Thursday, October 21, 2021

Masters Athletes Race At First National Cross Country Championships Since Early 2020-5 km Masters XC Championships-Franklin Park-Boston

October 18 2021. This past Sunday, 270 Masters athletes finished the three races at the 2021 edition of the Masters 5 km National Championships. No one had competed in a Masters National Cross Country Championship since January 2020. The runners were eager to enjoy another exciting day of turf running on a delightful fall day. Although a bit windier than ideal, it was sunny, with temps in the upper 50's to low 60's. Apparently it had rained some the night before; the course condition was good. There was some tall grass that was wet and some muddy spots that were mostly avoidable. Let us consider the races in the order they transpired; Men's 60+ went off at 10 AM, followed by Men's 60+ at 10:45, and Women at 11:20.  

This recap covers Overall, Age-Grading & Age Division Championships.

Start of the Men's 60+ Race with L to R Rick Lee, David Litoff, Dan King, Ken Youngers, and George Buchanan All photos by Michael Scott unless otherwise specified

After reading the recap, scroll down for a few extra photos from Around the Edges by Todd Straka.


MEN 60+ 94 finishers From the best evidence I could assemble, I had John Barbour, Dan King, Mark Reeeder, Chuck Shields, and Ken Youngers forming the lead pack. I also suggested that Rick Lee  should be included in that bunch but for his tough Boston Marat6hon effort 6 days previously. Though I did not know his current fitness, thought David Westenberg might have a chance at the podium. I did note that there were doubts about Barbour and Reeder's fitness coming into the race, and that proved to be the case. I did identify Joseph Mora as a potential factor in the M60 division but did not translate that into the overall race. I missed David Litoff and Robert McCormack. Once things got under way it was clear that King, Shields, and Youngers would be up near the front, but Barbour and Reeder would not be with them. Instead it was Litoff, Mora and McCormack. King told me after the race that he ran strategically, as his team was out for the win. Also, because of Dad duties in Colorado on Saturday, he needed to take a 'red-eye' into Boston the night before the race. Nonetheless, he felt good; he went out relaxed and tried to run with the leaders. He ran with McCormack for the first mile and a quarter, noting that McCormack is a 'strong guy who runs the hills well.' 

Robert McCormack L and Dan King R leading the Men's 60 and Up Race at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


In the middle of the 2nd mile, there was a downhill. King stretched it out there and got some separation. After that he tried to stride along, but keep something in reserve in case he was challenged in the final quarter mile. As it turned out, he was able to keep a good gap back to McCormack and then to Mora once Mora moved up late in the race. King got the win in 18:57, with Mora 30 meters back, and McCormack ten meters further back. McCormack was followed across the line by Lee, who had apparently recovered pretty well from the  Marathon. Mora had finished 2nd to Lee at the 12 km; this time he was 2nd to another record-breaker, King. That was a pretty impressive performance over two months-2 national championships, 2 silver medals! Litoff, Youngers and Shields followed in order.


David Litoff #1504, Joseph Mora #1505 and Ken Youngers attempt to chase down the two leaders midway through the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston

Litoff did well in his first national championship since January 2015 in Boulder CO. Youngers was the only runner 65 and up to finish in the top ten overall. Shields had his usual strong outing, finishing well inside the top 10, Westenberg and Michael Salamone had a sprint to the finish which Salamone won by a whisker; they both clocked 20:17! 

Dan Kingbreaks the tape to win the Men's 60 and Up National Overall Championship at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


King summed up his views of the course, "The course was great, a nice mix of grass and trail, a little up and down, and very spectator friendly. I like how it looped around the starting area a few times. The weather was cool and a little breezy, perfect for XC." It was another impressive outing for King who has been shredding the record book on the track for the last year or so!

Dan King18:57     Joseph Mora 19:06     Robert McCormack 19:11

Start of the Men's 40 & Up Race- John Poray takes it out hard with Brock Butler taped left hamstringright behind in the 40-59 race at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston

MEN 40+ 91 finishers For this race the top contenders looked to be David Bedoya, Brock Butler, Scott Leslie, John Poray, Aaron Price and T.J. Unger.  I hedged my bets by including Jason Holroyd, Donal O'Sullivan, Matthew Waggoner, and Todd Wetzleben as athletes who could break onto the podium on a good day. I missed giving Chris Garvin a mention. Garvin explained that his plan was to run a comfortable pace for the first mile and then begin to compete. 

