Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Boulder Road Runners 60+ Summer Holidays Race Series-Independence Day Recap

July 22, 2020. The Boulder Road Runners [BRR] hosted the 2nd installment of their Summer Holidays 60-69 Virtual Race series from July 3rd to July 12th. As the preview noted, the main rules of interest are: 5K or 10K okay; track races must be by lap count; road courses must be no more than 50' drop (5K) or 100' drop (10K) with no more than 50% separation between start and finish; no pacing; altitude adjustment if course is 3500' or higher above sea level (by NCAA chart); 5 runners to score but 3 for Women's teams; Teams ranked by adding up age-grade percentages of top scoring runners; and no more than one runner 70+ can be among scoring runners for a team.

BRR decided, in the end, to list both altitude-adjusted and actual times for all athletes and use the un-adjusted times to order the team placements. The main part of the recap below uses the un-adjusted times. But after that I discuss how the adjustment would have changed things. Eight teams entered on the Men's side and 5 on the Women's side. I commend BRR for welcoming other teams that wanted to join the competition; it is the most teams so far for a Virtual Competition involving teams affiliated with USATF. As BRR makes clear, even though teams are affiliated with USATF and they require athletes to be current or recent members of USATF, the event is neither sponsored nor sanctioned by USATF; there is no connection whatsoever with USATF for this event.

In my preview I made Shore Athletic Club [Shore] the favorite, followed by the Greater Lowell Track Club [Lowell], and the BRR. Shore AC's Barbara Donelik was expected to lead the way for them and she did not disappoint. With a 24:39 at age 73, Donelik graded at 89.18%, the top age grade among the women by a wide margin! Greater Lowell needed another fine performance from noted Marathoner, Sally Reiley who turned in the 2nd best age grade of 84.09% by running 22:00 at age 60. The BRR's Lynn Hermanson and Greater Philadelphia's [Philly's] Sandra Folzer turned in sparkling efforts, but not good enough to beat Liberty AC's [Liberty's] Alda Cossi to the final age grading podium spot. Cossi, 65, ran 23:29 for an 83.89%, compared to the 81.29% earned by Folzer, 81, for her 30:44 and the 80.91% earned by Hermanson, 69, for her 25:40. You won't find many athletes in their 80's who can match their age or better in age grade percentage points, but Folzer is one!
1. Barbara Donelik 73 24:39 89.18%   2. Sally Reiley 60 22:00 84.09%   3. Alda Cossi 65 23:29 83.89%

Teams. Each of the 5 teams put one runner in the top 5. Which team had the strongest support? This was a virtual meet, but just for fun, I will report below as if it were a real road race, with no intermediate times known, and athletes crossing a finish line in real time, but with their Age Grade immediately calculated by the timing system with updates to both the individual and team leader board instantaneously and scrolling on a couple of  'Jumbotrons' around a grassy area near the finish. First to cross the finish line at 22:00 would be Lowell's Reiley 60, with an 84.09%. 
Sally Reiley celebrates her W60 win at the 2019 Reebok Boston 10K for Women [Photo from Reebok Boston 10K website, provided by Greater Lowell Road Runners]

