Sunday, September 26, 2021

Overall & Age Grading Championships at the 2021 USATF Masters 12 km Championships

 September 23 2021.It had been almost two years since the last USATF Masters National Championship on the roads. And it was a new distance to many. The last National Championships over a 12 km course were run from 2013 to 2015 in Alexandria VA. The athletes were eager to compete. Some had been injured prior to the Covid pandemic and recovered. Others dealt with injury or had surgery over that period. A few entered and exited healthy. But it was hard to know who was who until the gun went off and the athletes competed!

From reviewing performances prior to April 2020, when Covid stopped all racing, and reviewing more recent performances when available, I made educated guesses at the main contenders for Overall and Age-Grading Champions. Below are my initial thoughts and how the races actually turned out.


WOMEN  When I wrote my first preview on September 16th, I identified Fiona Bayly, Roberta Groner, Dawn Grunnagle, and Maggie Shearer as the primary contenders. When Perry Shoemaker entered on September 18th, I mentioned her as a competitor of Bayly's for the 50-54 division. I also indicated that the competition would, of course, extend to the overall contest. Grunnagle decided, when it got closer to the date, that her injuries had limited her training time too much; she decided not to make the trip. Bayly has been the Overall winner three times at the most recent Masters 15 km National Championships in Tulsa so a 12 km race is certainly in her wheelhouse. The question, though, was whether this wasn't more of a tuneup race for a fall Marathon, Even so, if Bayly's fitness was good, a podium spot would be possibly and maybe even likely. Groner needs no introduction. The top Amerian finisher in the Marathon at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, and the owner of a 2:29:06 Marathon at Rotterdam, she has also won the only Masters National Championship, the 2019 8 km,  she has entered. Shearer has two podium finishes at Masters National Cross Country Championships, both in 2018. She clocked a 51:56 15k at the Gate River Run in March of this year. That equates to a 44:23 12k, suggesting she might be ready to challenge for the win.

Shoemaker won the Overall title at the last 12 km Masters National Championship held in Alexandria VA in 2015. Her time was 42:03, but that was 6 years ago when she was 44. Age-Grading suggests that the 50 year old version of Shoemaker, if everything else was equal, would be 44:38. I found no recent races but in 2019 Shoemaker came in ahead of Deena Kastor a the Credit Union Cherry Blossom ten miler, with a 57:29. Accounting for both the difference in distance and the 2 years suggests an even faster time might be possible, as that works out to 43:14. The lack of any 2021 times, however, makes everything a bit speculative. 

With the loss of Grunnagle and the addition of Shoemaker, my adjusted preview suggested Groner for the win with Shoemaker, Bayly, and Shearer following in that order. I added that if any of those 4 have an off day, there are plenty of others who could move up, including Karen dos Santos Shore AC, Karen Dunn Greater Philadelphia TC, Sara Girotto Philadelphia Masters, Gwendolen Twist The Janes Elite Racing, and Heather Webster Genesee Valley Harriers.

Race When the gun sounded, Groner left little doubt that she was the runner to beat. After 400 meters, Groner was a few meters in front of a large pack and her closest pursuer, Shoemaker, was just maintaining contact with the tail end of the pack, and Shearer was a bit behind that pack. Shearer

Roberta Groner far right opens up a big lead. Photo Credit Jason Timochko for all race photos

explained after the race that she and her coach had decided to go out at a pace she could easily handle so as to negative split the race. They knew she was not in good shape, but not in A+ shape. Twenty meters back from Shearer was another pack and 15 meters back from them was Lisa Veneziano, followed about 5-10 meters back by Karen dos Santos, Karen Dunn, Sara Girotto, Caoimhe Kilroy, and Flora Lai, 5 across, at the head of the next pack. 


Lisa Veneziano far right leading left to right Karen dos Santos, Sara Girotto, Karen Dunn, Flora Lai, and Caiomhe Kilroy

Ten meters behind them were Lauren Jackson, and Bayly, furiously trying to gain speed and join Veneziano. I learned later from Bayly that, despite a slow start and having to work around a number of runners, she was able to move up through the pack and tuck in behind Veneziano. 

Groner went from strength to strength, winning eventually in 42:14 with over 2 minutes to spare.


Roberta Groner takes the Overall Win at the 2021 USATF Masters National 12 km Championship

Shearer's plan worked perfectly as she ran 17:57 for her first three miles and 17:44 for miles 5 through 7. She was able to work her way up past Shoemaker to take 2nd in 44:34. Shoemaker held on to 3rd place,  just ahead of a fast closing Veneziano. 

Maggie Shearer grinds it out as she closes strong to take 2nd place Overall


Shoemaker clocked 46:09 to Veneziano's 46:13--Close! My biggest error here was underestimating Veneziano as a threat for the Overall podium.

Bayly apparently stayed right behind Veneziano for the first 5 miles but then took a walk break for her knee. She indicated she did not want to push too hard with a bone bruise that is healing. Dunn, Kilroy and Lai held it together as dos Santos and Girotto fell back. Once they got past Bayly, Dunn moved to the lead position; Dunn, Lai and Kilroy finished 5th through 7th with times between 47:04 and 47:24.

Roberta Groner   42:14     Maggie Shearer 44:34     Perry Shoemaker 46:09

Overseeing all of the Technical Details of the Race was Perry Jenkins, the Referee for the 2021 USATF Masters 12 km National Championship

MEN I figured the favorites going into the race were: David Angell, Brock Butler, Chris Naimoli, Judson Cake, Brian Sydow, and Nick Thompson. Sydow decided not to make the trip. In a Strava post he noted that there was a lot going on and that he did not feel ready to race at a national championship, either physically or mentally. He is planning on Tallahassee as his first MLDR Championship. 

It could have been argued that Angell should have been viewed as the favorite; I picked him for 2nd. He won several Masters National Championships from 2018-2019. He also had a quality outing at the AJC Peachtree race this year. The 33:06 he ran at that 10K equates to a 40:07. I was not certain a 40+ time would be fast enough to win it, but Angell ran a 5K time this year in a race little known outside the Roanoke Valley that suggested he might have the firepower to break 40! Butler had a good 5K in March but I could find nothing more recent. Not as fast, comparatively, as the 5 km that Angell ran, and nothing as long as Angell's 10K at Peachtree, but pretty likely to be low 40's, with a shot at breaking 40! Despite his recent devotion to triathlons, I picked Naimoli for the win. He had a quality 10 km run at the end of one Ironman and a quality half marathon at the other. On paper it looked like Angell should win, but Naimoli had beaten him in Tulsa and came in ahead of him at Lehigh. Until Angell beats him, I should pick Naimoli to outrun Angell. Cake's to 5-milers in July and August suggested he had a 42 and change 12 km possibility. If so, that would likely not be fast enough for the podium. Thompson had quality races in 2019 and 2020 suggesting he might be able to handle a 12 km in the low 40's; in the only 2021 race I found for him he finished 7 seconds behind Cake in one of his 5-milers. Naimoli, Angell, Butler for 1-2-3 was how I had it figured. I added that others who could figure in included Dickson Mercer, James Osborn, and Matthew Wagoner. Good thing I did! Somehow I missed Christopher Shaw for the overall competition, but at least I previewed him for M45.  How did it actually unfold?

A pack quickly formed at the front, with Naimoli, Butler, Angell, Osborn and Mercer leading the way and Thompson and Cake tucked in behind. To everyone's surprise there were some Open runners in there too. Originally the Open runners were supposed to start after the Masters race was well under way. But when they only had 24 Open runners entered, it seemed odd to make them run separately. They caused no trouble per se, but no one remembered to announce that change at the start, and it took the Masters runners a while to figure it out. 

Early Lead Pack at 12 km Masters Championships-Chris Naimoli blue singlet and David Angell far right with Open Runners #'s 366 & 370 on either side and a mix of Open and Masters athletes tucking in behind


They hit the first mile at 5:19, Splits based on Strava posts. and the 2 mile at 10:40, with Cake and Thompson 50 meters back. The lead pack's third mile was another 5:20 but Osborn and Angell started to struggle during that 3rd mile, and were now 50 meters back, with Thompson and Cake another 25 meters back. They ere running into a pretty solid wind on the way out but it did help keep them cool. Naimoli reported later that he felt he needed to surge in the 4th mile to see if he could drop some of his competitors, not realizing that three of the guys tucked in behind him were Open runners. He hit 5:16 for that 4th mile split, with Butler the only Masters guy going with him; Mercer was now 40 meters back. Right after the 4th mile, the Open runners kicked past and Naimoli saw they had no back bibs, and wished he had not injected pace just to try and drop runners he was not competing with. As he said later, "... it didn't change anything, but I just wish I hadn't done it." Of course he also dropped Mercer and perhaps Shaw. I have no splits for Shaw. Their Greater Philadelphia teammate, Wagoner, was the only Masters athlete that went with them when they surged. Naimoli and Butler backed it off a bit once they realized the Open runners were gone and they had dropped their rivals for the Overall Masters win. But the surge had taken more out of Wagoner, who had to slow up for recovery; by the end of the 5th mile he was almost 40 meters back from the two leaders. By now the athletes could not feel the wind, but they did feel the sun, as the temps climbed up into the lower 70's with hardly a cloud in the sky. Butler had saved a bit more or was dealing with the heat better. For whatever reason, he had carved out a 20 meter lead over Naimoli by the end of the 5th mile, and doubled the gap over the 6th mile. That was it, as Butler kicked in strong with a 5:14 pace over the 7th mile and slightly faster for the final half mile. He had the win in 39:52! 

