Saturday, January 22, 2022

2022 USATF Cross Country Championships Masters Recap #3-- Men-Age Divisions and Age Grading

 January 22, 2022 The weather was ideal at Mission Bay Park on Saturday, January 8th, with upper 50's to low 60's temps under cloudy skies, with little wind. The course is often used for Cross Country Championships, including the USATF San Diego XC Championships. The Women raced over three loops of 2 km each, and the Men raced over 4 loops. Each loop started with a roughly 1.5 km circumnavigation of the outer edges of Mission Bay Park into a soft 180 degree turn that brought the runners back inside the outer loop for an inner loop of about 1/2 km with some little rolling hills for variation  In this recap, I focus on the Men's Age Division Races and then look at Age-Grading. Each winner of an Age Division is a National Champion; Age-Grading winners are considered the fleetest for their age across all age divisions.Note: There was a higher number than usual of DNS's due, in most cases to the requirement that athletes present a negative Covid test within three days of race day or test negative at packet pickup. Others may have stayed away because Omicron was surging. Team affiliation is in small letters after each complete name; unattached runners are listed with their 'hometown.'



40-44 The Overall Race recap covered this division well, but only the first two finishers overall came from this Division, Sergio Reyes Hoka Aggies and Roosevelt Cook Cal Coast. The next 3 finishers were all from other divisions. 

Sergio Reyes #248 leading Roosevelt Cook, Jacques Sallberg 45-49, and Wesley Reutiman

All photos courtesy of Michael Scott

Wesley Reutiman Pasadena CA saved the honor of the 40-44 crew by finishing 6th in 28:59 and 3rd in this division. Nick Martin Bowerman finished 4th in 29:45

Sergio Reyes 26:37     Roosevelt Cook 27:31     Wesley Reutiman 28:59

45-49  The Overall Race recap covered the podium for this division. Jacques Sallberg Cal Coast, Gregory Mitchell Bowerman, and Okwaro Raura boom-MILESTONE finished 3rd, 4th and 7th Overall and went 1-2-3 in this division. 

From Right: John Howell 45-49 Bowerman TC and his teammate, Ahrlin Bauman 45-49 lead Mark Yuen 0-54 at the USATF XC Championships


John Howell Bowerman and his teammate, Ahrlin Bauman finished 8th and 9th Overall and 4th and 5th in this division in 29:20 and 29:24.

Jacques Sallberg 27:37     Greg Mitchell 28:27     Okawaro Raura 29:00 

50-54 Ivan Lieben West Valley took it out hard from the gun, running in the top 10 for the first of 4 loops, hitting the 2 km Mat at 7:01.

Gregory Mitchell 45-49 leads Ivan Lieben 50-54 around an inner loop at the 2022 USATF XC Championships

He was in 7th place Overall at that point, even with Mitchell and 8 seconds ahead of his teammate, Mark Yuen.  There was a chase pack 40 meters back from Yuen that included: Christian Cushing-Murray Cal Coast and Chris McDonald Boulder RR, with David Mastro Roseville CA a few strides back. Yuen and Lieben had gone 1-3 at Club Cross in Tallahassee; it was no surprise they were in front, although the order may have surprised some. Off his game at Club Cross, Cushing-Murray finished 19th in the division. But he had finished 5th in Spokane and Lexington so he belonged in the top 5. Mastro had run a 16:07 5K last November and clocked 2:35:22 at CIM, so he definitely had the credentials to be in the hunt. McDonald was less well-known, with no national Championships in recent years at least, and, unlike Mastro, no recent road race results. He finished 5th Masters and won his division at the 2020 Pearl Street Mile. In July 2021, he ran in the Boulder All-Comers Track Meet, clocking 4:42.09 for the 1500 Meter Run. 

