Sunday, September 20, 2020

The Quarantine Games Have Begun--A Preview

 September 20, 2020. The Garden State Track Club has organized a series of races and relays for this autumn. They have attracted the interest of 11 other clubs, the Atlanta Track Club [GA], the Boulder Track Club [CO], the Bowerman Track Club [OR], the Cal Coast Track Club [Southern Cal], the Genesee Valley Harriers [Greater Buffalo/Rochester NY], the Georgetown Running Club [D.C. area], the Jamul Toads, the Kansas City Smoke Track Club [MO], the Lincoln Running Club [NB], the Red Cedar Running Club [MN], and the West Valley Track Club [San Francisco area]. Most are entering both Open and Masters athletes. The best guess at this point is that not all teams plan on entering all events. Some have their own XC series or other things going on, so they will pick and choose. For example the 11th Annual Stumptown XC Series in Portland will be virtual this fall, running from September 21 through November 22. GVH hoped to have a live season for their Pete Glavin XC eries but have cancelled events up through the 4th week in October. They have not yet cancelled the Nov. 1 race.

The West Valley Track Club initially had the idea of training for the USATF Club Cross Country Championships to be held in San Francisco despite not knowing whether they would be held or not. They proposed an alternative target should Club Cross be cancelled. As John Markell put it in a note to some influential Masters Runners, " After all, we're optimists.  If Club Nats is a no-go, we plan to run a 10 x 10,000m relay, on a track, in December around the time when Nats would have been.  Note: this is a relay race, so one runner at a time adheres to social distancing rules, nationwide.  Why 10 x 10,000m? We've decided to take a stab at the masters world record for the event, found here:  So, why not?" The Masters Record for the 10 x 10,000 meter is apparently 6:08:33 or 6.1425 hours, or 0.61425 hours per runner or 36.855 minutes per runner or 36:51.3 average over 10 runners. It seems a worthy goal, not impossible but definitely a challenge.

Here are the guidelines put forth as far I can figure out:

Scoring.   Individual events [identified on the scoresheet as 'Time Trial/TT' will use XC scoring (top 5 places), not road scoring (times).  Top 5=A team, Next 5=B team, etc. Relay is already a team event by definition. Team scoring: 10, 9, 8, 7, etc. for both individual + relay events.  Scores will be kept for open, 40s, 50s, and 60s for both genders. In keeping with my focus on Masters Running, I will focus on Masters results and scoring.

Events : Sep 19 8K TT/ Sep 26 5 x 4K Relay/ Oct 10 5K TT/ Oct 17 10K (2 x 2 x 2.5K)/ Oct 31 3K TT/ Nov 7 5K (5 x 5 x 200 meters) Relay/ Nov 14 5K TT/ Nov 28 1 Mile TT/ Dec 5 10 Miler + Relay

The (2x2x5K) is a 2-runner relay team alternating 2.5K's

[I am guessing the last entry is perhaps dependent on whether Club Cross in SF is a 'go' or a 'no go'. If it is a 'go', the Dec 5 event will be cancelled as runners head to Golden Gate Park. If it is a 'No Go', I guess runners have an option of either running a 10 Miler or a 10 x 10,000 Meter Relay.]

 All events except the 10 Miler are apparently intended to be run on the track. That avoids the problem of how much drop to allow, a problem which cannot be avoided on the roads. The 10 Miler is listed for Garden State Runners as Towpath so a similar option, either towpath, bike path, or road is okay. Perhaps an out-and-back course will be a requirement for the 10 Miler, or some requirement on minimum allowable drop % may be added.

Timing: Run the race within a 7 day period. The first event, an 8K Time Trial, should be run between Wednesday, Sep 16 and Wednesday, Sep 23, with the race identified as Sep 19th, which fits in the middle of that period. The same time period from Wednesday before until the Wednesday after should apply to all of the other event dates.

I will not do a full preview for the 8K because I am not sure of how many teams are entering. As of 9 pm Saturday, Sep 19, Boulder Track Club, Cal Coast, Garden State, and West Valley TC have listed runners on the registration sheet. Cal Coast and Garden state have entered some times already. I have tried very hard to 'not see' any of the times and so far have succeeded. 

Which Masters Runners are entered as of now for the 8K TT? [Note: Aggies showed up in registration when I checked on Sep 20-afternoon. More teams may add in.]



