Thursday, July 2, 2020

The Virtual Brooklyn Mile-Prizes by VDOT Level

July 2, 2020 The Brooklyn Mile, faced by rules restricting large gatherings due to the covid pandemic, was compelled to offer only a virtual run over Father's Day Weekend, June 19-21, 2020. They decided to spice it up a bit by continuing to offer prize money, but with a twist. Not only would there be prizes for the fastest times turned in; they would devote a significant portion of the prize purse to awarding prizes on the basis of the VDOT level, developed by Jack Daniels, Ph.D. This is an alternative to the Age-Grading procedure and uses the individual's age and sex to assign a level to a given distance and time for that individual. The size of the prize purse would be determined by the number of entrants. Eighty percent of total registration proceeds were to be donated to NYC’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. The remaining 20% of total registration proceeds went into a prize money pot for award winners. The pot goes to Level 10 runners [25%], Level 9 runners [30%], and Level 8 runners [45%]. The % pot at each level is then split evenly among runners attaining that level. As an example, if the race had 10,000 entrants at $15 each, that results in $150,000. $120,000 goes to the Relief Fund and the remaining $30,000 into a prize purse. The Level 10 athletes, if any, would receive $7500. If there were two Level 10 athletes, each would receive $3,750, and so on. The VDOT level tables can be found at:
With an age-grading type procedure for prize money, the Virtual Brooklyn Mile attracted the attention of many fast Masters Milers. 

Their official rules included the following:
  • Running results must have GPS data synced via Garmin or Strava
  • Results must ALSO be saved to your calendar by Sunday, June 21 at 9PM EST
  • Race submissions without supporting GPS data synced via Garmin or Strava will not be eligible for awards
  • Race efforts on courses with a negative net elevation loss > 1% will be disqualified
  • Participants must be 13 or older to register a VDOT account
  • Obey all local municipal traffic laws
  • Always consult with a medical professional prior to undertaking intense physical exercise
  • Focus on your surroundings and not your device/tracker
  • Be a good global citizen: strictly adhere to any applicable social distancing requirements that may be in effect in your local jurisdiction at the time of this event’s running
  • Race management reserves the right to 1) seek further verification and substantiation of any submitted result, and 2) request supporting evidence of any participant’s identification including additional government (photo) ID. In either instance, if the participant does not comply or provide deemed adequate supporting information, race management can disqualify participants at their discretion.
  • Concerned about not being able to verify your race effort? Have someone record it on video! 
As if the age-grading were not enough, they signaled to folks training and racing at elevation that they would be at no disadvantage. They stipulated:

"Race efforts run at greater than 3,500 feet (1,066.8m) of altitude are eligible to be converted to a sea-level equivalent time. This must be done by the participant before the race result is saved in your VDOT calendar. This converted time will then be your official result and thus eligible for awards. Your GPS sync will corroborate the location. The conversion table to be used is based upon the individual user’s current VDOT score and respective altitude levels. The adjustments, pasted in below, are provided at:

"Seconds to subtract per mile of running at different altitudes 
(3500 to 8000 feet of altitude), for runners of different VDOT ability levels.       

                    Altitudes in Feet

VDOT         3500  4000  4500  5000  5500  6000  6500 7000  7500  8000     

<40         - 1.8     3.6      5.3     7.2      9.0    10.8   12.5   14.3   16.1   18.0        

40-49.9    - 1.3    3.0      4.8     6.5      8.3    10.0   11.8   13.5   15.2   17.0   

50-59.9      - 0.8     2.5     4.2      5.9     7.6      9.3    11.0   12.6   14.3   16.0

60-69.9      - 0.4     2.0     3.7      5.3     6.9      8.5    10.2   11.8   13.4   15.0 

70 & up    - 0.1   
 1.6     3.1      4.6     6.1      7.6      9.1   10.5   12.0   13.5    "

Taking this literally, one must know one's VDOT number to know how many seconds to drop per mile. An article from Runners World allows a rough and ready calculation of  VDOT based on recent times in one of the four most popular distances, 5K, 10K, HM, and marathon. Find it here:

For example, toward the end of 2019, I ran a 1:44:25 at the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon and a 47:49 10K at the Medical Center 10K. Both times place me at a VDOT of 43. So if I were running at 5,000 feet, I would subtract 6.5 seconds per mile. Six years back when I was 68 and my 10K was 39:52 and my HM was 1:29:29, my VDOT was 51 and in the same situation, would only subtract 5.9 seconds per mile. For the Virtual Brooklyn Mile, the table gives the number of seconds to subtract from what your gps watch reads at the end of your mile run.

