August 3 2021. The first heat of the 10,000 meters, for women 55 and up and Men 70 and up went off at 7:30 AM. At that time, temps were in the upper 60's with wind at 7 mph, but the skies were described as 'smoke'. I presume that was high up, perhaps from wildfires to the west. It may have affected performances, however. The smoky conditions did not let up until the afternoon, so affected all 10,000 meter heats.When Men 30-59 went off at 9:30 AM, temps were up to the low to mid-70's, warmer than one would like, with smoke still listed. Despite that, three American Records were set in the 10000!
As with earlier articles in this series, I am using the track/WMA age grade calculator at: http://www.howardgrubb.co.uk/athletics/wmalookup15.html. For road races, one should direct their browser to the USATF approved tables at: http://howardgrubb.co.uk/athletics/mldrroad20.html.
7:30 AM W55+ & M70+
Tami Graf 85 Potomac Valley TC took the W85 title unopposed in 1:36:39.48. That gave her the 5000M/10000M double Gold! It also gave Graf her 2nd American Record at these Championships. Her time bettered the existing mark by Mary Haines by ten minutes! That record had stood for 23 years!
Tami Graf heading for her W80 Gold Medal at the 2018 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Buffalo, NY Photo by Andy Martin, Exclamation Services
Nancy Rollins 74 Unattached had the same experience in W70. Rollins got the double Gold, but her 53:52.06 also qualified for the term 'World Class' as her PLP Performance Level Percentage was 92.73. After this I will just leave the team affiliation blank for unattached athletes. Amy McCormack 66 had to defeat 2 rivals to win the W65 5000 meter event; she was unopposed in the 10000. Nonetheless McCormack took her 2nd title with a 51:00.86, an 84.91% age grade.
W60 Suzanne Cordes 61Impala Racing and Carol Sexton 64 were the fastest in this division. Cordes did not waste any time, covering the first 400 meters in 96.8 seconds, building a quick 40 meter lead. The other two competitors, Veronica Shepardson and Lauren Siegel were content to contend for the final podium spot. Cordes continued building her lead until the final lap, when she felt she could let up a bit on the throttle. Her winning time was 45:48:44. Not many athletes can ease into an 87.2 PLP.
heads around the final turn before the finish at the 2018 USATF Masters National 5 Km
Championships in Atlanta-On her way to a 20:46 effort, finishing just
off the podium. Photo by Mike Scott
A minute and a half later, Sexton came storming across the finish line in 47:19.53. Siegel took 3rd in 57:27.50.
W55 In my preview, I suggested it would be a tight race betweeen Lisa Veneziano 56 and Kathy Wolski 55 So Cal TC. Wolski had run a 39:13 10K this spring and Veneziano a series of 18 to 18:30 5K's. Veneziano was ready to run! The gun sounded and off she sped, covering the first 400 meters in 1:31 and opening up a 5-meter gap on Wolski. Veneziano went from strength to strength, building a lead of 300 m eters by the 4800 meter mark. Veneziano clocked 38:42.16 for the win and a 95.99 PLP, the top age grade score in the 10000 Meters. It was a World Class performance by Veneziano, enabling her to claim a new American Record, breaking Laura Bruess's 2016 record by 55 seconds--Wow!
|Lisa Veneziano L and Marisa Sutera Strange R Battle for a Top Five Overall Finish at the 2018 USATF Masters National 1 Mile Championship Photo by Carter Sherline, Frog Prince Studios|
Wolski had no problem with other rivals although her time, too, was off her performances of earlier this year. Her 41:57.43 merited a nifty 87.31 % age grade score. Cindy Blakeley-Cameron 56 took 3rd in 45:32.95 PLP 81.56, with Tina Klein 56 T.H.E. TC 4th in 49:12.95.
Colben Sime 87 So Cal TC was the sole M85 entrant, winning in 1:19:38.65.
There were no competitors for the M75 heat. Too bad I was rehabbing an insertional Achilles Tendinitis issue. If I had been healthy and toed the line, maybe Gary Patton 75 So Cal TC would have jumped in just to see if he could reverse the outcome of our 2016 road 5K competition, which would have been highly likely, given his track prowess.
M80 John Becker 81 , John Elliott 82 Potomac Valley and Norman Goluskin 82 Central Park TC toed the line for the 10000 meters, as they did for the 5000 M. Roland Cormier withdrew as he had plenty on his schedule already with the Steeplechase, Outdoor Pentathlon and 1500 Meters. As in the 5000, Becker, Goluskin, and Elliott fell into a 1-2-3 pattern early on with distinct gaps which grew during the race.