From right: Christian 'Cush' Cushing-Murray 50-54 leads Chris McDonald 50-54 and Orestes Gutierrez 45-49

Lieben slowed over the 2nd loop and Yuen, who elevated his pace on the 2nd loop, pulled up behind him as they both crossed the 4 km mat at 14:13. They had both put distance on Cushing-Murray, but Cushing-Murray had created a 30-meter gap back to McDonald. Mastro, despite that good start, did not show up on subsequent splits; I can only guess that an injury prevented him from finishing. Just like he did at Tallahassee, Yuen kept the pressure on through the third loop, hiotting the 6 km mat in 21:25, with a 30-meter lead on Lieben. Even though Lieben could no longer keep pace with Yuen, Lieben was still stretching his lead over Cushing-Murray, now well over 200 meters back. McDonald was hanging on, still about 30 meters back but no further. On the last loop, Yuen kept the hammer down, stretching his lead to nearly 150 meters when he crossed the finish line in 5th place Overall at 28:47. Lieben claimed 2nd with plenty of room to spare. Cushing-Murray was able to put some distance on McDonald on the final loop, claiming the final podium spot in30:44. 

From right: Matt Farley with Eric Hartmann -- a  '2-man pack' for Bowerman


McDonald struggled on the final loop; Edward Randolph was able to pull even and then pass McDonald to take 4th in 31:07, just 4 seconds ahead of McDonald. But McDonald gave it everything he had; he held off Eric Hartman Bowerman and his teammate, Matt Farley who finished 6th and 7th in 31:12 and 31:14. That was a mad dash to the finish!

Mark Yuen 28:47     Ivan Lieben 29:24     Christian Cushing-Murray 30:44

55-59 At Club Cross in Tallahassee, Nat Larson Greater Springfield Harriers, 3-time Masters Harrier of the Year, had stayed tight on the M55 leader, Peter Hammer, for as long as he could. Late in the race the strain of keeping up with the newcomer to the division and the warm conditions got to Larson. He was spent. First David White West Valley, who had been running in third, dozens of meters back, came past and took 2nd before a few other runners passed Larson in the final kilometer of the race. Larson has dominated this division since he entered it and took the Masters Grand Prix title in 2017. At the age of 59, Larson is only a few months away from entering the 60-64. He would like to win another national championship or two in the 55-59 division before exiting. He knows how hard it is in your final year in an age division. Larson ran up against a swift 56-year old, Brian Crowley at the 12 km in New Jersey, took the crown at the 5 km XC, and then fell to a talented XC runner, White, 56,  as noted, at Tallahassee. Would Larson be able to handle White in a straight duel without Hammer or the weather conditions to worry about? This time, instead of it being Larson glued to Hammer, it was White glued to Larson. They finished the first 2 km loop in the same time, 7:27, but it was Larson leading and White accepting Larson's pace. 

From right: Trevor Cox 40-44 with Nat Larson and David White, 1-2 in 55-59


While that duel was going on up front, there was a battle for the final podium spot, playing out a few dozen meters back. Two easterners, Dale Flanders Genesee Valley Harriers and his longtime rival and friend, Francis Burdett Greater Springfield Harriers, were battling two West Coast rivals, Bob Brisco Cal Coast and Daniel Martinez Los Angeles CA. Flanders mentioned to me at the 12 km that his training had gone well and he was racing at least as well as he has in the last few years. His 5K's have been in the range from low 18's down to the upper 17 minute range. He finished 5th at that 12 km national championship, clocking 44:23, roughly equivalent to a 36:35 10K. Burdett, in 2015, took the 50-54 Grand Prix title over Larson by 5 points. Since that time he has sometimes been injured, sometimes healthy but more often somewhere in between. I have often been amazed by Burdett's  competitive fire. 'Banged up' or not, he lines up and gives it his all; that is often enough for some surprisingly good results. I could not find any recent results for Brisco but know he had been one of the Cal Coast stalwarts in the mid-teens, finishing 10th in 50-54 for them at the 2017 USATF XC Championships in Bend OR. In 2018 and 2019 his 5K's were typically in the low 18's. He would not give up a podium position without a fight. The only Daniel or Dan Martinez I could find on Athlinks who was the right age and ran races in California was too slow to be keeping pace but there was Martinez doing just that. Seventy meters back from Larson and White, Martinez crossed the 2 km timing mat at 7:45, with Flanders and Burdett running in tandem 10-15 meters back. Brisco was ten seconds back at the end of the first loop. 

