Thursday, October 22, 2020

Recap of GSTC Quarantine Games--5K Time Trial

October 17, 2020. My September 27th post recapped the kickoff event of Garden State's Quarantine Games (QT)  event, the 8K. Today is the turn for the 5K. Participating teams in Masters categories included Atlanta TC, Boulder TC, Cal Coast TC, out of So Cal, Garden State TC,out of NJ, and West Valley TC, out of the SF Bay Area. Teams that indicated an interest in participating in some of the events but did not field a team for the 5K includes the Bowerman TC, out of Oregon, and the Genesee Valley Harriers, out of upstate NY. Atlanta fielded an incomplete M40's team this week but did not participate otherwise. Between October 7th and 14th, the races were held on each club's home track, as a group when possible. After all, this is just as much about the camaraderie of running as it about providing motivation for training!

W40 Once again, GSTC fielded the only Women's 40 and up team. Elena Rozhko clocked the top time of 18:25, and Jen Martin and Heather McDermott following in 19:36 and 20:16 respectively. Boulder TC had two entries; Allison Steele split Rozhko and Martin with a 19:02 while her teammate, Natalia Barrionuevo clocked 21:20. They would have been a tough team to beat anyway; with no opposition, they emerge victorious. That gives them two unopposed wins in two tries, the 8K and the 5K.

INDIVIDUAL: Elena Rozhko 18:25   Jen Martin 19:36   Heather McDermott 20:16

TEAM: Garden State Track Club 6 pts. 58:17/3 = average = 19:26 per runner

M40 Boulder, Garden State and West Valley contested for the top spot. Atlanta and Cal Coast had incomplete teams with 3 and 2 entrants respectively. The race for the individual podium figured to involve Peter Gilmore, Duncan Nysasinga, and Clint Wells. Wells had the more distinguished career as an Open athlete, running for the USA at 3 World Cross Country Championships and finishing 5th at the 2000 Olympic Trials in the 3000 meter steeplechase. In 2006 he won the Denver Marathon and in 2015 won the USATF Masters National Marathon Championship at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in 2:24:00! In 2018, Wells finished 20th overall and 2nd Masters behind Kevin Castille (who accepted a 2019 USADA anti-doping sanction), clocking a sizzling 1:06:50 Half Marathon at grandma's Marathon in Duluth. 

Nysasinga has Marathon chops as well. He has steadily cut down his New York City Marathon time as he moved from Open to Masters status. It was 2:57:29 in 2017; Nysasinga dropped his pace by 28 seconds per mile over the next year, clocking 2:45:22. Remarkably he enjoyed another 27 second pace improvement over the next year, lowering his time to 2:33:27! He took the 8K title in the first Quarantine Games event with a blazing 25:41, leaving both Jacques Sallberg and Clint Wells over half a minute back. 

Gilmore, by contrast, has enjoyed his greatest recent success in Cross Country, finishing 2nd overall in 33:00 at the highly competitive Masters 10K race at USATF's 2019 National Club Cross Country Championship! Not that Gilmore is a slouch at other disciplines; he posted a 20:54 at the Los Gatos Rotary 4-Miler in 2019. And if we go back to 2004, when Gilmore was 27, he clocked 2:15:43 in the Olympic Marathon Trials, finishing 9th! No stranger to virtual events this year, he clocked a 15:50 in the Run Free (Virtual) 5K in April. 

The QG story was not much different this time with the 5K. Sallberg was not entered; the threesome of Gilmore, Nysasinga, and Wells opened a gap on the rest of the field. 


Duncan Nyasinga #7 leading the Masters Athletes around the Oval at the 2020 Quarantine Games on his way to taking the Masters win in 15:11 [All GSTC photos courtesy of GSTC/Jason Timochko]

As before though, Nysasinga had a gear the others could not match as he pulled away to take the win in 15:11, with Gilmore 24 seconds back in 2nd and Wells another 26 seconds back in 3rd. 

