April 15, 2022 Walking to the Championships staging area from my Air BnB about a mile away, I took a left turn and was surprised to see a crew extending yellow crime scene tape further out from one of the buildings. I retraced my steps and later learned that there had been a tragic shooting in the early hours of Sunday morning and 6 were killed. There had been doubt about whether the race would be allowed to go on. But once the police determined that there was no lingering threat and that the race would not be impinged by the crime scene investigation nor vice versa, the race was allowed to go on. That was background information and a topic of pre-race discussion for the Masters runners, but focus soon shifted to the matter at hand, the USATF Masters 10 Mile Championships.
It helped that the weather was near perfect, fair skies, low 50's and a gentle breeze. There was a great setup for the Championships, with a secured area right next to the start, with access limited to elite and masters athletes. In that area was a large tent open to the front that housed packet pickup, gear check, and team uniform check in. In front of it was a large paved area, with sturdy folding chairs, where gear could be changed and left while warming up. Lots of good conversation with teammates and rivals was in the air. Some were thinking about the possibility of new American records. Jenny Hitchings Sacramento CA holds the Women's 55-59 record at 1:01:15, set last fall at the Buffalo Stampede in Sacramento. Jacob Nur Elk Grove CA holds the Men's 65-69 record at 59:11, set a month ago at the John Frank Memorial NorCal 10 Miler. Soon enough it was time to line up. After a slight delay while they got everything synced at the start, the gun sounded and we were off!
OVERALL CHAMPIONSHIPS Gun Time
WOMEN The Preview suggested that Carre Joyce Heineck Portland OR, Jenny Hitchings, and Maggie Shearer Newbury Park, CA were likely to push the pace up front. Chris Lundy Mill Valley, CA and Laura Osman Encino CA also played a role in the overall race. Heineck displayed her credentials as a strong turf runner by taking 3rd overall at Club Cross in Tallahassee. She backed that up on the roads with a 1:20:23 at the RnR San Jose Half Marathon. Hitchings, though a good decade older than the others, has been on a tear breaking American 55-59 Records over the last couple of years. Her 1:20:25 at the Clarksburg Half Marathon this year shows her speed even if the Race Officials did discover after the fact that the course had been set up incorrectly and was short of what had been certified. Her American and World Record Marathon performance at New York in 2019 provides added evidence of her ability. Her American Record for the 10 Mile Run set last September was 1:01:15. Clearly Hitchings would need to be reckoned with. Shearer has produced several podium efforts at national championships, both on the turf and on the roads. Her 2nd place finish at the 12 Km Masters National Championships in New Jersey last September suggested that a 1:00:30 was within her grasp.
|Masters Runners Head North on Capitol Mall to Begin their Ten Mile Journey at the 2022 USATF Masters Ten Mile Championships Hosted by the Sactown 10 Photo courtesy of Sacramento Running Association|
Shearer noted after the race that she had had a good training block and felt the support of her teammates as they went for a national title. She felt fitter than she had been the previous fall and that she should be able to clip the miles off at a good 5-10 seconds below 6:00 pace per mile.Shearer went off at that pace and soon found herself with no rivals close to her. She knew there were contenders behind her but she could not see them. With packs of runners scarce around her, she tried to find a rhythm and stay strong for each mile. She hit the timing mat at the 7.2 mile turn around in 42:12, an average pace of 5:52. Whatever she was doing was working! She felt ready to race should anyone come up on her. Hitchings, meanwhile, had less confidence on the starting line about how she might run on the day despite all her records. She had had a hamstring/glute issue that made her training a bit less satisfactory than usual. She knew she needed to hit 6:06's or better to have a good shot at her 1:01:15 record. She decided to take what the day would give her and not put pressure on herself to necessarily think she would break her record. She tried to take each mile as it came. After the race, Hitchings indicated that she tends to run a pretty steady pace; she is not one for negative splits. She was determined to start at a reasonable pace, perhaps not as fast as her normal. When she checked her gps at 1 mile, she was surprised to fins that she was under 6:00, not just because it was faster than she needed, but because it did not seem like she was pushing the pace. Also, of course, she had no feeling that her hamstring or glute would act up. As the race progressed, she felt positive and was not putting pressure on herself to try to break her won record, but to just accept what the race was giving her. Luckily, as it turned out, it was giving her a few sub-6's but, more importantly, consistent sub 6:10's to go with the early sub-6's. It also left her a bit behind Shearer in 2nd place. Not far behind and, no doubt, happy to have Hitchings in her sights, was Heineck.
