Sunday, September 27, 2020

Recap of GSTC Quarantine Games-Race # 1--8K Time Trials

 September 25, 2020. The first event of the Quarantine Games hosted by the Garden State Track Club was an 8K Time Trial. twelve teams have indicated an interest in participating in the series. Five Clubs entered at least one team in the 8K Time Trial. It was to be run in a Wednesday to Wednesday window; that will be the norm for the time trials. They are hoping to run the relays on the same day. If they can also coordinate a time, GSTC is interested in coordinating real time, simultaneous, 'play-by-play' commentary from each site via Zoom. That may be a bridge too far, but it's fun to think about the possibility.

As far as Masters teams were concerned, the first 8K involved the Boulder Track Club, the Cal Coast Track Club, the Garden State Track Club, and the West Valley Track Club. Cross country-style scoring by place determines final team scores.


I will focus on Masters, even though an Open competition was held as well.  Let's do the M60 competition first as there was only one team entry.

M60 The Cal Coast Track Club entered the only team in this division. Garden State's Gus Stanzione joined in as an individual, but he was the only non-Cal Coast entry. Hence they win by default. Here's how they finished. Ray Knerr gave this one a miss, but Mark Core led the rest of the Cal Coast crew as expected. This might have been a bit of  'rust-buster' for Core; he ran 18:24 in a 5K last November. Nonetheless, his 32:22 beat the field by a minute. Brian Nelson, a mainstay for the M60 team for the last few years, clocked 19:14 in the 5K National Championship and 1:01:54  in the 15K in Tulsa. He pulled through in 33:25 to take 2nd place. He distanced Garden State's Stanzione by 24 seconds, but Stanzione makes the individual podium! Keith Witthauer came 4th--pretty impressive for a guy has been dealing with cancer off and on for a few years now. Four years go he cracked 31 at Brea, CA to finish 6th in the National Masters Championship. At Club Cross in Lexington KY in December 2018, his teammate, John Howell, noted that Witthauer was still a tough warrior, running well for the Team whenever he was not in the midst radiation or chemo. Perhaps he has come out the other side? I hope so. In any case, he takes 4th with a 35:30. Not far behind was a tight pack of four, Tom Albright, Paul Cook, John Araujo, and Perry Forrester, with times 36:06, 36:29, 37:10 and 37:11 as Araujo just held on to edge Forrester by a single second. He gets bragging rights for a while on that one! As far  as team score goes, they are using XC style scoring over the first 5 runners. With no other teams in the race, Stanzione is dropped from the team results and Cal Coast gets a perfect 15. Let's hope that Stanzione can get some help from some Garden State teammates or another club or clubs can put teams in. Cal Coast is a strong team but should they coast to a win? Contact if you want to discuss a possible entry.

TEAM    Cal Coast Track Club 15

INDIVIDUAL    Mark Core  32:22   Brian Nelson 33:25   Gus Stanzione 33:49

 W40 If three athletes are sufficient for Women's teams, then Garden State had a complete team. They were joined by Alison Steele of Boulder Track Club who competed as an Individual. She pulled away from Garden State's Elena Rozhko in the last kilometer to claim the Individual win with a sterling time of 30:53. Rozhko was 2nd in 31:11, followed by her teammates, Jen Martin, in 31:43, and Heather McDermott in 33:40. With Steele removed from the team scoring, Garden State enjoys the win unopposed, with 6 points.

INDIVIDUAL   Alison Steele 30:53   Elena Rozhko 31:11   Jen Martin 31:43

TEAM   Garden State Track Club 6


All of the 8K's were run on the track, so let us re-imagine the rest of this virtual event as if all the M40 and M50 teams were at the same track at the same time, as in pre-covid days. 


The Officials decided not to run all 31 runners at the same time; there were 2 heats. The four complete teams put three athletes each into the seeded heat. The individual podium is expected to come from that heat. The remaining 19 athletes comprised heat #1. The team race depended on both heats combined by time; runners from the second heat with a faster time were placed ahead of any slower runners in the seeded heat.

First up is Heat #2. There were two surprise names in the unseeded heat: West Valley's Peter Gilmore and Cal Coast's Roosevelt Cook. Gilmore finished 2nd overall at the 2019 USATF Club Cross Country Championships and Cook finished 6th. Was that a sign of how strong the West Valley and Cal Coast teams are, or just a sign that Gilmore and Cook are not at peak fitness? Soon the gun went off  and the race was under way. Although the runners were spread out in a file, they were together for the first couple of kilometers. Eventually a group of five pushed the pace and separated themselves from the rest. West Valley had three runners in the lead group, Eric Aldrich, Gilmore, and Ben Koss. They were joined by two Garden State athletes, Elliott Frieder and Kevin Shirk. In the latter part of the race, Shirk was able to move to the front, apply pressure and gain separation. He pulled away to take the unseeded heat in 26:59, followed 15 seconds later by Gilmore, with Koss, E. Frieder and Aldrich following in 27:34, 27:46, and 27:56. With the top two from Garden State in 1st and 4th, and the top two from West Valley finishing 2nd and 3rd in this heat, it was shaping up as a tight race for the team win. Boulder's Flavio DeSimone came 6th in 28:18. That gave Boulder the edge over Cal Coast with their first two runners coming in 6th and 10th as Cal Coast's finished 11th and 12th in this heat. The overall finishing position of runners from this heat in the overall contest would not be known until their times are combined with those from the seeded heat.

