Saturday, September 19, 2020

Recap of Boulder Road Runners Virtual Race #3--Labor Day

September 17, 2020. This Recap follows the preview posted a few days ago. The last day for running the virtual race was last Sunday, September 13th. Shortly after I posted the preview, I received notes from two of the Team Reps. One said I was brave to post predictions without knowing about the fitness of Team Members, who was injured, who had run a Half Marathon or a Marathon or both during the week before. Another said that corrections to one of the rosters had not come to my attention. But it's all in good fun; if a preview does not come out that well, the joke is on me! And I know from past experience that many runners who were injured shortly before a race can sometimes outdo themselves.

What was clear from a cursory glance was that the results were peppered here and there with fantastic performances!



I expected to write two recaps, one with the raw results and one using the NCAA altitude adjustment for races run above 3,000 feet. Just a reminder that scoring is on the basis of age-grading, not actual finishing time. For the Men's teams it is the top 5; for Women's teas the top 3.

No Adjustment

My prediction was for a finishing order of: Greater Lowell, Boulder, Shore, and the Greater Philadelphia Track Club. I included the Bowerman Track Club and the Silverbacks, who participated n the Independence Day event, but neither  participated in this Labor Day event. So how did it come out? I will pretend that the Virtual Race was a Real, live, in-person race happening in real time. Since the distances are so different, with some running a Mile, some a 5K, and some a 10K, I'll cover them as if the Race Director set it up for the 19 Milers to go first on an out and back road course, with no intermediate splits. Let's have it high-tech as well so the 'Jumbotron' not only flashes the times but the age-grade score. Fifteen minutes later, all other runners go off together, with the 5K runners the next set to finish, and finally the 10K runners.

1 Mile:

After about 4 minutes, the spectators are craning their necks to see the leaders coming in. There's a Lowell and a Philly singlet running stride for stride well away from the rest. As they head into the final 300 meters, Lowell's David Westenberg 62, uses his kick to insert a few seconds between himself and Philly's Mark Carver 60. Westenberg's 5:10 merits a whopping 91.64%. "That's a World Class run!" whoops a spectator. Carver, a couple of years younger, earns a nifty 89.14. Before the dust could settle, it was Boulder's Adam Feerst 60 running 5:28 to edge Lowell's Charlie Muse 64 for 3rd by a second, with Muse posting the higher age grade, an excellent 87.95, and Feerst collecting 85.06. Eight seconds later a blanket of three runners sped toward the finish line. At the end it was Boulder's Jeff Barros 63 leading the way at 5:37, with Philly's Bob Reynolds 63 2nd among the trio in 5:38, and his teammate, Tim Conheady 63 another second back. With all three the same age in years, the age grades follow the times at 85.16, 84.91, and 84.66! A few minutes later, spotting a Boulder singlet, a spectator exclaimed "That can't be Doug Bell can it? Dang, he's almost 70! Wh-o-o-oe-y!" But he was right as Bell, 69, clocked 5:47 to notch an 87.32%! Next a Boulder, a Lowell and two Shore runners closed on the finish line; Boulder's Mike Fronsoe 62 had the edge with a 5:51, followed 2 seconds later by Lowell's John Hadcock 62, with Shore's Michael Mooney 64 and Scott Linnell 64 clocking 5:57 and 6:00, earning respectively  80.91, 80.57, 80.95, and 80.28. A Lowell supporter could be heard, "Wow, I hear that Hadcock ran the Virtual Boston Marathon on Labor Day, and he's running a mile today! Man, I'd be crawling--at best!" A Boulder supporter retorted "That is amazing, but Fronsoe's something too! ...Lives in Louisiana and had to weather Hurricane Laura...not to mention the heat, the humidity and the bugs...and he's coming back from a hamstring!" Six seconds later, anther near septuagenarian, Shore's John Kilduff 69 sped to a 6:06, netting an 82.59%! Ten seconds later, Bill Dumont 62 was the 4th runner in for Lowell, hitting 6:16 for a 75.53%. And now the intervals between runners was lengthening. Philly's Tim Jones 61 edged Lowell's Peter Wasylak 65 by 3 seconds in 6:33. Wasylak had the better age grade though at 73.74 to 71.76. The last three runners in were Shore's veterans, Spider Rossiter 68, Harold Nolan 73, and Przemek Nowicki 75. Their times of 6:52, 6:58, and 7:44, with age grade percentages in the 70's leads me to conclude that all are suffering from some combination of layoff and injury. They are normally 80%+ performers. And that was it--Three cheers for the Milers!