Lowell gets the first one on the board and it's a good one! A minute goes by before Liberty's Cossi 65 enters the finishing area, closing it out smartly for 23:29 and an 83.89%. Wow, only 0.20 pct pt. advantage for Lowell. But Lowell is busy shouting for Liane Pancoast 62 to run all the way through the finish line, which she does, clocking a 23:53 for 79.34%. That puts her 3rd on the Individual leader board. Time is everything in this race! She was able to pull away from her Shore rivals but not by much. Lowell briefly enjoys their status as the only team with 2 runners in before seeing Shore's Diane Rothman 62 give Shore its first finisher at 24:01 for 78.90%. Rothman gives the sign to their supporters, "Two more coming!" Sure enough, Donelik 73 and Kim Hart 60 cross the line in tandem, both at 24:39. Donelik, with 13 years on Hart, earns an 89.18% to shoot past Reiley and Cossi on the individual leader board. Not only that, she pulls Shore's average way up. With Hart finishing at the same time, Shore is the first team to have a complete score. Three runners in and an average score of 81.04%. Lowell is eager to see their 3rd runner, they do not have to wait long as Julie Haynes 61 arrives next, with a 25:00 for 74.87%. Now Lowell has 3 runners in and an average of 79.43%. They could not quite catch Shore and with their two runners out on the course 60 and 61, there is no chance to improve on their average. They just have to hope they can hold onto 2nd. A half minute later, it was Liberty's Joan Butterton 62, posting a 25:37 for 73.96%. That gave Liberty 2 runners in with an average of 78.93%. That's only 0.5 pct. points behind Lowell. Lowell is wondering if Liberty has an older runner still on the course who might raise their average. In the meantime, Shore's Susan Stirrat 64 feeds their worry by posting a 25:44 for 75.78, displacing Hart and raising Shore's 3-runner average to 81.29%. Even more so, BRR's Lynn Hermanson 69 clocks 25:40 to post an 80.91% age-grade. As BRR's first runner, it seems unlikely they can challenge for the podium but Lowell worries if Liberty's 3rd runner is in her 70's and comes in soon, it could be trouble. Philly's Kyra McGrath gives them their first finisher at 25:57, a 75.92% age grade. That was a fine effort but as Philly's first effort, Lowell is unconcerned, for now. A minute goes by, and then a minute and a half; Lowell is starting to relax. All of a sudden the cry goes up "Two Liberty runners heading in!" Dru Pratt-Otto 61 is followed in by Anne Shreffler 63, who post times of 27:48 and 28:02, earning age grade scores of 67.33 and 68.49. Lowell breathes a sigh of relief. It looks like they will hold onto 2nd place. Liberty AC is now at 75.45, almost 4 percentage points down. Liberty would be delighted with the final podium spot, though. Liberty's Nora Mann 62 comes next, but her 28:17 earns a 67.00% that does not raise Liberty's average. A second Philly runner is heard from when Mary Fanelli Lund crosses the finish line in 29:05 for a 64.36%.  Philly has 2 runners in and a 70.14 average. It would take a high score for them to threaten Liberty. But one of the Philly runners mentions, "I don't think our 81-year-old runner, Folzer, a cancer survivor who is amazing, is that far back. Can she make the difference?! Before she appears, though, BRR's Nancy Antos 70 clocks 29:40 for 71.01%. BRR has 2 runners finished and a 75.96% average. That average is higher than Philly's with 3 runners in. But with BRR's remaining scoring runners under 70, by rule, it appears their average will be falling. Lowell's Michelle Roach 61 and Liberty's Karen Lein 62 speed across the line in 29:41 and 29:58 with a 63.05% and a 63.24 respectively. 
Liberty AC's [L to R] Alda Cossi, Nora Mann, and Karen Lein celebrate the 5K they just completed-Social Distancing at its Best! [Photo provided by Liberty AC]
Less than half a minute later, BRR gets their 3rd finisher in Catherine Groneman 67 who clocks 30:17 for 66.76%. That puts BRR's average at 72.89. BRR's only hope now would be if Philly did not get a third finisher. Shore's Katherine Packowski was right behind Groneman at 30:18 for 63.37%. Twenty-six seconds later, the suspense for Philly is over; their 3rd runner, Folzer, crosses the finish line to guarantee them their 4th place team finish. Can they move up? Her time of 30:44 age grades at 81.29%. That raises Philly's average to 73.86% leaving them firmly in 4th, almost a pct. point ahead of BRR but a pct. point and a half down from Liberty.  The scoring is closed out by BRR's Sara Cohen 65 and Lowell's Amanda Maffei 60 who earn 60.99 and 57.01.  

That's it! Shore celebrates the win, with Lowell and Liberty completing the podium in that order.
Shore AC 81.29% average     Greater Lowell Road Runners 79.43% average   Liberty AC 75.45% average.