From right: Enrique Flores 40-44 with Dale Flanders 55-59, Steve Sievert 50-54, and Francis Burdett 55-59


By the end of the 2nd loop, there was no more information about how the Larson-White battle would turn out. Larson crossed the mat at 15:02 with White right on his heels. Martinez and Flanders were having almost as tight a battle for third; Martinez crossed the mat in 15:48 with Flanders just two seconds back. Burdett, despite heroic efforts, had not been able to keep pace with his old running compadre and was now 40 meters back, still holding off Brisco for 5th. Larson and White, Martinez and Flanders, both duels continuing with no  one giving quarter in that 3rd loop. Larson and White both crossed the mat in 22:29, but Larson, according to the tenths of a second, had about 0.4 seconds on White. They were glued together as tightly as ever, matching stride for stride. It was almost the same for Martinez and Flanders, except the dynamic was different. Flanders had closed on Martinez and now crossed the timing mat at 6 km in 23:57, one second ahead of Martinez. Flanders was now dictating the pace and Martinez was the one holding on. The 4th loop was decisive in both cases. White was able to kick away from Larson; despite his best efforts, Larson could not close. White took the win by 3 seconds in 30:07. It was just as tight for 3rd. Despite his best efforts, Flanders could not drop Martinez. But Martinez could not close on Flanders. In the end, Flanders enjoyed that same 3 second margin, crossing the finish line in 32:26 to Martinez's 32:29. It is incredible that there were two races for podium position that close within the one age division. Burdett took 5th in 33:15, closing out Brisco, who was narrowing the gap and finished 6th in 33:25.

David White 30:07     Nat Larson 30:10     Dale Flanders 32:26

60-64 The expectation was that Dan King Athletics Boulder would meet Joe Sheeran for another shootout on the turf. Unfortunately, Sheeran got snowed in on the eastern side of the Cascades in Washington, and couldn't make his flight. King has had a monumental last 18 months, setting American and at least one World record on the track, not to mention the American 1 Mile record on the roads. King has had some hip issues but he always seems to be ready to run on the turf. With no Sheeran to worry about it seemed likely King would have the same experience he had at Tallahassee where he ran away from the rest of the field. It might be that the 2nd fastest turf runner was a teammate of King's, David Litoff. He finished 5th behind King at the 5 km Masters XC Championships in Boston and 10th at Tallahassee after being in the top 5 for most of that race. Mike Blackmore Beaverton OR finished 2nd at the 2019 USATF XC Championships at Tallahassee. I had an email from Blackmore that he sent the evening before the race. He noted he had run a couple of low 18 minute Cross Country races earlier in the fall but had a lower back injury while moving into a new home. The low 18 XC races looked very promising, but a lower back issue could certainly complicate things. Ray Knerr Cal Coast finished 7th out of 68 M55 competitors at the mammoth 2015 Club Cross Championships at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. King and Sheeran, by the way, went 1-2 in that contest, with King finding an edge that has been elusive in recent years. Knerr clearly has 'turf cred' from that effort. More recently he turned in an 18:12 5K. 

When the gun sounded, King went to the front of the division field, although Blackmore stayed close behind. Once King got on the Mission Bay side of the course, no one could stay with him. 

Dabn King center, well ahead of the 60-64 field, pacing right behind David White, 2nd place in 55-59

Blackmore found hiself over 30 meters back when King crossed the 2 km timing mat at 7:28. Litoff was a dozen meters back, with a 20-meter lead on Knerr. The 2nd loop saw King extend his lead over the field to more than 80 meters. Litoff passed Blackmore and put a 40 meter gap between them by the time he crossed the mat at 4 km. Blackmore could not stay with Litoff but had no problem upping his advantage over Knerr to well over a hundred meters. 

From right: Jeff Mann 55-59, with Mike Blackmore 60-64, Ahmet Gokcek 50-54, and Adrian Herrera 40-44


Nothing changed the rest of the way, but the gaps increased in size. King won by over 200 meters in 30:58. Litoff crossed the finish line a minute after King in 2nd, with Blackmore in third almost another minute behind Litoff. Knerr closed a small part of the gap up to Blackmore on the final loop, finishing 4th in 33:29. 