Ten minutes after the unseeded heat finished, the following lined up for the start of the seeded heat: Boulder Track Club Aaron Kleinman, Jeff Schuler, and Clint Wells; Cal Coast Track Club Paul Cook, John Gardiner, and Jacques Sallberg; Garden State Track Club Dave Ferrugia, Jonathan Frieder, and Duncan Nyasinga; and West Valley Track Club Peter Gilmore, Ben Koss, and Todd Rose. With Nyasinga, Sallberg, and Wells applying pressure up front after 3 kilometers, a gap started to appear as Schuler, Kleinman and Gardiner started to fall back. All three knew that they had to stay as close as possible, off day or not. Right at 6 kilometers, Nyasinga made a move no one could answer as he pulled out to a lead, with Sallberg and Wells leading the chase pack; it trailed out to single file but held together. By the time he crossed the finish line in a smashing 25:41, Nyasinga had a 200 meter lead on the field. Sallberg pulled away to claim 2nd in 26:20, with Wells third in 26:34. Yacoub was nine seconds back in fourth. Fifth through 9th was determined in the final 200 meters as Knutsen edged his teammate, Davey by a single second, for 5th in 26:53. J. Frieder was 3 seconds back, with his teammate, Ferrugia another 2 seconds back in 8th, followed by Rose who took 9th in 27:06. Schuler, Kleinman, and Gardiner finished in 10th, 11th and 12th. Everyone knew the individual podium at that point, Nyasinga, Sallberg, and Wells. 

INDIVIDUAL Duncan Nyasinga 25:41   Jacques Sallberg 26:20   Clint Wells 26:34

But which team won? It looked to be very close. Garden State picked up the win and its single point, but West Valley put two of their three ahead of Garden State's second two runners. Cal Coast had two of the top 4 finishers. Would that be enough to move them ahead of Boulder? Everyone would have to wait for the official tally.


Garden State Nyasinga-1 J. Frieder-7 Ferrugia-8 Shirk-9 E. Frieder-13  38

West Valley Track Club Knutsen-5 Davey-6 Rose-10 Gilmore-11 Koss-12   44

Cal Coast Track Club Sallberg-2 Yacoub-4 Gardiner-19 Cook-23 Cox-24   72

Boulder Track Club Wells-3 Schuler-15 Kleinman-16 DeSimone-17 Cowan-22   73

Nyasinga had a dominant individual win, with Sallberg and Wells sharing the podium in 2nd and 3rd. Garden State celebrated their first M40 team win in their QG series. West Valley was only 6 points back. A few seconds here, a few seconds there, and things might have been different. And Cal Coast just edged Boulder by a single point-close! This should provide motivation for the 2nd contest taking place over this weekend, the 5 x 4K Relay. Check in next week for the recap of that one!


Five teams entered athletes but there were only 3 complete teams. With 23 athletes expected to toe the starting line, the officials decided to run it as a single large heat. The top three runners from the complete teams, Cal Coast Christian Cushing-Murray, Rob Arsenault, Mark Steyvers; Garden State Todd Wiley, Mark Zamek, John Hogan; and  West Valley Mark Callon, Ed Randolph, Ivan Lieben joined by Jaime Heilpern of the Aggies. Last December, at age 49, Heilpern finished 10th overall at Club Cross. The remaining team members lined up right behind in the 2nd row: Cal Coast Greg Hemphill, Kevin Kong, Dennis Ryan; Garden State Wes Cole, Dave Lacouter, Eric Davis, Steven Segaloff; West Valley Matty Des Jardins, Chuck Mullane, Dave White; and Aggies Roger Dix, Jeff Hongo. They were joined by a lone entrant from Boulder: Charles Wilbur.