One last comment, the allowable elevation loss here is much higher than the allowance for an American Record. That standard is up to 1 meter per kilometer, or just over 1.6 meters in a mile. The VBM allows up to 1% or just over 16 meters per mile. So a runner could run faster than a current American Record and might not be fast enough to break the record on a record-eligible course. They would need to prove their point in a USATF sanctioned and certified course on a record-eligible course. Virtual races are not eligible for records in any case.

So, how did it go?  Complete results for the 537 runners who successfully synced their GPS result with their race are posted at:
Presumably many who ran the race were not interested enough in having their results verified.

Some familiar names are on the list of top Masters runners at levels 8-10, especially on 9 and 10.

Level 10 One runner achieved this. Known more as a beast on the Cross Country turf, Boulder's Dan King M61 showed he has 'wheels' for the Mile! He runs for Athletics Boulder and cooked an outstanding 4:52. That's blazing fast for a 61-year old!  
He hit the XC podium in 2011 at the USATF XC Championships in San Diego, finishing 2nd to Mr. Cross Country, Joe Sheeran. 2015 was a great year; he won M55 at the USATF XC Championships in Boulder CO and at the Club XC Championships in San Francisco. Last year at Lehigh he finished 3rd in M60. I have to go back to 2012 to find a  result from a race shorter than a 5K-- 4:58 in the Pearl Street Mile; eight years later he is running faster. King has found a new focus; he tries for the M60 track mile record at the Music City Distance Carnival.

Dan King strides confidently towards his VDOT Level 10 Performance in the Virtual Brooklyn Mile [Photo by Bruce Kirschner]

Level 9
Sean Wade M54 TX  ran 4:39 

Wade is already in the Masters Hall of Fame; in 2009 he broke the Masters record for the 5 Km with a 14:52. Seven years later he established the M50 5Km record at 15:02, a record that stands to this day. Whenever entered in a national competition, he is a force to be reckoned with.
Sean Wade after setting new M50 World Mark for 10,000 Meters at the San Francisco State Distance Carnival [Photo and story at:]
Kenneth Barbee M56 PA|Greater Philadelphia TC ran 4:56.  
Barbee ran in the 2020 Hartshorne Mile, finishing 1st among those 50 and over in a blazing 4:51 this past January. A month earlier he renewed his XC 'cred' by finishing just off the M55 podium. He dominated his hometown 10 Miler, the 2019 Blue Cross Broad Street Run, clocking 57:36 for 1st M55. 
Kenneth Barbee blue singlet navigates a muddy turn at the 2019 USATF Club Cross Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem PA [Photo by Michael Scott]

David Westenberg M62 MA|Greater Lowell Road Runners ran 5:10.  
Westenberg just recently started to compete on the roads, winning the USATF 1 Mile M60 Championship at Flint last year in 5:13. He also finished 2nd in the New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile in 5:11, and earned some XC 'turf cred' by finishing in the top 20 at the 2019 USATF Club XC M60+ race at Lehigh, thereby helping his Greater Lowell Road Runner team to the M60+ team victory.
David Westenberg claims the M60 800 Meter Title at the 2018 USATF Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Eastern Washington University in Cheney WA [Photo at:]

Roger Sayre M62 CO| Boulder Road Runners ran 5:26.  
M60 Road Runner of the Year for 2018 and 2019, Sayre has won almost every USATF Masters National Championship road race he has entered during that span. Sayre also competed for Team USATF in the World Masters Athletics Championships in Poland last spring, earning a Bronze Medal in Cross Country and the Gold Medal in the Half Marathon!

Roger Sayre joined by his Silver and Bronze Medal Rivals on the podium after his World Championship Half Marathon Win [Photo courtesy of WMA]

Sue McDonald 57|T.H.E. Track Team|rabbitELITE ran 5:34.  
A track specialist who competes infrequently on the roads, McDonald is the reigning 400 and 800 Meter  USATF Women 55+ Indoor Champion.
Sue McDonald on her way to victory in the W55 800 Meter Run at the 2019 USATF Masters Indoor Championships [Photo at:]

#267 Susan Lynn Cooke W61 FL|New Balance Tampa Masters ran 5:57.  
Cooke has focused on the track this past year, but in 2018 and  she led her NBTM team to 2nd place in the Masters Club Grand Prix, finishing 2nd in the USATF Mile Championships that year in Flint. She was the fastest woman 60 or over at the Hartshorne Memorial Masters Mile last year in 5:57.
Lynn Cooke cometing at the USATF Masters Indoor Championships [Photo posted at:]