Chase Pack-In order front to back, Chris Garvin, Brock Butler, Scott Leslie, Matthew Carter, Jason Holroyd midway through the 40-59 race at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston

After the end of the opening straightaway, Garvin moved to the back of the lead pack. By the start of the second mile, he was moving up through the field and by the time they hit Bear Cage Hill, was in third behind his teammate, Unger and up in first with a bit of a gap, Poray. 

John Poray leading by 30 meters midway through the race at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston

Garvin gradually closed in on Poray as they headed into the Wilderness loop, passing him just before the 3 mile mark. Up to that point, Poray had followed his plan perfectly. As he recorded later in Strava, "Once the pace chilled, I tried to break away. My idea was to get up that hill during the 2nd mile, recover, then fly down the hill on the other side, and take it home. But I got caught!"

"Taking the lead at that point was a deeply uncomfortable feeling for me," wrote Garvin, "I'd never won a XC race in my life, including high school. My racing strategy usually involves kicking by people in the final stages; I hated the idea of being the one with a target on my back the rest of the way. Nevertheless, I'd made my move and now needed to make it stick; I did my best to keep my foot on the pedal after passing the leader. The footsteps eventually faded and I started getting reports from fans on the growing lead. I was still in disbelief that I might win the race as I rounded the field toward the finish, but the lead somehow stuck." Garvin took the win in 16:22, with Poray 80 meters back and Unger another 25 meters back. 

Chris Garvin claims the Overall win in the Men's 40-59 race at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston

Nine seconds after Unger crossed the line, the chase pack of seven came across the line in close order, with just a little over ten seconds between 4th and 10th: Todd Witzleben, Matthew Carter, Matthew Waggoner, Jason Holroyd, Brock Butler, Scott Leslie, and Aaron Price. The top two, Garvin and Poray, were both new to Masters LDR National Championships. They entered with a bang. What a powerful debut! Everyone hopes to see more of them to come as they battle for Overall wins at other championships. Unger has finished just off the podium at other National Championships like the 10K at Dedham in 2019; it was good to get onto the podium this time. Witzleben apparently had a strong kick moving past two runners with 800 meters to go and then another four in the final 400 meters. Waggoner added a 6th place finish today to his 3rd at the 12 km a month ago. His teammate, Butler, who won the 12 km overall, tweaked his hamstring a few days after that race. He was happy to finish in the top ten and help his team. Carter, Holroyd, and Price provided a strong 5-7-10 finish to anchor the B.A.A.'s team aspirations. Leslie led the way for the Central Mass Striders.

Garvin summed up the great day, "This was just one of those rare magical days when the legs feel great, the strategy works out, and things seem to fall perfectly into place. If you line up this same group of runners 10 more times, I don't win a single iteration." It is a win to savor.

Chris Garvin 16:22     John Poray 16:40      T.J. Unger 16:45  


Start of the Women's Race at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


 WOMEN 85 finishers The list of top contenders included Lorilyn Bloomer who took the Overall title at the last national XC Championship before Covid hit; Kelly Couch, who took 6th at the 2019 Club Cross Championships at Lehigh Univeristy; Kasie Enman, winner of the Loon Mountain race in July and a 3-time Olympic Marathon Trials participant, Ginger Reiner, who won this same race in 2017; Maggie Shearer, a 2-time podium finisher in previous XC contests and the 2nd place finisher at the 12 km Championship in Highlands NJ a month previously; and Marisa Sutera Strange, the overall winner at the 2019 USATF XC Nationals in Tallahassee. Jessica Smith came in under the radar. I did not find out that she had run a 1:17:34 Half Marathon in March and a 34:56 10K in February until after the race. Karolyn Bowley apparently registered online just before the deadline and I missed entering her into my spreadsheet. Had I know she was entered, I would have included her. She ran 37:12 at the Lone Gull 10K and 57:44 at the Boston Tune up 15K. Bowley also finished 2nd overall at the 2019 10K national masters championships in Dedham. I knew about Michelle Rohl in terms of the track, but did not realize what a strong Cross Country runner she would be. Once folks started to settle out after the start, Enman and Shearer ran stride for stride for the first half of the race. 

