Thursday, December 9, 2021

2021 USATF Club Cross Country-Preview of Age Division Races : Women, Men 60+ and Men 40-44 and 45-49

 October 9, 2021 Who will be the newest Age Division Champions at Club Cross? It is the biggest gathering of nationally competitive Masters runners each year. For athletes focused on Cross Country, this is the one they want! Many of the top runners are also on very strong teams that will compete for titles. To win a team championship at Club Cross is the pinnacle...and an age division title is icing on the cake. The forecast is still for a clouds, 60's, humid, with a bit of wind. Good news--the threat of showers has moved off from afternoon to evening. And still no rainfall predicted between now and then. Footing should be good. I preview in the order of the races; the three names under each division are my picks for the podium, listed in alphabetical order.

Three Hundred Meters Into the 2017 Masters Women's Race at the Club Cross Championships in Lexington KY


40-44 As always, the top women in this age division are contending for the Overall win. In the Overall preview I wrote, "I look for Heineck, Knowles and Shearer to battle for the top three spots." That sentence applies equally to this division. Carre Joyce Heineck Team Red Lizard, Laurie Knowles Atlanta Track Club, and Maggie Shearer Cal Coast TC are my picks for this division as well. Knowles comes in with the top credentials, but Shearer is a gamer who always seems to show up in the race. Heineck is new to Masters national competition. She was at Spokane as an Open runner. Had she run in the Masters race, she would have finished 5th, so she needs to up her game here to make the podium. Others will try to hang with and break up that trio. If we focus on just the athletes wearing F40 back bibs, as they run across the field and down to the right of the Finish Line, and then up the rise to the first turn, who will be striving in the lead pack, with the fitness to stay there? Jill Braley Atlanta TC, Heather Cappello Boston Athletic Association, Izzy Gladstone Garden State Track Club-New Balance, Vivien Hyman Janes Elite Racing, Laura Osman Cal Coast TC, and Cambria Wu Janes Elite Racing all belong there. Braley knows this course and has done well here. Capello ran two 10K's at right around or below 37:30 in 2019. She was slower at Lone Gull, but that was three months ago. Maybe her fitness has improved? Gladstone has been a steady 18 and change 5K, 38 and change 10K runner in her late 30's, but with little evidence of Cross Country prowess. It will be interesting to see how she handles the turf. Hyman finished 16th in this division at Lehigh, but with more welcoming conditions for a So Cal runner and a smaller field, top ten seems within her grasp. She ran a 19:24 Turkey Trot a couple of weeks ago. Osman is a trail runner who does not run much on the road or the turf. It will be interesting to see if her trails background, where she runs strong, will serve her well here. Kasie Enman, who won the 5 km XC at Boston, won the Loom Mountain Run earlier this year. Trail and Mountain runners have often done well. Wu finished three spots ahead of Hyman at Lehigh. She ran an 18:53 5K this year and prepped for this race with a 19:31 at the UCR Cross Country race. From this preview we can already see that Atlanta, Cal Coast, and the Janes will have a big say in the 40+ team contest.

Carre Joyce Heineck Team Red Lizard     Laurie Knowles Atlanta Track Club    Maggie Shearer Cal Coast TC

