhstan Rival by 18 seconds! [Photo by David Angell]

Stirrat joined the M65 division in April; he battled for 1st in each national championship. In Atlanta he had the same 19:14 time as Joe Reda, but Reda had the faster close coming off the pace, and a better lean at the tape. Despite the off and on problems with his hip throughout the summer and fall, the 15K Championships in Tulsa was, perhaps, his next best race as he clocked 1:00:28 to take second behind Reda.  There are no splits available; with only final times to go on, I will report as if standing at the finish line and seeing who comes across in order. I do a 'pretend' scoring based on gps time and XC styke scoring, just for fun! Then, as we do in the actual USATF Championships, we will have to wait for the Age-Grading scores. As noted above, however, the Teams agreed that Age-Grading, not gps time, would determine the actual order of team finish. That can actually be a better incentive to run hard all the way to the finish line when runs are virtual and there are no real competitors around.

With King out, and Sayre and Stirrat at less than full fitness, it appeared that race for fastest gps time would likely come down to Jeffery Dundas, Tom McCormack, David Westenberg, and Ken Youngers. McCormack was the only one of those four to have beaten Youngers at 5K in recent years. McCormack was almost a DNF; he reported that he has shifted his focus to Mountain Biking, a sensible alternative for someone residing in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. As a result he was very tired and did not think he could run a good 5K in the time window. He also noted that he had run a 5 Miler the week before and if you just took the final 3.11 miles of the run it was an 18:40 that was, in Tom's words, "...not very good." That is a fair enough assessment from the fellow who held the M60 5K record from 2014-2016 by running a 16:58 at the 2016 USATF Masters 5 Km Championship. But almost anyone else would be overjoyed to crack 19 minutes at age 66. And this was finishing off a 5 mile run, admittedly a negative split one, but still....With all that, the BRR organizers graciously decided to accept this '5K' for their race!
Dundas has been part of the resurgence of ATC's M60 team since getting his health under control. He took 4th at the 2019 USATF Masters 10K Championship in 37:47, finishing about a minute and a half behind Youngers and about the same amount ahead of Westenberg. Later he finished 3rd at the 5K Championships in Atlanta.  

David Westenberg took top honors in M60 at the 2019 Masters Road Mile Championships in Flint, clocking 5:13 on that technically demanding course, 12 seconds ahead of Dundas and 14 ahead of Youngers. Of course, Westenberg's first love is the Mile, but Mile prowess is a better predictor of 5K success than of 10K. As noted, Youngers took the M60 honors at the Masters 10K Championships in Dedham in 36:19 and finished 2nd on an off day to Sayre in Atlanta in 18:10. With McCormack stuck at 18:40, it seemed likely that the other three might all have faster times. Youngers is probably the favorite based on his faster times at 5K and that he ran 17:02 a few weeks earlier in another virtual contest. It is a toss up for the other two; Westenberg is faster at the Mile than Dundas but Dundas is faster at the 10K. Last year I would have definitely favored Dundas but this year Westenberg has been logging a lot of miles. Dundas also took the honors by 11 seconds over Westenberg at the Club Cross Championships at Lehigh's 8 Km XC course. Picking the order as Youngers, Dundas, Westenberg would probably be sensible.

Virtual GPS times and XC-style scoring. [just for interest's sake] All but three runners traversed a 5K course;  Paul Deykerhoff SAC, Jay Littlepage AB, and Roger Sayre BRR, consistent with the rules, decided to run a 10K. I took the liberty of figuring out their age-grade-equivalent 5K time and used that for this section. 

With McCormack hampered by his Mountain Bike focus that left the race wide open for Youngers, who took every advantage of it, bringing it home in 17:30. Dundas, McCormack, and Westenberg had a close battle for the rest of the GPS podium, but Westenberg poured it on to edge Dundas by 4 seconds, 18:32 to 18:36, with McCormack another 4 seconds back. That left Atlanta with the top time, GLRR with #2, and Atlanta #'s 3 and 4. John Hadcock clocked 18:59 for GLRR and ATC's Mike Anderson 19:08. Roger Sayre's 5K-equivalent time of 19:21 came next, #7, for BRR. Martin Lascelles broke the ice for AB with a 19:23. Jack Pottle was 2nd man across the line for BRR at 19:49, followed by Atlanta's Kirk Larson at 19:56, the only runner, except for McCormack, over the age of 65 to break 20 minutes. 
Atlanta Track Club M60 Team at the starting line at the 2019 USATF Club XC Championships at Lehigh. L to R: Kirk Larson, Mike Anderson, Jeff Dundas, Ken Youngers [Photo by Mireille 'Mimi' Silva]