Peter Gilmore gapping the field midrace at the West Valley 5K Time Trials for the 2020 (Virtual) Quarantine Games [Photo courtesy of Jack Youngren, WVTC Coach]


That set the individual podium, but with one runner in from each of the top 3 clubs, Boulder, Garden State, and West Valley, the team race was just heating up. In fact, the #2 runners for each of those teams were locked in combat as they approached the finish line. West Valley's Mark Yuen had just a little more in the tank as he edged Garden State's Kevin Shirk, 16:13 to 16:15. Boulder's Chris Grauch lacked a few strides to stay with those two, but made sure he had 6th as he finished strong in 16:18. That left Garden State and West Valley tied with 6 and Boulder just behind with 9. Right after Grauch crossed the line, everyone looked to see what the next cheering was for as 4 more athletes approached the finish line, sprinting for all they were worth. Three of the runners wore West Valley singlets and the other wore the Boulder colors. West Valley's Todd Rose sprinted across the line in 16:26, edging Boulder's Aaron Kleinman by a single second, with Rose's teammate, Konrad Knutsen crossing in 16:28. Neville Davey, who was closing strongly on the others, ran out of turf and was happy to be West Valley's 5th scoring runner in 10th. That gave West Valley the win at 32! Boulder had three runners in and 17 points. Garden State could have as low a score as 17 points with three runners if their #3 finished next. In fact that's what happened. Not only did Garden State's Dave Ferrugia clock 16:37 for 11th, giving GSTC the 17 points on three runners to move back in front of Boulder, 


Dave Ferrugia opening up a gap on his teammates as he cruises to a 16:37, pushing Garden State ahead of Boulder in the race for 2nd place M40+ team at the GSTC 2020 Quarantine Games

he led an avalanche of Garden State runners. Shawn Williams, Elliott Frieder, Jason Timochko and Marco Cardoso took the next 4 spots in 16:48, 16:49, 16:58, and 17:00 respectively. 


Shawn Williams #14 on his way to a 16:48 at the 2020 GSTC Quarantine Games  


Elliott Frieder, in a class by himself, cranking out a 16:49 5K in the 2020 GSTC Quarantine Games


Jason Timochko #11 setting the pace as Marco Cardoso keeps pace on their way to a 16:58 and 17:00 res[ectively in the 2020 GSTC Quarantine Games

That locked up 2nd for GSTC as they had 42 points from their top 5 runners. Flavio DeSimone and Charles Wilbur finished things off for Boulder in 17:43 and 18:52, giving Boulder third place with a final total of 55 points. Brent Fields, Kevin Gibson, and Fred Dolan competed for the incomplete Atlanta team, clocking 17:11, 17:37, and 18:47. Cal Coast's Trevor Cox and Gene Inserto stopped the clock at 17:57 and 18:32.

John Markell, a 16:30 5K guy in 2018, and unofficial Captain of WVTC, running himself back to fitness after knee surgery [Photo courtesy of Jack Youngren, WVTC Coach]

INDIVIDUAL: Duncan Nysasinga 15:11   Peter Gilmore 15:35   Clint Wells 16:01


West Valley Track Club 32 pts. 1:21:12/5 = average = 16:14.4 per runner

Garden State Track Club 42 pts. 1:21:40/5 = average = 16:20.0 per runner

Boulder Track Club 55 pts. 1:25:21/5 = average = 17:04.2 per runner

M50 In the 50's contest it was again West Valley vs. Garden State, as Cal Coast entered 4 of the 5 runners needed for a complete team. The top 5 in this battle were West Valley's  Ivan Lieben, Mark Callon, and Chuck Mullane, and the Garden State duo, Todd Wiley and Mark Zamek. With Cal Coast missing their 5th runner, this was now a dual meet. So not only was the individual contest on the line, but potentially the Team contest as well. If West Valley could bring their top 3 in together, it's all over. All their next two athletes have to do is cross the line. Lieben celebrated his last year int he 45-49 division with a 2:50:38 Boston Marathon in April 2019. A mainstay of West Valley's 40's XC teams in recent years, he turned 50 and finished 4th in the ultra-competitive Club XC 50-54 division last December at Lehigh. His running buddy, Mullane, who aged up in the same year, finished about a minute back. Both Lieben and Mullane ran on the victorious West Valley M40 team that took the crown at San Diego in the USATF 5 Km Masters XC Championships, running 16:58 and 17:37. Callon seems to be a new addition to the team but he brought in plenty of 'street cred' as a Masters runner. He ran 1:14:39 at the San Jose RnR HM and a 16:31 5K at the Morgan Hill Freedom Fest. Just to show his versatility, he took the M50 title at the 2019 One Mile Bang in 4:48 and finished 4th in M50 at the legendary Dipsea Race in Mill Valley. But Wiley and Zamek have 'cred' to match.  Although they did not quite keep pace with Lieben at Lehigh, they both came in between Lieben and Mullane. Wiley's best 5K in 2019 was a 17:06, but he broke 17 at least twice in 2018. Zamek's best 2019 5K was a 17:05 at the National Masters Championships in Atlanta, which included a long, hard uphill in the last mile. He added the M55 National Road Mile Championship at the Crim in Flint Michigan with a 4:55! It would have been so much fun to see this race unfold in person! 