Brock Butler claims the Overall Championship at the 12 km Masters National Championship!

Chris Naimoli cruises in toward the finish line, secure in his Silver Medal finish at the  12 km Masters National Championships

Matthew Wagoner closes with a furious kick to hold Christopher Shaw at bay and give the Greater Philadelphia TC an unprecedented 1-2-3 finish

Naimoli hung tough, closing it out with a 5:28 7th mile and kicking in at 5:18 pace; he took the Silver Medal in the Overall Championship at 40:19. To my surprise it was a 1-2-3 sweep for the Greater Philadelphia TC as Matthew Wagoner nailed a Bronze ten seconds behind Naimoli, outkicking Shaw by just 5 seconds! Forty-five seconds later Mercer, Osborn and Thompson finished in 5th through 7th just 6 seconds apart. Mercer not only finished 5th but it was a homecoming for him. He noted after the race, "Special day getting to run Masters National Champs with my Dad where I grew up!" Craig Godwin finished 8th in 41:24, with Angell 7 seconds back on an off day.  Angell summarized the race on Strava, probably capturing the feelings of all who had an off day at Sandy Hook, "No gas, windy going out, hot coming back!" Godwin had special reason to celebrate a top 10 Overall finish at a National Championship. Godwin had a heart attack on a run 7 months earlier; this race  signals an impressive recovery. Thank goodness for the cardiology advances in the modern era. Butler echoed Angell on the wind and the lack of shade, adding, "Got the win and GPTC went 1-2-3." He added what I heard from many athletes, "It was really fun racing with everyone again!"

Brock Butler 39:52   Chris Naimoli 40:19   Matthew Wagoner 40:29


Here is a video of the start of the race, courtesy of Lloyd Hansen--It was great to be racing again!!!



WOMEN Had I previewed the Age Graded contest, I would have put Fiona Bayly, Nora Cary, Roberta Groner, Doreen McCoubrie, Perry Shoemaker, and Lisa Veneziano. I would probably have mentioned Suzanne Cordes, Suzanne LaBurt, Nancy Simmons, and, possibly, Stella Gibbs as having the potential to land on the podium if any of  the others had an off day. Six runners had World Class times, with PLP's Performance Level Percentages over 90%, and there were another 5, McCoubrie 89.04, Lorraine Jasper 88.87, Bayly 88.52, Shoemaker 88.39, and Cordes 87.61, within 3 percentage points! Jasper really surprised me. I think of her as one of our top Track athletes and a strong presence on the Cross Country turf. But I never expected such a strong age graded performance from her in a road race over 7 miles long! Some of the others were a little disappointed with their PLP and vowed to work a little harder or race a little smarter next time...or just be healthier and more free of injury! 

At age 69, Cary's new American Record stood out; her 51:09 merited a 97.53. Runners sometimes wonder, how can you set an American Record and not score 100% in age grading. The answer is that the standard is global, not just American. It is a sign that the World's fastest recorded time is faster than the American Record. 

Nora Cary heads confidently to the finish line and a big Age-Grading win at the Masters 12 km National Championships at Sandy Hook, NJ

Veneziano, though a newcomer to the national MLDR circuit, was really close in 2nd place. At 57, her 46:13 soared over 95% to 95.92. 

Lisa Veneziano races to the finish line and a Silver medal in Overall age Grading at the 2021 USATF Masters National 12 km Championships

Nancy Simmons finishing stride for stride with Mimi Fallon. Simmons closed out the race and claimed the final spot ont he Age Grading podium

The Bronze Age-Grading medal went to Simmons, 62, who clocked 51:14 to earn a 92.24. I should have thought of Simmons for the Age Grading podium, but would have been thinking of her, like Jasper as a middle distance runner. My only previous knowledge of her was as the W60 winner of the 2019 USATF Masters 1 Mile Championships in Flint. 

Though they just missed the podium, Gibbs, 62, and La Burt, 58, in finishing 4th and 5th, took home some prize money. Gibbs ran 52:11 for 90.56 and La Burt sped to a 49:38 for a 90.43. Groner's 42:14 for 90.29 left her just out of the Age Graded prize money in 6th place.

Nora Cary   51:09   97.53%     Lisa Veneziano 46:13  95.92%   Nancy Simmons  51:14  92.24%

MEN Ahead of time the athletes most likely to contend for the age grading prize money included: Nat Larson, Brian Pilcher, Roger Sayre, Ken Youngers and, before I learned he was running with an injury just to help his team, Gene Dykes. Others with a shot at prize money would have included: Kenneth Barbee, Brian Crowley, Craig Godwin, and Rick Lee. Larson, Pilcher and Sayre regularly take age grading prizes when they are healthy. Youngers has had some up and down years but appears to be at the top of his form; he ran very strong at the AJC Peachtree run this year, clocking 36:47 at age 65. Larson has won lots of age grading titles, both on the roads and on the turf. He was injured in 2019, had surgery early during the pandemic and was now on his way back. His fitness seemed pretty good, but this would be his 'rust-buster.' If Pilcher is healthy enough to show up and run, he is healthy enough to run a World Class time. As Youngers and Pilcher are both 65, Youngers' 45:05 earned a 91.62 to Pilcher's 91.12 for a 45:20. 

Ken Youngers high-stepping it toward the finish line and a big Age-Grading win at the 2021 USATF Masters 12 km National Championship


They took 1-2. After the race, Pilcher noted, "Ken ran really strong. I made him bear a lot of the wind in miles 2-3 and he was still stronger on the way home. He's a great champion." 

Btrian Pilcher was firing on all cylinders but couldn't match Youngers this day, finishing 2nd in the Age-Grading contest at the 2021 Masters National 12 km Championship


Larson is not quite at the top of his game, but his 43:14 at age 59 merited a 90.26. He summed up his feelings ont he day, "I was just happy to get over 90% age graded--that was my main goal. It's still early in my training so I wasn't sure I was ready for that. I guess I have to give credit to the flat, fast course, and the Frieder brothers for good pacemaking, event though I could not hang with Elliott all the way!"

Crowley, 56,  and Godwin, 54, took 4th and 5th age grading prize money, with 42:07 for 90.16 and 41:24 for 90.10%. All ran World Class times-terrific performances to be very proud of! The next three hit within 3 percentage points of World Class: Lee 88.97, Sayre 88.36, and Barbee 87.11.

Ken Youngers 45:05  91.62%   Brian Pilcher 45:20  91.12%     Nat Larson 43:14  90.26

All of these runners had the top results across all age divisions at the National Championship. By the standards of the USATF Masters LDR Committee, these were the best performers at the 12 km Championships.

ELITE PERFORMANCE MEDALS In addition to devoting prize money to the top age grading performances, the Committee also awards Elite Performance Medals to all runners earning PLP's at 80% and above. It is a visible signal of being a National Class runner; these handsome medals are only available at USATF Masters LDR Road Championships. All of the runners above earned either Gold Medals for World Class performances, 90% and above, or Silver Medals for National Class performances at 85% and above. Others who earned Silver and Bronze medals, marking a National Class performance at 80% PLP or above, included, first women, then men, in order from highest down:

SILVER Jo Anne Rowland, Barbara Donelik, Maggie Shearer, Mimi Fallon, Heide Moebius; Gregory Putnam, Brock Butler, Christopher Shaw, Alan Evans, Joseph Reda, Terry Davidson, Mike Nier, Keith Guilfoyle, Harold Porcher, Dale Flanders

BRONZE Mary Swan, Genevieve Clavier, Mimi Newcomer, Kimberly Aspholm, Karen Dunn, Sandra Folzer, Joann Coffee, Candace Stanton, Laura Delea, Caoimhe Kilroy, Kathleen Beebe, Gwendolen Twist; Matthew Wagoner, Matt Ebiner, Nicholas Thompson, Elliott Frieder, Joseph Hegge, Michael Salamone, Christopher Naimoli, Robert Reynolds, Matthew Farley, Jonathan Frieder, George Buchanan, John Hogan, David Angell, Dave Glass, Jack Pottle, David Guzik, Gary Rosenberg, James Linn, James Osborn, Timothy Conheady, Jeffrey Conston, Ezequiel Garcia, Daniel Mazo, David Harkin, Kevin Dollard, Jerry Learned, Dickson Mercer, David Ferrugia, Marco Cardoso, Eugene Myers, Gary Leaman, Don Morrison


Thursday, September 23, 2021

Masters LDR Runners Gone Wild! Three American Records Set at USATF Masters 12 km National Championships

September 21 2021. Nearly 300 Masters athletes toed the line near Parking Lot E on the Sandy Hook spit that is a National Gateway Recreation Park on the Jersey Shore. The USATF-New Jersey Association made the bid so that USATF MLDR could put on their Championship at the By Hook Or By Crook 12K. The runners were eager to race against top rivals from around the country for the first time in 22 months! Who weathered the long layoff between Championships the best? From the talk beforehand, some had been injured heading into mid 2020, healed up or had surgery and gradually returned to fitness. Others had run well during the layoff but had developed an injury that slowed them down in their prep or had them worried. The weather cooperated, not too hot and not too windy for  record attempts. The course would be into the wind on the way out and with the wind on the way back; everyone hoped the wind would blow soft early and harder late. Some knew they were ready to roll and were thinking record thoughts!