That gave Atlanta their first 5 runners finished, a very important milestone if scoring were on gps time. Even with age-grading, it is likely to be indicative. The next two runners tied at 20 minutes flat; both were from Boulder but one, Rick Bruess, #11.5, ran for AB while the other, Adam Feerst, #11.5, ran for BRR. 
Adam Feerst strides to a 20 minute flat Virtual 5K
in the Boulder RR Virtual 60's Race Series. [Photo Credit: Photo credit for BRR pics-Video by Lupita Nicolaides, snipped out into a photo by Adam Feerst]

SAC's top two finishers, Harold Leddy and David Huse, cracked the ice with identical 20:11 times, giving them two runners in at #13.5. 

At this point it was Atlanta with #'s 1,3,4,6, and 10; GLRR with #2 and #5; AB with #8 and #11.5; BRR #7, #9 and #11.5; SAC #'s 13.5 and 13.5. If scoring had been based on gps time and XC-style scoring, ATC would have nailed the win with 24 points. BRR would have 3 runners in with 27.5 points. The other three teams had two runners in: GLRR 7   AB 19.5   SAC 27.

ATC's Casey Hannan, #15, stopped the clock next at 20:13, followed by BRR's George Braun, #16.5 and GLRR's Peter LaGoy, #16.5, both at 20:19. Three seconds later Doug Bell, #18,  joined his four BRR teammates on the long side of the finish line. That gave BRR 5 runners in and 62 points but the rest of the gps-podium was still unsettled; runners were finishing off their races fast and furiously. GLRR could still claim 2nd in this scoring format if their next three times were tightly packed. Kevin Christie, of GLRR, came next at #19 for GLRR. But then it was BRR's Paul Nicolaides at #20, to give BRR a little insurance as their 6th runner in. Jay Littlepage's 5K equivalent time of 20:31 gave AB #21, but then SAC's next two runners, John Kilduff and Kevin Dollard, closed off their runs at 20:35, giving SAC #'s 22.5 and #22.5. Ken Masarie gave AB their 4th finisher at 20:40 and then Stirrat closed off SAC's scoring with a 20:47 in 25th place. That gave them third place, at least momentarily among teams with full scoring. SAC's Scott Linnell clocked 21:01 as their 6th-man, at #26, to push GLRR and AB another point back. The next two were GLRR's as Glenn Stewart and Bill Dumont claimed #27 and 28 at 21:12 and 21:26. That gave GLRR a final score of 69.5 and the final spot on the pretend podium. Benji Durden, the World Class runner in the late 1970's and early 1980's,  came next for BRR at 21:40, #28. Kevin Cooper closed off the scoring for AB, with a 21:56 for #29. That gave AB 93.5 points, enabling them to just squeeze past SAC's 97 point total. Times behind Cooper's included: Peter Wasylak GLRR 22:28, Neil Feather ATC 22:43, Bob Dalton ATC 23:23, Randy Stroud ATC 23:38, Harold Nolan SAC 23:47, and Paul Deykerhoff SAC 53:35.

The order of finish for this alternate, unapproved, method of scoring was:
Atlanta Track Club 24   Boulder Road Runners 62  Greater Lowell Road Runners 69.5   Athletics Boulder 93.5   Shore Athletic Club 97

Age-Graded Scoring for Official Results

Let us look first at the top ten individual age-graded scores. Ken Youngers 63 ATC not only clocked the top time, he had it by a long shot; his 17:30 age grades to 93.52%, a 'World Class' effort. Second was Tom McCormack's 66 ATC 'not very good' effort; his 18:40 converts to 90% flat, also a world class effort. David Westenberg 62 GLRR completed the age-grading podium; his 18:32 earned an 87.59%. 
Greater Lowell Road Runners 4 x 400 Meter Relay Team at the 2020 Millrose Games-L to R: John Hadcock, Charlie Muse, Ken Goodin, David Westenberg [Photo provided by J. Hadcock]