Dan King 30:58     David Litoff 31:59     Mike Blackmore 32:55

65-69  This race featured a duel as well. Rick Becker Club Northwest, Masters Harrier of the Year in 2010, 2016 and 2018 would go up against Jacob Nur Elk Grove, CA. In addition to his exploits on the turf, Becker set the 65-69 American 10,000 Meter record on the track at 37:16 this past summer in Ames IA. Becker had the advantage when these two met last in Spokane, finishing 21 seconds ahead of Nur. But Nur has been running better than ever this past year. Nur set the American 65-69 record for a road 10K this past November with a 35:42. He also ran a 1:18:26 Half Marathon at Clarksburg, but the course was not laid out correctly, slightly short due to a misplacement of cones. It was not a record, but still was a very fast time. Kyle Hubbart Boulder Road Runners, Tomas Rodriguez Cal Coast, and Kevin Taylor Bowerman would likely vie for the final podium spot. Hubbart finished 8th 55-59 at the 2015 USATF XC Championships in Boulder in 32:20. In 2019, he ran 19:30 at the USATF Colorado XC Championships over 4K. More recently he ran a 20:47 5K on the road. Rodriguez finished 4th in this division at Club Cross in Tallahassee in December, running 34:46 on that 8 km course. Taylor ran 33:20 to finish 29th in 60-64 at Club Cross in Spokane. Rodriguez's strong effort at Tallahassee carries a little extra weight as it is very recent and on the turf. 

Nur and Becker crossed the first 2 km mat in tandem, both recorded at 7:44. Rodriguez, to no one's surprise was a good 150 meters back, running in a pack with a bunch of late 50"s and early 60's runners. 

From right: Rick Becker 65-69 with Jacob Nur a stride back, with Ray Knerr 60-64 #215 and Daniel Martinez 55-59 #312


A hundred meters behind Rodriguez, found Taylor, with Hubbart just off his pace 15-20 meters back. Nur maintained his pace over the 2nd loop, crossing the 4 km mat in 15:30. Becker could not keep pace. Up the Mission Bay side of the course and into the inner loop, Becker found himself doing something that was unusual for him, giving ground to a rival on a XC course. Nur had a good 40 meters on Becker by the end of that loop. Four hundred meters behind Becker now, Rodriguez was keeping a good, steady pace. He was no threat to Nur and Becker but was not threatened by Taylor and Hubbart, now over 150 meters behind Rodriguez. Taylor continued to dictate the pace; Hubbart was content to lay off 15 meters or so, his eyes focused on Taylor's M65 back bib. There was little drama  left in the fight up front. 

From right: Brian Nelson 60-64, Donald Stewart 60-64, Tomas Rodriguez 65-69, Steven Dunbar 50-54, and Adam Feerst 60-64


Nur extended his lead slightly on each of the two final loops but Becker hung right there. In the end Nur had the victory in 31:42, with Recker 28 seconds back in 2nd. Rodriguez was never in any trouble; he claimed third in 35:59. By the end of the third loop it was starting to look like Taylor might be able to pull away from Hubbart; he had over 20 meters on him. 

From right: Les Shibata wth Kyle Hubbart on his shoulder in the 65-69 Division Championship


But Hubbart was not going away. If Taylor could not pull away from him, Hubbart knew he had a pretty good kick and had a chance. Heading up Mission Bay, Hubbart got closer and when the time was right, passed with determination and sped to a 4th place finish in 36:41, nine seconds ahead of Taylor.

Jacob Nur 31:42     Rick Becker 32:10     Tomas Rodriguez 35:59

70-74  Rick Pfeiffer Carlsbad CA and Dave Dunbar Jamul Toads duked it out in Tallahassee, with Dunbar leading for most of the race until Pfeiffer was able to speed by him to take 2nd to Dunbar's 3rd place. That reversed a result from a couple of weeks prior when Dunbar had the edge at the USATF-San Diego 'Dirt Dogs' XC Championship. After Club Cross, Dunbar let me know that he learned that Pfeiffer had been injured earlier in the year. Dunbar noted that he, himself, had been lucky--no injuries in 2021. Dunbar speculated that Pfeiffer was coming back and might well be faster for Mission Bay. Others who would be in the fight for the podium included the tenacious runner, Jerry Learned Atlanta, who had finished 5th in the division at Tallahassee, a couple of minutes back from Dunbar. Earlier he had finished 3rd in the division at the Masters 5 km XC Championships in Boston with a 22:57. When healthy, Learned is always a threat for the podium. John Hirschberger Tamalpa could be trouble. He finished 6th in the 65-69 division at Spokane in 34:49, nearly three minutes faster than Learned ran in the 70-74 division. Hirschberger must be coming off an injury. He ran 32:50 at the Tamalpa John Lawson 4.25 mile XC event, equivalent roughly to a 23:43 5 m, which is a bit slower than Learned's Boston time. Of course it could be that the Tamalpa course is more challenging or longer than the Boston XC course at Franklin Park. But even if so it would appear that Hirschberger is, at best, roughly even with Learned. Lon Wiley Petaluma CA has been running his road 5K's in the range from the low 21's to low 23's throughout the 2018-2020 period. That might be fast enough to compete for the podium. When the gun sounded, Pfeiffer certainly gave the impression that he was feeling faster. By the end of the first loop, which Pfeiffer ran in 9:02, he had over 60 meters on Learned in 2nd. Dunbar had opted to start conservatively and was 50 meters behind Learned. 