Maggie Shearer L and Kasie Enman matching strides at the front, midway through
the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston
As Enman explained later, "The plan was to make a move up and over the top of Bear Cage Hill to try to create a little distance on anyone around me. Then put in a prolonged series of surges in the Wilderness Loop each time there was a bend in the trail. I wanted to break visual contact; I don't have much of a finishing kick on the flats. Honestly, I felt pretty stiff and heavy-legged coming off Bear Cage Hill, so it got a little ugly trying to put in those surges in the Wilderness, but I managed to follow the plan. People out cheering were telling me I had a decent gap; I just tried to keep my form together and hope it was enough. I couldn't see what was going on behind me.  I was really happy to look back after crossing the line and see Jess Smith, my old Middlebury teammate, coming through in 2nd!" Enman clocked 18:20 for the win. Smith must have kicked past Shearer in the final stretch, taking 2nd by 2 seconds! Shearer had the satisfction of her 2nd podium effort in as many national championship outings this year. Bloomer had the edge over Rohl and Bowley in the early going, with a gap from them  back to Braley.


Chase Pack--Lorilyn Bloomer, with Michelle Rohl and Karolyn Bowley in hot pursuit, at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston

Rohl and Bowley must have moved past Bloomer at some point; Braley got closer and closer and was able to pass Bowley in the last few hundred meters. Despite her best efforts, though, Braley could not outkick the Women's 55-59 American Record holder in the 800 and 1500 meters! 

Michelle Rohl L holds off Jill Braley to claim 4th Overall in th eWomen's Race at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston Photo By Todd Straka

Rohl, Braley and Bowley finished 4th through 6th with just 3 seconds separating them! Bloomer, Brett Ely, Christina Seremetis, and Kelly Couch rounding out the top ten. 

Kasie Enman wins the Women's overall Championship at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


Enman pointed out with pride that she, Smith and Couch had all been teammates at Middlebury. That must have been a fun reunion!

Kasie Enman 18:20     Jessica Smith 18:35     Maggie Shearer 18:37

AGE GRADING The age-grading exercise rates everyone's time against the projected world's best for their age and gender. The resulting percentage should not be confused with a percentile. An athlete who earns a 90% age grade is 90 percent as fast as the world's best; they are undoubtedly in the top one-tenth of one percent of all runners of that age and gender. USATF recognizes the top age-graders in each race with a national championship medal. Age-grading is figured on the basis of road racing statistics. As the cross country turf is generally more challenging terrain than the roads, age grade scores tend to be lower.

Men 60+ The top five in this division was a permutation of the Overall results.  Dan King 85.23 added this title to his Overall win, even though he ran strategically. Ken Youngers, the elder statesman among the top overall finishers, moved up into second just a few hundreds of a percentage point behind King.

Rick Lee between the leaders and the Main Chase Pack midway through the Men's 60 & Up Race at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston--On his way to a top 5 Age Grading finish


Robert McCormack closed off the podium, followed by Joseph Mora 60 83.10 and Rick Lee 60 82.17.

Dan King 62 18:57 85.23%     Ken Youngers 65 19:30 85.07     Robert McCormack 61 19:11 83.46

Men 40+ This division's age grading was dominated by the 50-somethings as they took the top 9 spots. As in so many other Cross Country Championships over the last few years, Nat Larson 89.83 was at the top of the board by a large margin.  

Nat Larson, 59, #1698 keeping pace with two 40-something runners, Erik Johnson L and Brian Cullinan #1612 on his way to the Men's 40-59 Age Grading Championship at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


Tim Harte was only able to get within a few percentage points of Larson, but it was tight and then tighter as one moved down the list.  

Tim Harte, 53, on his way to a Silver Age Grading Medal in the Men's 40-59 Race at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


Kenneth Barbee was within a percentage point of Harte and just edged Mark Callon 53 85.60 by a tenth of a percentage point to close off the podium. Alan Evans 58 84.95 kept Michael Nahom 54 17:48 out of the top five by just 0.18 percentage points.

Nat Larson 59 17:31 89.83%      Tim Harte 53 17:16 86.68     Kenneth Barbee 57 18:03 85.71

Women Not surprisingly, Michelle Rohl 90.10, who finished just off the overall podium at the age of 55, took top honors. Her Greater Philadelphia teammate, Marisa Sutera Strange, who has often been found at the top of the age grading podium, finished 2nd just a percentage point and a half back. 

Marisa Sutera Strange, 58, on her way to a 2nd place in Age Grading Overall in the Women's Race at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


Strange had a similar margin over Karolyn Bowley, who led Suzanne LaBurt 58 85.71 by a little over a percentage point. This was LaBurt's 2nd consecutive age grading finish in the top 5. Loraine Jasper 60 85.50, celebrating a new age division, capped the top 5.