Becker's 1:01.85 gave him his 2nd win; Goluskin came across the line 2nd in 1:04:24.47 to collect a Silver medal. Elliott claimed bronze with his 1:07:43.73.
M70 Gene Dykes 73 Greater Philadelphia, Leslie Sharpe 70 Club Northwest, and Peter Mullin came in 1-2-4 in the 5000 Meters. Would doubling the distance alter the outcome? Dykes, Mullin and Sharpe finished the first lap in that order with less than a second separating them. But 1200 meters later it was clear that Mullin would not keep pace with Dykes on this day; he was 40 meters back. This time, however, Mullin had 35 meters on Sharpe. Dykes cruised the rest of the way, winning in 41:57.2 for an 87.27% age grade.
By 4800 meters, Mullin had stretched his lead over Sharpe to over 60 meters. The momentum shifted; Sharpe began eating into Mullin's lead thereafter, first a few meters per lap, and then bigger chunks of 12-15 meters per lap. The 18th lap saw Sharpe pass Mullin at speed and that settled the other two podium spots. Sharpe finished at 45:37.53, with Mullin 3rd at 47:10.58. Clearly something happened to Mullin between his 41:21 effort in January and this one in July. Hats off to Sharpe, but Mullin will be back, no doubt, and it will be a much closer battle next time.
8:45 AM M60 & M65; W40 - W50
M65 As in the 5,000 meters, Rick Becker 66 Club NW lost no time in moving to the front of the M65 pack. There was no one in M65 who could stay anywhere near him, and at first he was well in front of the M60 competitors as well. They caught up with him by the third lap, and he ran at the head of their lead group for most of the race. Becker took first in 37:16.46, a 92.69% age graded effort. Not only was it a World Class effort, it also took down Tom Bernhard's American Record, set in 2017 at 38:34.45. That Becker could lower a Bernhard record by a full minute is testimony to his current conditioning. Eugene Myers 68 captured 2nd seven minutes later. Seventeen minutes later still, Leo Murillo, Sr. 66 took the bronze medal with a 1:01:14.51.
M60 The M60 10000 was loaded with top runners, both with and without MLDR experience. Steve Schmidt 60 , a member of the 6DSU fraternity [6 decades of sub-3-hour Marathons], took the 5000 meter crown at these Championships in 18:33.97. That was good enough to install him as favorite. Jeffrey Kirk 62 Santa Cruz Track Club took 3rd in the 5000; that makes him a threat for the podium. Five Masters LDR athletes would try their hand at the track race and see if they could break onto the podium. All have been eager to find races as the nation seemed to emerge from the Pandemic, and this was a chance at a highly competitive event. Michael Anderson 63 Atlanta Track Club, Jeffery Barros 63 Boulder Road Runners, William 'Hugh' Enicks, IV 61 So Cal TC, John Hadcock 63 Greater Lowell Road Runners, and Charlie Muse 64 Greater Lowell Road Runners all toed the line. None are strangers to the podium but they are happiest helping their respective teams to the podium. Whether they were all injury-free, healthy and ready to run their fastest is another question. Many are pointing more to the Masters LDR Championship races in the fall. No doubt this would be a good test for them. Enicks followed M65's Becker around the first lap, hitting the 400 meters in 1:26.58, a second slower than Becker. The others were more conservative. Six seconds back from Enicks was Barros and Schmidt, followed closely by Kirk and Anderson, with a small gap back to Hadcock and then Muse.
After 4 laps, Enicks was running on Becker's heels. Schmidt was cruising along about 40 meters back. Kirk was the closest to Schmidt, almost a hundred meters back. Anderson, Barros, Hadcock and Muse were grinding it out in that order. Four laps down, 21 to go!
At 3200 meters the gap between Enicks and Schmidt had stabilized while most other gaps grew bigger; Barros slowed significantly and had to let Anderson, Hadcock and Muse by.
When they passed the 4800 meter mark (12 laps down, 13 to go!), the 3rd through 7th positions were locked in. Kirk would almost surely take the bronze, passing the mark in 19:46.06. Anderson was in 4th 150 meters back, with Hadcock a good hundred meters further back in 5th, and Muse almost as far back from Hadcock.
What about Enicks and Schmidt? Momentum looked like it was on Schmidt's side. He was now within a few strides of Enicks. After another 4 laps, Schmidt had passed Enicks and was 30 meters ahead. Schmidt never looked back, taking the win in 37:03.92!