The Aggies M50 Jaime Heilpern, Jeff Hongo, Roger Dix

Jaime Heilpern L and John Gardiner sprint for the Finish Line at the 2018 USATF Club XC Championships [Photo by Michael Scott]


Boulder M40 Clint Wells, Jeff Schuler, Ben Cowan, Aaron Kleinman, Nick Jocelyn, Flavio De Simone

M50 Charles Wilbur


Cal Coast M40 Roosevelt Cook, Trevor Cox, Kurt Whittington, John Gardiner, Matt Yacoub, Jacques Sallberg, Gene Inserto  

Jacques Sallberg wins the 2019 Masters Club XC Championship at Lehigh. Peter Gilmore background finished 2nd [Photo by Mike Scott]


M50 Christian Cushing-Murray, Matt Simpson, Mark Steyvers, Rob Arsenault, Gregg Hemphill, Dennis Ryan, Kevin Kong  

M60 Thomas Albright, Bill Amor, John Araujo, Paul Cook, Mark Core, Jeff Creer, Perry Forrester, Mark Hemmel, Ray Knerr, Leon Laub, Brian Nelson, Tomas Rodriguez, Craig Williams, Keith Witthauer

Garden State M40 Jarrett Dewelde, Marco Cordoso, Elliott Frieder, Jonathan Frieder, Duncan Nyasinga, Kevin Shirk, Dave Ferrugia, Dov Gertzulin  

M50 Eric Davis, Mark Zamek, John Hogan  

M60 Gus Stanzione

West Valley M40 Neville Davey, Jorge Maravilla, Peter Gilmore, Todd Rose, John Markell, Julian Marsh, John Monty, Travis Price, Eric Aldrich, Ben Koss, Mark Yuen, Rhodes Walton, Rob Johnson, Konrad Knutsen, Lars Schmitz, Mario Cadete, Jonah Backstrom

Mark Yuen 1902 and Neville Davey 1889 running stride for stride through a muddy turn at the 2019 Masters Club XC Championship at Lehigh. [Photo by Mike Scott]

M50 Ivan Lieben, Mark Callon, Dave White, Ed Randolph, Chuck Mullane 


Boulder W40 Natalia Barrionuevo

Cal Coast W40 Heather McDermott, Elena Rozhko, Jen Martin

If the scoring rules are enforced as above and the rosters are correct, the 4 teams will compete in the M40 event; Cal Coast and West Valley will compete for the M50; and Cal Coast will take the M60 title by default. There would be no other team contests. In USATF Masters Road Races and in some of the Virtual competitions organized by other clubs this summer, they allowed 3 runners on Women's teams to comprise a complete team. If the Quarantine Games would adopt that standard then, if all 3 Cal Coast runners would race the 8K, they would win that team race by default as well. But perhaps rosters do not have to be written in ahead of the racing period. I know Garden State asked for rosters by Tuesday, Sep 15, but I do not believe they required them.

If no other teams add entries, then the runners on incomplete teams can race as individuals.


M40 The M40 Team Rosters are very strong if all runners who are listed run the 8K. My guess is that this is the list of runners who could run but, in fact, some may skip the 8K. We shall see.

If Club Cross from Lehigh is any guide, we would expect Cal Coast's Jacques Sallberg and Roosevelt Cook to have some of the faster times. John Gardiner is always a podium threat. That is also true for West Valley's Neville Davey, Peter Gilmore, and Jorge Maravilla. The Frieder twins, Elliott and Jonathan, for Garden State, have been a bit off the pace of those others on the XC turf; we will see if they are more competitive on the track. From Strava postings, both have enjoyed a strong summer of training.

Jacques Sallberg, Peter Gilmore, and Jorge Maravilla navigating a turn as they lead the pack at the 2019 Masters Club XC Championship at Lehigh. [Photo by Mike Scott]

Boulder's Clint Wells should also make some noise up front. Wells won the USATF Masters Marathon Championship at the Twin Cities in 2016 in 2:24:00. At the 2018 Half Marathon at Grandma's he ran 1:06:50; the only Masters athlete ahead of him was Kevin Castille, currently suspended for accepting a USADA drug sanction. At the FORTitude 10K USA Pro Chase, he was the only Masters athlete entered, finishing 19th overall in 32:44. Athlinks lists no results for Wells from that race until the VirtuALL Bolder Boulder 10K this past Memorial Day weekend. Wells clocked 35:10, suggesting that he is fit, but perhaps was not all in for a virtual 10K. 