The 12 km is not a common distance. Most runners with a 12 km record on their mind have headed toward Lilac Bloomsday in Spokane. But many of those have returned disappointed; the race is iconic but that course is challenging. With that in mind, Jim Estes, currently USATF-Colorado President, when he was with the USATF National Office, mounted a 12 km race in Alexandria VA, called the .US National 12K that was both an Open and a Masters Championship. The course was a bit technical the first year, 2013, but they altered it for the 2nd and 3rd years so it was just as flat but had fewer turns. Most of the records the athletes on this Sandy Hook course were chasing were set either in Spokane or Alexandria.

Women 65-69 I was first alerted to Nora Cary by Madeline Bost a couple of years ago prior to her competing at the April 2019 10 km Masters Championships in Dedham in the 60-64 division. She had some pretty tough competition that day, finishing 3rd behind Team Red Lizard's Jennifer Teppo and Patrice Combs of the Atlanta Track Club. Unlike those two, she was in the last year of that age division. She had them in age grading; she finished 3rd with a 94.13 PLP Performance Level Percentage. That World Class performance got my attention for sure! In September 2019, Cary ran in the By Hook Or By Crook 12 km over the same course, clocking 52:29. That was more than a minute faster than Edie Stevenson's 53:46 American Record set in Alexandria in 2015. But it is two years since that time. If we use the age grade tables to adjust, the effect of two years on average on top competitors like Cary is almost a minute and a half slowing, leaving Cary with a predicted time of 53:57, 11 seconds slower than the record. Cary is one of those athletes who came through the long layoff in high form. With a 43:06 10K and a 1:08:21 15K to her credit it was clear she had an excellent shot at the record.

Nora Cary finishes off her American Record with a Bounce in Her Step All Race Photos Here and Below By Jason Timochko

The 10K was age-grade equivalent to a 52:19, and the 15K to a 53:51, bracketing the record time. Cary did not disappoint; she ran far better than any of those predictions, 51:09! Smashing the record by 2:37, Cary acquired a 97.53 PLP, World Class! 

That is now the 12 km target; Cary has moved the target out of the range of all but the fastest. Cary will get a shot at lowering her record next year. Will another challenger turn up? 

Men 65-69 I have been watching Brian Pilcher's posts for a while. When the 2013 Masters Athlete of the Year has a substantial spell of time where he is not sidelined by injury, it's 'Watch out world, here I come!'. After all, he still holds M60 American Records for the 5K and every distance from the Half Marathon through the Marathon. Earlier this summer I saw he had a workout with substantial elevation change and an average pace of 7 minutes/mile. That looked to me like he was ready for some good races. He made that feeling manifest by racing in New Haven CT on Labor Day. The Faxon Law 20K  is a USATF Open Championship, hence sanctioned and the course pre-verified and well established for record performances. Lo and behold when the dust settled, there was Pilcher with a new American M65 20 km record. The old record was 1:20:05, set 11 years earlier by Masters Hall of Famer, Doug Goodhue. Pilcher blew that out of the water with a 1:18:24! The current 12 km record is 46:58, held by Terry McCluskey since the 2013 (more technical) Alexandria race. If Pilcher could just run the 12 km at the same pace he ran the 20K race, he would be within 4 seconds of the record. I was writing in Pilcher's name as the 12 km winner in my head when Pilcher reminded me that nothing is ever automatic in Masters National Championships. Pilcher described the 20K as a 'rust buster' and that he would need to get faster if he were to beat Ken Youngers, who had run a ridiculously fast 10K at the AJC Peachtree run, 36:47! For a 65-year-old guy, a 1:18:24 20K is age grade equivalent to a 45:41, but a 36:47 10K is equivalent to a 44:39!

Youngers has been gradually coming back since surgery a few years back. In 2019 he was one of the top runners in his cohort, but now he may be the best. The weather was good for the Peachtree race, not very hot and humid, but the course is still hilly. Running a 36:47 10K at age 65 on that course sends a serious message to the world! 

On 12 km race day, Youngers and Pilcher both got off the starting line quickly. By a quarter mile or so, Youngers had passed Pilcher; and Pilcher was on his heels, where he stayed for the next 4 miles. They ran at the back of a pack of younger guys for the first 2+ miles, with a 1st mile in 5:46 and a 2nd mile in 5:52, but then lost contact. Youngers knew he could not hold that pace, especially into the wind! Mile 3 was at 6:09 so they had a chance to recover and regroup. They ran alone for the 4th mile at 6:02 pace, and then were pulled along through the turn and heading back to the finish by Francis Burdett. They were able to get past Burdett and shortly after that Youngers noticed that Pilcher was no longer right with him. Youngers held a very steady 6:04 pace over the final three and a half miles. 

Ken Youngers finishes with focus on the win and the record!


Pilcher finished strong though, surprising Youngers by how close he was! Pilcher got in well under the record, as he did at New Haven. 

Brian Pilcher closing hard to finish under the old American Record, 2nd in M65


But Youngers had the win and the new record, lowering it to 45:05! What a great race--this is a rivalry that will be fun to watch!

Women 55-59 I first heard of Michigan's Lisa Veneziano in 2015 when, except for 2019 Masters Athlete of the Year, Sabra Harvey, she ran 5:45 as a 50-year old to lead the field in age grade score at the USATF 1 Mile Championships in Flint MI. Her PLP was 83.78. She was among the top age graders each year, even in 2017 when clearly not at her best. In 2019 as a 54-year-old, she ran ten seconds faster than she had at 50, finished 5th overall and had a 90.13 PLP. I knew she was great at that classic distance but I was unaware of other distances; it was the only national championship she was running. This summer I did some write-ups on the 2021 USATF Masters Outdoor Championships and was surprised to see her listed among the top prospects in the 10,000 meters. I also saw that she had run two 5K's in the spring in 18:07 and 18:22. Those are two short to put too much confidence in them in terms of equivalencies with a 12 km effort, but they are quality runs for a 57 year old! Her 38:42 winning time on the track, had it been on the roads, would be equivalent to a 46:54 12K. Most track records are faster than road records, at least for Open athletes. That may not always be the case with Masters athletes. Often the faster runners may have no one to run with and may have to worry about lapping much slower runners many times during an event. When the current holder of the 55-59 record is a legendary distance runner like Joan Benoit Samuelson, it may have seemed daunting to even imagine breaking that record. In 2014, Samuelson ran 46:27 at the 12 km Championships in Alexandria.

When the time came, Veneziano showed no fear; she pushed out hard from the start. Fiona Bayly, in her last year in the 50-54 division, tucked in behind her and stayed there for 5 miles. She says Venziano looked over her shoulder and asked Bayly, 'What age group are you?' When Bayly replied 50, Veneziano must have breather a sigh of relief. It turned out that Bayly dropped back shortly after that for fear of aggravating a prior bone bruise. With 2 big races coming up for her, Bayly did not want to chance a bigger injury. 

Lisa Veneziano kicking it home for a new American Record!

Veneziano cruised the rest of the way, crossing the finish line with 14 seconds to spare, clocking 46:13 for the new record. What an honor to break a record held by an American icon like Samuelson!

In a chance conversation at Rory's after the race, I learned that Veneziano has recently retired and decided to put more energy into training and competing nationally. It will be fun to watch out for her performances over the next few years!

Women 40-44 This was always going to be a tough record to break. In 2015, Jen Rhines was still competing in Open Championships; she ran a strong race, setting a time that will stand for a while, 40:04, at least in Masters competitions. Roberta Groner, the top American finisher in the Women's Marathon at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, was entered for her Shore AC team. If anyone would have a good shot, it would be Groner. Groner's 2:29:06 at the 2019 Rotterdam Marathon, when she was 41, converts to a 12 km equivalent predicted time of 41:09 for the 43-year-old Groner in 2021. That is still a minute off of Rhines's time. Groner was then in the best shape of her life. Her most recent effort competing with Open runners was the Gate River Run -15K--in March. She ran 51:56 which equates to a 41:05, even faster than her Marathon equivalence. 

Roberta Groner opening up a big lead early in the race


Groner had no trouble dominating the race, winning the Overall Championship by two minutes. But her 42:14 was a good bit off what she needed for a record. To be frank, I doubt she had her eyes on the record; she was primarily running for her team. Knowing Groner I would expect her to be pointing to a fall Marathon which precluded targeting this race for a peak effort. A 12 km in September is, on the other hand, a very nice tune up race for an October or November Marathon.

Women 80-84 Heide Moebius is a celebrated athlete. She won this division at the 2019 Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh and was the Women's 10K World Champion at the 2019 WMA Championships in Torun Poland. She wins whatever she enters at the Senior Games. In 2017 she was the Women's 75-79 Champion at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run in 1:39:28. June Machala set the W80 record of 1:13:14 nine years ago at Lilac Bloomsday. Moebius ran a 48:42 5-Miler on July 3rd, equating to a 1:15:18 12K effort. A month later, though, Moebius ran a 1:05:05 10K, equating to a 1:19:11 12K. Was the course tougher or was that a sign that Moebius had a niggling injury or an interruption in training? For whatever reason, Moebius had a fine outing this past Sunday, finishing first in the 80-84 division with a winning margin of over two minutes. 

Heide Moebius on her way to her win at the 12 km Masters Championships


Her 1:17:38 was four minutes shy of the record. Unsuccessful this time, Moebius can give it another shot next year.

Other Divisions  In 2018 Roger Sayre came within a few seconds of Norm Green's 28:07 M60 8 km record. He was injured in late 2019 and worked his way back over the pandemic. I thought he had a chance at the record but it may be too soon. 