He had a margin of almost two percentage points; the next three were very tight, with only 0.21 percentage points between the three. The first three off the podium, #'s 4.5. and 6 were: Martin Lascelles 65 AB; his 19:23 scores at 85.90, while Jeff Dundas's 60 ATC 18:36 converts to 85.84, just .06 pct. points behind Lascelles. Kirk Larson 68 ATC came next, just another .15 pct. points back; his 19:56 earned 85.79.  Larson's margin was almost a whole percentage point; the next three were even tighter, between 84.86 and 84.81! Doug Bell 69 BRR took the #7 spot; 
Doug Bell finishes off his third place M60-64 effort in his last year in the age group at the 2015 USATF Cross Country Championships in Boulder CO [Photo posted on Bell's Facebook page]

his 20:22 scored 84.86, .02 percentage points ahead of Mike Anderson's 62 ATC  19:08, which converts to 84.84%. John Hadcock 61 GLRR was not far off; his 18:59 earned 84.81. Jack Pottle 65 BRR finished the top ten; 
Jack Pottle cruises to a 19:49 Virtual 5K in the Boulder RR Virtual 60's Race Series. Age-graded at 84.02%, Pottle helped the Boulder Road Runners to a 2nd place finish [Photo Credit: Photo credit for BRR pics-Video by Lupita Nicolaides, snipped out into a photo by Adam Feerst]

his 19:49 merited an 84.02%.
Ken Youngers 17:30 93.52%   Tom McCormack 18:40 90.0%   David Westenberg 18:32 87.59%


Scoring is by the sum of the top 5 scores; this is equivalent to figuring the average of th etop 5 scores. As that is easier to keep track of as one goes, I will use the average. The team scoring based on the Top ten reported above was:  
ATC   93.52 + 90.0 + 85.84 + 85.79 +84.84 for an average of 88.00%. As they have 5 runners in the top ten, this is their final score and the average to beat.

 AB 85.90 for an average of 85.90 from their top one runner.
BRR 84.86 + 84.02 for an average of 84.42 from their top two runners.
GLRR  87.59 + 84.81 for an average of 86.20 from their top two runners.
SAC No runners in top ten. 

Numbers 11 through 20 were: Roger Sayre 62 BRR 39:50/19:21 83.89 John Kilduff 68 SAC 20:35 83.08 George Braun 66 BRR 20:19 82.69 Harold Leddy 65 SAC 20:11 82.49 Glenn Stewart 69 GLRR 20:12 81.53 Reno Stirrat 66 SAC 20:47 80.83 Paul Nicolaides 64 BRR 20:29 80.63 Rick Bruess 61 AB 20:00 80.50 David Huse 62 SAC 20:11 80.43 Kevin Dollard 64 SAC 20:35 80.24

Sayre and Braun gave BRR their third and 4th age-grade scores. 

George Braun, on his way to a sun-drenched 20:19 Virtual 5K in the Boulder RR Virtual 60's Race Series. Age-graded at 82.69%, Braun helped the Boulder Road Runners to a 2nd place finish [Photo Credit: Photo credit for BRR pics-Video by Lupita Nicolaides, snipped out into a photo by Adam Feerst]
When Paul Nicolaides chipped in his 80.63 that gave Boulder 5 finishers at 84.86 + 84.02 + 83.89 +82.69 +80.63 for an average Age-Grade score of 83.22, and 2nd place.
Paul Nicolaides steps smartly to a 20:29 Virtual 5K in the Boulder RR Virtual 60's Race Series. Age-graded at 80.63%, his National Class performance closed off the scoring for the 2nd place Boulder Road Runners [Photo Credit: Photo credit for BRR pics-Video by Lupita Nicolaides, snipped out into a photo by Adam Feerst]

SAC's 1st score came in with Kilduff but SAC had the equivalent of a 'tight pack' in terms of age grade scores. Leddy was a half pct. point behind Kilduff, and then SAC had Stirrat, Huse, and Dollard all ringing the bell between 80.83 and 80.24. 
The New Jersey portion of Shore AC, L to R: Harold Leddy, Reno Stirrat, Scott Linnell, John Kilduff, met up for their socially distant virtual 5K's [Photo posted on R. Stirrat's FB page]

That gave SAC five scores in at 83.08 + 82.49 + 80.83 + 80.43 + 80.24 for an average of 81.41, sitting in 3rd place.

GLRR had 3 runners in at: 87.59 + 84.81 + 81.53 for an average of 84.64.
AB had 2 runners in at: 85.90 + 80.50 for an average of  83.20.

GLRR has the second highest average but their 4th and 5th runners will pull the average down. AB has a higher average than SAC but SAC's average is final and AB has 3 runners who will pull the average down.

GLRR's 4th and 5th runners were Kevin Chistie 62 20:24 79.58 and Peter LaGoy 60 20:19 78.59.
Greater Lowell Road Runners lined up at the start of the 2019 USATF Club XC Championships at Lehigh University L to R: Peter LaGoy, Peter Wasylak, John Barbour, David Westenberg, Ken Goodin, Charlie Muse, John Hadcock [Photo posted on D. Westenberg's FB page]

They were not able to stay ahead of BRR in 2nd but they did move ahead of SAC to take 3rd place with an average of 82.42.