|From right: Jenny Hitchings, Scott Siriano and Carre Joyce Heineck lead a group of Masters athletes through Sacramento's Oldtown District 4 miles into the race Photo courtesy of Sacramento Running Association|
Hitchings made the turn in 42:58, with Heineck nine seconds back. Heineck had a bit more in the tank as she closed the gap over the next couple of miles and was able to stride over Tower Bridge in 2nd place with a small gap back to Hitchings. But Shearer was long gone, out of her reach. Shearer had her first national Masters title, breaking the tape in 59:20!
|Maggie Shearer heads for the finish line and the Overall Win at the 2022 USATF Masters Ten Mile Championship hosted by the Sactown 10 Photo courtesy of Sacramento Running Association|
Hitchings was not fazed when Heineck passed; she knew her old 1:01:15 record was crumbling, to be replaced by her effort today. What a nice surprise, given her thoughts earlier in the day!
Heineck claimed the Silver Overall Medal in 1:00:28, moving up from the Bronze she earned at Club Cross.
Hitchings had Bronze in 1:00:40. Chip time can be used for American Age Division Records.
Jenny Hitchings claims third place Overall and a New 55-59 American Ten Mile Record at the 2022 USATF Masters Ten Mile Championship hosted by the Sactown 10 Photo courtesy of Sacramento Running Association
So her new record will be 1:00:38! Not a bad day at the office for Shearer, Heineck and Hitchings!
Lundy had an impressive day as well; when she made the U-turn at 7.2 in 43:51, she could see she had no rivals within 150 meters. Laura Osman and her teammate, Elizabeth Guerrini Long Beach, CA were closest, making the turn at 44:36 and 44:38. Amy Halseth La Jolla, CA was another 50 meters back, with 60 meters separating her from Amy Alzina Santa Barbara CA and Jacqueline Cooke Burlingame CA, who were running in tandem 25 meters ahead of Midori Sperandeo Folsom CA. Lundy looked like she would have no trouble but the others were close enough that the final distance of almost three miles would contain plenty of action! Guerrini hung with Osman as long as she could but eventually felt herself slipping backward. She just hoped they had enough of a lead that her followers would run out of room before catching her. Cooke was moving as well as Osman, taking 4 seconds off of Guerrini's lead with every half-mile. When Cooke came off the bridge she could see Osman well ahead in 5th and Guerrini still a good 30 meters ahead and moving well. Lundy took 4th in 1:01:58, with Osman 5th in 1:02:47. Guerrini held on for 6th in 1:03:10 with Cooke next in 1:03:16. In the meantime, Alzina and Sperandeo had closed on Halseth. It would be a mad dash to the finish! In the end, Alzina had just enough to nip Sperandeo and Halseth as they finished in 8th, 9th and 10th separated by just two seconds from 1:03:33 to 1:03:35-Some finish!
Maggie Shearer 59:20 Carre Joyce Heineck 1:00:29 Jenny Hitchings 1:00:40
MEN The preview focused on Riley Cook South Weber UT, Roosevelt Cook Hesperia CA, Peter Gilmore Alameda CA, Gregory Mitchell Wilsopnville OR, Sergio Reyes Los Osos CA, Jacques Sallberg Pasadena CA and Jason Troxler Flagstaff AZ. Riley Cook and Reyes are both Open Runners with elite credentials who turned 40 this year. A multiple winner of Marathons and Half Marathons, Cook's best races have been in Utah, including a 1:05:26 Half Marathon at the 2017 Deseret News HM in Salt Lake City and a 2:16:09 win at the 2016 St. George Marathon. Like Cook, most of Reyes's wins came in his home state, California. Reyes enjoyed more success on the national/international stage, running for Team USA in the World Half Marathon Championships in 2002, winning the 2010 USA Marathon Championship in 2:14:02, and competing for Team USA again in the 2011World Marathon Championships in Japan.