Michelle Rohl 55 19:21 90.10%     Marisa Sutera Strange 58 20:23 88.58      Karolyn Bowley 52 19:23 86.94


In Cross Country especially, the quest for individual honors is often secondary to team glory. Some of the Age Division winners, those typically in the first half of the 10-year team divisions, lead their team to victory or a podium finish. Others, often in the second half of the ten year division, are often depth runners for their teams. All are National Champions.


M60-64 The overall summary above captures the division race quite well. King, Mora and McCormack are all in this division so finish 1-2-3.

M65-69 The preview listed John Barbour, George Braun, Brian Cummins, James Foster, and Ken Youngers as likely candidates for the podium. Reno Stirrat got a mention but with the caveat that it was probably too early in his comeback to expect a podium finish. It turns out that Kevin Dollard, Stirrat's Shore AC running partner was also in the mix. Youngers was running with the lead pack from the beginning,

Ken Youngers claims the Men's 65-69 National Championship at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


but Cummins, by the 2nd loop, had established himself in 2nd, with Foster, Dollard, Stirrat and Barbour strung out behind. Cummins stayed in front of the others the whole way to grab 2nd place honors, a minute and a half behind Youngers. Foster was not able to hold Dollard, Stirrat and Barbour at bay as they passed him and held their positions taking, in the end, 3rd, 4th and 5th, separated by only 15 seconds. 

James Foster with a few strides on Reno Stirrat midway through the Men's 60 & Up Race at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston

Dollard was happy to land on the podium. Stirrat celebrated a continuation of his return to form. To finish just ten seconds off the podium at this stag of his comeback was a real confidence booster. Barbour is used to being at the front of this division, especially in Cross Country, but he, too, is on the comeback trail and was, no doubt, happy to be in the hunt, running for his Greater Lowell team. Foster was, no doubt, thinking that things will go a lot smoother once he ages up to the 70-74 division around Thanksgiving of this year. The 70-74 gang will be on the watch for him at Tallahassee!

Ken Youngers 19:30     Brian Cummins 20:59     Kevin Dollard 21:17

M70 The chief contenders in this division were thought to be Doug Bell, Kirk Larson, and Jerry Learned. Keith Yeates was mentioned as having a chance at the podium. As it unfolded, Carl Mohr and Hank Schiffman played a role as well. Bell, who ran for the Boulder Road Runners and Larson and Learned, who ran for Atlanta were at opposite ends of the starting line. Learned took it out hard at the start but by the time they cleared the field and headed up into the narrow section, Larson had passed his teammate. He was looking for Bell but did not see him. Presumably Bell was not far back. On the 2nd loop, around 2 km into the race, Bell passed Larson and established a 20 meter lead. 

Doug Bell leading the Men's 70-74 Division, with Kirk Larson background ready to make a move midway through the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


That continued until they hit Bear Cage Hill and Larson, who runs hills well, closed to a few strides, but once over the top and down on the far side, Bell stretched out his lead again. Once they were coming out of the wooded section called, "The Wilderness", Larson again started to close on Bell. With a kilometer to go, Larson decided he had enough in his legs for one big push; that meant he had to be patient and not move past Bell too soon. With 100 meters to go, Larson was just a few strides back from Bell with a couple of 60-64 guys between them. Larson swung to the left and with 60 meters to go, unleashed his full kick! He had the element of surprise; momentum was in his favor. Bell had no answer at that point; Larson sped to a five second victory. 

Kirk Larson on his way to victory in the Men's 70-74 Division at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


Through the second loop, Learned was running a few strides behind Larson, with a good 40 meters on Mohr, with Schiffman another 20 meters back. Yeates was about 50 meters back at that point. Learned was not able to keep pace with Larson and Bell, falling about 70 meters behind. He had third place with a good margin of safety, as he had a 40 meter gap back to Mohr and Schiffman. Schiffman almost caught Mohr as they were given the same time, 23:11! As far as I know, this is Larson's first Cross Country National Championship; he earned his first road championship in 2019. Larson is on a roll and looks forward to a strong 2022 season. Bell had some injury problems in 2019 but has found good form again. The M70 crew will need to watch out for him!