AB's 3rd through 5th runners were: Ken Masarie 61 20:40 77.90 Jay Littlepage 60 42:09/20:31 77.82 Kevin Cooper 60 21:56 72.80. That gave AB an average of 78.98. SAC held onto 4th place with AB 5th.

Atlanta Track Club 88.00%    Boulder Road Runners 83.22%   Greater Lowell Road Runners 82.42%

Atlanta demonstrated that they are still the M60 team to beat. Whether by age-grading or absolute time XC style, they dominated this week's virtual run! Boulder and Greater Lowell were closely matched with Boulder edging Lowell in the approved age-grading contest and the just-for-fun XC style scoring on GPS time.


As there are only two teams entered, Greater Lowell Road Runners and  Shore Athletic Club the format here is straightforward. When the just-for-fun gps-XC style scoring is used, Greater Lowell dominates. Sally Reiley  and Liane Pancoast finished 1-2 in 22:38 and 24:00. Shore's Barbara Donelik took 3rd in 24:16, but then Julie Haynes wrapped it up for Lowell with a 25:29 in 4th place. Susan Stirrat and Dawn Ciccone took 5th and 6th in 25:53 and 26:32. So GLRR wins 7 to 14.

But Donelik is the wild card for when we switch to the approved scoring method, the age-grade average. Donelik is 73 and mighty fast for a73-year-old.

With Age-Grading, the podium consists of Barbara Donelik 73 SAC whose 24:16 grades out at 90.80%; Sally Reiley 60 GLRR whose 22:38 grades at 81.89; and Liane Pancoast 62 GLRR whose 24:00 grades at 79.17%.
Sally Ankeny Reiley [R] & Julia Reiley committed to Marathon training over the summer when the Boston Marathon was postponed [Photo posted on S. Reiley's FB page]

Donelik gave Shore the edge but Stirrat and Ciccone's times have to score well on age-grading too fro Shore to reverse the tables. Just off the podium with the 4th highest age-grade was Susan Stirrat 64 SAC whose 25:53 
Susan Stirrat, all smiles after her 25:53 Virtual 5K run helped her team, Shore AC edge the Greater Lowell Road Runners [Photo posted on S. Stirrat FB page]

scored a 75.27%. Greater Lowell's Julie Haynes scored 73.64 
Julie Haynes turned in for the GLRR 40th Anniversary Celebration [Posted on J. Haynes FB page]

to Dawn Ciccone's 73.45. 
Dawn Ciccone, justifiably proud after finishing her 26:32 Virtual 5K at the Lehigh University track, closing out Shore's scoring and heping them to the virtual win [Photo posted on D. Ciccone's FB page.]

Stirrat and Ciccone came through in support of Donelik as Shore AC edged GLRR by a mere 1.6 percentage points!. 
Shore AC 90.80 + 75.27 + 73.45 for an average of 79.84%
Greater Lowell RR  81.89 + 79.17 + 73.64  for an average of 78.23%

Wow, that was a very tight contest which could have gone either way!

Shore AC takes the women's title for Memorial Day Week.
Congratulations to all who competed! Real races are better, but virtual races are better than just training! 

Next up for the Boulder Virtual series is Independence Day week where they will go at it again with similar rules. I understand they may use the NCAA approved adjustments for Championship qualifying purposes. Details to come. 

If you are a 60's team, male or female, that would like to participate in future virtual contests, please contact Bruce Kirschner <bhkirsch@comcast.net> and/or Roger Sayre <rws_58@yahoo.com>. They are only able to include 60's teams, but they are happy to correspond and offer tips to any club that wants to do the same thing for 40's, 50's, or 70's teams.

BRR Memorial Day Week Virtual 5K/10K 60's Race

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.
NOTE: This is not a USATF event; there is no direct connection with USATF.The organizers felt that teams who have participated int he Masters Grand Prix in recent years would be familiar with the format and would be interested in competing.

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. [USATF requirements for record eligibility include no more than 1 meter per kilometer drop and start to finish distance no more than 50% of total. So the BRR rule allows less separation but more elevation drop; the 50 feet per 5K works out to 15.24 meters per 5K or a little over 3 meters per kilometer. An enterprising runner, with some perseverance, and luck, can find a course that is faster than 'flat and fast'. On the other hand no one has a true competitor to race against; that should make times slower. As pacing is not specifically against the rules, it may be that some runners had pacers. It could be argued that this would show true 'team strength' if runners are willing to help out teammates in this way.

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.

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