This would be Cook's first try for a Masters National Championship, the second try for Reyes. Reyes was successful at this first try, the Masters race at the USATF Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay in San Diego. He threw in a surge after the first loop of the course and rolled to an impressive victory over Roosevelt Cook, Mitchell, and Sallberg. Roosevelt Cook has more impressive times on the roads, though, including a 1:10:20 HM at Surf City and a 1:09:23 at RnR Las Vegas this February. In a side note, Gilmore, from 2003 to 2008, had a winning head-to-head record against Reyes, hi fellow Californian, including a 2008 Surf City HM win in 1:03:53. More recently Gilmore had been trying to find ways to win a Masters Cross Country race at the Club Cross Country National Championship. Foiled by Sallberg at Lehigh in 2019, he gained the edge on Sallberg at Tallahassee last fall; but fell to midwesterner, Jesse Davis. Perhaps he will get his first win on his 'hometown' course at Golden Gate Park this fall. No slouch on the roads, as his earlier record against Reyes shows, Gilmore had a 1:11:01 at the 2019 Urban Cow HM and a sparkling 1:08:09 at the (just short of a) Half Marathon on the Clarksburg course this winter. Mitchell won the 2018 Masters National Half Marathon Championship hosted by the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run in Michigan with a 1:10:36. Last June he ran 1:10:56 to take second overall at the North Olympic Discovery Half Marathon. Sallberg was rarely beaten on the turf at masters races at National Championships from 2014 through 2019. After a stumble in Tallahassee on a hot and humid day, Sallberg showed he is still a force to be reckoned with. A master of the changes in elevation, turns and footing that XC provides, he would try to spin his magic on a flat road course that does not give him much to work with. Troxler, less well known than his rivals, comes in with solid recent credentials, a 1:12:04 at the RnR Arizona HM in January and a nifty 2:31:03 at the typically fast Mesa (AZ) Marathon.
For most of the contenders it was a typical intermediate length road race. A lead pack went out hard and a chase pack held together until folks started to drop away in a 'war of attrition.'
Jacques Sallberg leads one of the Open Elite Women and a group of West Valley, SRA Elite and Boulder Road Runners Masters men from right: Jacques Sallberg, Ben Koss, Todd Rose, Galen Farris, Ivan Lieben, Tim Degrado gray cap, and Mark Calllon
Reyes led Riley Cook through the first mile in 4:50, and through the next two in the low 4:50's before Cook decided the pace was too fast, let them go, settled into 5:00/mile pace and hoped Reyes would come back to him later in the race. Between miles 4 and 5 his deficit was up to 7-8 seconds but Cook started to gain thereafter by keeping his pace at 5/mile. By mile 6, Cook was able to pass Reyes; at the turn=around at 7.2 miles, Cook was at 35:31 with a lead of about 30 meters on Reyes. Roosevelt Cook was a couple of hundred meters back from Reyes in 36:20, but had left the rest of the field well behind. Gilmore headed the rest of the field at 37:32, with Mitchell 11 seconds back in 5th, and Troxler another 11 in 37:54. From there, Riley Cook kept grinding out the 5 minute miles all the way to the finish line and a solid win with over a half minute to spare. His only regret was that he did not realize he had a shot at a sub-50 minute time until it was too late. His winning gun time was 50 minutes flat. At least he had the satisfaction of a sub-50 chip time at 49:59!
Reyes followed his Gold Medal performance in San Diego with a Silver Medal here in Sacramento.
Roosevelt Cook turned the tables on Gilmore on the roads, claiming the final podium spot in 51:27.
Twenty seconds later, Gilmore finished just off the podium. Mitchell finished 5th in 37:43, with Troxler 6th in 53:49. The closest finish in the top ten involved Ben Koss San Francisco CA, Juan Rivera Salinas CA, and Sallberg. Rivera hit the 7.2 mile u-turn at 38:55, with a hundred meter lead on Sallberg, and Koss trailing him by 50 meters. As Sallberg closed on Rivera over the next mile or so, Koss closed on Sallberg. Coming off the Tower Bridge they were all together. Koss had just enough left to edge Sallberg for 7th at the line, with both getting the same time to the second, 51:49. Rivera was two seconds back in 9th at 54:51!