At team meetings of the 5k and 10K runners, just before they finish their warmups, strides, etc., one can imagine a Coach/Captain of each team addressing them. Boulder The milers did a terrific job, laid a great foundation for us--Three guys in at 85% and above, with a 4th over 80%. Now let's build on it--Lowell and Philly are right with us! Lowell Super work by the Milers; with Westenberg cracking 90% and two others over 80% we are in the hunt! But we've gotta have more; Boulder and Philly won't be standing still! And Shore's got some strong runners in these next races! Philly Hurray for the Milers! We're right in it--2 guys at 85% and one at 89%. Now we need at least two more over 85%. Let's go, Philly! 

Only 13 runners toed the line for the 5K [6]/10K [7]; 19 ran the Mile. But the runners in these races would put the lid on the scoring for each team; the pressure was on! With no intermediate splits, we will assume the race is a loop [10K] or an out and back [5K]. The coaches, teammates and spectators eagerly awaited the six 5K runners first. When 18 minutes came and went, one spectator offered, "I thought Mark Reeder was in the 5K; I know he ran the 10K at Dedham in 36 and change--figured he'd be in under 18." Another piped in with, "Dunno, maybe he's banged up and running anyway? I'm pretty sure I saw him line up." The second view was probably right as Reeder 60 came in first in the 5K, but his time of 19:32 was nearly 2 minutes slower than some expected. It gave Lowell another age-grade above 80% but not quite as much as they needed for a good shot at the win. Four runners in above 80% but still only two above 85% while Boulder has 4 and 3 in those two categories. Then the Boulder team was whooping and hollering as Jack Pottle 65 came speeding in at 19:42, earning an 84.18% to up Boulder's count to 5 above 80, 3 above 85 and one of the 3 'above 80's' pretty close to 85! Next in was David Huse 62 of Shore for 81.81%. A second Shore singlet appeared soon after and shouting went up all over! "Way to Go, Reno!" Most knew Reno Stirrat 66, the mainstay of Shore AC M60+, had been injured much of the year and was just starting to get back to fitness. Stirrat's 20:24 earned a grade of 82.03% and gave Shore their 4th runner over 80%. At 21:52, Lowell's Ken Goodin 65 earned a 75.84%. Lucky for Lowell that was not needed, but good to know it was there had they needed it! Duncan Smith 61 crossed the line a half minute later, clocking 22:35 for 70.92%; within a percentage point of Philly's 4th runner form the 1 Mile. That gave Philly their 5th runner, so it guaranteed a valid team score. Mike Washakowski 68 closed out the 5K with a 24:44, earning a 68.94% for his efforts.

After the 5K, some of the Coaches were comparing notes--"I hear Shore's got no one in the 10K, is that right?' 'Yep, all our guys opted for the 1 Mile or the 5K, too banged up for much more!' So what's Shore got?" Shore AC's top 5 are John Kilduff 82.59, Reno Stirrat 82.03, David Huse 81.81, Michael Mooney 80.95, and Scott Linnell 80.28. Their average was 81.53; Shore was the team to beat at this stage. How's Boulder looking? "We are in really good shape!" Boulder's top 5, with three running the 10K were Doug Bell 87.32, Jeff Barros 85.16, Adam Feerst 85.06, Jack Pottle 84.18, and Mike Fronsoe 80.91, for an average of 84.53. What about Lowell?  Lowell's top 5 so far: David Westenberg 91.64, Charlie Muse 87.95, Mark Reeder 81.23, John Hadcock 80.57, and Ken Goodin 75.84 for an average of 83.45. "We're right there within shooting distance but it's a tall order to ask our guys in the 10K to beat out Sayre and Hughes, and that's what they've got to do for us to win." Philly? "We've got a guy in the 10K who'll definitely be in our top 5. Is it enough to lock up 3rd, though?" Philly's top 5 is: Mark Carver 89.14, Bob Reynolds 84.91, Tim Conheady 84.66, Tim Jones 71.76, and Duncan Smith 70.92, for an average of 80.28. That leaves them over a percentage point behind Shore. Can Philly's lone 10K score high enough to get them back above Shore in third? Suspense!Ten minutes later they had their answer as the first 10K runners were approaching the finish line. As expected, the two in the lead were from Boulder; Roger Sayre 62 clocked 38:50 for 85.11, with Paul Hughes 63 at 39:06 for 85.34. That put the seal on the win for Boulder. A half minute later, Philly's Jeff Hayes 61 galloped across the line in 39:46 for an 82.36%. That would surely raise their average but would it be enough for third? Yes, because not only did it give them another runner over 80%, it meant they needed to only count one of their two 70% finishers. Their new average was 82.56%, a full percentage point ahead of Shore for the final podium spot. Shortly thereafter, Lowell's Peter LaGoy 61 sped across the finish in 42:03, scoring at 77.88, high enough to replace Goodin's 75.84. Three minutes later, LaGoy's teamate, Glenn Stewart 70 clocks 45:16 to score 78.98, an even better replacement for Goodin's score. Once Stewart's score is averaged in, their average rose from 83.45 to a final 84.07%. But Sayre and Hughes combined to raise Boulder's average from 84.53 to 85.60%. That made Boulder the outright winners, even before any altitude adjustment. As they were the only team to get the altitude adjustment, that meant they took the altitude adjusted crown as well. [So no recap of altitude adjusted team contest.]