When the gun sounded, the 23 runners started off their marks. Once they got well into the race, a lead group emerged consisting of Callon, Cushing-Murray, Heilpern, Randolph, and Wiley. There was a small gap back to a 3-man chase group of Lieben, Mullane and Zamek, with a 50 meter gap to a quartet of runners, Arsenault, Hogan, Segaloff and White. Stevers and Wilbur came next, rounding out the front of the field. When it was time to go, Heilpern made a decisive move, putting 200 meters on the field in the space of a couple of laps. He poured in on from there to clock 25:59 as he crossed the line; he was more than a minute ahead of the field. When Heilpern made his initial move, that broke up the rest of the lead pack. Wiley accelerated to try to stay with Heilpern, could not do it, but found himself with a gap back to Callon, Cushing-Murray and Randolph. Wiley held the gap all the way to the finish, taking 2nd in 27:19. Callon moved away from Cushing-Murray before the last lap, not wanting to give any hope to the former sub-4 minute miler and 2016 Carlsbad 5000 Masters winner. Callon claimed third, 10 seconds ahead of Cushing-Murray, who had 14 seconds on Randolph.

Heilpern had a great win, but the Aggies did not have a complete team. As with the M40 race, the Individual podium was known, Heilpern, Wiley, and Callon, but the team results were still in play. The USATF scoring rules remove any runners from incomplete teams before totaling the points for complete teams. It does not appear that Garden State applied that rule consistently, although it had no effect on the order of finish. Removing Heilpern, his two teammates, and Wilbur from the team scoring yields the following. Garden State had a Team Competition 1st, but West Valley had 2nd and 4th, while Cal Coast had 3rd. Zamek gave it all he had to hold off West Valley's Lieben and Mullane, as Zamek clocked 28:26 for 5th to their 28:28 and 28:29. Despite Zamek's heroics, West Valley had 4 runners in to 2 for Garden State and one for Cal Coast. It was all but over. Arsenault gave Cal Coast their 2nd scoring runner as came across in 28:53 to take 8th place. When White took 9th for West Valley ten seconds later, that clinched the win for West Valley. They had 5 runners in and 28 points. Garden State and Cal Coast were left to duke it out for 2nd and 3rd. Cal Coast had 3rd and 8th for 11 points so far while Garden State had 1st and 5th for 7 points. Hogan and Segaloff claimed 10th and 11th for Garden State in 29:19 and 29:24, and things were looking good for Garden State. With only one Cal Coast runner, Steyvers, out on the track ahead of their next two runners, Davis and Cole, Garden State knew they had the team 2nd place wrapped up. Their final total was 40 points. Hemphill came in 15th after Cole crossed the line, followed by Lacouture, Des Jardins, Hongo, and Dix. and then Kong closed it off for Cal Coast with a 18th place finish. Hongo and Dix did not count in the team scoring. Cal Coast had the bronze medal position on their 56 points. 

West Valley Track Club 28   Garden State Track Club 40   Cal Coast Track Club 56

Age-Grading How impressive were the performances? One way to gauge is to note the Age Grade percentages or what I call the Open Equivalent Time [the time an Open athlete would need to record to achieve the same age grade percentage]. Without knowing ages, it is tough to gauge. I can find or figure out a few ages, and can use the Track Calculator.  

Jaime Heilpern, who  won the M50 event, just turned 50. His 25:59 grades at 91.47%, or an Open Equivalent of 22:44! Jacques Sallberg, who finished 2nd in the M40 event at age 45, ran 26:20; that grades to 86.71%, an Open Equivalent of 23:58. Matt Yacoub's 26:43, if he is 46, grades to 86.15%, an Open Equivalent of 24:07. The Frieder twins, Elliott and Jonathan, are both 49. Jonathan's 26:57 grades to an 87.45% with an Open equivalent of 23:46. Elliott's 27:46 grades to an 84.87, with an Open Equivalent of 24:29. Duncan Nyasinga, who won the M40 competition, just turned 40. His 25:41 grades at 85.59, with an Open Equivalent of 24:16. Todd Wiley who finished 2nd in M50 in 27:19, is 50 and grades at 87.0% with an Open Equivalent of 23:54. Mark Callon appears to be 51. If so, his 27:40 grades at 86.57% with an Open Equivalent of 24:00. I am not sure if Christian Cushing-Murray is 52 or 53; I am guessing he is still 52. If so, his 27:50 would age grade at 86.77% or an Open Equivalent of 23:57. Mark Zamek, 56, ran 28:26 which ge grades at 87.81%, with an Open Equivalent time of 23:40.

That is it! It was a thrilling competition and we are just at the first event! Next up is the 5 x 4K Relay, under way already, with the competition window open from Wednesday September 23rd through Wednesday, September 30th. Check back in a week for the Relay recap.

Pictures of Garden State Track Club and West Valley Track Club QG 8K Participants

West Valley Track Club

Pictures posted on Strava by Charles Mullane under the title Pandemic 8K with the WV Crew!.




Garden State Track Club

Eric Davis
Dave Ferrugia 
Jonathan Frieder
Steven Segaloff

Marco Cardoso

Jarrett DeWelde

Elliott Frieder

John Hogan

Martin, McDermott, Rozhko and Friends

Duncan Nyasinga



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