|Maggie Shearer and Riley Cooper atop the Podium for the 2022 USATF Masters Ten Mile Championships Photo courtesy of Sacramento Running Association|
AGE GRADING and AMERICAN RECORDS Chip Time
As noted, both Jenny Hitchings and Jacob Nur were gunning for records. The attempt of Hitchings, still a force for an overall Masters win out of the 55-59 division, was covered above. No matter how strong an individual runner, the likelihood of an Overall win coming out of the 65-69 division is vanishingly small. But Nur, like Hitchings, was also going for the largest single prize at the Championships, the top age-grading award. But first there is the matter of the record. Like Hitchings, Nur has knocked down several American Records in the last couple of years. Unlike Hitchings, he has a rival in Brian Pilcher, who is also knocking down 65-69 records at the same time. In Houston last fall Pilcher set 65-69 records at every distance from the 8 km, 29:12, up through the 15 Km, 55:15, to the Half Marathon, 1:19:03. They were broken on a special road setup with a few runners and the help of a timing company that took care of all of the details including multiple timing mats laid out on a circuit. The primary aim was for an elite Masters runner, Pilcher in this case, to take down multiple records in a single run. They also saw it as a demonstration of what could be done on an annual basis with top Masters runners invited to take a shot at age division records across the spectrum. Two weeks later, Nur took down Pilcher's HM record, lowering it to 1:18:29 at the Clarksburg HM. Unfortunately that was disallowed because of an error setting up the course, where the turn around was misplaced. Eleven days later, at the local turkey trot, the Run to Feed the Hungry, Nur lowered the 10 km record to 35:42. In March of this year, he took aim at the 10 Mile record at the Nor Cal John Frank Memorial race, dropping Pilcher's mark by a half minute to 59:11. This race, a month later, gave Nur the opportunity to put the mark further out of reach. Nur knew that if he hit the u-turn 7.2 mile mat in 42 minutes, he would be on pace for a 58:20 and a new record. When his time turned out to be 41:49, he knew he had run well; now he needed to dig a little deeper so that it did not slip away. Mile 7 had been hard and it was hard to keep things going through miles 8 and 9. But then he was over the bridge, the finish line in sight; he had kept his pace going. He crossed the line in 58:34, dropping the record by another 37 seconds!It is quite remarkable that two of the speediest runners in the land are from the same city! As Hitchings observed, "Jacob and I are so lucky to live in the Sacramento area where there are so many flat, fast races and a wonderful timing company led by Rich Hanna, that cares about making sure that Masters runners get credit for their record-breaking efforts."
With Gene Dykes Bala Cynwyd PA 74 in the field as well, it was not certain that this record-breaking effort would necessarily find Nur 66 at the top of the age grading podium. However, despite appearances to the contrary, Dykes is not invulnerable. He is not at the top of his game right now, although he is moving in that direction. And, as it turned out the chief challenge came from Nat Larson Amherst MA 59,, three time USATF Masters Harrier of the year, and current 55-59 record holder in the 5 km at 15:54. Like Dykes, he is returning to the top of his form. His 56:11 graded at a nifty 93.11%, with Dykes's 1:07:43 grading at 92.10%. But Nur topped them both; his 58:34 graded at 97.25%.
The top 5 age graders on each side earn prize money. The remaining two on the Mens side were Tim DeGrado Arvada CO 62 , a relative newcomer to the Masters National Grand Prix circuit, whose 59:44 merited a 91.70%, and Greg Mitchell 48, a veteran who has been winning national championships since 2013. Mitchell clocked 52:55 for 91.28%. In all, ten men cracked the national class standard of 90%.
On the Women's side there were nine who cracked 90%. Jo Ann Hall Redding CA 80, was the senior among them, clocking 1:34:31 for 91.22% and 5th place. Midori Sperandeo 55, who was in the wild finish chronicled above, wound up at 1:03:30 for 92.77%. The age-grading podium was reserved for three who topped even those superlative marks. Merry Dearmon-Moore Tucson AZ 68, covered the ten miles in 1:15:27 meriting a 92.94%. Stella Gibbs 63 Pacific Grove CA, averaged a few ticks over 7 minutes a mile for 1:10:08 and a 93.17%. Hitchings 58, of course, mounted the top of the podium; her 1:00:38 garnered a 100.88%. As a pro football announcer might say, 'She gives a hundred percent on her off days!" But this time it would be earned. It does not get any better.