Clint Wells, Boulder Track Club Coach and Masters Athlete [Photo from]

If Club Cross 2020 is any guide, West Valley is the favorite, having prevailed over Cal Coast by 66 points at that race. Despite Clint Wells, it seems unlikely that Boulder can compete with those two teams. Garden State has not competed closely with those two teams on the turf but it may be different on the track. The Frieder twins, as noted, have had a strong summer of training. Dave Ferrugia is also running well after struggling with injuries; he turned in a 33:57 Virtual 10K earlier this summer. John Hogan ran 29:06 at the 2016 USATF Masters 8K Championships in Virginia Beach.And GSTC has added a couple of talented runners recently. Duncan Nyasinga, in 2019, ran 2:33:27 at the New York City Marathon. That is a 5:51 pace; if he can increase that pace proportionally for an 8K, he will be dangerous indeed. Kevin Shirk finished between West Valley's Todd Rose and Mark Yuen at the 2019 Lehigh Club Cross Championships. A month before, he ran a 1:09:17 Half Marathon. That gives Garden State a very solid first 5, plus some fall-back support! Will it be enough to pull ahead of their two West Coast rivals? It will be fascinating to see.

West Valley Track Club   Cal Coast Track Club   Garden State Track Club


Garden State Track Club's Victorious M40+ Team at the 2019 USATF Masters 8K Championships in Virginia Beach- L to R John Hogan, Sam Teigen, Jonathan Frieder, Harold Porcher, and Gary Leaman

M50 Again, with reference back to Club Cross at Lehigh, it appears that the leaders in this contest are likely to be found from the Aggies' Jaime Heilpern, Cal Coast's Christian Cushing-Murray, West Valley's Ivan Lieben, and Garden State's Mark Zamek. Based on those entered so far, it looks like a team shootout between Cal Coast and West Valley. Garden State does not have a complete team entered. Both teams regularly compete at Club XC but I cannot find any recent results where both entered 50's teams. Often the top 50's runners will run with the 40's team. Sometimes Cal Coast runs a 50+ team but I cannot find any recent cases where West Valley entered a 50+ team. That means this series will be for bragging rights! Both have entered strong teams. In addition to Cushing-Murray, it appears from a Virtual competition earlier this year that Rob Arsenault is back on top of his game. He also ran a 29:23 5 Miler last November. Mark Steyvers should also provide strong support, based on a 17:31 5K and a 37:31 10K last year. Cushing-Murray was off his game at the USATF Masters 5KXC Championship in San Diego last year when Lieben and his teammate, Chuck Mullane, both came in ahead of Cush. No doubt he will be looking to assert himself this time around, especially if he is inspired by the Tour De France, as so many are inspired by his daily TDF commentary and choice of an appropriate brew for toasting the hero(s) of the tour stage! With Lieben and Mullane leading the way for a strong supporting cast, West Valley will be tough to beat, Mark Callon has a recent 4:39 Mile to his credit as well as a 16:31 5K, and Ed Randolph adds a resume with a 16:23 5K and a 58:27 in the 2019 JF Memorial 10 Mile Run. If all enjoy good fitness, West Valley appears to have more strength 4 runners deep than Cal Coast has. Both the Aggies and Garden State appear to have only three entrants; unless that changes, they are two runners short of a complete team.

M60 Until another team enters an M60 team, this division belongs to Cal Coast. Led by 'youngsters' like Mark Core and Ray Knerr, who have sub-19 minute

Brunch Spread for Cal Coast Runners taking on the Virtual 8K, provided by the Hughes Family [Photo by Dennis Ryan-posted on FB]

5K's in their recent resumes and fortified by Brian Nelson, who finished 6th in the 2019 Masters National 5K Championships in Atlanta in 19:14, they start off with a strong 1-2-3 punch. After that they have a mix of veterans like Perry Forrester and Keith Witthauer and newcomers like Bill Amor, who is coming on strong, approaching the 20 minute barrier in the 5K. They are a tough team to beat.

That's my preview. I look forward to recapping the first event, the 8K Individual Time Trial. By next Wednesday I should at least know every team and every runner who entered the 8K.

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