Final Men's 60+ Team Standings for Labor Day Races

Boulder Road Runners 85.60%   Greater Lowell Road Runners 84.07%   Greater Philadelphia Track Club 82.56%   Shore Athletic Club 81.53


Shore AC after running their Virtual Races on Sep 13, 2020- L to R: Reno Stirrat, Susan Stirrat, Scott Linnell, Sue Patla, Przemek Nowicki, Husband of S. Patla who ran but is not on the team, Leslie Nowicki, John Ulo-Kuhi.



 My prediction was for a finishing order of Shore Athletic Club, Greater Lowell Road Runners, Greater Philadelphia Track Club, Boulder Road Runners, and Liberty AC. I also viewed the contest for 2nd as tight between Lowell and Philly as well as the contest for 4th between Boulder and Liberty. Lowell was not able to participate after all; Barbara Doneli, who was top finisher in the first two Women's races would not run for Shore this time, a blow to their hopes for a sweep! Boulder found 7 runners so the top 3 made up Boulder 'A' and the next 4 were Boulder 'B'. With just three runners in the Mile, the RD decides to throw all runners into a single heat; the Milers finish first, followed by the nine 5K specialists, and then the five 10K athletes.

Here's the virtual 'play-by-play':

1 Mile Cheryl Bellaire 61 came in well ahead, clocking 6:34 for 81.75%, starting things off with a bang for Philly! Susan Stirrat 65, who would normally come in closer to Bellaire, was a minute and a half back. Running at all was an accomplishment, considering Stirrat broke her ankle in early August and it did not totally heal until a couple of weeks before the race. This outing was definitely for the team, and the joy of competing; her 8:11 merited a 68.84%. Bellaire's teammate, Sandra Folzer 81, put another link in Philly's chain with her 8:47 for 81.40%. That meant two of Philly's 3 runners were in the 80's. With Lowell out and Shore hobbled by Donelik's absence and Stirrat's injury, hilly was looking strong for the win. The 5K would be crucial for three teams; neither Philly, Shore nor Liberty had anyone in the 10K. That was the race for Boulder's strongest three runners though.

5K Liberty got on the scoreboard first as Alda Cossi 65 sped across the finish line in 23:25, with no one in sight; that graded at 84.13%, the highest score so far. Philly did not have to wait long for their third scoring team member, though; Kyra McGrath 65 was the second runner in the 5K. Her 25:51 graded at 77.00%. Shore's Sue Patla 62 stormed across in 3rd; her 25:51 graded to a 73.31%. Two more Liberty runners headed for the finish, with Anne Shreffler 63 clocking 26:13 to edge teammate, Dru Pratt-Otto 61 by three seconds! They collected a 73.24% and a 71.26% age grade respectively. That also insured that Liberty would get a complete team score with 3 runners in. Katherine Packowski gave Shore their third scoring member with a 29:48 for 65.27%. They were happy to get any team score! In mid-August it seemed doubtful they would be able to field a complete team for this race. Karen Lein 62 finished next in 32:43, adding an insurance 57.92% to Liberty's total. The first two Boulder Runners appeared next as Lorraine Green 68 and Virginia Schultz 65 closed out the 5K in 32:53 and 36:11 for 62.34% and 54.44% scores respectively.

Liberty AC Team After finishing their 5K at the Harvard U Track on Sep 08 2020-L to R: Karen Lein, Alda Cossi, Anne Shreffler, Dru Pratt-Otto


When the Coach's compared notes, it was clear that Philly could finish no worse than 2nd; only Boulder had a shot. It would depend on the fortunes of Nancy Antos 70, Robyn Balsley 60, Sara Cohen 65, Lynn Hermanson 69, and Cindy Sutton 67. Philly's top 3 average was 80.04%; it was a tall order for Boulder, but they were also focused on the race with Liberty and Shore for the other two podium spots. Liberty would finish either 2nd or 3rd. Their top 3 total ended up at 76.21%; Shore finished at 69.14%.