45-49 Three athletes stand out: Carla McAlister Cal Coast, Holly McIlvaine Club Northwest, and Gwendolen Twist Janes. McAlister finished 6th overall and 3rd in 40-44 when she ran at XC Nats on this course in 2018, finishing just 30 seconds back from Shearer; she ran upper 39's to low 40's in 10K's last year. I just learned that she turned in a 3:07:47 in the California International Marathon this past Sunday. That makes me a little less confident in this pick; six days is not much time to recover from a tough Marathon effort. McIlvaine ran 23:55 in the WWU Bill Roe Classic in early October, a solid 6K XC effort. In 2017 she ran a 37:49 10K and a 1:21:47 HM. Twist finished 10th in the 40-44 division at Lehigh, finished 3rd at the 12K national Championships with a 48:50, and clocked 1:28:59 at the OC Half Marathon. Others with a good shot at the podium include Euleen Josiah-Tanner T.H.E. Track Team, Michelle Richards unattached, and Kathy Wiegand Atlanta. Holly Sanford Gulf Winds TC would also be in the list, but I understand from a teammate that she will not be running. Josiah-Tanner had a good outing on the track at Ames this year, taking the title in the 5000 meters with a 19:13; her 50:14 effort at the 12K in New Jersey is roughly equivalent to a 41:30 10K. Richardsif I have the right Michelle Richards, appears to have a 1:38:04 HM to her credit and a 3:18:27 in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon. Wiegand is a steady performer for Atlanta. She ran a 20:23 5K this summer and took W45 3rd in 22:18 at the 5 km XC Championships in Boston. Any of those three could capture a podium finish with a good outing.

Carla McAlister Cal Coast   Holly McIlvaine Club Northwest   Gwendolen Twist Janes

50-54 Several women stand out in this division: Karolyn Bowley B.A.A., Abby Dean unattached, Deborah Fletcher Club Northwest, Rachel Hopkins Sirius Athletics, Gwen Lapham Club Northwest, Wendy Terris Team Red Lizard, and Ingrid Walters Janes Elite. Bowley was mentioned as possibly factoring into the Overall race. She has a 57:44 15K. a 1:21:09 Half Marathon and won the W50 division in 19:23 at the 5 km XC Championships. Dean also had a good 15K outing with a 57:46 and ran 1:01:30 at the Broad Street 10 Mile. At XC Nats on this course in 2018, Dean took 4th in W45 in 24:18. Fletcher finished 12th W45 at Lehigh in 2019, running 25:37. She ran 25:56 at the Pacific Northwest XC Championships this fall. Hopkins ran a 1:31:56 HM this year and took 6th in this division at Lehigh. Lapham ran 22:28 at the San Francisco Club race at Golden Gate Park in 2015, taking 6th overall and 2nd in 45-49. But I can find nothing recent for  her. She did not compete in the PNTF District XC Championships. Not much has been heard of Terris recently. In 2011 she finished 10th overall and 6th W40 at Club Cross in Seattle. But in May she ran a 1:25:31 at the Portland RnR HM, roughly equivalent to a 53:23 15K.  Walters, as noted in the Overall preview, has been battling Breast Cancer successfully. A medalist at the 2017 National Masters Half Marathon Championships, she has worked her way back into competitive fitness, with a 19:11 5K and a 1:30:50 HM in September and July respectively. She has had months to improve her fitness.

Amy Fakterowitz Checkers AC, Deborah Fletcher Club Northwest, and Melissa Landers-Potts Sirius Athletics are solid performers on the turf who will need to be reckoned with. It would take a really good day for them to break onto the podium with this strong field. I see Bowley, Terris and Walters vying for the top 3 spots, with a very strong contingent pushing all the way.

Karolyn Bowley B.A.A    Wendy Terris Team Red Lizard   Ingrid Walters Janes Elite

Lead Pack in the Masters Women's Race, Loop 2, at the 2018 Club Cross Championships in Spokane WA Photo courtesy of Mike Scott


55-59 Two runners stand out and they are teammates, Michelle Rohl and Marisa Sutera Strange, both of Greater Philadelphia Track Club. Rohl set American records on the track this summer at Ames with a 4:55 1500, and a 2:24 800 meter effort. She has a 42:10 10K and a 19:11 5k, topping it off with a 4th place Overall finish at the 5 km Masters Championships in Boston. Strange is a 3-time Harrier of the Year, with an Overall win at XC Nats in Tallahassee in 2019. She took the W55 title at Lehigh and finished 2nd behind Rohl in W55 at the Masters 5 km in Boston. Suzanne La Burt Shore AC pushed Rohl and Strange all the way, taking 3rd at Boston in 21:04. She also took 2nd in W55  at Highlands NJ in 49:38, equivalent to a 40:59 10K. Kirsten Leetch Janes could provide their toughest competition if she brings the same fitness she had three years ago. At Spokane, she won W50 with a 24:07 effort. but her recent 5K efforts on the road are not that strong. She may not have the same relative fitness she had in 2018. Mary Lynch clocked 3:07:38 at the C.I.M. last Sunday. That is a 2-edged sword. It shows she has good fitness but she is likely to still have tired legs, especially quads, from that effort. Tania Fischer and Kathleen Cushing-Murray, the 1-2 punch of the Janes 50+ team, could also factor in. They are likely focused more on the team race, but they have both been running 5K's in 20 minutes and change, and they excel on the turf.