M75 Dave Glass took this division at the 12 km in New Jersey and he seemed a good bet to repeat. Ezequiel Garcia who finished 2nd in New Jersey would try to tighten things up. Jim May had a good outing at the New Balance Falmouth 7 Miler from earlier in the summer. Jan Frisby finished 5th in New Jersey; he had some work to do to be ready for a podium challenge but it seemed potentially within reach. Frisby's Boulder Road Runner teammate, Gary Ostwald, would challenge as well. May took it out hard. By the 2nd loop he had 10-15 meters on Glass, who had 25 meters on Garcia. 


Jim May leading the Men's 75-79 Division midway through the race at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston

Frisby was another ten meters back, with Ostwald, running a few strides back from Frisby. Glass eventually passed May with authority, building a hundred meter lead by the finish. Garcia hung tough all the way, denying Frisby as  much as a taste of maybe getting second with a strong finish. Frisby was 40 meters back when Garcia claimed 2nd. Ostwald stayed with his teammate the whole way, finishing 5 seconds back in 4th; May got 5th place ten seconds later. Glass got his 2nd consecutive win in his new age division. 

Dave Glass #1585 , about to overtake George Braun as Glass heads for the Men's 75-79 Win at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


Can he make it three in a row? Tallahassee should be his toughest challenge yet. Garcia showed he is a consistent performer who will have to be reckoned with. Frisby seems to be on his way to fitness. Watch out if he keeps coming!

Dave Glass 23:41     Ezequiel Garcia 24:17      Jan Frisby 24:30 

M80 Top contenders included Bill Borla, an Age Division Runner of the Year in 2003 and 2005, Roland Cormier, who took top honors at the 12 km in Highlands NJ, his new Shore AC teammate, Stan Edelson, with a 28:04 5K to his credit from April, and Philip Pierce who clocked 51:43 in a July 5-Miler. Tony Fiory who finished 3rd to Cormier in NJ, appeared to have an edge on Borla. But the proof is in the race. Edelson quickly established himself as the athlete to beat in this division. By the 2nd loop he had 50 meters on Cormier who, in turn had 50 meters on the 3rd place runner, Fiory. 

Stan Edelson on his way to winning the M80 Division at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


It was 20 meters back to Borla and another 10 back to Pierce. At that point, Edelson and Cormier looked solid for 1-2 but the final podium spot was still up for grabs. Edelson continued to build his lead over the last half of the course, enjoying well over 100 meters on Cormier when he finished in first. Cormier had 200 meters or more on Fiory, 

Roland Cormier on his way to 2nd Place in the Men's 80-84 Division at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


who was able to hold Borla and Pierce at bay, taking 3rd with a 29 second margin over Borla; Pierce was never able to close on Borla but held firm in 5th.

Stan Edelson  30:47     Roland Cormier 31:41     Tony Fiori 33:02


M40 The recap of the overall M40-59 race provides the detail for this division.Chris Garvin, John Poray, and T.J. Unger went 1-2-3 overall and in this division.

M45 The main contenders appeared to be: Jonathan Bishard who clocked a sub 1:15 HM at Grandma's in 2019 and a 34:23 10K this January; Timothy Gavin, who had a nice outing at the 2019 10K championships, finishing a bit behind Donal O'Sullivan. O'Sullivan clocked a 35:02 at the Lone Gull 10K this September. Holroyd ran 20 seconds faster than O'Sullivan at Lone Gull and finished 11th in the division at the Lexington KY Club Cross in 2017. That suggests he knows how to run XC! Ryan Davenport, Erik Johnson, and Ryan Twomey would all try to make it interesting. Holroyd and O'Sullivan tried to keep pace with their 40-44 teammates, Carter and Price so as to have a tight team-pack for the team race. By the second loop they were still in contact, with O'Sullivan tracking Holroyd's footsteps. Bishard was 20 meters behind O'Sullivan,  Johnson was forty meters behind Bishard, and Gavin 30 behind Johnson, with Twomey and Davenport a good way back. Bishard was able to get past O'Sullivan oer the second half but could not close on Holroyd who crossed the finish line in first with a gap of 70 meters back to Bishard. 

Jason Holroyd wins the Men's 45-49 Division at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


Holroyd was hapy with the division win and his contribution to the team effort. Bishard posted on Strava after the race that he felt he had made a tactical error in allowing Holroyd and the other leaders get too far ahead in the first half of the race, that if he had put in a hard effort then to close the gap, he might have been strong enough to make a good move towaard the end and not only finish first in the division but maybe get in the top 5 overall. Perhaps he will get a chance to try that tactic in Tallahassee. It would be great to see Bishard lead a KC Smoke team there. O'Sullivan, in his own words, indicated that he "...went out smart but never felt comfortable and by halfway I was fading..." In the  midst of a comeback, O'Sullivan vowed to "... keep rolling...", and try to be ready for Tallahassee. Though O'Sullivan was disappointed in his race, he nonetheless held the 4th place finisher, Gavin, off by over 150 yards. Johnson clocked 18:11 to finish in 5th, 7 seconds back of Gavin.