Roger Sayre #316 heads off from the start in the company of two Masters Championship competitors in their 40's and 50's


He ran a fine race, clocking 45:51 to take 2nd. Neither he nor the winner, a newcomer named Rick Lee, threatened Tom McCormack's fine 42:50 M60 record. Gene Dykes is typically a threat for an M70 record whenever he runs. He tipped me off beforehand, though, that he had strained his hamstring on the Hood to Coast Relay that he ran a couple of weeks ago. There would certainly be no record assault from him. Doug Goodhue's  48:13 from 2014 will likely stand now for at least another year. Dykes was focused on running gently so as to not aggravate the injury; he wanted to finish the race for his Greater Philadelphia team so they could score in a national championship. 

Gene Dykes #234 trying to run slow and gentle like he does in his 100 mile trail runs


They wanted to earn points toward the 2021 Masters National Grand Prix. In one of life's ironies, Dykes ran at an easy pace so as to be sure to finish, but no third runner for the team finished so they got no points toward the 2021 Masters National Grand Prix despite the efforts of Dykes. I hope that Dykes did not aggravate the hamstring; that would be  too much of an irony. Everett Luoma, the oldest competitor of the day at 90, was announced as having established a new American Record. He ran 1:56:44 and, although the oldest, was not the last finisher.

Everett Luoma, 90, approches the finish line as he earns a National Championship


But we forgot about Roy Englert, who ran the 12 km Championships in 2013 when he was 91; he ran 1:33:34 and that is the current American Record for men 90 and up.

From Packet pickup, mingling before the race, lining up for a National Championship, hearing the gun, dashing off and competing, finishing up with Awards--how could it be better?! Three American Records better! What a way to kick off the post-Covid Masters National Championship racing era!

Top Photo-Packet Pickup-Pam Fales, Jan Hansen & Jackie Bloom happily giving out bibs and pins; Middle Photo-Lloyd Hansen making his remarks before the race [last time Lloyd ran in a 12 km national championship, he missed the M65 American Record by a whisker]; Lower Photo-Pam Fales giving final instructions before she fires the gun! Photos By Paul Carlin

Yours truly announcing the Award Winners After the Race Photo courtesy of Anabelle Broadbent

NOTE: None of these record performances are actually new records until they are  ratified. Andy Carr, USATF Records Chair, noting that they were run at a USATF sanctioned road race over a 'pre-certified' record eligible course, has already submitted the records to the Masters LDR Committee for approval at their next meeting.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Preview 4: Teams at the 2021 USATF Masters 12 km Championships

September 18 2021 I am providing a quick look at the team competitions in tomorrow's race on the By Hook or By Crook 12 km course. Which team will have the honor in each ten-year division of winning ALL of the 2021 National Road Championships in one fell swoop?

M40+ This is Greater Philadelphia TC's to lose. They could well break 2 hours as a team. Garden State TC New Balance has a nicely balanced fast team but have a hard time compensating for the top end runners that Greater Philly has. Garden State will press all the way, but may have to settle for Silver Medals. The Freedom Garmin Runners will be pressing Garden State for the second spot but may come up just short.

There appears to be more of a gap back to Shore AC and then back to Manchester Running Company.

Greater Philadelphia Track Club     Garden State Track Club     Freedom Garmin Runners

W40+ Shore AC should get the win with a few minutes to spare. The Garden State Track Club and the Impala Racing Team should have a tight battle for second. It appears that GSTC's team has just enough to repel the West Coast invaders, but it could be very close! The Impalas should have a substantial lead over the likely 4th place team of Shore AC 'B'. It is a tribute to the strength of Shore AC that their B team can finish just off the podium!

Shore Athletic Club     Garden State Track Club     Impala Racing Team

M50+ The outcome of this team contest will depend on whether Craig Godwin can run or not. As noted in the Ae Division preview, Godwin took a nasty fall and needed emergency medical care. He said nothing was permanently damaged but it is hard to know if he will come to NJ and if he will be able to run at his normal level. In my assessment here, I am assuming he will not be able to run at his usual level. If that turns out to be true, then the honors in a tightly fought team battle should go to the Garden State TC team. Otherwise, the Bowerman Track Club  should prevail. If Godwin were at full strength it would be Bowerman in a hard fought contest. If Godwin is not in their top 3, then Garden state takes the hard-fought battle. The Genesee Valley Harriers team is also very strong. It looks to me like GSTC and Bowerman have a slight edge but it should be very tight! GVH has a chance. The Freedom Garmin Runners team  looks to be just off the podium, but not by much. The Greater Philadelphia TC team should come in next, followed by Shore AC  

Garden State Track Club    Bowerman Track Club      Genesee Valley Harriers

W50+  This one looks like a battle between the Greater Philadelphia Track Club and the Shore AC, with the Garden State Track Club close behind. Now that the Athena TC has broken up and many of their members are on GPTC, GPTC may now be the 'Big Dog.'  Shore AC is also strong though. My reading says Shore AC is just about fast enough to take the Gold in a tight contest, but it could go either way. Garden State should have no problem taking the Bronze.

Shore Athletic Club     Greater Philadelphia Track Club      Garden State Track Club

M60+ Shore AC looks good for the win. Reno Stirrat is not at full fitness, but they  have a new M60 speedster, Rick Lee. And they have good depth.  Greater Philadelphia TC is more balanced than Shore but has no one to answer Lee. It will be close though! Even though several of the Genesee Valley Harriers are coming back from injury, the fivesome should have a strong enough base to claim third ahead of Garden State TC New Balance.

Shore Athletic Club      Greater Philadelphia Track Club     Genesee Valley Harriers

W60+  It should be the Impala Racing Team, Shore Athletic Club and Fleet Feet/Essex Racing going 1-2-3. The Impalas are fast and determined. Shore AC will push them but may have to settle for Silver. 

Impala Racing Team     Shore Athletic Club     Fleet Feet/Essex Racing

M70+  If Dykes can run at all well, Greater Philadelphia TC should win this team race. After that, the Genesee Valley Harriers looks strong for 2nd, followed by the Atlanta Track Club. But there is enough uncertainty that the order could be in the opposite order or some other permutation.

Greater Philadelphia Track Club     Genesee Valley Harriers

W70+ The Impala Racing Team should take the Gold medals with the Raritan Valley Road Runners taking 2nd.

Impala Racing Team    Raritan Valley Road Runners

M80+ The Clifton Road Runners will race this event to honor their fallen comrade, Matt Lalumia. They will take the Gold unchallenged.

Clifton Road Runners 


Preview III-Top Age Division Prospects for the Masters 12 km National Championships in New Jersey

September 16, 2021 The entries for the USATF Masters 12 km Championships in Sandy Hook National Park next to Highlands NJ have soared. As of September 15 at 9 pm, the total number entered is 325! That makes for stiff competition in most Age Divisions. Here are my thoughts, division by division. As always, this is just for fun-There is a tremendous amount of guesswork, made worse by the scarce results over the past 18 months. Best of luck to all runners. I love it when athletes run fast and prove me wrong in my initial assessments.

Note 1: In this article I use the concept of age grade equivalency. If a 40 year old man runs a 33:00 10K, that is an age grade score of 83.03; the 12 km time that generates the same age grade score is 40:00. So a 33:00 10K for a 40 year old guy is age grade equivalent or, in this article, just 'equivalent' to a 40:00 12K. A word of caution on the equivalencies. When they are from a 5K there are two reasons to be a little skeptical. The distance is far shorter and Americans, in general, are relatively better at shorter distances. An equivalency from a Marathon has just the one problem of being from a much longer distance. The equivalence is always under the assumption that the athlete has the same fitness and is equally injury free at both comparison points.

Note 2: My default is to name the athlete according to the official name listed in the USATF database. I will occasionally use a nicknam if I know the athlete but the database name is my default. 


40-44 This division, with 18 entries, echos the preview for the Overall Race. I picked Roberta Groner, Maggie Shearer, and Dawn Grunnagle to go 1-3-4 overall, with #2 from another age division. That leaves me with the same order for this division. Karen dos Santos could break onto the podium if any of those three are not at full fitness. Her 19:05 5K and 1:01:13  Clinton Township 15K are not as strong as Grunnagle's performances from a couple of years ago, including a 34:24 10K and a 2:33:14 at the Berlin Marathon. But there is no evidence of Grunnagle's current fitness.

Roberta Groner     Maggie Shearer    Dawn Grunnagle

Roberta Groner running with the Elites at the 2021 USATF Open 15 km Championships Photo by Laura DeLea


45-49 In this division, with 18 entries, it is harder to see an individual or even a group that can clearly dominate. Hortencia Aliaga, Brooke Bray, Karen Dunn, Sara Girotto, and Gwendolen Twist can all be considered among the favorites for the podium. 

Aliaga had a recent 20:16 5K at Asbury Park, equivalent to a 50:07 and clocked 46:20 at the 2019 By Hook or By Crook race on this same course. Her other 12K that same year was a 49:08. Perhaps 48-49 is a reasonable expectation? 

Bray ran 1:01:16 to finish on the W40 podium at the hilly 2019 USATF Masters 15 km Championships in Tulsa, equivalent to a 48:27 12K. Her 1:28:39 Half Marathon last year equates to a 49:39. Athlinks has no 2021 results for Bray but she has posted solid training runs this year so looking for something similar to Aliaga in the 48-49 region seems possible. 

Dunn has run faster 5K's than Aliaga recently, posting a 19:16 and a 19:25 in July. The 19:16 equates to a 47:37. Those are recent but equating to possible 12K times is more speculative than if we had 10K or 15K evidence. Still Dunn perhaps has an edge over Aliaga and Bray. 