Altitude-Adjusted Results.
Interestingly enough, the altitude adjustment kicked in for only two of the three BRR runners and one of the Greater Philadelphia runners. Lynn Hermanson, at 5348', sees her time adjusted to 24:54, raising her age grade from 80.91 to 83.42. That would move her up from 5th to 4th but still just short of the podium. Hermanson's BRR teammate, Nancy Antos, at 5331', would have her time adjusted down from 29:40 to 28:46 and her age grade rise from 71.01 to 73.22. Philly's Mary Fanelli Lund, at 3600', would see her time decrease from 29:05 to 28:36, and her age grade increase from 64.36 to 65.44. Both BRR and Philly see their average age grade score rise, but BRR's rises by more. BRR's AAP average is 74.47 compared to Philly's 74.22 moving BRR to 4th and dropping Philly to 5th. The Team podium is unchanged.

In my preview, I viewed the Atlanta Track Club as favorites, in part due to Tom McCormack, who typically grades in the low 90's, showing up on the entry list. Unfortunately for Atlanta, he did not compete, possibly because of a Mountain Bike conflict. I had BRR and Athletics Boulder [AB] comprising the rest of the team podium. 
In terms of Age-Grading, the Bowerman Track Club's [BTC] Doug Winn, the author of Happy, Fast Feet, was a step ahead of everyone, posting a 19:42 at age 70 for the top Individual  age grade of 88.49%. I don't know if Winn's feet are still happy, but they are definitely fast! Atlanta's Ken Youngers, the top age grader in the first installment, battled with Philly's Nick Vetere. Both 63, Vetere took the honors, 18:32 to 18:33. When runners are the same age, faster time means higher age grading. Vetere earned an 87.95 for 2nd place, with Youngers at 87.87 in 3rd. Lowell's David Westenberg was just off the podium. 
David Westenberg heading for 2nd at the 2019 NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile [Photo from provided by Greater Lowell Road Runners]

His 18:26 at age 62 graded at 87.61.
Doug Winn 70 19:42 88.49   Nick Vetere 63 18:32 87.95   Ken Youngers 63 18:33 87.87

As with the Women, this recap will pretend we are operating in real time and in the same place, which is not true. As we all know, teams were separated in space, often by thousands of miles. Any teammates running at the same time and place observed social distancing. It is also a little trickier in that four runners in the Men's contest chose to run 10K's; all of the Women competing chose the 5K. For those four, I will insert them according to their age-grading equivalent 5K time while noting their actual 10K performance. I focus on raw times first, with the altitude adjusted times in a subsequent section.

First across the finish line would be David Westenberg 62 who, no doubt, used his fast finishing kick to establish separation from his rivals. The reigning USATF M60 Road Mile Champion posted an 18:26, grading, as noted above, at 87.61. That gave Lowell the initial lead but it was short-lived. AB's Dan King 61 surged across the line 5 seconds later at 18:31 for 86.50%, followed closely by Nick Vetere 63 a second later, age-graded at 87.95%, and Ken Youngers 63 a second behind him, with an 87.87% age grade. That meant an early lead for Philly, followed closely by Atlanta, Lowell and AB. Twenty seconds went by before two more Philly guys came in, Tim Conheady 63 and Mark Carver 60, both with the same time, 18:55. Conheady graded at 86.17% and Carver at 83.88%. Three runners across the finish line and an average of 86.0%, Greater Philly was feeling fine! Too early to celebrate, but the early results were looking very good! 

BRR got their first runner in 4 seconds later when Paul Hughes 63 stopped the clock at 18:59, a mere second ahead of AB's Martin Lascelles 65. Lascelles got the higher age grade though, 87.28% to 85.86%. Combining Lascelle's effort with King's gave AB 2 runners across the line and an average of 86.89%. All of a sudden Philly was not looking quite as safe. Seven seconds later BRR got their 2nd runner in when Roger Sayre 62, still not fully recovered from his injury, nonetheless turned in a nifty 19:17, just four seconds ahead of Philly's Chuck Shields 61. Sayre merited an 83.75%, with Shields collecting a grade of 82.77%. BRR now joined AB with 2 runners finished but their average was just 84.81%. Philly, meanwhile was celebrating their 4th runner in; their average dropped a bit to 85.19%. But no other team has even 3 runners in yet. 