Jason Holroyd 16:58      Jonathan Bishard 17:13     Donal O'Sullivan 17:27 

M50 The top contenders were identified as Mark Callon, who had a sub 1:15 HM this year and a 16:31 5K last year; Tim Harte, with a 1:16 HM and an 18:35 5K XC outing in August; Michael Nahom who finished 4th in 50-54 at Spokane and has a 47:21 8-Miler to his cfredit; and Gregory Putnam, a gritty runner who gives his all every race, and finished 2nd at the 12 km national Masters Championships in September. A big question was whether Tim Van Orden was rady to return to the top ranks of 50-54 or was still a bit off his best. By mid-race, Harte had pulled away from the pack, but Putnam was hanging with him, just ten meters back. Callon was no longer in contact, over 40 meters back, followed by Van Orden 10 meters back and Nahom another 20. Harte took the win with 12 seconds to spare, and Callon, with a terrific move over the last few hundred meters, fell just short of catching Putnam. Putnam gritted his teeth and hung onto 2nd by a single second! 

Gregory Putnam holds off Mark Callon to claim 2nd in the Men's 50-54 Division at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


Nahom had enough left to move ahead of Van Orden but not enough to challenge Callon for 3rd. Harte and Callon were at the race without a full team to compete with; both must have been happy to wind up on the national podium. Putnam and Van Orden are teammates who were both happy with the team effort. Van Orden is still off his best, but noted in Strava that he was happy with a 'solid effort.' If Van Orden could get past some niggling issues with toe and calf, he could be soaring again.

Tim Harte 17:16   Gregory Putnam 17:28     Mark Callon 17:29

M55 Based on his resurgent performance finishing 2nd in the division at the 12 km at Highlands, it seemed prudent to focus on Nat Larson as likely to be at the top of this division. Other top contenders included Kenneth Barbee who finished 3rd at Highlands in 43:59; Alan Evans, who won this division at Grandma's Marathon in 2:51:51 and finished 6th at Lehigh in XC; Evans's GVH teammate, Mike Nier, who finished 4th at Highlands, but finished right with Barbee at Lehigh in 2019; their teammate, Dale Flanders finished between Nier and Evans at Highlands; Jason Cakouras and Scott Grandfield ran 36:48 and 37:02 at Lone Gull; and John McMahon who ran a 17:02 5K and then an 18:37 XC outing where he finished ahead of Nier. The other individual who can never be ignored is Mark Hixson, Larson's running partner at Greater Springfield Harriers. At Lehigh, for example, Hixson was just a few strides back from Larson at the finish. The lack of any results this year and a general sense that GSH has been 'banged up', made it uncertain if he could compete at his usual level. Larson went out at a controlled pace by his standards, running at the back of the main chase pack, just inside the top 20 overall through the 2nd loop of the course. Even so, he had 50 meters on Grandfield and Cakouros, running close together in 2nd and 3rd, with Barbee tracking those two 5-10 meters back. Skip back another ten meters and you would have found Nier leading McMahon by 5 meters, with Evans a few strides behind McMahon. Flanders was a good 20 meters back from Evans, with Hixson still further back, reinforcing the notion that he was on the recovery trail. Larson ran strong over the second half of the course, finishing 17th overall and winning the division by 150 meters. Barbee also had a great second half as he moved up to finish 2nd with an 80 meter cushion. 

Kenneth Barbee #1689 on his way to 2nd place in the Men's 55-59 Division at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


Nier and Evans finished strong, passing Cakouros and Grandfield to take 3rd and 4th just 1 second apart. Grandfield, McMahon, and Cakouros finished in close order, with Hixson and Flanders a half minute back. Larson was happy with his run and was looking forward to Tallahassee where Greater Springfield would be closer to full strength.

Nat Larson  17:31     Kenneth Barbee 18:03     Mike Nier 18:21


W40-44 The recap of the overall Women's race provides the detail for this division.Kasie Enman, Jessica Smith

Maggie Shearer looking good for 2nd place, but Jessica Smith is closing fast at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston Photo By Todd Straka


and Maggie Shearer went 1-2-3 overall and in this division.