#297 Doug Winn M70 OR ran 6:10.  
Winn has excelled on the roads and the XC turf for many years. The M60 Runner of the Year in 2010, his recent exploits include 2015-16 when he won, in a span of 5 months, M65 titles at Club XC in San Francisco, the USATF XC Championship in Bend, OR, and the 10K Masters (road) Championships in Dedham MA, the latter in 38:23. More recently he took the M65 title at the 2019 Club XC Championships in Spokane, WA. If you have never read his 2017 his book, HappyFast Running, it is worth a look, available at Google Books:
Doug Winn #1134 locked in a duel with Doug Bell #1118 at the 2018 USATF Club Cross Championships in Spokane Washington [Photo by Michael Scott]

#298 Leslie Hinz W62 GA|T.H.E. Track Team ran 6:10. 
Hinz is a track specialist and record holder who ventures rarely on the roads. In 2018 she set the American track record for Women 60-64 in the 800 Meters, 2:34.6, and in the 1 Mile Run, 5:39.84!
Leslie Hinz Left and Sue McDonald after Hinz's New American Record in the 1500 Meters at the 2018 USATF Masters Outdoor Championships [Photo at:]
Level 8
I will highlight the Level 8 athletes I am familiar with and following those profiles, list the others alphabetically.
Celestine Arambulo W50 CA|Prado Racing ran 5:35.8. Arambulo ran 19:36 in the Carlsbad 5000 last year, taking 3rd in W45. Arambulo finished 2nd in W45 in the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championship in San Diego. In 2015 she won the USATF Masters Half Marathon Championship in San Diego CA in 1:21:22.
Peter Brady M48|CPTC ran 4:38. Brady needs no introduction. His duels on the track with Mark Williams are legendary. A 4:16 1500 Meter victory in the 2018 USATF Masters Indoor Champions is just the latest where Brady was able to come in half a tick ahead of Williams. He finished first in the Hartshorne Memorial Masters Mile this past Winter in 4:36. Brady is also providing a great service to road racing with his podcast, 'Masters Milers' which can be found at:
Brady has been hampered off and on by Plantar Fascitis so a 4:38 is a good sign that the injury is at least under control if not completely in the past.
Laura Bruess W59 CO|Athletics Boulder ran 6:19. A top runner out of Colorado, Bruess took a 10,000 Meters Silver Medal in the 2011 World [WMA] Championships in Sacramento. In 2017 she took the 55-59 title in the USATF Masters 10K Championship in Dedham MA in 40:49. More recently she took 3rd in her last year being in the 55-59 division at the 2019 Club XC Championships at Lehigh University. Earlier in the year she took 1st in 55-59 at the Carlsbad 5000 in 20:07. She rarely runs races as short as a mile, but she did take her division at the 2018 Pearl Street Mile in 6:41 [at altitude!]
Rick Bruess M61 CO|Athletics Boulder ran 5:50. Bruess has been a competitive Masters runner for years. A lock for the podium in Colorado and a factor in many premier road races, Bruess ran 18:28 to take 3rd in the M55 division at the 2016 Carlsbad 5000. More recently, he took 2nd in his division at the 2019 Bolder Boulder 10Kin 41:08.
Amy Fakterowitz W52 NY ran 5:34. Fakterowitz had one of her best years in 2019. She won the W50 USATF Masters Grand Prix, highlighted by wins in the USATF Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee and at the USATF Masters 8K Championship in Virginia Beach. She ran 3 Road Miles last year, from a 5:55 in the Seneca Street Mile to a 5:37 for 3rd place at the USATF Masters Mile Championship in Flint. Earlier this year she ran a 5:44 Indoor Mile at the Hartshorne Memorial Mile to take 3rd!
Dale Flanders M55 NY ran 5:10.4. A top athlete for the Genesee Valley Harriers, Flanders has been a solid contributor to the M50+ team. Running well in 2018, he took 3rd in M50 at the 8 Km National Championships in Virginia Beach in 28:51, 3rd at the renowned Crescent City Classic 10K in 36:58, and 2nd at the B.A.A. 5K in 17:56. He has maintained a focus on the Mile, running 5:15 for 4th place at the 2018USATF Masters Mile Championship in Flint. He ran 5:12.07 at the 2019 Hartshorne Memorial Indoor Mile and followed that up with a 5:13.0 in 2020. 
Euleen Josiah-Tanner W45 GA ran 5:05. Josiah-Tanner took 2nd in the Road 10K at the 2019 NCCWMA [North, Central America, and the Caribbean Regional Masters Championships] in 41:35. She also took 2nd in the 8 Km XC event at those Championships.
Lin Lascelles W56 GBR and Martin Lascelles M65 GBR are not US citizens, but run for the Boulder Road Runners whenever the rules do not restrict teams to American citizens. Lin ran 6:01 and Martin 5:44.
Mike Nier M55 NY. Nier is the lynch-pin of the Genesee Valley Harriers M50+ team, both in XC and on the roads. He also ventures onto the track, finishing 3rd to Barbee in M50+ at the Hartshorne Mile in January, running 4:56.
Jack Pottle M65 CO|Boulder Road Runners ran 5:47. A new, but important member of the Boulder Road Runners, Pottle was the vital #3 runner for the Silver Medal team at Mission Bay, San Diego, the site of the 2020 USATF XC Championships, running over the 8K of turf in 35:50. 
Judy Stobbe W55 NY|CPTC ran 5:59. Stobbe is a middle distance track specialist, but she often runs in the USATF Club XC Championships for her CPTC team, finishing in the top 25 of her age division at Lehigh, while helping her team to a top 12 finish. She finished in the top ten in Lexington KY in 2017, although her team did not make the trip. In 2018, she ran 5:34 in the Newport-Mesa Spirit Run (Open Mile), finishing 3rd Masters. Stobbe won the W50 1500 meter title at the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships in 5:16.59; last year she took the division title at the Spring Street Mile in CT in 5:21.07.
Michael Strickland M53 GA| Atlanta TC ran 5:08. Strickland ran 18:11 for the Atlanta TC in the 5K Masters Championships last August and tossed off a 5:11 Mile in Flint at the USATF Masters Road Mile Championships.
Other Level 8 Milers in alphabetical order. Frances Breslauer W79|NY Flyers ran 9:32; Steven Caladonna M65 NY| Taconic Road Runners ran 5:57; Greg Diamond M63|Taconic Road Runners ran 5:40; James Gilbert M57 CO| RISE Athletics ran 5:29; Christine Gregorek W60 MA ran 6:35; Jennifer Harvey W52 Urban Athletics ran 5:36; Denise Iannizzotto W57 NY| New York Flyers ran 6:06; Mike Jackson M45 ran 4:40; Jay Johannesen M57 ran 5:30; John McMahon M53 NY| Checkers AC ran 5:01. McMahon was the 6th runner for Checkers AC at Club Cross at Lehigh last December. A solid XC runner for Checkers, it appears he has potential at the shorter distances. Conor O'Driscoll M59 NY ran 5:36;  Gerry O'Hara M56 NY ran 5:09; Kevin Paulk M59 OR ran 5:27; David Sewell M43 NY| Melon Heads ran 4:33;  Joshua Slamka M41 ran 4:22; Bob Tremblay M53 MA ran 5:02 