AGE DIVISION Gun Time
WOMEN 40-44 As noted in the overall coverage, Jacqueline Cooke, Laura Osman, and Carre Joyce Heineck went 4-3-2 to Maggie Shearer's #1 finish!
Maggie Shearer 59:20 Carre Joyce Heineck 1:00:29 Laura Osman 1:02:49
45-49 Amy Alzina earned a mention in the overall coverage with her spirited finish to take 8th. Elizabeth Goya San Francisco CA left no room for close rivals with her 1:04:37 for 2nd place. Dena Evans Redwood City CA and Christy Peterson Rolling Hills Estates CA battled for the final podium spot. Evans was just a couple of strides ahead when they made the turn at 7.2 miles but was able to pull away in miles 8 and 9, finishing in 1:07:36 with a substantial cushion. Jodi Buyyounouski Palo Alto CAtook 5th.
Amy Alzina 1:03:33 Elizabeth Goya 1:04:37 Dena Evans 1:07:36
50-54 Despite the strong field, Chris Lundy had no trouble dominating the division, taking the win with over a minute to spare. Elizabeth Guerrini kept Lundy's F50 back bib in sight for as long as she could. By the time Guerrini made the U-turn at 7.2 she could see that Lundy was a good 150 meters ahead. After making the turn, Guerrini headed back and saw Amy Halseth, one of her rivals, only 50 meters back. It would probably be ore important to keep from being caught than worry much about catching Lundy. Guerrini kept her rhythm going and was relieved not ot hear Halseth's footsteps, or anyone else's, coming up fast over the final miles. Guerrini held on all the way to the finish, taking 2nd with a hundred meters to spare. Halseth was third, followed by Ingrid Walters Santa Monica CA, 4th in 1:04:08. Fiona Bayly New York, NY took 5th.
55-59 With Hitchings in this division there was little suspense. She took the win with almost three minutes to spare. But what about the rest of the podium? Had Hitchings not been in the race, it would likely have belonged to Sperandeo who ran an excellent 1:03:34 to take 4th in Overall Age-Grading and finish 2nd almost 4 minutes ahead of the rest of the field. Tania Fischer Santa Monica CA, who is in her element if a race is on turf and a good bit less than 10K, showed that she can handle a longer distance as well. Fischer took 3rd in a fine 1:07:54. When Dana Blum San Francisco CA sailed around the u-turn and headed back toward the Tower Bridge, she would have seen Genevieve Clavier Sacramento CA a hundred meters back, but moving well. Since they are the same age and live just an hour and a half apart, I assume they know of each other, but perhaps not. In any case, Clavier carved a good 80 meters out of the lead. Blum held tough though and finished 4th in 1:11:15, with Clavier in 5th seven seconds back.
Jenny Hitchings 1:00:40 Midori Sperandeo 1:03:34 Tania Fischer 1:07:54
60-64 Stella Gibbs Pacific Grove CA finished 2nd in this division at the 12 K National Championships in New Jersey last September and at the XC Championships at Mission Bay. She sandwiched those around another national podium, a 3rd at the 5 km XC Championships in Boston. She came up short, technically, at Atlanta; she and her teammate, Nancy Simmons, crossed the line together but the finish camera gave the 3rd place finish to Simmons while they were both awarded the same time. The top spot has eluded her, but not this time. Gibbs stormed off to nearly a two minute lead by the time she made the turn at 7.2 miles. By the time she crossed the finish line she had upped it to over two minutes. Not only tht, she had earned the impressive age graded score that gave her 2nd place overall in that contest. Kathi Sleavin Seattle WA was just as dominant with respect to the rest of the field; she had over a kilometer on the third place finisher, Lanore Bergenske Fortuna CA. Betrgenske was delighted with a podium finish at a national championship! Margit Falk San Francisco CA finisehd 4th with Debra Cramer Alameda CA fifth.