Chase Pack in 5K TT, trying to close the gap up to Peter Gilmore and Jaime Heilpern. L to R: Mark Yuen, Ben Callon (HS senior, son of Mark), Ivan Lieben, Mark Callon, and Ryan Somerfield (Open Team) [Photo courtesy of Jack Youngren, WVTC Coach]


As it turned out, Lieben and Callon had no trouble going 1-2 in 16:24 and 16:40. But 20 seconds later the other three were approaching the virtual finish line in a bunch, although Wiley and Mullane were slightly ahead of Zamek, In the end, Mullane got the 17:01 he needed to edge Wiley by a single second, and Zamek by 6 seconds. 

Chuck Mullane on his way to the 17:01 5K he needed to clinch the M50 win for West Valley in the 2020 (virtual) Quarantine Games 5K Time Trial [Photo courtesy of Jack Youngren, WVTC Coach]

And that was it! Not only did that give West Valley the entire podium it gave them the team win as well, assuming their other two guys finished the race. Of course, no one knew that at the time. West Valley's 4th runner, Ed Randolph, was in a battle with Cal Coast's Rob Arsenault. Randolph gave West Valley their 4th finisher as he prevailed in 17:20 to Arsenault's 17:28. Garden state's 3rd, 4th and 5th runners came in next, clocking 17:45, 17:53, and 19:02! They finished ahead of West Valley's 5th runner but it did not matter. When Matt Des Jardins crossed the line in 20:55, a big cheer went up from the West Valley contingent as they had their 5 finishers and the team win. Dan Arsenault, Dennis Ryan, and Kevin Kong closed out the scoring for Cal Coast in 21:07, 21:28, and 21:58.

INDIVIDUAL: Ivan Lieben 16:24   Mark Callon 16:40   Chuck Mullane 17:01


West Valley State 22 pts. 1:28:20/5 = average = 17:40 per runner

Garden State Track Club 33 pts. 1:28:49 = average = 17:45.8 per runner 

Socially Distanced West Valley TC Runners after their 5K Time Trials, with Jaime Heilpern of the Aggies (5th standing from Left). L to R: Ivan Lieben, Chuck Mullane, Mark Callon, Peter Gilmore, Travis Price, (kneeling), Heilpern, Mark Yuen, John Markell [Photo courtesy of Jack Youngren, WVTC Coach]


M60 Once again Cal Coast scared off all potential contenders and had the field to themselves. Garden State's Mike Salamone and Gus Stanzione showed up to make the Individual race more interesting but they did not have a complete team.  Like the race in the M50's, the race between Salamone and Cal Coast's Mark Core would have been fun to see in real time.  Core has been a pretty reliable sub-19 5K for the last few years. Of course in the middle of a pandemic, with limited racing, it can be hard to maintain sharpness. In Core's case we can just look back to the QG 8K; Core took M60 honors with a 32:22. That is age grade equivalent to a 19:55 5K, suggesting that Core is either hampered by a nagging injury or has lost some sharpness. Salamone ran his 5K's in 2018 in the 19:30 to 20:30 range. After months of no races, Salamone took the 60+ honors at the 'Running is Back 5K series' with a 19:41. Sounds like he'd be ready for a race with Core!

They would likely have been locked together heading into the final hundred meters. Who would get the a win? Virtually it was Core, by a single second, 18:56 to 18:57! When will they get a chance to go toe to toe in reality? Let's hope we get a real, live, in-person Masters race where West and East can meet on the turf, the track or the road in 2021! After Salamone crossed the finish line,  

Mike Salazone, Duncan Nyasinga, Dave LaCouture, and Jason Timochko [L to R] pose briefly after their excellent race efforts (before quickly re-establishing social distancing and/or donning masks again!)