It does not look like anyone can challenge Rohl and Strange. LaBurt appears to be the strongest runner otherwise.

Suzanne La Burt Shore AC   Michelle Rohl  Greater Philadelphia Track Club   Marisa Sutera Strange  Greater Philadelphia Track Club

60-64 Gail Hall Club Northwest, Lesley Hinz  T.H.E. Track Team, Lorraine Jasper Greater Philadelphia TC, Nancy Simmons Impala Racing,  and Mary Swan Greater Philadelphia TC appear to be the top 5. Hall finished 8th W55 at Spokane when she was 59 in 26:36. She has run similar times this fall on the turf, clocking 27:23 and 26:52. Hinz was breaking American records on the track  a couple of years ago. She won the W60 race at Ames in 5:40.3 and has a 20:09 5K on the fast Macon Labor Day course. Jasper finished 4th at Lehigh in W55, clocking 26:20 and finished 1st W60 in Boston on the turf this year with a 21:38. Simmons won this division at 2020 XC Nats in San Diego with a 29:20. She also took national W60 crowns at the Flint MI Road Mile in 2019 in 5:54, and at the 12 km Championships in September in 51:14, roughly equivalent to a 20:37 5K. Swan was a half minute to a minute behind her teammate, Jasper at both Lehigh and Boston. Hall, Jasper and Simmons should be the three to watch for the podium. They had better keep an eye on Hinz though; they are in her part of the country.

Gail Hall Club Northwest    Lorraine Jasper Greater Philadelphia TC   Nancy Simmons Impala Racing

65-69 This will be a highly competitive divisions. Cynthia Williams Atlanta is probably the strongest XC runner in an evenly matched field. She finished 14th W65 at Lehigh in 30:15, and finished 3rd W65 in October in Boston in 26:38. Her closest competition should come from Sharon Moore Genesee Valley Harriers, who was on the XC Nats podium in W60 on this course in 2018. She ran 27:14 on a 5 km XC course at the Pete Glavin 1 Championships this fall. Elizabeth Unislawski Atlanta could also factor in. She has a 27:06 road 5K effort this year. In 2018 she finished 19th W60 in 32:51. She is likely to find the weather more favorable in Tallahassee this weekend compared to the freezing temperatures in Spokane. Susan Stirrat Shore AC finished a minute behind Williams in Boston but it is a new day in Tallahassee. All of these runners are more interested in the team competitons, but look for Moore, Stirat and Williams to wind up on the podium.

Sharon Moore Genesee Valley Harriers    Susan Stirrat Shore AC   Cynthia Williams Atlanta

70-74 Kathleen Allen Atlanta took the W70 crown at Lehigh in 36:27. Sharon Gerl Team Red Lizard won the W70 race at the 2019 USATF Masters 10K Championships in 48:55 and won the W70 division at Tallahassee in 2019 in 30:04. Her teammate, Jeanette Groesz, who is also now in W70, finished 2nd in W65 in 29:32. She has many other podium finishes at National Championships. Their teammate, Cande Olsen has a 28:06 5K effort on the books this year. Carolyn Smith-Hanna GVH ran 34:16 at the Pete Glavin XC race over 5 km. Groesz, Gerl, and Olsen may go for a Red Lizard sweep of he podium. It will be up to Allen and Smith-Hanna to break up the trio.