David Dunbar running smoothly in 3rd place, eventually claiming 2nd place in 70-74


Seventy meters back from Dunbar, Wiley and Hirschberger were battling with just a stride separating them. 

In the trenches, John Hirschberger 70-74 #282 with 3 River City Rebels, Andy Harris 60-64 #265, Larry Fluharty 55-59 #264 and Ronald Souza 65-69 # 266, not to mention Frank Whittemore 65-69 #255, Curt Cozadd 50-54 #210 and Andrew Thacher 55-59 #335


Things were clearer by the end of the second loop, which Dunbar negative split to pull past Learned into 2nd. Pfeiffer did not negative split but he did not slow down much either. He added slightly to his lead over Dunbar, despite the negative split. 

Rick Pfeiffer building his lead in the 70-74 Championship


Learned does not give up and he was only 25 meters behind Dunbar; he might rally yet. Wiley, although not completely in 'no man's land' was in that position within the division. He had put almost a hundred meters between himself and Hirschberger, but he was twice that distance back from Learned. Pfeiffer and Dunbar were now in dynamic balance; Pfeiffer added just 2 seconds to his lead on the 3rd loop. By keeping pace with Pfeiffer, Dunbar was leaving the rest of the field far back, over 150 meters. Learned was struggling on the third loop. A lead of 200 meters was chopped to less than 80 meters. 

From Right: Isaac Medrano 40-44, leads Robert Thomas 65-69 and Jerry Learned 70-74 #181, with Don Porteous 75-79 background


That was Wiley's fastest loop of the race! Pfeiffer finished strong, taking first in 37:52; Dunbar finished 2nd, 41 seconds back. Learned hung tough on the 4th loop. Despite Wiley carving another 17 seconds out of Learned's lead, the Atlanta harrier crossed the line in 3rd, with 5 seconds to spare! Hirschberger followed Wiley in 5th place two minutes later. It was a fine victory for Pfeiffer; the intelligence Dunbar received at Tallahassee had proven accurate.

Rick Pfeiffer 37:52     David Dunbar 38:33     Jerry Learned 39:52

75-79 It looked like this division was Ron Wells's San Diego Striders to lose.  He took the 75-79 crown at Club Cross in Tallahassee by well over half a minute. He had, incidentally, done the same at the 2016 Club Cross Championships in Tallahassee, that time in the 70-74 division. Dave Glass Atlanta was 2nd in Tallahassee. He had been running strong all fall, claiming wins at the Masters 12 km Championships in Highlands NJ and the 5 km Masters XC Championships in Boston. In between those efforts and Club Cross, Glass took an age division first at the Stockade-athon 15K in Schenectady with a fine 1:11:02. Glass appeared to be running at the top of his game; Wells too. Unless something shook one or the other of them up, it was hard to see a half minute edge for Wells going away. Of course, this being Masters running, we know a half minute can vanish like a snap of the fingers if something is amiss. And there was another serious challenger, Donald Porteous Tamalpa. Porteous is a terrific runner, and arguably better on the turf than the roads. He finished 2nd at 2017 Club Cross in Lexington, 49 seconds ahead of Glass. Porteous was not at his best at Spokane the next year, finishing 6th in the Division but Glass was battling some kind of injury and was even further back. Porteous ran well at the Pacific Association XC Championships this past fall, earning his last 70-74 Championship in 37:44. That was 14 seconds faster than Wells's winning time at Tallahassee. But with XC one can never be sure if a small difference like that is due to athlete differences or the relative difficulty of the two courses. Gary Ostwald who was the better part of a minute behind Glass at Boston was also entered.  And the wild card is Gary Patton So Cal TC. A record-setter and Masters Hall-of-Famer on the track, Patton ventures onto the roads and turf from time to time. He set the American 75-79 1 Mile record on the roads at Lincoln this past season. He ran several events on the MNGP circuit in 2016, from the 1 mile to the 10 km, taking the 70-74 Grand Prix crown. The only event he ran in that year he did not win was the 10 km, which is a bit longer than he likes. Nonetheless, he did finish second even in that event. So he is definitely a threat, and may get better as the year goes on and he adjusts to the longer distances. Patton finished 4th at Club Cross, a minute and ten seconds back from Glass. Both Tallahassee and Mission Bay are 8 km courses.