That earned an 88.31% age grade score. Enicks gave no quarter but, in the end, had to be satisfied with a Silver Medal. His 38:15.54 earned an 86.34 PLP, a strong, national class effort. Kirk's 42:00.27 earned the bronze medal. A minute later, Anderson took 4th, followed by Hadcock, Muse and Barros.
Overall/W40 - W50 Because the Age Division contests unfolded without much drama, I will again recap this heat as if the runners were vying for an overall Masters (40+) crown. In fact they were competing in separate divisions. I resort in the paragraphs following this 'overall' report. The Masters LDR 'interloper' was Melissa Gacek 45 Run N Fun, a regular on the Overall podium and a winner in 2017 at the USATF Masters 15K in Tulsa; she also took the win at the 2018 Masters Half Marathon Championship at the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run in Michigan. For such a talented long distance specialist, the 10,000 is actually a step down in distance. Not that she doesn't have good 10K speed. Earlier in the spring she ran 37:05 for a 5.5 mile race; that equates, by age-grading, to a 42:05 10K. That might be fast enough to land on the podium. Jessica Hruska 41 Crown Running, who won the 5000 meters in 19:06, some 15 seconds faster than Gacek's time in he same race, would start as favorite for the fastest 40+ 10K time. Other likely contenders included Elizabeth Guerrini 52 , Sara Ibbetson 40 rabbitELITE , and Jennifer Sober 46. The gun sounded and after a bit, Guerrini assumed the lead and took the field through the first 400 meters in 1:26.88, enjoying a ten meter lead over Ibbetson, who had another ten meters on Sober, with Hruska and Gacek on her heels.
By the 1600 meter mark, Ibbetson was in the lead at 6:00.72, with Sober on her heels, Guerrini ten meters back, with Hruska 30 meters back, and Gacek 15 back from her. That continued through the 3200 meters, except that Sober closed to within 5 meters of Ibbotson and Hruska passed Guerrini. Four laps later Sober was in the lead with Ibbotson on her heels. Hruska was still ahead of Gacek, but Gacek had passed Guerrini.
Ibbotson tried to stay with Sober but a lap later the gap was up to 15 meters and the momentum was with Sober. Ibbotson still had 50 meters on Hruska so seemed safe. By the end of the 16th lap, though, Hruska had cut the gap in half. It was just a matter of time. Sober continued on to turn in the fastest 40+ time overall, 38:16.47, earning an 85.30% age grade. Hruska followed about 20 seconds later, her 38:38.0 earning an 80.97 PLP.
A minute later Ibbotson came across the finish line, followed 26 seconds later by Gacek, whose 40:05.89 was a good bit faster than her springtime 5.5 suggested. It was not enough to be on an overall podium, but it was good enough to gain the Silver medal in her age division and earn a national Class age grade of 80.64%. Guerrini came in two minutes later, the first in the over 50 crew.
W50 Guerrini led the way from the start, taking the win in 42:09.9, earning a national class age grade score of 83.36.
Jill Vollweiler 53 So Cal TC took 2nd in 48:06.73.
W45 As noted above, Jennifer Sober generated a sizable gap over Gacek in the first four laps, eventually taking the W45 win in 38:16.47 to Gacek's Silver Medal effort of 40:05.89, which also netted a national class age grade of 80.64%.
Jennifer Sober on her way to the W45 Gold Medal in the 10000 Meter Run at the 2021 USATF Masters National Outdoor TF Championships Photo by Clint 'Flash' Santoro
Janet Bain 46 claimed the bronze in 43:43.08.
W40 As noted above, Hruska outlasted Ibbotson, taking the gold to her silver medal. Ibbotson's time was 39:39.58. Amanda Waters 41 B.A.A. took 3rd in 41:42.93, with Sara Schwendinger 44 So Cal TC 4th in 44:58.43.
9:30 AM M40 - M50 These age divisions were not closely contested either so I will again combine the age divisions in this heat into a single overall contest. Keep in mind, however, that a runner in one age division will, for perfectly good reasons, let a gap develop to a runner in another age division. That might not happen if they were truly competing against one another for an Overall crown. Greg Mitchell 47 Bowerman TC was the favorite. A frequent overall winner on the Masters National Grand Prix circuit, Mitchell's most recent victory came in the 2018 Masters Half Marathon National Championship on the Dexter-Ann Arbor course in 1:10:36. He also ran a 1:10:56 Half Marathon at the beginning of June. Scott Siriano 54 Mass Velocity TC has competed in a few of the XC Championships and the 2018 1 Mile Championships on the Masters LDR circuit, but is not a regular by any means. Siriano took 2nd in the M50 division of the 5000 meters in 19:26.97. Michael Collins 57 and Dean Thompson competed in the 5000 meters. Collins clocked 17:05.88 to record a thrilling division win. Thompson finished 3rd in the same division with a 17:32.31. Two other contenders skipped the 5000 meters and have no Masters LDR history. Alejandro Alcaraz 42 Mexico and Jerry Snider 47 would try to break up the other four. Mitchell and Snider went to the front, pulling the contending group through the first 4 laps in 5:39.12. Alcaraz, Thompson and Collins followed in close order, with a gap of 20 meters back to Siriano.