Girotto has a similar 5K time in July to Dunn's, a 19:14. In addition she has more recent strong performances at longer distances, 1:24 - 1:27 Half Marathons in 2020 and a 58:54 at the Utica Boilermaker 15K. A 1:26 HM equates to a 48:10 and that 15K time to a 46:35 12K. 

Twist has a 1:20:41 time in the Downhill Half Marathon. Her 2020 HM's were, like Girotto's in the 1:25-1:26 range. Twist is also a tough runner for her team, finishing 10th in the Club Cross W40 division in Bethlehem PA.

Others who could factor in include Euleen Josiah-Tanner, Shannon McGinn, and Heather Webster

Josiah-Tanner is known more for her exploits on the track. She clocked 19:12.83 to take this division championship in the 5000 meters at the Masters Outdoor TF Championships in Ames, finishing with a very strong kick. The question is whether she can handle the longer distance. 

McGinn has a 19:29 5K from January 2020 and a 1:28:06 Half Marathon the month before. With no marks since January 2020, McGinn's current fitness is a question. 

Webster has been a strong performer on the cross country turf and the roads for her team. Webster finished 2nd W45 at the 2019 10K Championships in 40:55, equivalent to a 49:31 12K. That time is a little off the best times of the others. Coupled with a lack of recent outings, I leave Webster off the predicted podium.

Sara Girotto     Gwendolen Twist     Karen Dunn 

50-54 When Perry Shoemaker's registration showed up today, it made both the Overall Women's race and the W50 division race much more interesting. Prior to that it looked like a Division runaway for Fiona Bayly despite the 11 other athletes who were entered. Bayly has strong performances at national masters championships from 2017-2019 and current fitness as exhibited by two marathons in the low 3-hour range this year and an 18:52 5K last fall. Shoemaker won the Overall title at the last 12 km Masters National Championship held in Alexandria VA in 2015. Jen Rhines had a faster time than Shoemaker but was racing in the elite open division, which started before the Masters field. Her time was 42:03, but that was 6 years ago. What could we expect from Shoemaker now? One clue is her performance in the 2019 Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. Deena Kastor was widely expected to win, but Shoemaker came in ahead, clocking 57:29, equivalent to a 42:17. Shoemaker is not likely to run a 42 minute 12K this Sunday but perhaps a 44 minute 12K is possible. She will certainly be a challenge for Bayly. Those tow look like a certain 1-2 pick. The final spot on the W50 podium should go to:Kimberly Aspholm. Kathleen Beebe, Annabelle Broadbent, or Megan Kossar

Aspholm ran 20:25 at the Asbury Park 5K in August and a 1:40:43 at the Verrazano Half Marathon in May, the latter equivalent to a 56:14 12K. 

Beebe ran a 20:12 and a 20:30 5K as well as a 1:36:36 Half Marathon in April, equivalent to a 53:56 12K. 

Broadbent has run 5K's in the 21:28 to 22:10 range and a 1:39:58 HM, equivalent to a 55:48 12K. 

Kossar ran a 19:28 5K and a 1:09:10 Ten Miler in February & March 2020, the latter equivalent to a 50:50 12K.Those times are faster but as they are from 16 months ago, they are a less reliable guide to current fitness. The 2020 version of Kossar appears to be the fastest of the four, but if we have to pick from someone with more recent results, it looks like Beebe would have the edge. I will give Kossar, not to mention Aspholm and Broadbent, a chance to prove me wrong.

Perry Shoemaker     Fiona Bayly      Kathleeen Beebe

Fiona Bayly wins the 2018 USATF Masters 15K Overall Championship in Tulsa Photo courtesy of Tulsa Sports Commission


55-59 Of the 26 athletes registered for this division, these five stand out, Mimi Fallon, Lorraine Jasper, Suzanne LaBurt, Doreen McCoubrie, and Lisa Veneziano

Fallon has a 33:20 in the Bobby Doyle 5 Miler in early August, equivalent to a 50:36 12K, and a 55:11 in the Litchfield Hills 7 miler in June, equivalent to a 58:59. Perhaps part of that slower time is the 'Hills' in the title of the race? Pre-covid Fallon clocked 40:19 to make the 50-54 podium at the Masters 10 km National Championships in April 2019, equivalent to a 48:50. That might be a stretch to far for Fallon right now but a low 50's seems likely. Jasper, known for her track prowess, has also been active on the turf and the roads. She ran a 21:31 5K in March and 5:53-5:54 road miles, as well as a 22:38 5K on the xc turf this year. A 1:06:24 at the October 2019 Delaware Distance Classic 15K gives a comparable distance equivalence of 52:26. She was running her 5K's a bit faster that year than now so perhaps something in the 53-54 range might be possible. 

This year LaBurt has a 19:26 at the Asbury Park 5K, a 40:06 10K, and a 1:02:31 15K, the latter equivalent to a 49:22 12K; the 10K time is equivalent to a 48:24 12K. A 48 or even a 47 effort at Sandy Hook seems possible based on those outings. Two years ago when she ran on the Sandy Hook course on a hot day, she clocked 49:06. 

In June, McCoubrie ran a 35:20 8K; 19 months earlier in November 2019 she ran about 3 minutes faster. Her 5:47 Saucony Mile in mid-June was much closer to the time she ran on the same race in 2019, when she clocked 5:38. That makes me think her fitness is coming along nicely. The 35:20 8K is equivalent to a 53:27, but I will be surprised if she is not ready for a 50 flat or faster effort. 

Veneziano clocked an 18:07 and an 18:22 5K this spring, ghe faster of the two equivalent to a 44:56. She has not run longer road races this year but she won the W55 10,000 Meters at the Outdoor TF Championships in Ames IA with a 38:42. If that time had been recorded in a road race, it would have been equivalent to a 46:54 12K. She has a history of top performances in the USATF Masters 1 Mile Championships in Flint MI. Veneziano looks like she has the best times out their this spring and is also a fierce competitor.

Lisa Veneziano     Suzanne LaBurt     Doreen McCoubrie

60-64 Twelve athletes will contend for this Championship. Suzanne Cordes and Nancy Simmons are likely to battle for the top two spots, with several contenders skirmishing for the final podium spot.  

Because Cordes's Athlink's athlete profile is private, I have to go back to some old National Championships results to give a flavor of her likely fitness. Cordes finished 4th W55 in 20:56 at the 2018 5K National Championships in Atlanta, and 6th of 40 W60 athletes at the 2019 Club XC Championships at Lehigh in 27:20. In 2018, the 20:56 would have been equivalent to a 52:03. Had the 6 km 27:20 on the xc turf been on a  road, it would have been equivalent to a 56:23 12K. Typically races run on the roads are faster than races on the turf. It is difficult to tell, but perhaps a 54-55 12 km might be in the cards for Cordes? 

Simmons poses some of the same problems. Her profile on Athlinks is public, but I can find no result more recent than her W60 win in the 2019 1 Mile National Championships at Flint MI in 5:54. To find a more comparable distance, I have to go back to a 2015 race, the Clarksburg Country Run HM, where she ran 1:30:31 or the JF Norcal Memorial 10 Miler in 1:10:43. Those show that she can run the longer distances but both races were 6 years ago. It is hard to know what those forecast for this Sunday. Simmons, 62, would have been 56 then so the 1:10:43 would have earned an 84.33 PLP (Performance Level Percentage=Age grade score). Applying that to a 62 year old Simmons suggests that if she has the same fitness now, a 12 km equivalent would be 56:02. It looks like Cordes and Simmons, who are also Impala teammates, are closely matched. 

Who else will contend for the podium and have a chance to break through past Cordes and Simmons? Mimi Newcomer has, among other performances, a 47:50 10K in August, equivalent to a 58:02 12K.  

Janet Smith would love to join her two teammates, Cordes and Simmons, to give Impala a sweep of the top positions. With no recent performances listed, I go back to the 2019 edition of the John Frank Memorial Norcal 10 Miler; her 1:21:01 as a 58 year old generated a 75.5 PLP, which converts to a 75.5 PLP performance in the 12 km for the 60-year old Smith in 2021 as a 1:00:58.

Nancy Simmons winning the W60 Division at the 2019 USATF Masters 1 Mile Championships Photo courtesy of HAP Crim Festival of Races

Suzanne Cordes     Nancy Simmons     Mimi Newcomer

65-69 Five athletes will compete. Nora Cary, who may break a record, is in a class by herself. Cary ran 52:29 on this same By Hook or By Crook course two years ago and finished 3rd in W60 in Club Cross at Lehigh. This year she has run a 43:06 10K and a 1:08:21 15K. The 15K time is equivalent to a 53:50 12K. The 10K equates to a 52:20. No other athlete entered can approach those times. Two runners have the best shot

Susan Olesky finished 11th in W60 in the Masters Club Cross race at Lehigh in 2019. Her 43:09 in the 2019 Ashenfelter 8K, as a 63 year old, generated a 72.5 PLP which converts to a 1:07:52 for the 65 year old Olesky.  

Susan Stirrat, with a 26:11 in the Asbury Park 5K and a 54:39 in the Mini 10K, seems poised for a podium run. The 26:11 converts to a 1:05:28 12K time, and the 54:39 to a 1:06:21.

Nora Cary     Susan Stirrat     Susan Olesky

70-74 Eight athletes are competing. Two are likely to contend for the top spot.  