Porteous and Wells went out together on the first loop, Porteous crossing the mat at 2 km in 9:20 with Wells right on his shoulder. 


From Right Don Porteous leads Ron Wells in the 75-79 Championship race

It looked like a 2-man race for first. A hundred meters back, a fight for third was underway. One thing Patton knows is how to stick like glue right on a competitor, conserving energy and hanging on for a kick at the end. Patton does not lose many races like that. Glass knows Patton's reputation and you can bet he was not happy to cross the 2 km mat in 9:50 with Patton just 2 seconds back, Ostwald, meanwhile, was over a hundred meters behind those two in 5th. Porteous was not able to stay with Wells on the second loop; that competitive first loop had apparently taken more out of Porteous than Wells. Or maybe Wells was used to the soft, spongy surface but it got to Porteous. Whatever the reason, Wells had nearly 50 meters on Porteous by the end of the 2nd loop. The gap from Porteous to the rest of the field had also grown. What about Glass and Patton? It was playing out according to form. Glass could not drop Patton. Glass hit the 4km mat in 20:06, with Patton 1 second back. 

From Right: John Foster 60-64, with Dave Glass 75-79 trying to build a gap back to Gary Patton 75-79, with Bill Amor 60-64 out of photo to left, and Lon Wiley 70-74 background


No doubt Glass surged from time to time to see if he could drop Patton. After that it would be a waiting game. Glass would plan on a final surge out and away from Patton on the last loop, well before the finish would be in sight, and hope he could make it stick. Patton would be determined to stay close enough to out-kick Glass. Ostwald was still that same hundred meters behind in 5th. Wells continued to pull away from Porteous on the 3rd loop; Patton was still staying just off of Glass's shoulder, making him set the pace. In the meantime, Ostwald, keeping a steady pace as those two were wearing each other down, had pulled to within ten meters and was closing fast. Wells took his second division win in a row at a National XC Championship with a 38:59. Porteous was 2nd, 35 seconds back. He will take another shot at Wells this December on the course at Golden Gate Park. He will hope for a better outcome, no doubt. Ostwald's momentum carried him past both Glass and Patton as he pulled away to take third in 41:08. Patton stayed close enough to Glass to kick past and take 4th in 41:18, with Glass 2 seconds back. It is a tough way to lose a race, but Glass is resilient and will be back in action in Atlanta at the 5 km Championships. Wells, Ostwald, Patton and Glass, along with a few others, expect to toe the line on Marietta Street on the last Saturday in February. I cannot wait to see the action. If all continues to go well with my Achilles, I will have a good view, albeit from a ways back.

Ron Wells 38:59     Don Porteous 40:34     Gary Ostwald 41:08 

80-84 When Roland Cormier Shore AC was absent, that lowered whatever doubt there was about Hans Schmid Tamalpa being the runner to beat. Schmid held the American M70 10 km Record for a while, so he has the mixture of endurance and speed that can work well in XC. He is also one of the, if not *the* top Trail long & ultra  distance runners of his vintage. Double Dipsea is what most people know of in terns of a tough Trail race, but in 2019, Schmid did Quad Dipsea, 28+ miles of up and down around Mt. Tamalpais. In 2018 he won the 70+ division at the Skyline to the Sea 50K. At the 2021 Tamalpa John Lawson XC Challenge, Schmid won the 80-84 division, running faster than anyone 76 or older as well, with a 42:34 over 4.25 miles. In case that sounds slow to you, be aware that Peter Gilmore, who has finished 2nd Overall at the last two Club Cross Masters races, clocked 23:13 to win that Tamalpa Masters race. It is described as 'rolling, with lots of single track...' James Metts Florida TC West ran a 1:02:21 10 km at the 2020 Huntsman Games. His teammate, Peter Rowat ran a 55:52 in the Scripps Ranch 10 km, but that was in 2018. Once the gun sounded and the runners were off, the crew in  this division spread out fairly quickly. Schmid crossed the 2 km mat in 12:12. Metts was a hundred meters back in 2nd, with Rowat another 40 meters behind him. 