Brian Nelson, Bill Amor, and John Araujo took the next 3 spots for Cal Coast in 19:40, 20:32, and 20:48. Nelson has been  stalwart for the Cal Coast M60 team for the last few years. He led Cal Coast's M60 team onto the M60 podium at the 2018 Masters 8 Km National Championships and the 5 Km Masters XC Championships, and ran 18:47 on a challenging 5K course at the National Masters Championships in Atlanta. Talk about a stacked field, wow! Roger Sayre led the way that day in 17:29, followed in close order by Joe Sheeran, Rick Becker, Tom McCormack, and Ken Youngers, 5 Masters Hall of Fame runners for sure! The podium for this virtual QG 5K included Core, Salamonie and Nelson, with Amor just off in 4th!

And what about Amor? Not so long ago he was overweight by his own account and wondering if running would help him get his weight down. Not only did he get his weight down, he rediscovered his love of running. His first 5K effort in summer of 2017, he did not crack 30 minutes. By the fall he was down to the mid-20's. By 2018, he had his first sub-22 5K. By 2019 he was able to break 21 minutes and he joined Cal Coast. He competed for the 'B' M60 team at the 5 Km Masters Championships in San Diego; by Club XC time, he was competing for the 'A' squad. He has been working with Jacques Sallberg as his Coach for a couple of months now and is looking to crack 20:00 in a road 5K. 

As recently as 2018, Araujo was breaking 20 minutes in a 5K but his recent 5K times have been slower. Perhaps he was injured? In any case, his most recent live races include a 32:23 at the 2020 Brea 8K, which is age grade equivalent to a 19:55 5K and a 3:12:08 at the L.A. Marathon in March 2020. At that point, he was ready to roll. But  after 6 months of covid restrictions, Amor was able to roll just a little bit faster. A little intramural competition like that helps the team! 

Gus Stanzione clicking off the socially distanced miles on a Blue & Gray Oval, clocking 21:09 to land in 6th place at the 2020 GSTC Quarantine Games

Stanzione came next in 21:09, followed by Tom Albright, Paul Cook, and 'Coach' Bill Sumner, stepping down from his 70's division, in 21:25, 22:23, and 23:54. Sumner is one of the top coaches in the country, having coached so many individual and team champions that it is hard to keep track! As long as he can keep pushing the cookie tray away, he'll continue to battle at the front of the M70 group on the turf and on the roads!

INDIVIDUAL: Mark Core 18:56   Mike Salamone 18:57   Brian Nelson 19:40


Cal Coast Track Club 6 pts.   1:41:21/5 = average = 20:16.2 per runner


AGE GRADING Back by popular request, let us look at age-grading to figure out which of these impressive times was the most impressive for the runner's age. Source: Grubb Calculator-Track factors, not road, approved by WMA and USATF.

MEN's PODIUM: Mark Zamek 57 17:07 89.29%   Mark Yuen 49 16:13 88.28%   Duncan Nyasinga 40 15:11 87.93%

Nyasinga edged Ivan Lieben by only two hundredths of a percent! His 16:24 at age 50 warranted an 87.91%. Lieben was followed by Mark Callon 87.30%, Peter Gilmore 86.95%, and Clint Wells 86.58%.

WOMEN: Elena Rozhko dominated the Women's contest; her 18:25 at age 47 merited an 87.42%.


That wraps up this recap. West Valley took the M40+ and M50+ team contests while Garden State took the Women's 40+ and Cal Coast the M60+ race. Next up on the QG schedule is the 10K Relay (2 x 2 x 2.5K). I hope they get more teams to run this relay than was the case for the 5 x 4K relay a couple of weeks ago. The following week it will be the 3K time trial. And let's hope at least one additional W40 and M60 team can show up to contest those divisions. Perhaps the QG organizers should allow as few as three runners to form a complete M60 team, as is the practice in USATF National Championships? It does not appear Cal Coast has a problem getting 5-6 of their team to compete, but it can be lonely at the top. In my write-up I assumed that the three runners from GSTC in Women's 40+ constituted a complete team.

[Thanks to Jack Youngren for sending photos of West Valley in action. I am happy to use photos from any team that sends them to me.]