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
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!