10K  Hermanson scorched the field to take the 10K victory by almost 6 minutes, earning a 79.21%. Boulder was cheering, but soon Philly was whooping it up too as they realized that Boulder could not displace them! They had won! Next in was Cohen at 60:00, one hour exactly for a 67.56%. Sutton was not far behind, clocking 60:16, but netting a higher age grade at 69.14%. Those three would give them a Top 3 average of 71.97%. That guaranteed they would finish ahead of Shore, but they were well down from Liberty. Antos, at 70, still out on the course, might very well get an age grade above Cohen's, but raising their average by over 4 full percentage points is a lot to ask. Next runner in was Balsley whose 62:08 for 61.11% meant she would score for the B team. Antos came in a half minute later to finish off the 10K race at 62:44 for a 69.31% age grade. She did raise Boulder's average, but only to 72.55%. That was enough for the third podium spot! The other two Boulder runners from this race, Balsley and Cohen, combined with their 5K runners, Green and Schultz, to make up Boulder's 'B' team. Their Top 3 average was 63.67%. As in the Men's Team Races, the altitude adjustment did not change the order of finish as teams were well separated.

Greater Philadelphia Track Club 80.04   Liberty AC 76.21   Boulder Road Runners 72.55


The altitude adjustments did affect the Individual Results. I'll give the top 10 unadjusted for the 32 competing Men, and top 6 unadjusted for the 19 competing women. I will then explain how things changed if the altitude is factored in.


No Altitude Adjustment The Mile Run gave us the entire unadjusted podium, not to mention 8 of the top 10: Lowell's David Westenberg's 5:10, at age 62, led the way for the men, with the only unadjusted  score over 90%--91.64 The youngster, at 60, from Philly, Mark Carver, came next with his 5:13 scoring 89.14%. Westenberg's teammate, Charlie Muse occupied the 'Bronze Medal' spot with his 5:29 at age 64 for 87.95. Doug Bell's 5:47 at age 69 was just off the podium at 87.32%. He was followed in 5th through 8th by his Boulder teammates: Paul Hughes 63 85.34, Jeff Barros 63, Roger Sayre 62, and Adam Feerst 60. Philly teammates Bob Reynolds and Tim Conheady, both 63, rounded out the top ten at 84.91 and 84.66.

David Westenberg 91.64%   Mark Carver 89.14   Charlie Muse  87.95

Altitude Adjusted The altitude adjustment had the biggest effect on Paul Hughes's placement. Running at just over 7,000' he moves into 2nd place at 90.55. Doug Bell moved up onto the podium, despite running at *only* 4800'; his age grade was adjusted to 90.11%. Roger Sayre moves up to 5th at 88.36, Adam Feerst into 6th at 88.28. Barros, running at a mere 4,000 feet, fell from 6th to 8th as mile high runner, Jack Pottle, vaulted into the top 10 at spot #9 with his adjustment to 86.80. 

David Westenberg 91.64   Paul Hughes 90.55    Doug Bell  90.11


No Altitude Adjustment Liberty's Alda Cossi, topped the list with her 23:25 5K at age 65, earning an 84.13%. The 2nd spot on the unadjusted podium went to Philly's Cheryl Bellaire's 81.73% from her 6:34 Mile at age 61. Her Teammate, Sandra Folzer, at 81, took the final podium spot with her 8:47 mile at age 81, for an 81.40% age grade. Boulder's Lynn Hermanson, at 69, was just off the podium with the 79.21% she earned for her 54:06 10K. Philly's Kyra McGrath 65 landed in 5th with her 25:35 5K and 77.00% age grade. Shore's Sue Patla 62 closed out the top 6 with her 25:51 5K for 73.31%.

Alda Cossi 84.13   Cheryl Bellaire 81.73   Sandra Folzer 81.40

Altitude Adjusted The only change was that Lynn Hermanson's Mile high 54:06 10K got adjusted to 82.17% and that moved her into 2nd pace. 

Alda Cossi 84.13   Lynn Hermanson 82.17  Cheryl Bellaire 81.73

That wraps it up. Despite the Corona Virus, these athletes kept training and the results were virtually impressive! More importantly, it kept morale up and gave everyone just a little bit extra motivation for training. I am sure David Westenberg captured the feelings of most competitors when he sent a note to the organizers at the Boulder Road Runners, "The series helped give purpose to training in an otherwise race-less period and our team is very grateful for it. One team member noted that this has been one of the very few highlights of this Covid-constrained summer."

Next up for Virtual Competitions is the Quarantine Games.

After that it may be possible to switch gears and cover a few of the small, socially distanced, local live & in-person races popping up all over the country.



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