Barbara Donelik's recent outings include a 45:25 5-miler in August, equivalent to a 1:09:27. Her 33:46 4-miler in July equates to a 1:05:18 12K. Donelik can also go the distance; she clocked a 1:51:54 Half Marathon in 2020,equivalent to a 1:02:45 12 Km for the 74-year-old Donelik. . A few years back,  

Jo Anne Rowland was one of the top runners for the Impala 60's team. Seventy-three now, she is leading an Impala 70's team and seems poised for a top finish. Her 1:26:44 10 Miler in 2020 was an 85.88 PLP, which converts to a 1:04:21 12 km for a 73 year old Rowland, if she has the same fitness. Donelik's time in 2020 gave her a better equivalent 12 km time and she has current fitness evidence. I will go with Donelik for the top spot and let Rowland prove me wrong if she can. 

Joann Coffee ran 1:04:04 two years ago at this same course; that equates to a 1:06 for the 2021 version of Coffee. She also has a 25:53 at the Asbury Park 5K this year, equivalent to a 1:05:02. I will go with Donelik-Rowland-Coffee but it would not be amazing if the three finished in any one of the 6 possible permutations.

Barbara Donelik     Jo Anne Rowland     Joann Coffee

75-79 Kathleen Davies is, literally, in a division by herself. If she finishes the race, an accomplishment in itself, she will take the win!

Kathleen Davies

80-84 Four athletes compete for the top spot.  

Madeline Bost was recently elected to the Masters Hall of Fame as an athlete. She has numerous division championships to her credit as well as consecutive Masters National Individual Grand Prix titles. She has overcome a health issue to compete at Sandy Hook in her 82nd year. Two years ago she was running 5k's in about 38 minutes. Her 38:09 generates a 64.22 PLP which is a 1:43:13 equivalent 12 k for the 82 year-old Bost. It seems doubtful she could run that fast this September, but you can never count Bost out. She is a competitor. 

The celebrated runner, Heide Moebius, should have the best shot at the top spot. Her 1:05:05 10K in August equates to a 1:19:11. 

Sandra Folzer is in the best position if everything does not go Moebius's way. Her 55:12 5-Miler in 2020 as an 81-year-old equates to a 1:27:32 for the 82 year old Folzer in 2021.  

Imme Dyson ran a 1:34:11 on the By Hook Or By Crook course in 2019 as an 82 year old. That equates to a 1:40:06 for the 84 year old version of Dyson. Confirming that is her 42:15 outing at the Fitzgerald Lager 5K, equivalent to a 1:48:31.

Heide Moebius     Sandra Folzer     Madeline Bost   



40-44 As the Overall preview suggested, Chris Naimoli, David Angell, and Brock Butler appeared t be the strongest contenders, all primed to break 40 minutes!. As they are all, for now, in the 40-44 division, that order serves as my preview for this division as well. Others could certainly upset that applecart. Maine’s Judson Cake, who ran 57:27 in the mid-Winter 10 Miler and 27:53 in the 8 K’s of Hannukah race will certainly run with that 3-pack and try to make a move that will last. Others who are just a step down from those four include: Fabian Eduardo Daza, Dave Ferrugia, Dickson Mercer, James Osborn, Jr., and Matthew Wagoner. My first research into Daza’s performances turned up a Fabian Eduardo Daza who was only identified by gender, not age, who ran a 47:33 15K in Colombia four years ago. That would have put him at the head of the class. But an inquiry suggested that was either wrong or outdated. I learned, however, that he had run a 16:10 5K on his 40th birthday. That time is equivalent to a 39:41 12K so he should be in the hunt for a podium spot. Ferrugia has a 16:47 5K to his credit this year, equivalent to a 41:16. He also has a 22:15 4-miler, equivalent to a 42:15 12K. Mercer ran a 1:17:06 Half Marathon in May, equivalent to a 42:14 12K. In November 2020 he ran a 1:14:37, with a 41:25 12K equivalency. Osborn ran a 1:12:12 at the Faxon Law 20K on Labor Day, equivalent to a 42:16, and a 15:58 5K in June, equivalent to a 39:13. Wagoner ran a 33:23 10K in March, equivalent to a 40:28 12K. Apart from Road Miles, I have to go back to 2019 to find a 16:34 5K and a 35:30 time at Club Cross in Lehigh where he finished 20th of 117 in the M40 division, finishing 17 seconds behind Christopher Magill, 22 seconds behind Craig Godwin, and 32 seconds behind Greg Mitchell. Wagoner clearly has chops on the XC turf and his 10K time from a few months back suggest a sub-40 on a fast 12K course is certainly within his capabilities.

Chris Naimoli     David Angell     Brock Butler


Chris Naimoli right of center, white cap and David Angell left of center, dark singlet lead the Masters field out at the 2019 USATF Masters 15 km Championships in Tulsa

45-49 Among the 23 athletes entered in this division, Brian Sydow and Nicholas Thompson appear to be the favorites. Sydow has been active on the circuit as a member of the Atlanta Track Club  since 2018. In 2019 he took first in this division and 4th overall with a 26:26 at the USATF Masters 8 km Championships in Virginia Beach. Sydow also claimed an age division win and 5th overall at the Masters 15 km Championships in Tulsa with a 52:19. The 8 km time is equivalent to a 40:54 12K two years later, while the 15 km equates to a 42:03. A 16:01 5K in 2020, equating to 39:27 provides more recent evidence of his racing ability. But there is no race evidence for 2021. Strava posts suggest that his training has been solid. Low 40's seems a reasonable expectation. Thompson has not been active in Masters National Championships. I also lack 2021 evidence for Thompson but in 2019 he ran a 1:11:59 in the Popular Brooklyn HM, equivalent to a 40:36 12 km two years later, and in 2020 clocked 54:59 at the Cherry Tree 10 Miler. The 10 Miler equates to 40:42. Equivalencies for those two suggest Thompson should have a slight edge over Sydow if both have their 2019-2020 fitness. Challengers for the top two spots or the final podium position include: Marco Cardoso, Jeremy Hoffman, Christopher Shaw, Jr., and Mark Williams. Cardoso has several race performances reported from 2021 including a 23:04 4 miler and a 17:11 5K. He also clocked a 1:21 Half Marathon in May and a 29:10 8K in June. The 12K equivalencies for those last two are: 44:54 and a 44:23. Hoffman has a 17:03 5K in March. It is a limited record but suggests Hoffman should be competitive within this group of challengers. That equates to a 41:57, but a 5 km prediction for a 12 km could be overly generous. Shaw has a 38:57 10K in June, an 1:18:35 Half Marathon in May, and a 16:31 5K this August. The 12 km equivalencies are: 47:14 for the 10K, 43:35 for the HM, and 40:41 for the 5K. That is a nice progression; perhaps the equivalency based on the 5 km is a bit too generous but a time in the 41-43 minute range seems likely for Shaw. Williams is most famous for his middle distance rivalry with Peter Brady for supremacy on the track, and for his thousands of days of consecutive workouts. He is also, as far as I know, the only athlete entered int these Championships who secured a ‘Sub-2 800 Meters’ this year. He also runs fast on the XC turf and on roads when it fits in his schedule. He has a 17:33 5K at Asbury Park and a 17:25 5K at the Fitzgerald Lager 5K. Those equivalencies are 43:14 and 42:54. If he is close at the end, my money is on Williams’s kick.  If everything falls in place, David Szostak could also run with the challengers.

Nicholas Thompson     Brian Sydow      Christopher Shaw, Jr.

50-54 Forty-six athletes are registered for the division. The favorites are: Mark Andrews, Terry Davidson, Matt Farley, Craig Godwin, Elliott Frieder, Jonathan Frieder, David Guzik, David Harkin, Doug Mock, Gregory Putnam, and Joseph Shairs.  

Like many others, Andrews has not had any races in 2021 that have been collected by Athlinks. The most recent efforts attesting to his prowess are a 15:57 5K at the 2019 Masters National Championships where he finished 1st M45 and 3rd overall. Three years before he won the M45 division and finished 1st overall at the Masters 10 km Championships in Dedham MA. The 15:57 is equivalent to a 39:57 12K for the 50 year old Andrews in 2021.

Davidson, inactive in Masters National road championships, has a recent 17:08 5K and a 2:49 marathon this year. The 17:08 equates to a 42:14 while the Marathon equates to a 44:40. He also competed in the 2019 Club Cross championships at Lehigh, finishing 36th in M45 a minute and a half behind Jonathan and Elliott Frieder. A 12K in the 42-44 range seems possible. 

Farley, one of the mainstays of the Bowerman TC, previously for the 40+ and now for the 50+ teams, ran 36:31 at Club Cross at Lehigh, finishing 10th in M50, and ran 29:22 earlier in the year at the 2019 USATF XC Championships in Tallahassee to finish 4th M50. He ran 16:44 in July 2019, equivalent to a 42:00 12K two years later.

Godwin has lots of street cred. He took the M50 title at the Masters 15 km Championships in Tulsa in 2019 with a 51:37, equivalent to a 41:31 two years later. Godwin also took 6th overall in the 2020 USATF Masters XC in San Diego in over 8 km in 28:32. He ran a 16:55 5K in 2020, equivalent to a 42:10 a year later. A 42-43 minute 12k seemed in the offing. But last week, Godwin took a bad tumble in a race, and needed to be taken to the hospital for treatment. As Godwin put it on Facebook, "...medical vehicles responded and they took me to the ER in an ambulance with a neck brace and an IV. CT scan, x-rays, and an EKG just to play it safe. Broken nose, stitches in my face, left hand all messed up but surprisingly not broken." Will he be able to race? Will he even make the trip? Stay tuned to find out.