W45-49 Based on her winning effort at Cross Country Nationals in San Diego in 2020, Lorilyn Bloomer was expected to compete for the Overall win. As the descriotion of that race above attests, she was in the thick of it. As a result, she was well ahead of her rivals in this division. Based on past results, the likely contenders included Murphee Hayes, Alexandra Newman, and Heather Webster. Newman is a very solid runner, as evidenced by her winning the 45-49 Grand Prix in 2019. It was tricky though, as Newman had no recent results posted. Hayes was just a few seconds behind Newman at the Lehigh Club Cross Championships in 2019, and had the advantage of a Half Marathon and a 5 km XC race this year. Webster has done well at XC historically but had no recent results on the roads or XC except for a 5th place finish at the 12 km Championship in Highlands, which suggested she does not yet have her usual fitness. Amy Kvilhaug and Kathy Wiegand, who were well back from Newman and Hayes at Lehigh would, nonethelss, facto rinto the podium race this weekend. Bloomer, as expected, went to the lead pack and led from wire to wire in the division, winning by almost 300 meters. 

Lorilynn Bloomer winning the Women's 45-49 Division at the
2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


The chase pack was led by Webster who had a lead of 40 meters on Kvilhaug by midway through the race. Wiegand was 50 meters back from Kvilhaug, with Hayes trying to maintan contact 5 meters back. They were followed 30 meters back by Newman. Webster stayed strong voer the 2nd half, eventually building a lead of 350 meters over the rest. Wiegand was able to move past Kvilhaug and put some distance between tehm, taking third place with 13 seconds to spare. Hayes was not able to catch Kvilhaug, finishing in 5th at 22:48, with Newman another minute back. Bloomer ran strong as expected and Webster showed her previous strong form on the XC turf. Both had good days. Weigand also turned up to run in what, as far as I can tell, was her first major race this year.

Lorilyn Bloomer 19:30     Heather Webster 20:43     Kathy Weigand 22:18

W50 As noted above, Karolyn Bowley performed well in the Overall race. She won the division by more than 250 meters.  

Karolyn Bowley wins the Women's 50-54 Division Championship at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


Jody Dushay who had some strong 'Ironman' triathlon outings earlier this year and Amy Fakterowitz, who won the 2019 50-54 Grand Prix and had a good XC performance already this year, seemd sure to have good outings. Megan Kossar finished 5th at the 12 km Championshios and has a couple of sub-20 5K's this year. She should factor into the race as well as Julie Craig and Kara Haas, both of whom, by coincidence, clocked 21:23 in two different 5K's this summer. Haas also had a division third place in the Loon Moutnain Run. Kossar and Fakterowitz were the leaders of a chase pack well back from Bowley. By midway, those two were running close together, with Haas only 5 meters back. Dushay was 40 meters behind haas, with Craig much further back. By the end, Fakterowitz had passed and pulled away from Kossar. But Haas had an even stronger 2nd half, catching Fakterowitz and edging her for 2nd by 5 seconds! Dushay was also able to passs Kossar, finishing in 4th, just 13 seconds behind Fakterowitz. Kossar claimed 5th in 21:05, with Craig 6th.Bowley had her usual strong erformance and Haas demonstrated, as did Enman in the overall race that including some mountain running is not bad prep for cross country.

Kafrolyn Bowley 19:23     Kara Haas 20:33     Amy Fakterowitz 20:38

W55 It is as close to a sure thing as you can get to pick Suzanne LaBurt, Michelle Rohl, and Marisa Sutera Strange to make up the podium in this division. LaBurt came in 2nd at the 12 km Championships ahead of some stars like Doreen McCoubrie. Rohl set middle distance American Records on the track this summer. Strange won the 2019 55-59 Grand Prix, claimed the division crown at Lehigh and already has a sub-20 5K this year. It seemed that Jennifer Hegarty with a 22:00 5K to her credit and Stacy Stodden, with a 5:28 1500 meter run this summer, could make the podium if one of the top 3 faltered. Rohl certainly had no intention of faltering. She took off with the leaders and was still in 5th place overall midway through the race. Strange was 30 meters back and LaBurt another 40. That is how fast Rohl was running! 

Suzanna LaBurt L with Heather Webster R - LaBurt headed for the 55-59 podium and Webster to the 45-49 podium at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston

Stodden was 50 meters behid LaBurt with Hegarty a similar amount back from Stodden. Rohl never let up and finished 250 meters ahead of Strange, who had 150 meters on LaBurt. Stodden finished 4th in 22:13, with Hegarty 25 seconds back in 5th. Impressive runs from the top 3 in this division. They went 1-2-4 in Age Grading!