Sharon Gerl Team Red Lizard   Jeanette Groesz Team Red Lizard   Cande Olsen Team Red Lizard

75-79 Atlanta teammates Myrna Barnett  and Catherine Radle appear evenly matched. In 2019, Barnett won M70 at the Wingfoot XC over 5 km in 35:03. Radle won the W75 division at Tallahassee the same year in 42:18. Given the difficulty of comparing XC courses, tht looks like a toss-up. With my new format, I pick them both to be on the podium. No worries! 

Myrna Barnett Atlanta TC    Catherine Radle Atlanta TC

80-84 Hall of Famer Madeline Bost takes this title unchallenged.

Madeline Bost Morris County Striders

Start of the Men's 60+ Race at the 2017 USATF Club Cross Championships in Lexington KY



MEN  60 +

60-64 This division is well covered in the Overall preview for the Men's 60 and up race. I concluded, "The battle for first should come down to Sheeran, King and Tatum, probably in that order. But Sayre or Lee could upset that apple cart." Consult that preview for details. 

Dan King Athletics Boulder   Joe Sheeran Club Northwest   Mark Tatum Boulder Road Runners

65-69  George Braun would have been theonly runner in this division's podium in 2019 to return; he finished 2nd in 31:46, but he has some family-related duties that will keep him away. The top runners this year were either in 60-64 at Lehigh or did not complete or start the race. The best place to start is the 5 km XC Championships in Boston. Brian Cummins Syracuse TC, Kevin Dollard Shore AC, and Reno Stirrat Shore AC finished 2-3-4 behind Ken Youngers in 20:59, 21:17, and 21:27; Youngers is not entered here. Considering all the ups and downs Stirrat has endured over the past 18 months, including starting, but not finishing at Lehigh, it would be remarkable if he were to wind up on the Club Cross podium this year. It is hard to see who can keep him off. Tomas Rodriguez might have the best chance. He finished 3rd in this age division at Spokane in 33:52. But it is hard to glean any information about current fitness as the most recent result I can find is a 1:45:59 Half Marathon at altitude. Walter Newcomer F & M TC  ran 3:20:48 at the Boston Marathon this year and clocked 32:50 at the Rothman 8K, roughly equivalent to a 20:09 5K, on a fast out and back course.

Thomas Cushman HOKA Aggies has a 44:02 10K; Neil Feather Atlanta has 5K's in the 21:28-22:46 range; and  George Mason has a 44:37 10K but those are on roads, not turf. It looks like Cummins, Dollard and Stirrat may fight it out again for the top spots, with the outside possibility that either Rodriguez or Newcomer can break up that trio.

Brian Cummins Syracuse TC    Kevin Dollard Shore that Harvey, Pfeiffer or Wien could AC   Reno Stirrat  Shore AC


Over the Humps in the Men's 60+ Race at the 2018 USATF Club Cross Championships in Spokane WA Photo courtesy of Mike Scott


70-74 James Foster Syracuse TC has aged up from 65-69 and that may be the story. He ran 33:05 at Lehigh when he was in 65-69. The fastest other guys who were at Lehigh and are entered here are David Dunbar Jamul Toads 35:53, and Rick Katz Boulder Road Runners 34:56. And their fitness is uncertain in any case. Dunbar has no recent results I can find; Katz had an injury of s9jme sort but is on the recovery road now. He ran the 7.5 mile Dynafit Vail Hill Climb in 1:17:46. It is hard to knowhow good that is without knowing more details about the course, but I would expect to see other results if Katz is close to his usual competitive self. Kirk Larson Atlanta TC, Doug Bell Boulder Road Runners, and Jerry Learned Atlanta TC finished 1-2-3 at Boston in 22:32, 22:37, and 22:57. Those three could get scrambled this time, especially since Larson tweaked one of his quads recently. But none look to hve fitness close to Foster's, who ran 21:43 on the same course in the 65-69 group. Scott Harvey Club Northwest will mix it up with those three. he has a 21:27 5K to his credit this year and ran 35:57 over 8K of turf at the Pacific Northwest XC Championships. Rick Pfeiffer San Diego Striders appears to be competitive as well with 5K's in the 21:12 to 21:51 range. I put Mike Wien Boulder Road Runners in that same category. He won M70 at the Boston Marathon this year in 3:29:34 but his time was not as fast as winning times in past years, whcih were anywhere from just under 3 to just over 3 hours, although that is partly a Gene Dykes effect. By age grade equivalence, it is similar to a 45:22 10K. I will put Foster, Bell, and Learned on the predicted podium, allowing for the strong possibility that Harvey, Larson, Pfeiffer and/or Wien could crash the party.