One has to consider the Frieder twins in a single section even though they are distinct individuals with very different profiles. Over the past five years or so, Elliott has been hurt more commonly than Jonathan, but Elliott has been able to run faster on the turf on occasion while Jonathan has generally prevailed in the brotherly battle on the roads. Based on Strava, both seem to be training well these days. Unfortunately as with many others, there is scarce evidence.  Elliott has a 16:58 and a 17:10 5K in June and August,the faster of those equivalent to a 41:50. E Frieder was 4th at Tulsa in 2019 with a 53:40. Jonathan has not run since 2019 when he ran a 52:28 at Tulsa and a 26:46 at the Ashenfelter 8K. The 52:28 is equivalent to a 42:27 12K two years later; the 26:46 to a 41:25. It looks like it could be close between the twins, in a time around 41-42, unless Jonathan's lack of race fitness gets in his way.

Guzik has a 17:25 5K in July. His Athlinks profile is private so I cannot tell if he had other efforts at longer distances. The 17:25 equates to a 42:56.

Harkin ran 1:15:03 at the January 2020 Cascade Half Marathon and a 1:51:55 30K two months later. The HM equates to a 41:57 a year later; the 30K to a 42:35.

Mock finished 28th in M50 at Club Cross two years ago. This year he has a 17:08 5K and a 2:49:00 Marathon. The 5K equates to a 42:22 and the Marathon to a 44:37. A 12 km in the 42-44 range is likely.

Putnam ran 33:58 to finish 4th M45 at the 2019 Masters 10 km Championships in Dedham. In February 2020 he ran a 27:28 5 Miler, and clocked 2:47:50 for a 2021 Marathon. The Marathon time equates to a 44:21, the 5-Miler to a 41:59 in 2021, and the 2019 effort to a 41:54 in 2021. Again a 42-43 minute 12 km seems plausible.

Shairs ran 35:21 to finish 3rd M50 at the 2019 Masters 10K Championship. His 28:48 5 Miler in February 2020 equates to a 44:00 12K in 2021. He also has a 17:38 and an 18:08 5k this year, equating to a 43:34 and a 44:48 12 km. Something around 44 minutes seems plausible.

Mark Andrews     Matthew Farley     David Harkin

55-59 Twenty-three runners contest this division. In past years it was easy to just write this division as belonging to Nat Larson who has been almost unbeatable since he started running the circuit in 2015. In 2019, Larson had to deal with some injuries that slowed him down and during the downtime due to Covid, had surgery and has been focusing on recovery. At this point he has no races under his belt. It seems sensible to expect this one to be a 'rust-buster', where Larson is not quite up to his usual past exploits. But I have been surprised by other comeback stories before. My guess is that Larson is primed for the podium and likely has a shot at the top spot. That he is here alone without a complete Greater Springfield Harriers 50+ team suggests also that he is running for himself, not just helping out his team. In 2017 Larson set the M55-59 American Record in the 5 km at 15:54; it still stands. Some of Larson's 2019 performances included a 1:16:07 in the New Bedford Half Marathon in February,  equivalent to a 42:09, and a 51:58 15K in March, equivalent to a 41:09 12K. He managed a win at the USATF Masters National 5 km Championships in Atlanta, with a 16:54. Already struggling with a niggling injury, he had run a half minute faster the year before.  The other reason to temper expectations this year is it is Larson's last year in 55-59. Six other runners will be pushing for a podium finish and, perhaps, a win: Kenneth Barbee, Michael Collins, Brian Crowley, Alan Evans, and Mark Neff.

Barbee ran 37:07 at the 2019 Club Cross at Lehigh, finishing 4th in M55. Earlier that year in May he ran 57:36 at the BCBS Broad Street 10-Miler and in February 2020 ran a 28:03 5-Miler. The 10-Miler time in 2019 equates to a 43:01 12 km for Barbee in 2021. The 28:03 in 2020 converts to a 42:56 for a 2021 12 km. Those times point to something like a 43:00 12 km if Barbee has similar fitness to what he had in 2019.

Collins is one of the new guys in town. Two years ago in Tulsa he took the M55 title in Tulsa with a 57:38. That equated to a 46:22 predicted 12 km in 2021. He ran a 35:50 10000 Meters at the Masters Outdoor TF Championships at Ames. If that were on the road, it would equate to a 43:28. Track races are generally faster than road races. Let us put Collins in the 44-45 minute range for the 12 km.

Crowley is a well known runner, but only participates occasionally in Masters National Championships. In 2017 he took 4th at the Masters 5 km Championships in Syracuse with a 16:24. He just ran a 17:08 at the Asbury Park 5K, equating to a 42:26. As that prediction is based on a 5k, it make sense to think of it as a 43-44 12 km.

Evans is, along with Mike Nier and Dale Flanders, one of the mainstays of the GVH 50+ teams. A long distance runner, Evans nonetheless ran 37:13 to take 6th in M55 at Club XC at Lehigh. This year he clocked 2:51:51 at Grandma's Marathon, which equates to a 45:20. He ran a 59:37 10 Miler in 2019; that equates to a 44:31 for a 2021 12 km. A reasonable prediction range would be 44-46 minutes. 

Neff ran a 39:00 in the 10 km Masteers race at Club Cross, finishing 11th in M55. This year he has a 17:54 5K and a 1:30:30 Half Marathon to his credit. The 5K equates to a 44:23; the HM to a 50:02. Perhaps a time between 45 and 48 is likely?

Nat Larson     Kenneth Barbee     Brian Crowley     

Nat Larson leads his Greater Springfield teammate, Mark Hixon around the last curve and onto the finish line at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 km Championships Photo by Michael Scott


60-64 I have to skip over some very strong runners among the 38 entered to identify six who are most likely to contend for the podium: Timothy Conheady, Matt Ebiner, Gary Leaman, Rick Lee, Roger Sayre, and Chuck Shields.

Conheady ran 30:35 to take 8th in M60 at the 8 km Masters race at Club Cross at Lehigh in 2019. Earlier that year he ran a 30:59 at the BOA Shamrock Shuffle 8K in Chicago, equivalent to a 48:15 12K in 2021. He also ran a 29:10 4-Miler this July which equates to a 55:50. That suggests Coneady may be running for his team and may not have the current fitness or health to run a sub-50 12 km.

A stalwart of the Cal Coast TC for many years, Ebiner has run sparingly this year. Although it could be difficult to tell, as many of his race results are collected into a private profile on Athlinks. Through Strava I can confirm that he is training very well. And I can find a 1:24:01 Shoreline HM result in Athlinks from July,  That is equivalent to a 46:27 12 km. On a vacation to Iceland with his family, Ebiner found time to run a 38:54 10 km in Iceland, equivalent to a 47:13. It looks like a 46-47 effort is well within Ebiner's capability at present.

Leaman is a regular on the Cross Country circuit and occasionally contests a national championship on the roads. He ran 31:16 at Lehigh to finish 13th M60; he also raced the 8 km National Championship in Virginia Beach earlier that year, clocking 30:07 for a 3rd place in M55. That equates to a predicted 47:17 12K for the 2021 version of Leaman. The only 2021 race I can find for Leaman confirms that he is in decent shape, but a 1 Mile run does not tell us as much about fitness for a 12 km as one might like. Two years ago he ran 46:06 on this same By Hook or By Crook course; that equates to a 46:59 in 2021 if the 62-year old Leaman is just as fit now as the 60-year old Leaman was then. It is reasonable to predict something like a 47 or so 12K.

Lee is a newcomer to USATF events, but he broke the M60 American Record for the 50 km in Long island in June at 3:31:44 pending ratification. That equates to a 45:25 12 km effort. Lee also has a 24:15 4-miler and a 1:20:00 Half Marathon to his credit. The 4 miler equates to a 46:19, the HM to a 44:14. If Lee still has the same fitness he had earlier this year, he should be able to break 46 and maybe 45!

Sayre has been a podium regular since he joined the M60 division in 2018. He took M60 titles at the 8K and 5K in 2019, clocking 28:20 in Virginia Beach and 17:28 at the 5K. The 8K time in 2019 is equivalent to a 12 km time of 44:06 in 2021. The 5K time works out to a 44:11 12K in 2021. This year he has two high 38 minute 10K efforts at altitude. The Fortitude 10K was a 38:47 at 5000 feet; it equates to a 47:06 12 km, with no adjustment for altitude.  At sea level, a 44 to 45 minute 12 km seems plausible.

Shields, a Greater Philadelphia TC veteran, ran 30:17 at Club Cross to finish 5th M60 and leading his club to a 3rd place M60+ finish. This year in February he ran a 43:17 10K; that equates to a 52:33. Since then he has run a 4.8 Miler and a 5.2 miler at slightly slower pace, and a couple of road miles. Altogether these times suggest Shields may not break 50 minutes. It should take a sub-50 to make the podium in this division.

Roger Sayre     Rick Lee     Matt Ebiner

65-69 The 29 entries in this division include some very strong runners. Some appear to be at peak fitness and could break a record; others are nursing injuries. Brian Pilcher is back! He is the M60 American Record holder at the 5K, Half Marathon, 25K, 30K and Marathon. He is also the 2013 Masters Athlete of the Year. Pilcher has been nursing injuries off and on for the last few years, punctuated by occasional fitness, allowing him to make the podium at the 2018 8K Championships and to defend his Dipsea Championship last year. He has been injury free for a while now and ramped up his workouts. He tested his fitness with a 'rust buster' at New Haven on Labor Day. At the USATF Open 20 km Championships, he bested the American M65 record by about two minutes, with a 1:18:24. That equates to a 45:41, which is a minute and a half faster than the current listed American 12 km Record.