Hans Schmid springing over the turf on his way to a big win in the 80-84 division


It was another 40 meters back to Schmid's teammate, Jerry Colletto. The gap from Schmid to the rest of the field widened considerably with every loop. He eventually took the win in 51:17 with 400 meters to spare. Metts never really pulled away decisively from Rowat but gradually stretched his lead each loop. By the end of the third loop, Metts had over 80 meters on Rowat. But then things started to look interesting as Rowat had quickened his pace for the last loop. Metts hung tough and took 2nd in 54:05, but Rowat had taken 50 meters out of Metts's lead, finishing 3rd in 54:17. Colletto took 4th.

Hans Schmid 51:17     James Metts 54:05     Peter Rowat 54:17

85-89 The last time Elmo Shropshire Tamalpa and Richard Williams Florida TC West met, was at the 2018 5 km Masters XC Championships at Mission Bay. Shropshire took the title in 29:44, with Williams in 3rd three minutes back. Shropshire ran the 2000 meter steeple at the 2021 Masters Outdoor TF Championships in Ames so we knew he would be ready for XC. Shropshire crossed the 2 km mat in 13:42 with over a minute's lead on Williams. 

Elmo Shropshire on his way to victory in the 85-89 division


Shropshire took the title in 57:12, with Williams second.

Elmo Shropshire 57:12     Richard Williams 1:04:53 


In my preview, I wrote: 'If the past is any guide, the main contenders for men's age-grading prizes are: Dan King Athletics Boulder and Joe Sheeran from the 60-64 division; and Nat Larson Greater Springfield, from 55-59. Given his performances over the last year, let's add Jacob Nur Elk Grove CA, from 65-69, to that list of contenders as well. And I should not forget that Jacques Sallberg Cal Coast finished 2nd to Sheeran in Age Grading the last time they ran at Mission Bay.' At that time I must not have realized Rick Becker Club NW was entered. How could anyone leave Becker off the list except by accident? At the 2018 Club Cross in Spokane, Sheeran beat Becker on time but Becker, 3 years older than Sheeran, achieved the higher age grade. King took the Age Grading crown in the 60+ race at Tallahassee this past December. Larson took the 40+ age grading title at Spokane's 40-59 race, ahead of Peter Hammer, with that order reversed at Lehigh a year later. Sheeran, sidelined by a massive snowstorm in the Cascades of Washington state, was not on site in San Diego so he was out of this competition.

How did it come out this time? Sallberg, unlike in 2020, did not win overall at Mission Bay this year. But at 47, he is 7 years older than the winner. His age grade was the best for anyone under 59 years of age, and good for 5th place. His 27:37 graded at 83.59. Larson, 59, had a good outing, finishing just 3 seconds behind David White. But being 3 years older meant that Larson out-graded White and everyone else under the age of 60. His 30:10 translated to an 84.75, netting Larson the 4th best age grade. King had no trouble claiming another age division win. 


From Left: Dan King 60-64 flying on the heels of the top two 55-59 year olds-King completed the Overall Age Grading Podium

At 62, his 30:58 was worth an age grade of 84.84. King finished 3rd in Age Grading. Nur, just one year younger than Becker, at 66, outran him by enough to take the Age Grade title. 

Rick Becker #226 leading Jacob Nur #318 on the first of 4 loops; Nur would eventually pass Becker to claim the Overall Age-Grade Championship with Becker 2nd


His 31:42 graded at 86.05 while Becker's 32:10 graded at 85.62.

Jacob Nur 66 31:42 86.05%     Rick Becker 67 32:10 85.62%     Dan King 62 30:58 84.84% 

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