But there was more excitement on the horizon as a group of 4 runners from 4 different teams were approaching the finish line. Atlanta's Mike Anderson 62 and Lowell's John Hadcock 62 crossed the line side-by-side in 19:28. A second later AB's Jay Littlepage 61 and BRR's Adam Feerst 60 both clocked 19:29. 
Adam Feerst, on his way to a 19:29 5K in the Boulder Road Runner's 2020 Independence Day Race [Photo provided by Boulder Road Runners]

Anderson and Hadcock got equal grades of 82.96% while Littlepage and Feerst earned 82,21%  and 81.44%, respectively, for their efforts. 
John Hadcock after clocking a 19:28 in the Boulder Road Runners 2020 Independence Day Race [Photo provided by Grater Lowell Road Runners]

Immediately after Anderson and Hadcock crossed the line, Atlanta and Lowell moved ahead of BRR, as they had 2 runners in and averages of 85.42 and 85.29. But, of course, a second later and the leader board lit up again with the news that Littlepage and Feerst had given their two clubs a 3rd finisher each. AB still enjoyed the edge over their high altitude cousins, 85.33 to 83.68. Eleven seconds later, Bob Reynolds 63 gave Philly a complete slate of 5 scoring runners. His 19:40 earned an 82.88%; Philly's 5-runner average was 84.73! Three other teams had higher averages but none of them had more than 3 runners completed. 

Two seconds behind Reynolds was 70-year-old Doug Winn of BTC. Not only was he BTC's first runner across the line, he earned the highest score of the day, an 88.49%. Atlanta's Jeff Dundas 61 was just a second behind Winn, earning an 81.23% for his team's 3rd score. Among teams with 3 runners in, ATC was 2nd to AB. I need to fit in one of our 10K runners here; BRR's Jack Pottle clocked a 40:43 10K, equivalent at 83.54% to a 19:51 5K. That gives BRR 4 runners in and an average of 83.65. 
Jack Pottle cruising to a 40:43 10K, age graded at 83.54%, in the Boulder Road Runner's 2020 Independence Day Race [Photo provided by Boulder Road Runners]

Another ten seconds went by and now they were coming in fast and furious. David Huse 62 gave Shore their first finisher at 19:54 for 81.19%. Three seconds behind Huse were Atlanta's Kirk Larson 68 and AB's Rick Bruess 61; their 19:57's garnered them 85.46 and 80.28%. ATC and AB were both at runner #4, but ATC leapfrogged AB and now led them by three tenths of a percentage point! And BRR was just four-tenths of a percentage point behind AB! It would go down to the #5 runner on each team. 

Next in terms of age-grading is one of our 10K athletes, Philly's Jeff Hays, whose 40:57 is the equivalent of a 20:02, both of which merit an age grade score of 79.98%. Fifteen virtual seconds later, a trio of athletes were closing in on the finish. Russ Otani was determined to give the Silverbacks, a composite team of runners from the Pacific Northwest, their first score. He edged Shore's Kevin Dollard 64 and BTC's Steve Kollars 61 by a single second in 20:17, putting the Silverbacks on the board with a 78.96%. Dollard's 20:18 time earned him an 80.97% while Kollars, with the same time, picked up a 78.90%. Among the teams with 3 runners in, it was Lowell, BTC, and Shore with 85.29, 83.70, and 81.08. 