Ken Youngers has been near the top of his division for years After surgery a few years back, Youngers has gradually regained full fitness. In 2019 he won the M60 division at the Masters 10 km Championships with a 36:19. This year he clocked 36:47 at the AJC Peachtree.Road Race. Without any adjustment for the toughness of that course, the time equates to a 44:39.

Joe Reda took the 2019 M65 Masters National Individual Grand Prix title, as well as winning several National Championships, in a year long battle with Reno Stirrat. Stirrat is coming back from a series of injuries and has mostly recovered but is not yet at full fitness. Reda started the year with a 1:28:24 at the Desert Classic HM, followed by a 2:20:52 20-Miler in May, and a 49:14 at the Quad City Bix 7-Miler. The HM time equates to a 49:04, the 20-miler to a 49:29, and the Bix 7-Miler to a 52:28. The Bix is known as a tough race but the heavy running from early in the year may also have taken some toll. If Reda can break 49, that will be a sign that he is at full fitness He will need it to land on the podium this year.

As noted, Stirrat is not far enough along on his recovery to contend for a top spot. His 20:39 at the Asbury Park 5k equates to a 51:29. Mark Rybinski who has often battled Stirrat and others for the podium has also been battling injuries. His most recent effort is a 30:44 4-Miler which equates to a 58:54 12 km.

Brian Cummins, Kevin Dollard, and Jack Pottle are typically happy to compete for their team. If the day breaks right, one of them could wind up on the individual podium. Cummins's 1:31:51 in the Naples HM in early 2020 equates to a 2021 12 Km prediction of 51:13 for Cummins. Dollard's 19:51 5K in May equates, with the usual caveat about predicting from a 5 km effort, to a 49:29 12 km. Pottle's 40:37 Classic 10K equates to a 49:20.

Brian Pilcher     Ken Youngers     Joseph Reda

Ken Youngers heading for an M60 win at the 2019 USATF Masters 10 km Championships in Dedham MA Photo by Michael Scott


70-74 Eighteen athletes have entered. The favorite, Gene Dykes let me know that he sustained a hamstring injury in the Hood to Coast Relay. He will run at an adjusted pace, hoping to finish so his team hs three athletes finish so they can get a team score, but not to aggravate the injury. His absence leaves it pretty wide open. Based on recent races it appears the top contenders are: Peter Auteri, Marc Bloom, Will Charles, Jerry Learned and Fernando Moura.

Auteri's credential is his 22:31 5K this year and his 55:10 on the By Hook or By Crook course in 2019. The 5K equates to a 56:05. The 55:10 for a 58 year old in 2019 equates to a 56:17. That looks like Auteri could run around 56 minutes. 

Bloom has a 22:40 5K in 2020 and a 36:53 5-Miler in 2019. The 5-Miler equates to a 57:37 12K for a 2021 version of Marc Bloom. The 5K time is equivalent to a 57:00. Low 57's looks like a good prediction! 

Charles ran a 22:27 5K in 2019 which equates to a 57:10 12 k prediction for 2021. Charles also clocked 1:12:42 in the 2017 BCBS Broad Street Run 10 Miler, equating to a 55:24 12k in 2021. Something around 57?

Over the last few years, Learned has been battling his teammate Dave Glass, Jim May, Paul Carlin, Lloyd Hansen, and Terry McCluskey in addition to Gene Dykes. None are racing in this division on this day. But it only helps a ittle; others have taken their place. Learned has come out of Covid in good shape. He says he did not train during the early stages of the Pandemic because competition is his sole motivation to train. At some point he apparently felt competition would be coming back.  He ran a 37:46 8K in May, a 47:09 at the AJC Peachtree Road Race (10K), and a 32:43 at the Decatur Dekalb 4-Miler. The 8K equates to a 57:43 12K, the 10K to a 57:18, and the 4-Miler to a 1:02:30. Does the slower pace at the 4-Miler signal a problem for Learned. We will find out on Sunday. If the issue was transitory he is one of the favorites for the podium!

In June, Moura ran a 34:40 8K, equivalent to a 53:03. In July he ran 20:55 at a 5K, equating to a 52:05. Those times make him the favorite on Sunday!

It would not be that surprising to find out that Dykes's competitive juices get the better of him and he lets it out enough to land on the podium. The prediction below assumes Dykes will run very conservatively.

Fernando Moura     Peter Auteri     Jerry Learned

75-79 An infusion of younger guys aging up has increased the comeptitiveness of this division and, as Jan Frisby would say, "That's a good thing!" An even dozen are entered, but no more than 11 are competing. If I did not have inside information, I would have written that Paul Carlin, yours truly, would be one of the podium contenders. After a good start to 2021, at the end of May an Insertional Achilles Tendonitis issue knocked me out. I will come back later this year or in 2022.

The main contenders are Julio Aguirre, Jan Frisby, Ezequiel Garcia, Dave Glass, Jim May, and Przemek (Przemyslaw) Nowicki. 

Aguirre has not participated in Masters National Championships but is well known around New York and New Jersey. He ran 52:47 in the Manhattan 7 Mile run last year, equating to a 57:21 for a 2021 12K. This year he has a 30:29 4-mile run equating to a 58:10. A 12 k in the 57 to 58 range seems likely.

Frisby ran 1:12:30 in the 2019 15K Championships in Tulsa, equating to a 59:08 12k in 2021. Frisby sent me a friendly  informative email on how his training has gone but an ordinary search did not turn it up. My recollection is that his training is going well. I expect him to run well under an hour, perhaps under 59.

Garcia finished 2nd M70 at the 2019 Masters 8 km Championships in 35:11, and ran 57:42 in the 2019 By Hook or By Crook race. His 2021 results include a 23:05 at Asbury Park. The 8K equates to a 55:23 12K in 2021. The 57:42 in 2019 equates to a 59:26 two years later. The 23:05 equates to a 57:02. That last conversion is perhaps too generous but a time in the 58-59 range seems likely.

When not battling an injury, Glass typically lands on the podium and has often won M70 Championships. He won the 2019 M70 title at the 2019 15K Masters Championships in Tulsa in 1:09:42, equating to a 56:36 12K in 2021. This year he has a 40:12 5-Miler, equating to a 1:01:24, a 30:26 4-Miler, equating to a 58:04 12K, and a 23:57 5K, equating to a 59:11 12 Km. It looks like the slower 5-Miler was a one off, perhaps on a tough course. Glass looks likely to run in the 57 to 58 range.

May is also a tough runner, often on the M70 podium. His races look good this year. He already has a 46:28 10K, equating to a 56:31, and a 55:43 at the Falmouth Road Race (7 miler), equating to a 57:37. May looks primed for a 57 to 58 minute 12 K effort.

Nowicki's 37:44 8K at the 2019 Masters Championships, finishing 8th of 15, equates to a 59:29 12K in 2021. His 50:21 10K a month later at Dedham equated to a 1:03:10. Nowicki missed the rest of the season but, after some sight problems he was able to run in February 2020 at the USATF Masters XC Championships, using one of his M80 teammates as a guide. He ran 48:40. It took a long time for him to recover from eye surgery but perhaps he has regained his former fitness and will be able to break an hour. That would be fine.

Dave Glass and Jerry Learned driving for the finish line at the 2019 USATF Masters 1 Mile Championships in Flint MI Photo courtesy of HAP Crim Festival of Races

Dave Glass     Julio Aguirre     Jim May

80-84 Ten athletes have thrown their hats in the ring! The fastest two appear to be Roland Cormier and John Elliott

Cormier won the M80 division in 48:42 at the 2020 USATF Cross Country Championships in San Diego. Had that been run on the roads, it would equate to a 1:16:01 in 2021. A time under 1:15 seems likely. Cormier competed at the 2021 Masters Outdoor Championships but at nothing beyond the 2000 meter steeplechase. That he competes in steeplechase at all is a sign that he is fit.

Elliott won M80 at Club Cross at Lehigh in 50:08, equating to a 1:20:30 in 2021. More importantly he has several outings this year, including a 29:58 5K as part of a biking/running duathlon, equating to a 1:13:28. He also has a straight-up 54:42 in a 5-Miler that equates to 1:22:53. Something in the 1:15 to 1:20 range seems plausible.

The main contenders for the final podium spot include Tony Fiory, James Kelly, James Leitz, and Andrew Sherwood. They have all run 5K's between 31 and 33 minutes this year. I give the edge to Leitz and Sherwood who have also run longer events this year, Leitz a 5-Miler in 55:38 equating to a 1:24:18. Sherwood ran a 1:08:36 10K, equating to a 1:23:29. It looks like a close one. I will opt for Sherwood, a long time stalwart of the Atlanta Track Club.

Roland Cormier     John Elliott     Andrew Sherwood

85-89 No entries.

90-94 Everett Luoma is in a division by himself. He would be a formidable competitor in any case! In 2019 he clocked 1:13:26 in a 5-miler, equating to a 2:01:14 12 km in 2021, and a 1:36:58 10K, equating to a 2:08:56. No doubt Luoma will be aiming to break 2 hours. All the best to him in that quest!

Everett Luoma

All the best to all of the runners! May the sun shine on your steps, the winds be gentle, the temperatures mild, and the humidity low!