75-79 Waych out, M75 division, Gary Patton So Cal TC, the Track and Field Hall of Famer,  looks like he may be gearing up for an M75 Grand Prix win to go with his M70. Five years ago, Patton laid out a plan that would allow him to fit in 5 MLDR events, all 10K or shorter, that would allow him to win the GP. It worked perfectly as he took wins at XC Nats over 8K, and the Brea 8K, Flint 1 Mile, and Syracuse 5K Road Championships. He had to accept a 2nd place finish to me at the 10K, but that did not slow him down much. He can get 5 events this coming year without even risking a 10K. There are 3 XC events at 8K or less. Add to that the 1 Mile and the 5K and you have 5! I have not spoken with Patton about this, but it seems likely he has something like that in mind. It will be good to see him on our circuit again. And the added competition is always a good thing! He broke the M75 Road Mile record in Lincoln NB this year with a 5:56 effort. We will see this weekend what kind of an 8K he can run over turf. If history is a guide, it will be pretty quick, and with a strong finish! Ron Wells San Diego Striders is back in action. He took the M70 title at Club Cross in Tallahassee in 2016 with a 34:04. He has now run a bunch of 5K's in the 21:47 to 22:51 range. Those two will be battling Dave Glass Atlanta, Ezequiel Garcia Shore AC, and Jan Frisby Boulder Road Runners, who went 1-2-3 at Boston in 23:41, 24:17, and 24:30. Glass also won M75 at the 12 km National Championships so he has a string going. Those times were on the turf, of course, and would have been faster on roads. I will put Glass, Patton, and Wells on the predicted podium and let Garcia and Frisby prove me wrong if they can.  

Dave Glass Atlanta   Gary Patton So Cal TC   Ron Wells San Diego Striders 

80-84 John Elliott Potomac Valley TC and Andrew Sherwood Atlanta TC went 1-2 at Lehigh Club Cross in 2019, with times of 50:08 and 51:35 respectively. But Sherwood's teammate, David Turner, who wound up with a time of 1:05:11, would likely have won had not a well-meaning but ill-informed course marshall not directed him to take an extra loop. He ran a 27:12 and a 28:35 5K this winter but I can find no recdent results. Roland Cormier Shore AC did not run at Lehigh but he won the M80 XC Nats race at San Diego in early 2020 with a 48:42. I suspect Cormier and Turner are vying for the win, with Elliott likely next. But Sherwood is a very solid runner and was not far behind Elliott in Bethlehem so one can never count him out.

Roland Cormier Shore AC   John Elliott Potomac Valley TC   David Turner Atlanta TC


In 2019, finished 8th in the M80 800 Meter run at the USATF Masters Indoor Championships, in 4:39. finished 2nd at Lehigh in M85 with a time of 1:24:10. Those are frather different accomplishments; I will let the Tallahassee XC course sort out which is the faster over 8 km of turf with some rises and falls.Adrian CravenAtlanta TCSid Davis Atlanta TC

Adrian Craven Atlanta TC   Sid Davis Atlanta TC


Men's 40-59 Strung Out Behind Lead Pack midway throug the first Loop at the 2017 USATF Club Cross Championships in Lexington KY

 MEN 40+

40-44 As withe other youngest age divisions in the race, the Overall preview suffices for this division, with one exeption. I put Jacques Sallberg on the predicted podium and he is from M45. One never knows, but if the goal is to rplace experience with experience, substituting Peter Gilmore makes sense. As noted in the earlier preview, Gilmore finished 2nd to Sallberg at the 2019 Lehigh Club Cross Championships For the details on why Davis and Taylr are in there, see the Overall previews.