Next up was a quartet of runners who would affect those standings. Kollars's BTC teammate, Chuck Coats 60 headed the group at 20:27, earning a 77.59%. But before BTC could celebrate, two Lowell runners, Kevin Christie 62 and Peter LaGoy 60,  came in at 20:29 and 20:30 for 78.84% and 77.40%. That gave Lowell 4 scores to BTC's 3. But just wait a second! After Shore's John Kilduff 68 posted a 20:34, Mark Stilson 61 powered across the finish line in 20:39. Kilduff gave Shore their 3rd score and an 82.90% to work with as Stilson presented BTC with their 4th finisher and a 77.56% age grade to average in. Richard Punches 62 followed his BTC teammate 21 seconds later, posting a 76.90%. He was the 5th BTC runner in; the team breathed a sigh of relief at that point. They will definitely get a team score. BTC had 5 runners in and an average of 79.89. They were almost 5 percentage points behind Philly but they were in the driver's seat for 2nd place now as the only other team with a complete score.  

David Longmuir 70 of the Silverbacks posted one of the better age grade scores of the day; his 21:05 graded at 84.90%. Eighteen seconds later it was another close finish with Les Sharpe 69 , Silverbacks, taking the measure of AB's Ted Kennedy 63 by a single second, 21:23 to 21:24. Sharpe got the higher age grade at 80.59, but Kennedy had the satisfaction of learning that his76.17% closed off the scoring for AB. They, too, had 5 runners in now. Once the calculations were done, AB moved ahead of BTC into 2nd place behind Philly. Twelve seconds after Kennedy, Scott Linnell gave Shore its 4th finisher as his 21:36 equated to a 75.46% age grade.The Silverbacks were now up through #3, thanks to Sharpe. At this point, Philly and AB have 5 runners in with Philly ahead, 84.73 to 82.49. Atlanta, Lowell, and Shore each have 4 runners in with Atlanta leading 84.38 to 81.70 to 80.13. BRR and Silverbacks all have 3 runners in, with BRR leading  83.68 to 81.48.

Now we need to slot in another 10K athlete and it's important because John Kissane 60 ran 44:34, which equates to 21:48, with both times age-grading at 72.81%. That gives Atlanta their 5th finisher and they have a complete scoring team. Because some older runners may achieve higher age grades with slower times, the current average establishes their baseline; Atlanta's average can go no lower than 82.07. They are four-tenths of a percentage point behind AB but over two percentage points ahead of BTC. A podium finish seemed a good possibility for Atlanta. A virtual 5 seconds later a trio of Lowell athletes, with a Boulder guy mixed in, approached the Finish Line. Glenn Stewart 70 posted a 21:53 for Lowell's 5th score, and it was a 79.66%. His Lowell teammates, Bill Dumont 62 and Charlie Muse 63, on the rehab trail, competed for the good of the team and to provide some insurance. They graded at 73.52% and 73.15% respectively from 21:58 and 22:17. That leaves Lowell in 4th place among the teams with a complete scoring team, behind Atlanta but ahead of BTC. 

BRR's Jay Survil 61 finished 5 seconds behind Dumont in 22:03 for a 72.64; that gave BRR their 5th runner and an average of 81.45. They were 0.16% ahead of Lowell, but behind Philly, AB,  and Atlanta. Speaking of Atlanta, Neil Feather 66 clocked in at 22:23; the 74.76% age grade he earned replaced their existing 5th place grade of 72.81%. That raised Atlanta's 3rd place average to 82.456, just .032 pct points behind AB! How close can you get! 

Two virtual seconds later Benji Durden 68 gave BRR a better 5th score; his 46:03 10K is equivalent to a 22:25. Both earn an age grade of 76.08. That was quick enough to give BRR a final average of 82.13, stretching their margin over Lowell but still behind the other 3 teams with complete scoring. BRR was still 0.33% behind Atlanta. Although Philly, ATC, and Lowell had additional runners finish, none would affect the top 5-runner average. ATC's Bob Dalton 67, Philly's Tim Jones 60, Lowell's Peter Wasylak 64, and ATC's Randy Stroud 65 clocked 22:40, 22:46, 22:53, and 23:45 for age grades of 74.56%, 69.69, 71.81, and 69.82 respectively.