By the end of the 8th lap, Mitchell, Snider and Alcaraz were clipping off the laps as a clear lead group, hitting the 3200 meters in 11:09.94. Collins and Thompson were a good 50 meters back, with Siriano another 60 meters back. Mitchell kept applying the pressure on the front; by the 12th lap, he had a 30 meter lead on Alcaraz, and Snider had fallen way off the Alcaraz pace. Collins was closing in on Snider and Thompson was only 15 meters behind Collins. Another four laps saw Mitchell widen his lead over Alcaraz. Collins and Thompson were well clear of Snider and could look ahead 50 meters and think about catching Alcaraz. Snider was slowing but still had a half minute lead over Siriano. Four more laps brought them to the 8000 meter mark. Mitchell was sailing well clear of the field. Collins was past Alcaraz with the momentum on his side. Thompson was still way back from Alcaraz but Siriano was now closing in on Snider. That was it! Mitchell turned in the top time, 33:56.04, meriting an 86.64% age grade, not bad for a race with smoky, warm conditions, and no close competition!
Collins continued his winning ways in M55, clocking 35:50.81 for the 2nd fastest time, earning an 88.99 PLP.
Alcaraz was able to hold his 30 second advantage over Thompson all the way to the finish, 3rd one in the heat at 36:56.54...Thompson was the 4th runner in at 37:27.80, an 83.73% age grade. Siriano followed in 38:00.22 at 81.88% for age grading. Snider was the 6th finisher, coming across in 38:30.32.
And the Age Division results...
M55 As noted, Michael Collins and Dean Thompson were the first two across the line for M%%, earning Gold and Silver. Ted Poulos 59 Potomac Valley TC claimed the Bronze with a 44:11.12 and Richard Mayne 57 Trojan Masters TC finished just off the podium in 44:20.51. Note: Lester Dragstedt of the Atlanta Track Club and Colin Munsey of the Roanoke Elite were in contention for a Bronze medal until they had to drop out. Dragstedt encountered plantar fascitis issues, forcing him to battle the issue for a bit and then drop out after lap 10. I do not know what caused Munsey to withdraw with two laps to go. At the time, his 37:07.62 had him in 3rd place.
M50 Scott Siriano topped the division. Michael McGrane 51 B.A.A.and Roger Dix 54 Hoka Aggies were in a tight competition through the first 8 laps, Craig Chasse 51 Potomac Valley TC who had been in close contact through the first 4 laps, had drifted back since then, and was running in 4th place.
After that McGrane pulled away steadily, building his lead up to 200 meters by lap 16. McGrane ran into some problem around that time; his lap time jumped by 10 seconds between 6400 and 6800 meters. It increased by another 6 seconds after the 8000 meter mark. McGrane had just enough left to hold Dix off for Silver by a mere 5 seconds at the finish line, clocking 39:50.53 to Dix's 39:55.70. Dix took the bronze with a minute to spare. Chasse was just off the podium in 40:59.44.
Scott Siriano cruises to the M50 Gold Medal in the 10000 Meter Run at the 2021 USATF Masters National Outdoor TF Championships Photo by Clint 'Flash' Santoro
M45 Greg Mitchell, who finished first in the heat, took the M45 title along with it. Four minutes later, Jerry Snider claimed 2nd , with Seemont Teotia getting the Bronze medal in 46:50.58.
M40 This division was no closer. Alejandro Alcaraz of Mexico came first in 36:56.04. Matthew Holtry 42 claimed the Silver medal with a 49:03.54.
These tremendous competitive races were highlighted by the three American Records that were broken. Hats off to the new American Record holders in the 10000 meters!
Tami Graf W85-89 1:36:39.48
Rick Becker M65-69 37:16.46
Lisa Veneziano W55-59 38:42.16
This ends my coverage of the distance events at the 2021 Masters Outdoor TF Championships.