Hats off to these so fleet of feet as to stand in the top rungs of the Leaderboard at the 2020 Virtual Brooklyn Mile!

Prizes. According to an email received by one of the prize winners, and shared with me for my information, there was $2,418.93 allocated to the prize purse. Level 10 performers were to get 25%; Dan King had a $600+ payday. Level 9 performers split 30% of the prize purse; with 11 winners getting just over $65 each. I have 8 listed;  3 non-US citizens earned Level 9. Level 8 had 67 performers splitting the purse for just over $16 per person.  As with Level 8, however, I do not list 67 Level 8 runners, only 29. 38 non US citizens hit Level 8.

A personal note: For those who do not necessarily think of themselves as Milers, you might still enter some of these races, especially if they give out prizes based on an age grading concept, whether VDOT or standard age-grading. I did not enter the VBM, partially because I do not think of myself as a Miler, and partially because that was a busy weekend for me and I wasn't sure I could fit in a good run. But a couple of days after entries closed and a couple of days before the window for running, I ran a 7:09 Time Trial on a course with an acceptable drop, just to see how I could do. At my age of 74, that works out to a Level 8 run, with a 16 second cushion, and I could have joined the crew above. I am not sure what I would do with an extra $16. But, hey, a cash prize of any amount is rare these days, and with no offsetting travel costs, it's sheer profit, except, of course, for  the entry fee which (ha,ha!) eats up most of the prize! Still it would have been  nice to have been on the list!
[Posted on My Strava account on June 18 as:
LapDistance Time Pace Elev
  1 1.00 mi 7:09 7:09 /mi -18 ft ]



  1. Now I'm really kicking myself for not running 1 second faster and getting a level 9 - I would have a got a paragraph and maybe a photo in your write-up! Thanks for the mention anyway, and btw, I am a US citizen, but Lin isn't, and we run for AB now although we're still members of BRR.

    1. Thanks for the update, Martin, on citizenship, and on Team Affiliation.