Saturday, September 18, 2021

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!



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