Both Shore and the Silverbacks were incomplete; Shore needed one more and the Silverbacks two. Silverbacks got #4 in first as David Anderson 65 clocked 23:36 for 70.27. That dropped the Silverbacks average to 78.68. Shore needed an elder statesman to clock in with a top score. Forty-five seconds behind Anderson, Shore's Paul Deykerhoff 68 gave it his all, finishing off in 24:21 for 70.03%. That closed Shore off at an average of 78.11. Silverback's average was higher but it would probably drop. But would it drop far enough for Shore to prevail? A half minute later James Wright 67 provided insurance for Shore at 24:53 and 67.92.  Fifteen seconds after Wright, it was Jim McGill 71 coming across the line for the Silverbacks in 25:43 for 68.63%. Silverbacks ended up at 76.67. The Silverbacks were just happy to be in the competition and grateful that the BRR and the rest of the teams allowed them to count more than one 70+ runner in their top-5 total.

The teams had great fun with the contest. At the end of it all Greater Philly had a substantial 2-point margin of victory. In contrast, AB and ATC were separated by three-one-hundredths of a percentage point--incredibly close! They were followed by BRR 82.13, Lowell 81.30, BTC 79.89, Shore 78.11, and Silverbacks 76.67.
The (un-adjusted) Team Podium consisted of:
Greater Philadelphia Track Club 84.73%   Athletics Boulder 82.49%   Atlanta Track Club 82.46% 

Altitude-Adjusted Results
Altitude adjustment would have a bigger effect on the Men's competition than on the Women's. With 4 of the 5 AB runners getting a mile high or better adjustment, their average skies to 84.57%, just shy of Philly's 84.73%. At first glance it looks like Philly and AB 1-2, with Atlanta third. But BRR got bumped up more than AB as all of their top-5 were at 5000 feet or better, with Hughes clocking his 5k at over 7,000 feet. That makes his 18:59 world class. All of those adjustments kick BRR up to 85.16%, ahead of all their rivals. The altitude-adjusted Team Podium is:
Boulder Road Runners 85.16%   Greater Philadelphia Track Club 84.73%  Athletics Boulder 84.57%

As the notes above make clear, altitude adjustment changes the Individual Podium as well.  Hughes ran an 18:59 at just over 7,000 feet--that's flying! He must have run in his hometown, Pagosa Springs, elevation 7,126! The altitude adjusted Individual Podium is:
Paul Hughes 63 18:04 (18:59) 90.18%   Dan King 61 17:53 (18:31) 89.53  Doug Winn 70 19:42 88.49 

Un-adjusted or altitude-adjusted, take your pick. Runners with a given time in a race at high altitude will generally run faster if they race at lower elevations soon after. But whether the NCAA adjustment gets it right is another question. And running in the summer is tricky as low elevations east of the Mississippi tend to feature warm (or hot) and humid, which also affects pace, as reflected in the phrase, "humidity, the poor man's altitude training."

But there's nothing really on the line; it is all for fun and to provide some breaks in the training routine at a time when there are no road races. The idea for the series came out of a conversation between Roger Sayre and Bruce Kirschner about what to do during the pandemic. Roger was going to organize an intramural virtual race series for the BRR Men's 60-69 team to keep up motivation for training. With no traditional road or cross country races in sight, morale could slip and training might suffer. Bruce suggested, "Maybe we could extend an invitation to other M60+ teams we've been competing with in USATF National Championships?" With some help in contacting other teams, including some W60+ teams, the first race went off around Memorial Day. After it was reported in this blog, a number of other teams contacted Bruce and Roger to see if they might join in. That resulted in a larger field for this 2nd race. Kirschner summed up, "Roger should get the credit for thinking up the idea and doing most of the work. I have helped out a little here and there. If it has helped to keep others with a love of running motivated and challenged, that is all we could ask for. We are just happy to see so many people join in and have fun with it."

Next up for the Boulder Road Runner's Series is the week around Labor Day. If you are a 60's team, male or female, that would like to participate in future virtual contests, please contact Bruce Kirschner <> and/or Roger Sayre <>. 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.

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