Jesse Davis Indiana Elite AC   Peter Gilmore West Valley TC    Alexander Taylor B.A.A.

45-49 The Overall preview covers the most competitive of the M45 athletes as well. Sallberg, picked for the Overall podium goes in here as well. The cew with prior Overall podium performances at the two major Cross Country National Championships includes David Angell, John Gardiner, John Howell, and Gregory Mitchell. Angell finished 4th at Lexington and 3rd at Spokane, but then had an off year at Lehigh. Gardiner was consistently in the top 10 at Club Cross, no mean achievement. After his 3rd place at Tallahassee in 2016 Club Cross, he finished 7th Overall but 2nd in M45 at Lexington, 10th overall and 4th M45; and, like Angell, had an off year at Lehigh. Howell, as noted earier, finished 6th Overall at Tallahassee, 2nd Overall at Lexington, 5th Overall at Spokane and 1st M45; and, like the other two an off year at Lehigh.  Note, however that Angell and Gardiner were still in the top 25 and Howell just one position out. As far as recent performance goes, Angell had fine runs this year at Gate River and Peachtree, but then finished 6th at the 12 km Chamionships and reluctantly pulled out of Boston. Gardiner ran a 58:51 raw time at Dipsea but that is hard to interpret for a Club Cross prediction. Howell has been running Spartan and Beast events which apparently involve either obstacles or weight activities of some sort. So there are doubts about all three. Mitchell seems like he is back; he took the 10,000 meter title in 33:56, the fastest time over all the age divisions, at the Outdoor Masters Championships in Ames IA. Given his prowess from 2013 to 2016 when he finished 1st or 2nd at all major USATF XC Championships, it seems prudent to add Mitchell.  Who else? It seems safer to add in Mike Cole Indiana Elite AC who finished 2nd to Angell overall at the 2019 8K Championships in Virginia Beach and ran 1:12:18 at the Carmel Half  Marathon in April; or Jason Holroyd B.A.A. who took the M45 title at Boston in 16:58; or Aaron Price B.A.A., who finished 9 seconds behind his teammate, Holroyd, at Boston. Cole's half marathon is imressive, but it's not XC. In the absence of important XC racs in recent years, I will go, instead, with Holroyd. All of hese guys are amazing runners and terrific competitors. I will not be at all surprised if one or more prove me wrong.

Jason Holroyd B.A.A.   Gregory Mitchell Bowerman TC   Jason Holroyd B.A.A

Up and Over and Down We Go in the Men's 40+ Race at the 2018 USATF Club Cross Championships in Spokane WA
Photo courtesy of Mike Scott


That's all I have time for before packing and traveling. After I arrive in Tallahassee the evening of December 10th, I will finish off the M50 and M55 sections and add at least a sketch of what to look for in the Team Competitons. 

1 comment:

  1. I always enjoy reading your posts. This was a tough year to find data to make predictions. I'm not sure why I didn't show up in your search for race results. Club XC was my 8th race in 16 weeks. In San Diego we have a local USATF XC series (Dirt Dogs XC)that has 6 races plus a championship race starting from late August. I've had a year and a half of continuous good base training with no injuries or illness before racing started up again. I'm starting to feel a bit over-raced but am going to try to hang on through January before getting back to some recovery and base rebuilding. FYI, Rick Pfeiffer has been rehabbing from knee surgery early this year, and I think he may continue to get faster another couple of months. The three of us on the 70-74 podium Saturday talked, and we all are planning to enter USATF XC next month and go at it again. It should be fun. -Dave Dunbar