Michelle Rohl 19:21     Marisa Sutera Strange 20:23     Suzanne LaBurt 21:04

W60 Laura Bruess, a top runner for years, figured to have a good outing; she recently set American Records on the track for the One Hour time and the 15K and 10 Mile distances. Stella Gibbs finished 2nd at the 12 km Championships in this division. Lorraine Jasper, still in 55-59 at that time, finished 4th in her division but ran a minute faster than Gibbs. Mary Cass who ran a fast 10K at the Lone Gull race and Mary Swan who finished just 4 seconds behind Bruess at Lehigh, would have their say as well. Jasper acted like the favorite in moving to the front over the first half of the race. In the 2nd loop, she had a 30 meter lead on Cass, with Gibbs, a couple of strides back from Cass. 

Mary Cass trying to put distance on her rival, Stella Gibbs, and Gibbs determined to hang right with her-midway through the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


It was 15 meters back to Bruess and another 15 to Swan. Jasper tried her best to pull away from Cass while Cass tried to close. Neither was successful; both are real competitors! Jasper still had a 30 meter lead when she crossed the finish line. That was her first national championship as a 60 year old, a nice welcome to the new division! In maintaining pace with Jasper, Cass far outpaced Gibbs; there was a 125 meter gap between 2nd and 3rd place.After Gibbs claimed third, Swan, who had passed Bruess on the back half of the course, claimed 4th in 22:27. Bruess was 5th, 8 seconds back.

Lorraine Jasper 21:38     Mary Cass 21:46     Stella Gibbs 22:20

W65 Nora Cary just set the American 12 km Record at Highlands NJ, and she ran more than 3 minutes faster at the 2019 Club Cross competition than any of her rivals this weekend. But she did not run after all. That left things open for the other runners who did well at Lehigh in 2019, Alda Cossi, Margaret Taylor, and Cynthia Williams. I found no 2021 results for Cossi or Williams but did find a few for Taylor, who seemed to be running well, including two 5K's in 26:53 and 27:19. Barbara Pearce ran a 1:49:06 Half Marathon so she needed to be considered a threat for the podium. Lorraine McPhillips ran three 5K's between 25:50 and 27:50. Susan Stirrat ran several 5K's this year between 25:30 and 26:40 and finished 3rd in the division in the 12 km Championships in NJ. As it turned out, Cossi and Pearce had the energy and the confidence to go out strong and get ahead of the others. By the middle of the 2nd loop, Cossi had a 30 meter lead on Pearce, and Pearce had nearly 50 meters on Williams. McPhillips was only ten meters behind Williams though, with Stirrat another 10 back. Taylor, on an off day, was further back. Cossi had a strong 2nd half and put almost 200 meters between her and her nearest pursuer. 

Alda Cossi blue singlet on her way to victory in the Women's 65-69 division at the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


Williams closed strong, but Pearce held tough to take 2nd with Williams less than 30 meters back. In pursuing Pearce, Williams left her other rivals almost a hudred meters back. McPhillips finished 4th in 27:09, with Stirrat 5th 26 seconds later. Taylor finished 6th.

Alda Cossi 25:27     Barbara Pearce 26:29     Cynthia Williams 26:38.

The final four age divisions for Women had one entrant each, the winner. Hat's off to each of them for competing and becoming a National Champion!

W70 Anne Pelletier 37:47

Anne Pelletier won the Women's 70-74 division at
the 2021 USATF Masters 5 km National XC Championship in Boston


W75 Ann Molloy 52:3

W80 Madeline Bost 1:01:34

W85 Tami Graf 52:38

Team Races will be covered in a separate post. Stay tuned!


Around the Edges

 Extra Photos from Todd Straka

GVH! ...I Can't Hear You...GVH!!!

Post-Race Camaraderie-Shore AC & Greater Lowell

Stretching it Out Before the Race

Awards Ceremony- Steve Vaitones presented to Cindy Williams

Steve Vaitones, Race Director, handing out Medals at the Awards Ceremony-with Greg Putnam, one of the Award winning athletes

Warm Up Exercises - Greater Philadelphia--SKIPS!


Happy Awards Ceremony-Teammate Hug - Rohl and Strange



Without Officials, there are no Championships! Bill Quinlisk, Championships Referee



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