Stella Gibbs 1:10:14 Kathi Sleavin 1:12:20 Lanore Bergenske 1:18:42
65-69 Merry Dearmon-Moore Tucson AZ took on a talented group in this division and came out on top. Her 3:27:54 at the fast Sprouts Mesa Marathon in March suggested she has wheels! Suzanne Ray Jacksonville OR won the division at the Half Marathon Championships in Syracuse in 1:49:21 on a tough, hilly course and ran 1:44:36 on a presumably faster RnR Las Vegas course in February. Ray matched up well against Honor Fetherston Los Gatos CA who ran 1:49:12 at the Livermore HM in March; she ran a strong 1:44:58 last summer in the OC Half Marathon. That course has significant elevation change which makes it a challenge. Still, it was not clear that either could outmatch someone who can run two successive sub-1:45 HM's in a single race, even if it is on a fast course. In the end the race unfolded more or less as expected. Dearmon-Moore carved out a 2 minute lead over Fetherston in the first 7 miles. Fetherston, for her part, put a surprising amount of distance on Ray in the first 7 miles She hit the timing mat in 55:46 with a 300 meter lead on Ray. Perhaps the Livermore HM is a challenging course also? Dearmon-Moore cooked u a sparkling 1:15:36 which age graded high enough to land her on the overall age grade podium! Fetherston's 1:18:18 netted second place. Her chip time of 1:18:13 merited a fine 88.37% age grade. Ray, soon to enter the 70-74 division, and not quite up to Fetherston's pace, nonetheless cracked out a 1:21:34 to finish 3rd. Her chip time, 1:21:28, graded 87.36%. Suzette Smith Alameda CA and Barbara McQuinn Oakland CA took 4th and 5th respectively.
Merry Dearmon-Moore 1:15:36 Honor Fetherston 1:18:18
70-74 This race marked the return of the 2017 USATF Masters Runner of the Year, Sabra Harvey Houston TX , to the Masters National Grand Prix circuit. This time she is part of the powerful W70+ Team Red Lizard. Although she is not as fit as she was a five years ago, she is still very fast and knows how to win races. She and Kate Stewart Berkeley CA went off at a good clip. No doubt they ran together for much of the race. I do not know if they exchanged the lead or if Harvey, like the savvy track runner she is, recognized a good pace when she saw it and just accepted it. Confident in her kick, she would turn it on when needed. However it worked out in actuality, Stewart hit the u-turn mat in 59:58, three seconds ahead of Harvey. Once they came off the Tower Bridge, Harvey waited for the right time and sped past Stewart to take the win, 1:23:57 to 1:23:59. At the same time, Jo Anne Rowland Concord CA, was trying to find a way to close on Sharon Gerl Eugene OR. A crossover athlete from triathlon, Gerl had managed to carve out a 20-meter lead. Rowland thought she would close that but, despite her best sfforts, Gerl always had an answering surge. Gerl crossed the 7.2 mile timing mat in 1:00:55 with a 7-second lead over Rowland. Gerl was able to pull away a bit over the last few miles netting the final odium spot with a 1:26:13, thirteen seconds ahead of Rowland. Sharlet Gilbert Richmond CA finished 5th a minute later.
Sabra Harvey 1:23:57 Kate Stewart 1:23:59 Sharon Gerl 1:26:13
75-79 Shirley Shean Concord CA took the division win with over 15 minutes to spare. Barbara Rinker Sacramento CA earned the Silver Medal at a National Championship.
Shirley Shean 1:46:25 Barbara Rinker 2:03:45
80-84 JoAnn Hall Redding CA was the sole entrant in this division. But she thought she would take a crack at Hedy Marque's 1:31:24 from the 1998 Cherry Blossom Run. She knew she needed to average 9:08 per mile to have a good shot. As it turned out, today was not the day. After a few miles it was clear that her best effort today would be closer to 9:15 per mile. She turned around the 7.2 mat in 1:06:31; she needed to be a minute faster to be on pace for a record. She missed it by three minutes. It was a good day still. A National Championship is always a nice reward. Hall can hope for a better day in the near future. She know s the record is not far off even though it eluded her grasp today.
JoAnn Hall 1:34:39
It was a terrific day of racing! The next recap will cover the Men's Age Divisions and the Team contests.